Thursday, April 16, 2009

Archie Comics: An Unstoppable Juggernaut

I'm absolutely fascinated by the Archie Comics line. I read them as a kid and I still own a larger number of Archie digests than any healthy adult should own (the number a healthy adult owns, by the way, is zero). Today they continue to sell a dozen different titles and digests each month, mostly through newsstand outlets. I've got to set up an interview with Victor Gorelick and find out how they do it. How do you sell a monthly SONIC THE HEDGEHOG comic book (200 issues and counting)in this day and age?!

Sabrina The Teenage Witch, one of the satellite characters who lives outside of Riverdale, got a manga makeover a few years back. In classic Golden Age tradition, her title is being handed over to supporting character Salem without altering the issue count. This is an old trick used to keep comics on the stands. Editor Mike Perrelito explains in an interview from

Q: Why keep the Sabrina title if you’re going to change the premise, the creators, the main character, the art style… It seems the only thing continuing is the numbering! Wouldn’t it make more sense just to put out a Young Salem title?

A: We changed the premise and the art style when Tania took over Sabrina and gave it a manga influence and kept the numbering. It never seemed to be an issue. Archie has done what a lot of critics have said all comics should do by staying on the newsstand and not giving up on the mass market. The costs of doing business on the newsstand are monstrous and not always the best environment for a new title. If we came out with a new series for 4 issues on the newsstand, the costs are, as mentioned, enormous, and the direct market doesn’t have that same fanatical approach to our books. At least the good comic stores know what’s up, but not enough stores. Doing Young Salem this way gives us the mass-market reach of the newsstand and helps us target the comic stores too.

We originally wanted to launch Young Salem as the first issue of an “Archie Presents” title and keep the newsstand distribution intact. The plans changed, and with Tania’s run ending at 100, it seemed logical to put the four-parter in Sabrina. It wouldn’t fit in Archie or Betty & Veronica. So Sabrina 101 is where Young Salem started.

Q: What happens in issue #105? What’s next for the Sabrina title?

A: 105 is up in the air for now. If Salem turns out to be as big a hit as it is capable of, some more stories seem a natural.

You can read that entire interview HERE.

You know, Marvel did the same thing last year when HERCULES took over THE INCREDIBLE HULK. I guess this economy has forced even The House Of Ideas to resort to old school methods. Maybe they should get Archie Comics on the phone and find out what else they can try.


  1. You know, every time I saw Hercules with that numbering, I figured Marvel had grafted an old series, but I never knew which one. Now I know!

  2. Wait, the boy is the cat, right? Like the cat used to be a man and before that he was a boy?