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.
Archie Comics launched the latest incarnation of Red Circle Comics as a digital app that combined comics from the 1930s to the 1980s, featuring early superheroes like The Shield and the Mighty Crusaders with new, digital-first comics starring a teen superhero team, the New Crusaders, composed of the children of those original characters.
Now, six months after the launch of the app, Archie is changing its strategy a bit to bring the digital comics in line with print. Instead of releasing The New Crusaders as a six-page digital comic once a week, followed by a print comic with the same material at the end of the month, the company will publish the complete comic digitally and in print on the same day. Archie is also moving its Lost Crusaders comics, which fill in the gaps in continuity between the old comics and the new ones, from a fifth-week to a monthly schedule.
Robot 6 talked exclusively to Paul Kaminski, executive director of editorial for Archie Comics and editor of The New Crusaders, about the changes and what lay behind them.
Robot 6: The Red Circle app is unlike anything in comics, so I’m guessing there has been a learning curve. Can you talk a bit about what parts of it are working and which ones still need a bit of work?
Paul Kaminiski: Red Circle is all about creating the ultimate comic book experience — and the subscription-based initiative was able to bring that experience to readers every week for the entire run of Rise of the Heroes. While the weekly six-page installments of New Crusaders were well-received, fans of the series and people looking to jump on let us know that complete issues, in both digital release and in print, were the way to go with New Crusaders! Now that the next step for the series is on the horizon (coming this spring!) we’ve got a unique opportunity to take what we learned, listen to the fans, and build on the app for the next series.
Archie Comics announced the return of their Red Circle superhero characters last fall as part of a digital subscription service that features new stories by writer Ian Flynn and artist Ben Bates alongside an archive of older Mighty Crusaders material. Then in April, they told Comic Book Resources that those new digital stories would be collected into print comics, and we found out last week those comics will debut next month at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
So we’ve got digital-first comics, followed by print comics … what comes next? Yep, trade-waiters rejoice, Archie shared with Robot 6 today that a trade paperback collection of New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes is coming in April 2013. Here’s the solicitation text:
Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | With the announcement that Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios is back in business, former Extreme Studios employee and current Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson reflects on his time with the studio. “From 1992-1998, Extreme Studios was more or less my life. Youngblood, Supreme, Brigade, Bloodstrike, Team Youngblood, New Men, Prophet, Youngblood: Strikefile, Bloodpool, Glory… We put out a lot of comics, and for the most part everyone involved was incredibly young. Rob and I were amongst the oldest at 25. So many of the artists involved in various aspects of production were just out of their teens, and that made the work as frustrating as it was fun. But looking back, the main thing I remember about that time is Rob wanted to share his success with people who loved comics and wanted to make a living in the business as much as he had.” [It Sparkles!]
Webcomics | A Distant Soil creator Colleen Doran, who began serializing the comic online in 2009, notes “my bottom line is up significantly, and my online audience is ten times higher than when I started the five day a week online serialization of A Distant Soil 2.5 years ago.” She also shares advice she received when she started the endeavor that hasn’t worked for her. [A Distant Soil]
The New York Comic Con officially opened its doors this afternoon, but comics publishers and distributors have been releasing announcements leading up to it all this week. Here’s a round-up of news from today, as well as some that hit earlier this week.
• DC Comics, who were having a pretty good week already, announced two creative team changes for the New 52. Ann Nocenti of Daredevil and Longshot fame will write Green Arrow starting with issue #7. She spoke to Comic Book Resources about her approach to the series: “I have a particular way of writing a comic. Comics are short. They are only twenty pages, so you can take a year of comics and that can be your opera, and the opera can have a lot of different passages in it. I kind of believe every issue should be a single story, just a complete story. But there is a momentum that forms like triptychs over it, and then it forms your big overtures, and then the whole thing ends up kind of operatic. I also want a beginning, middle and end, a classic short story approach to every single comic. What I do is I try to figure out, what is the kick in this comic, what is the main feeling I want to get, and everything in the comic has to serve that.”
• And Marc Bernardin (Monster Attack Network, The Highwaymen, The Authority) will take over the writing duties on Static Shock beginning with issue #7. “As a fan and as a writer, one of the great things about Static isn’t just that he’s a new hero, it’s also that he’s a young hero,” Bernardin told CBR. “He will make the mistakes of youth and, even though the New 52 is resetting a lot of heroes to their early days as do-gooders, there’s nothing quite like the fumblings of a teenager.”
Fans wondering about the fates of the Red Circle characters DC Comics once licensed from Archie Comics can wonder no more — in advance of this week’s New York Comic Con, Archie has announced plans to bring them back next spring.
The New Crusaders by writer Ian Flynn and artist Ben Bates, will be part of a Netflix-like online subscription service offered by Archie and iVerse Media, according to an article in the New York Times. The service will offer an original six-page story and access to an archive of past adventures. “It will be a nominal monthly charge with access to new comics and thousands and thousands of pages from the archive,” Jon Goldwater, the co-chief executive of Archie Comics Publications, told the Times.
The new stories will feature old enemies tracking down the now-retired heroes (who live in the aptly named suburb of Red Circle), leading The Shield to head up “the next generation” of the team. Archie last published adventures of the Red Circle characters in the mid-1980s; DC Comics licensed them from Archie for its short-lived Impact line in the 1990s, then tried to integrate them into the DC Universe a couple of years ago. And again, the titles were short-lived. DC co-publisher Dan Didio confirmed this summer that DC no longer had the license to publish stories about the characters.
Warming up for a grueling Comic-Con International schedule, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio held a virtual convention panel last night on Facebook for fans who can’t make it to San Diego. Highlights from the Q&A include:
• DC no longer has the rights to Archie’s Red Circle superheroes.
• Stephanie Brown will remain part of the DC Universe following the September relaunch. However, DiDio won’t reveal where she is just yet. “Sorry, but we are keeping some secrets,” he wrote, “and one of them involves Stephanie.”
• He’s sticking by his earlier remarks about the status of the Justice Society, saying “the official answer on JSA is that ‘They’re resting’.”
• When can we expect the release of Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, the planned six-issue conclusion of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? “Probably when he is The Teen Wonder.”
• Asked whether we’ll ever see the new version of Who’s Who in the DC Universe announced in December 2009, DiDio replied, “the question is not who’s who but when’s when.”
DiDio’s first actual Comic-Con panel, “DC Comics — The New 52,” kicks off at 2 p.m. Thursday in San Diego.
DC’s July solicitations include such high-profile titles as Brightest Day, Justice League: Generation Lost, three Grant Morrison Bat-books, Neal Adams’ Odyssey, and the 50th issues of Ex Machina and Green Lantern Corps. We’ll touch on some of those in this modest survey.
However, as usual, it was an eclectic group of books which caught my eye … starting with a feature I wasn’t expecting to see.
NIGHT AND DAY
I hate to dismiss a series which I’d like to read before it’s even seen the inside of a comics shop, but I think the Atom Special and its subsequent co-feature may do better in collected form than in single issues. I base this on the quite-possibly-irrational notion that a significant amount of DC readers want to read about the Atom, but don’t especially want to follow the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Starting next month in The Shield #5, DC Comics will begin introducing several more newly revamped characters from the Red Circle comics line into the DCU. Editor Rachel Gluckstern gave more details today over on DC’s The Source blog.
The Red Circle characters, for those not familiar with them, are superhero characters once published by Archie Comics back in the day. DC published stories about the characters as a separate line back in the early 1990s, the short-lived Impact line. Earlier this year, they began introducing them into the DCU, giving The Shield and The Web their own titles, which include back-up features starring Inferno and the Hangman.
So who’s joining these former Mighty Crusaders in January? Here’s a rundown on who to expect to see …
- The main story in The Shield #5 will see the introduction of the Jaguar to the DCU.
- In the back-up feature in that same issue, the Inferno meets the Comet (seen above).
- The Web #5 sees the Black Hood showing up in the main feature.
- And in the Hangman back-up feature in that same issue, Mr. Justice shows up. Eventually Mr. Justice will get his own co-feature in one of the books, written by Michael and David Uslan, and drawn by Justiniano.
They also announced in March that the Inferno back-up story in The Shield would go on hiatus, and would be replaced by The Fox, by writer Brandon Jerwa and artist Michael Avon Oeming.
Click on over to the Source to see what all the newly designed characters will look like.
The September solicitations are here, bringing with them another month’s worth of teases and puffery. There are ongoing series for the Red Circle characters, a new edition of Red Son, and a paperback featuring a Communist Lady Blackhawk. As if that weren’t enough, this batch includes the start of a long-awaited Superman miniseries, the highly-anticipated conclusion of Flash: Rebirth, and a couple of minor characters in desperate need of some salesmanship. I’m also fairly sure that DC has made some kind of history in its writing corps.
Before we get to that, though, a non-solicitation item. I’m pretty happy that DC will be putting at least part of Wednesday Comics in a newspaper, even if it’s just the first installment of the Superman strip in one issue of USA Today. You may remember a couple of months ago that I went off on a little tirade about DC not supporting Wednesday Comics sufficiently, and while this isn’t quite what I had in mind, it may be pretty effective.
Continue Reading »
THE WEB #1
Written by Angela Robinson; co-feature written by John Rozum
Art by Roger Robinson & Hilary Barta;co-feature art by Tom Derenick & Bill Sienkiewicz
Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Variant sketch cover by JG Jones
Spinning out of August’s “Red Circle” event from superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski comes the new ongoing adventures of the selfish rich-boy hero the Web, and the mysterious-undying Hangman. Writer/director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) and artist Roger Robinson (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS) spin the tales of The Web, a man who has only recently come to understand the burden of true heroism. He’s fighting crime on his own terms, and for his first mission he’s hunting down the men responsible for killing his brother!
Plus, the Hangman stars in his own co-feature with a touch of urban noir from writer John Rozum (DETECTIVE COMICS) and artists Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, the team behind REIGN IN HELL! The Hangman haunts the streets of San Francisco and touches lives as he works to discover whether his powers are a blessing or a curse.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a sketch cover by JG Jones). See the Previews Order Form for more info.
On sale September 23 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
TEEN TITANS #75
Written by Felicia D. Henderson;
co-feature written by Sean McKeever
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson;
co-feature art by Yildiray Cinar & Júlio Ferreira
Cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson Variant cover by Andy Clarke
Come celebrate our gala 75th issue with an all-star cast of Titans past and present! Joining this issue for the extravaganza is new ongoing writer Felicia D. Henderson, a co-executive producer on TV’s hit show Fringe! Don’t miss this start to a fresh new take on DC’s premier teen team! And in the Ravager co-feature, Rose lies nearly dead in the Arctic when a horrific discovery chills her even more! Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Andy Clarke). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale September 30 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
DC Comics has revealed details about the Archie Heroes/Red Circle one-shots they’ll release in August. We already know J. Michael Straczynski is writing them, but today they shared the art teams, as well as some new preview artwork from the books.
“Each book slides off the next, showing the interconnectedness of the world, how fate can launch a bank shot from one person to the next,” JMS said.
So here’s the rundown on the art teams:
- The Hangman: Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, whose work you can see to the right. Editor Joey Cavalieri says it’s about “…a doctor who’s been spared the executioner’s noose (a circle of rope, get it?) only to be confronted with a choice that condemns him to roam around Earth forever, aiding everyone in his orbit.”
- Inferno: Greg Scott, who worked on Marvel’s newuniversal:1959 and BOOM!’s Galveston mini-series. It’s about an amnesiac who can set things on fire.
- The Shield: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens. “The Shield is the spearhead of a program meant to encompass America’s borders, but quickly becomes a link in a bigger chain,” Cavalieri said.
- The Web: Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta; Robinson did the art for the Blue Beetle/Hardware team-up in DC’s Brave and the Bold title. He also did these really cool game menu screens for a canceled Flash video game.
As previously reported, the one-shots will introduce these heroes to the regular DC Universe.
All this week DC’s The Source blog has been posting images of some of the “Red Circle” characters, a.k.a. The Mighty Crusaders, a.k.a. the Archie superhero characters DC is reviving this summer. J.G. Jones has redesigned them, (with the exception of the Shield, who is wearing his original costume) and did a nice job of updating them to make’em look a bit more modern. Up top is The Web, and you can also check out Hangman and Inferno.
So who are these guys? I only vaguely recollect DC’s first attempt to revive them as their own universe, under the name Impact Comics. And I have no recollection of Archie’s run at publishing them. Siskoid, however, has a pretty good rundown of the major and not-so-major players over on his blog.
The characters will debut in the DC Universe in August.
(Last link via Kiel Phegley).