I think everyone, at one time or another had the secret pleasure of reading Archie comics. They were a bit funny, a bit silly and a bit, well…sexy. Veronica was hot and Betty was pretty good looking as well. You always got the feeling that Moose and Midge had a “mature” relationship and that Reggie had a much darker secret life that took place outside of the comic books pages. As for Miss Grundy and Mr. Weatherbee, I just won’t go there.
So, my eyes lit up when I chanced upon a New York Times article entitled “Hey Archie! Want to Build an Empire?” It seems that the venerable Archie franchise is finally waking up to the fact that Marvel has spun gold out of its comics archives and maybe they could do it as well.
In order to make that happen, management has struck a deal with Surge Licensing, known for making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a hit. Surge describes itself on its Linked In page as “developing early-identified intellectual property into multi-platformed licensing programs, in virtually every form of media and merchandising.”
Part of their strategy is to make Archie a little edgier and more contemporary. So, Riverdale is a changed place. In recent months, Archie has sequentially married Veronica and Betty in special “what if” editions of the comic and had some kind of affair with one of the Josie and the Pussycats (talk about spicing it up). In fact, he and the rest of the Riverdale gang have been reimagined as cast members of the Jersey Shore and Twilite. All of this plus adding a gay friend named Kevin means that this is not your father’s Archie.
What is interesting is that the Archie management is not just redoing its content. It’s also reconfiguring its delivery. Realizing that kids who read Archie don’t visit the comic book store, they have come up with a format so Archie can be found in places like Wal-Mart and CVS. Here is how the article puts it:
“’Life With Archie’ [is] a magazine-size publication that is part comic book, part “Teen Beat.” Each issue will contain two comic book stories — one chronicling his future with Betty, the other with Veronica — and special features like casting calls for “Archie” films or one-offs like “The Archie Guide to ‘Glee.’…The magazine will be sold at a selection of CVS, Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys “R” Us, Barnes & Noble and Rite Aid stores. Widening the availability is a main ingredient in the Archie plan.
The Archie folks also realize that they need to be in an electronic format so they have gone digital. As the article puts it, “In June last year, Archie rolled out its first digital comics for portable devices… The company plans to release exclusive digital material starring some of its other characters: the model Katy Keene, Li’l Jinx as a teenager, and Josie and the Pussycats. Archie is also in early talks to provide content to a mobile carrier in Japan.”
I like it that Archie doesn’t go away and in fact fights to stay relevant. It looks like everyone is going to have to give the Archie franchise another look.
Good luck Archie but watch out for Reggie.