Here’s one of the greatest things about being a comics journalist: Every month, I get a box delivered to my home that contains the entire Archie Comics output for that month. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I usually look at the comics one at a time, but this month, I thought it would be interesting to view the group as a whole, and see what it tells us about Archie and its product mix. (I should say right off the bat that this box doesn’t include graphic novels, which means there is no copy of the truly excellent Jinx 2: Little Miss Steps. If you don’t mind Jinx spoilers, go ahead and read my interview with writer J. Torres to find out what that is about.)
This month’s box contains 10 single-issue comics, six digests and two magazines. That looks like a lot, but it really isn’t because every comic and magazine this month has a variant cover. So in terms of what’s inside, that’s five singles, six digests (no variants there!) and one magazine, Life With Archie. All these have June cover dates, which means they came out in May.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the box.
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Archie Comics is old and new at the same time, still churning out comics featuring the Riverdale gang we all grew up with but mixing it up in interesting ways — with graphic novel compilations, the addition of the gay character Kevin Keller, and the dual-storyline Life With Archie magazine that ages the cast up into their 20s.
The end of the year seemed like a good opportunity to check in with Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about 2012 and the company’s initiatives for 2013. While Archie kept a pretty high profile in 2012, with a new Kevin Keller comic, the Archie Meets KISS miniseries, and the return of the Red Circle superheroes (in print as well as digital form), there was also quite a bit going on behind the scenes, both positive — Goldwater says they really figured out how to market their products in the current climate — and negative — a legal feud between Goldwater and Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit that bubbled out into the public eye last year but was settled in June.
Goldwater covers a lot of bases in the interview; one interesting nugget is that the monthly comics most people would think are the flagship Archie product are not a significant source of revenue for the company, although they are important both as a marketing tool and as the place where new stories run first. It’s also interesting to see how Goldwater regards the company’s deal with MAC Cosmetics as the first step toward global marketing of Archie products.
Robot 6: What’s new at Archie?
Jon Goldwatwer: We got a lot of great stuff coming up in 2013. 2012 was fantastic. I feel like every year we take these tremendous steps forward, from putting out Life With Archie and figuring out how to make that work — we have gained traction on that — to things like Archie Meets KISS, things like Kevin Keller, groundbreaking day-and-date digital. We look at 2013 being one of these big groundbreaking years
The first thing we have coming out is a partnership with MAC Cosmetics called Archie’s Girls. It launches February 2013, and it’s going to be a global launch. It’s going to be in every MAC store, not just in freestanding stores but in department stores as well. Wherever you want to go, you are going to have Archie right there. It’s truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.
Earlier today, SCAD Atlanta Professor and Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer announced the 2012-2013 academic year will be his final one teaching at Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. As the scholar/writer/artist noted at his own blog, “I love being a teacher, and I love being a cartoonist, and in many ways each helps me be better at the other. But I’ve come to find that I can do neither to the best of my ability without infringing on the time necessary to see the other done to the degree of quality I’d expect of myself.”
The move is not just a decision to stop teaching: Schweizer has also agreed to form a new studio with Chad Thomas (Mega Man) and Jason Horn (Ninjasaur). In conjunction with announcing the decision, Schweizer fielded a few questions from me. As a fellow resident of Atlanta, I have to add, as pleased as I am to know Schweizer will have more time to devote to his craft, I am equally sad to know he will be leaving Atlanta to do it.
Tim O’Shea: Knowing how much you love teaching, how many times did you talk yourself into staying at SCAD?
Chris Schweizer: I know it sounds cavalier, but never. Once I realized that there was a real problem with the regularity of my output, a problem that was only growing as I moved the Crogan projects to color, I had to look for a solution. I often have trouble finding my way through a problem that I’m in, both in writing and in real life, and I find that the best way puzzle out a solution is to not think of it from the standpoint of what to do next, but to decide on the ideal outcome. Once that outcome is in place, it’s much easier for me to determine the path by which to arrive at it. I was surprised that my ideal outcome didn’t leave time for teaching, or have us staying in Atlanta. Once I realized that, there was no real debating, there was only trying to figure out how best to undertake the change. Originally we thought I’d teach for an additional year after this one, to give us plenty of time to sell the house.
Organizations | Jillian Kirby, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Jack Kirby, makes a pitch for Kirby4Heroes, a campaign to encourage donations to The Hero Initiative on Aug. 28, which would have been the legendary creator’s 95th birthday. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Roger Rautio, who’s spearheading an effort to establish a physical Comic Book Hall of Fame, said he’s received responses from officials in four cities — Chicago, Cleveland, New York City and San Jose — and he may meet with a Chicago city council member as early as next month. [North Country Now]
Creators | Cartoonist Reinhard Kleist discusses his graphic novel The Boxer, the true story of Polish Jew Harry Haft, who had to fight other prisoners at Auschwitz for the entertainment of the Nazi soldiers. [Deutsche Welle]
Hey kids, it’s time once again for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into the reading habits of your Robot 6 bloggers. This week our special guest is Rik Offenberger, comics journalist and public relations coordinator for Archie Comics.
To see what Rik and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
The good folks at UDON Entertainment will be at the San Diego Comic-Con later this month, and they were kind enough to send over details on the books they’ll be selling at their booth (#5037). Their list includes Street Fighter Legends and MegaMan hardcovers, as well as their first-ever original graphic novel, RandomVeus by Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz. You can also find details on booth signings and their panel below ….
Comic-Con International: San Diego 2011 marks the beginning of UDON’s second decade of operations, and one of its biggest San Diego outtings ever!
With three new books debuting at Comic-Con (including 2 con-exclusives!) and more than 16 creators in attendance signing and sketching every day, no comics, video game, or art fan is going to want to miss out on all the great stuff going down at UDON, booth #5037!
Art Books and Graphic Novels Debuting at Comic-Con:
MEGA MAN TRIBUTE HC
Celebrating over 20 years of the ‘blue bomber!’
Hundreds of artists from around the world join forces to pay homage to one of the most iconic figures in gaming with Mega Man Tribute! This 300+ page, full-colour art book is the ultimate celebration of the blue bomber, featuring the characters of Mega Man classic, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Legends in every style you can imagine! Includes original pieces by comics superstars Hitoshi Ariga (Mega Man: Megamix), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Teen Titans: GO!), Sanford Greene (Dark Horse Presents), and many more!
Premiering at Comic-Con, this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Mega Man manga artist Hitoshi Ariga (Megamix, Gigamix) that will not be available on the softcover! This HC is a convention/UDON exclusive! Limited to 500 copies. SRP $80.
Udon Entertainment, which has published several Mega Man manga, is putting out an artbook paying tribute to the venerable video game-cartoon-comics franchise, and they are inviting everyone to participate:
UDON is sending out a call to comic artists, video game artists, freelance illustrators, and fan artists all around the world to show us your artistic tribute to Mega Man! Give us your best artwork featuring the cast of Mega Man®, Mega Man® X, Mega Man® Zero, Mega Man® ZX, and Mega Man® Legends. All styles are welcome – anime, western comic style, cartoon, pixel-based, sculptures – whatever you can come up with as your tribute to the blue bomber!
The fine print includes some fairly specific legal stipulations. Characters from the Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force series are not allowed, and crossovers are also verboten. And the characters have to be from the games only, not comics or animation. “For example, the green Mega Man from the Captain N animated series is not allowed.” Got that? And no fan-created characters: “You may not, for example, create your own Zebra-themed Robot Master named ‘Zebra Man’.” Damn! Plus no drinking, smoking, or nudity, although now that I think about it, those elements probably be hard to integrate into a Mega Man comic anyway. (Not impossible, but difficult.)
On the other hand, the editors are open to a variety of different styles. The top 300 entries will be published and the creators will get a copy of the book.
Archie Comics, which has published Sonic the Hedgehog comics since 1993, announced at New York Comic Con that it has acquired the rights to Capcom’s Mega Man.
Debuting in 1987, the Mega Man franchise has made the leap from video games to television to comics, with earlier series released in North America by UDON, Viz Media and Dreamwave Productions.
Archie’s Mega Man, which “promises to build a faithful legacy while exploring a vast universe of heroes, villains and robots,” will premiere in spring 2011 from Sonic the Hedgehog creators Ian Flynn and Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante (the latter also worked on Dreamwave’s Mega Man comic).
According to the publisher’s press release, the new series will follow the original Mega Man in his battles against his maniacal arch-nemesis Dr. Wily: “Mega Man’s jam-packed, fast-paced adventures are told from the perspective of Rock (a.k.a. Mega Man) the young boy with a peaceful heart now thrust into a life of conflict.”
Read the press release after the break:
Consider it a whole different kind of “Marvel vs. Capcom”: On her deviantART account, artist suzuran has converted over 50 Marvel heroes and villains into adorable li’l 8-bit sprites in the style of Mega Man. Just click the above image to see it in its full sidescrolling glory.
If the current wave of 8-bit nostalgia produces nothing more than this, the Scott Pilgrim videogame, and that chiptunes cover of The Dark Side of the Moon, it’ll still have been worth it.
(via Agent M)