Welcome toEverything's Archie,thly column that will spotlight what's going on at Archie Comics, talking to the creative forces behind the publisher.
Everything's Archie is a conversation with creators, executives and editors that make Riverdale what it is today -- both nostalgic and evolving, welcoming and daring. It will also feature exclusive previews, reveals and more.
This week, we're once again talking with Archie President Mike Pellerito, about everything from the Dark Circle superhero line, to the upcoming TV series, why we didn't get new horror content for Halloween last month and more.
So we made it through Halloween. With the horror line being such a big component of the recent publishing success, did you guys think about trying to put together something that could have gone on sale that week?
Yes, we survived Halloween! You know, we could have slapped something together and rushed it out, but we didn’t think that was the best use of our resources. We had two books for Diamond’s Halloween ComicFest – a reprint of Sabrina #1 and a classic Archie Halloween tale. So, we felt like we were making the best effort on that front, in terms of making product available to retailers while still maintaining the quality we want. Look, we want Afterlife and Sabrina on shelves more often, too – but like I’ve said before, you can’t rush a work of art, and when these new issues arrive, it’s clear that that’s what the books are. That said, we also realize that retailers and fans are eager for more and want the books out on a more regular schedule. It’s something we’re working on.
Has the success of the new Sabrina helped goose interest in some of the classic material? I see you had some on the stands last week.
Yeah, it all feeds into itself. Fans of the new, more horror version of Sabrina have sought out the traditional stuff – which is excellent. I think it also goes the other way, too, as fans of the older Sabrina material get older or look to expand what they read, they discover the great stuff Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack are doing. It’s a testament to how malleable these icons are – Archie can be a grown man dealing with real world problems, on the run from zombies, fighting the Predator, you name it. But people know it’s Archie. They recognize him and if he and his friends are treated with respect and written in a way that’s true to their core, then fans will follow. I think the same goes for the rest of our pantheon – like Sabrina, Josie and lesser-known properties like Cosmo and L’il Jinx.
We've touched on this a little bit before, but the Digest books and other backlist are a big part of driving new readers to Archie from outside the direct market. Will we be seeing original content continuing to flow through those, or is it going to be just reprints as the New Riverdale looms larger and larger?
We have new stories in every digest – usually by some of our biggest talents, like Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz and more. New content in the traditional Archie style - 75 years strong. We’re never going to abandon that, and I think there’s a strong audience for it. This is the Archie generations grew up with, and we have a strong commitment to telling all-ages, funny stories that you can hand to anyone, age 7 to 70. The New Riverdale books don’t affect the traditional stories, so I think the “looming” suggestion is a little off. They don’t hurt or dilute each other. If anything, the New Riverdale books complement the traditional digests very well. There was a time where Archie as a company didn’t really offer a book for people to read once they felt like they’d outgrown the digests. Now we have several, in several genres – from humor to horror to action to crime, Archie as a company has become increasingly diverse. It’s been really great to see it from my seat, and I’m excited to see us grow in all areas. I think you’ll see the digests tweak and pivot a bit as we begin to inject some new energy into those platforms, but they will remain a home for the traditional stories, with new content showing up all the time.
Will we start to see Archie and Jughead's reboots represented in the Digest or magazine format books on newsstands?
No plans to mix the two, though we do promote them across the board. The reprint stories are for comics that aren’t brand-new, and are at least 5-10 years old. The idea is that you’re getting a story you may have missed when it was originally published, as opposed to instantly reprinting something that just came out. That said, if fans missed out on snagging copies of any of the Waid/Staples ARCHIE issues, we will be reprinting them together as a limited-edition collector’s edition, hitting next month. What a great holiday present, huh?
How did you guys convince Howard Chaykin to join the Dark Circle team for this month?
That’s all Dark Circle Editor Alex Segura’s fault. He’s known Howard a while, and he did a lot of great, iconic covers for the first few issues of THE BLACK HOOD. Once he knew there’d be a one-off special issue, he reached out to Howard to step in. The rest is noir history…
Any other surprises on the horizon in terms of creators coming in?
I’d keep my eyes on Dark Circle. I know Alex is cooking up some fun announcements that’ll take people by surprise. Wish I could say more.
This is a big Dark Circle month, too. Do you guys try and schedule some of the more irregular books so that you get a horror month here, a superhero month there, etc.? Or just when the books are ready to ship?
When the books are ready, they go. We try to keep the horror and Dark Circle books to as regular a schedule as we can, but there are always unforeseen circumstances. I know The Shield was delayed by a few changes on the art side, and mainly because we wanted to be sure the book looked the best it could – and the end result really speaks volumes. Chuck and Adam did a great job rebuilding our flagship hero and artist Drew Johnson was the perfect fit for the visual side. While we always hate pushing stuff back, we’re also not going to rush something out just to have it out there at a lower quality. And sometimes, things shake out in a good way – it was great to have Shield and Hangman debut so close to each other, along with a very important issue of Black Hood. It made for a busy Dark Circle month and reminded fans of the imprint and its aesthetic.
What can you tease about the big, upcoming Mega Man spectacular?
It’ll be everything the fans want. Writer Ian Flynn and editor Vin Lovallo really poured their heart and soul into this issue to make it a fitting goodbye (for now!) to the book, and something fans will savor. It’s got something for the long-time readers, new readers and everything in-between. Hopefully it tides people over until Mega Man returns.
The video game titles obviously have a very active audience. Anything special coming up in Sonic now that Mega Man is on hiatus?
We have some major Archie Action news coming soon – and it won’t be easily predicted. It’s something fans will be surprised by, but will make perfect sense.
In terms of Sonic, Ian is really ramping up his storylines post-Worlds Unite. After an epic storyline like that, you’d think things would quiet down for a beat, but Ian has really gone all in to make sure fans don’t feel like there’s a lull. I’m always in awe of his abilities as a writer and world builder.
We are -- shiver -- already starting to see holiday books coming out this month. What can you tease for what's on deck in December, then?
Well, I mentioned the Collector’s Edition of Archie, featuring the historic three issues by Waid and Staples. That coincides with Veronica Fish joining the main Archie title for a run of issues. Veronica, as you may know, did that great Riverdale promo image that accompanied the CW TV announcement. She’s super-talented, wonderful to work with and – mark my words! – will be a huge star in no time. Chip and Erica will continue the Jughead insanity and our digests will kick into full holiday cheer, with some stunning Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz covers. Oh, and did I mention Black Hood, Hangman and Shield? Our heroes are all taking up a nice chunk of space next month, too. Should make for a great way to close the year.
Below, you can check out a gallery of art to go along with this conversation. The exclusive art included is:
ARCHIE #5 Interior artwork by Veronica Fish (First look at interior pages from the issue)
ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #264 by Alex Simmons, Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, Glenn Whitmore (First look at new Classic Archie story)
THE HANGMAN #2 Pages 1-3 by Felix Ruiz (First look at interiors)
THE SHIELD #2 Interior page by Drew Johnson and inker Ray Snyder (First look at interiors and Ray's first issue)