Tuesday, October 6, 2009

70-year-old Teenager Archie Andrews is At It Again

With the 70th anniversary of "Archie" comics fast approaching, the gang over at Archie Comic Publications (ACP) is whipping up some controversy. Issues No. 600 and 602 take on Robert Frost's philosophical concept of a fork in the road, which, prior to explanation, had some readers up in arms about Archie--as a bigomist.

George Gene Gustines of the New York Times discusses:

Is Archie Andrews a bigamist?

That perennially teenage redhead from Riverdale made headlines around the world when word leaked, back in May, that he would propose to his longtime love interest, Veronica Lodge, in issue No. 600 of the comic that bears his name. But
that issue, published in August, was only Part 1 of a six-part story. Although Archie did marry Veronica, things will take a turn in November, when Archie proposes to the lady in waiting, Betty Cooper. That’s just the latest twist in the romantic triangle that has thrust this nearly 70-year-old character, and his parent company, into the media spotlight.[...]

The wedding story was written by Michael E. Uslan and illustrated by Stan Goldberg, a longtime “Archie” artist. The first half was called “Archie Marries Veronica,” but issue No. 603, on sale next month, is called “Archie Marries Betty.” The end of bachelorhood began in issue No. 600, in which Archie found himself on a road named Memory Lane, which he has often traveled. This time he walked a different direction and encountered a fork in the road. He chose the left path, which allowed him to see his future with Veronica and their twins, and himself working for her tycoon father.

Read the rest of the article HERE

As a result of this new storyline, Archie has catapuleted back into the spotlight, surprising Archie writers and execs. Discussions on BBC, David Letterman, the "Rachel Maddow Show," and more have created an ovewhelming reaction, according to Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of ACP. He told NYT, “It has gone way, way, way bigger than we had ever imagined.[...] This has really pushed ‘Archie’ into the consciousness of everyone’s mind.”

Goldwater also shared partial sales figures for Issue 600, coming in at over 54,000 copies--nearly 51,500 copies more than a typical Archie comic. The comic has now signed up with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to start pitching the comic for feature film and television series. Past newspaper strips are being reprinted as well, and ACP is even in cahoots with "fellow comic-book publishers IDW and Dark Horse for several collected editions, in softcover and hardcover."

It's amazing how one twist like this can create such a turnaround for a work, even one that's slowly dying like Archie. The fact that the concept isn't even all that fresh or unique is also incredible. It goes back to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, with the Ghost of Christmas Future showing crotchety, old Ebenezer what his life could be like if he's not more careful.

Kudos to ACP for using such a perennial theme to breathe new life back into the 70-year-old teenager!

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