Archie Comics (Publisher)

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Archie Comic Publications, Inc. is an American comic book publisher headquartered in Pelham, New York. The company is known for its many titles featuring fictional teenagers including Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Sabrina Spellman, and Josie and the Pussycats.
The company began in 1939 as MLJ Comics, which primarily published superhero comics. The initial Archie characters (such as Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, and Betty Cooper) first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). and were created by publisher John L. Goldwater and artist Bob Montana, in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. By creating Archie, Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.
Archie Comics is also the title of the company's longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie. The flagship series was relaunched from issue #1 in July 2015 with a new look and design suited for a new generation of readers. Archie Comics characters and concepts have also appeared in numerous films, television programs, cartoons, and video games, including the hit 2017 television drama series Riverdale.

General Informations

Official Name: Archie Comics
Aliases: Archie Comic Publications, Inc., MLJ Comics, MLJ Magazines
Status: Active
Founded: 1939 (as MLJ Magazines)
Founder: Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, John L. Goldwater
Country of origin: United States
Headquarters location: Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck, New York
Publication types: Comic books
Fiction genres: Humor, romance, superheroes, horror, crime, adventure
Imprints: Archie Action, Archie Horror, Dark Circle Comics, Belmont Books, MLJ Comics, Radio Comics, Mighty Comics, Red Circle Comics, Archie Adventure Series, Spectrum Comics
Official website: archiecomics.com

History

MLJ Magazines

1939–1946: Early years

Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater formed MLJ Magazines and started publishing in November 1939. The company name was derived from the initials of the partners' first names.[12]
Coyne served as MLJ's bookkeeper and chief financial officer. Coyne and Silberkleit had been partners in Columbia Publications, a pulp and eventually digest magazine company that published its last fiction magazines in 1960. Silberkleit had a college degree from St. John's University, was a licensed and registered pharmacist, and had a law degree from New York Law School. His efforts were focused on the business, printing, separating, distribution and financial ends of the company. John Goldwater served as editor-in-chief. Goldwater was one of the founders of the Comics Magazine Association of America, and he served as its president for 25 years. (The Comics Magazine Association of America is best known to comic fans for its Comics Code Authority.) Goldwater was also a national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League.[13]
MLJ's first comic book, published in November 1939, was Blue Ribbon Comics, with the first half of the book in full color and the last half in red and white tints. Top Notch Comics was launched in December 1939. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield, the first USA patriotic comic book hero, created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and designed by artist Irv Novick. The Shield was a forerunner of Joe Simon's and Jack Kirby's Captain America, being published 14 months earlier.[9][14] Until March 1944, the cover feature of Pep was the Shield, at which point Archie took over the cover.

Archie Comics

1941–1990s

The Andy Hardy movies were an inspiration for Goldwater to have a comic book about a relatable normal person. Teenaged Archibald "Archie" Andrews debuted with Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones in Pep Comics #22 (Dec. 1941), in a story by writer Vic Bloom and artist Bob Montana.[9] Archie soon became MLJ Magazine's headliner, which led to the company changing its name to Archie Comic Publications. Siberkleit and Coyne discontinued Columbia Publications in 1960.[9] In the late 1950s, Archie Publishing launched its "Archie Adventure Series" line with a new version of the Shield and two new characters.[12]
The February 1962 issue of Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine featured his parody of the Archie characters in its Goodman Beaver story, "Goodman Goes Playboy", which was illustrated by frequent collaborator Will Elder.[15] Help! publisher Jim Warren received a letter on December 6, 1961, accusing Help! of copyright infringement and demanding removal of the offending issue from newsstands. Warren was unable to recall the magazine,[16] but he agreed to settle out of court rather than risk an expensive lawsuit. Warren paid Archie Comics $1000, and ran a note of apology in a subsequent issue of Help![17] The story was reprinted in the book collection Executive Comic Book in 1962, with the artwork modified by Elder to obscure the appearance of the Archie characters. Archie Comics found their appearance still too close to its copyrighted properties, and threatened another lawsuit. Kurtzman and Elder settled out of court by handing over the copyright to the story. Archie Comics held onto the copyright and refused to allow the story to be republished. A request from Denis Kitchen in 1983 to include the story in his Goodman Beaver reprint collection was turned down.[16] After The Comics Journal co-owner Gary Groth discovered that Archie Comics had allowed the copyright on "Goodman Goes Playboy" to expire, he had the story reprinted in The Comics Journal #262 (September 2004),[18] and made it available as a PDF on the magazine's website.[19][20]
In the mid-1960s, during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books, Archie switched its superheroes to a new imprint, "Mighty Comics Group," with the MLJ heroes done in the campy humor of the Batman TV show. This imprint ended in 1967.[12]
In the early 1970s, Archie Enterprises Inc. went public. Just over 10 years later, Louis Silberkleit's son Michael and John Goldwater's son Richard returned Archie Comic Publications to private ownership.[9] Michael Silberkleit served as chairman and co-publisher, while Richard Goldwater served as president and co-publisher.[21] Coyne retired in the 1970s as CFO.[9]
Around 1972, Archie Enterprises, Inc. decided to further diversify into food service operations, which led to the creation of a restaurant chain, Archie's Family Restaurants, in partnership with BarKo Group, Inc..[22] However, only two restaurants were actually built, and they were so badly mismanaged that the company ended up closing them down.[23]
In the 1970s and 1980s, Spire Christian Comics, a line of comic books by Fleming H. Revell, obtained license to feature the Archie characters in several of its titles, including Archie's Sonshine, Archie's Roller Coaster, Archie's Family Album, and Archie's Parables. These comics used Archie and his friends to tell stories with strong Christian themes and morals, sometimes incorporating Bible scripture. In at least one instance, the regular characters meet a Christ-like figure on the beach, and listen as he gently preaches Christian values.[24]
Archie launched a short-lived fantasy and horror imprint, Red Circle Comics, in the 1970s. The company revived that imprint in the 1980s for its brief line of superheroes comics.[12] Later in the 1980s, Archie planned to publish superheroes again with the Spectrum Comics imprint, featuring a number of high-profile talents, but it cancelled this attempt before publishing a single issue.[25]
Having licensed Archie's MLJ Superheroes in 1991, DC Comics launched its imprint Impact Comics with these heroes.[26][27]

2000s

On April 4, 2003, Dad's Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta was scheduled to debut a new play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie's Weird Fantasy, which depicted Riverdale's most famous resident coming out of the closet and moving to New York. The day before the play was scheduled to open, Archie Comics issued a cease and desist order, threatening litigation if the play proceeded as written. Dad's Garage artistic director Sean Daniels said, "The play was to depict Archie and his pals from Riverdale growing up, coming out and facing censorship. Archie Comics thought if Archie was portrayed as being gay, that would dilute and tarnish his image."[28] It opened a few days later as "Weird Comic Book Fantasy" with the character names changed.[29] In 2014, Aguirre-Sacasa would become Archie's Chief Creative Officer.[30]
Bill Yoshida learned comic book lettering from Ben Oda and was hired in 1965 by Archie Comics, where he averaged 75 pages a week for 40 years for an approximate total of 156,000 pages.[31]
Archie Comics sued music duo The Veronicas for trademark infringement in 2005 over the band's name, which Archie Comics alleges was taken from the comic book character. Archie Comics and Sire Records (The Veronicas's record label) reached a settlement involving co-promotion.[32]
In 2008, Archie Publications once again licensed DC Comics its MLJ Super heroes for a DC Universe integrated line, Red Circle.[26]

2010–present

Following Richard Goldwater's death in 2007 and Michael Silberkleit's in 2008, Silberkleit's widow Nancy and Goldwater's half brother Jonathan became co-CEOs in 2009.[21] Nancy Silberkleit, a former elementary-school art teacher, was given responsibility for scholastic and theater projects, and Jon Goldwater, a former rock/pop music manager, was responsible for running the company's day-to-day publishing and entertainment efforts.[21] The company sued Silberkleit in July 2011, and Goldwater filed another lawsuit against her in January 2012, alleging she was making bad business decisions and alienating staff; she in turn sued him for defamation.[21] As of February 2012, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, in Manhattan, had fined Silberkleit $500 for violating the court's autumn order temporarily barring her from the company's headquarters, and said the court might appoint a temporary receiver to protect the company's assets.[21] As of May 2016, these legal proceedings had been resolved.[citation needed]
Beginning in 2010, the company partnered with Random House Publisher Services for its bookstore distribution which included trade paperbacks, original graphic novels and additional book formats. Archie Comics saw its graphic novel and collected edition output increase from 11 book titles that year to 33 in 2012, and 40 in 2013. The company's sales also increased by 410% for books and 1,000% for e-books since 2010.[2]
Beginning in July 2010, the first issue of Life with Archie was launched. The series featured two different storylines exploring two possible futures — a world where Archie marries Betty and a world where he marries Veronica. The series also incorporated more contemporary themes including death, marriage woes, same-sex marriage, cancer, financial problems and gun control.[33]
Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first gay character, debuted in Veronica #202 in September 2010.[34] The character was created out of a conversation between Goldwater and longtime Archie Comics writer-artist Dan Parent during the company’s first creative summit, about bringing more diversity to Riverdale.[35] The issue sold out at the distributor level, prompting Archie Comics for the first time to issue a second edition of a comic.[36] In June 2011, Keller was featured in his own four-part miniseries.[37] A bimonthly Kevin Keller series launched with writer-artist Parent in early 2012 received a GLAAD award for Outstanding Comic Book the following year.[38]
In March 2011, a copy of Archie Comics #1, first published in 1942, was sold at auction for $167,300, a record for a non-superhero comic book.[39]
In April 2011, Archie Comics became the first mainstream comic-book publisher to make its entire line available digitally on the same day as the print release.[40] At the New York Comic Con in October 2011, Archie Comics announced that its superheroes would return as an all-digital line under the Red Circle imprint, a subscription model with back-issue archive access.[27] The imprint started in 2012 with a new New Crusaders series.[41]
In October 2013, Archie Comics launched its first horror title, Afterlife with Archie, depicting Archie and the gang dealing with a zombie apocalypse that begins in their hometown of Riverdale. Written by Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by artist Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie was also the first Archie Comics title to be sold exclusively to comic shops and to carry a rating of "Teen+".[42] The series adapted the Archie characters into a world with adult themes and horror tropes including zombies, the occult, demons, and Cthulhu.[43]
The success of Afterlife with Archie led to a second horror series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which launched in October 2014 from Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack.[40][44] Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes place in the 1960s in the town of Greendale and follows a 16-year-old Sabrina Spellman as she struggles to balance her responsibilities as a witch-in-training with her feelings for her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle.[45]
On April 9, 2014, Archie Comics announced that the adult version of Archie Andrews featured in the Life with Archie series would die in issue #36 (July 2014), which would also be the second-to-last issue.[46] Goldwater said Archie's final fate would be the same in both of the possible parallel futures covered by the series.[47] This version of Archie was killed saving Senator Kevin Keller from an assassination attempt.[48]
In July 2014, Archie Comics announced that its superhero imprint Red Circle Comics would be rebranded as Dark Circle Comics in 2015.[49] The new imprint focuses on self-contained stories featuring the superheroes from the Red Circle library while exploring the crime, horror, and adventure genres. The first wave included the superheroes the Black Hood, the Fox, and the Shield.[50] Dark Circle Comics debuted with The Black Hood #1 (Feb. 2015) by writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Michael Gaydos in February 2015. The mature-readers title introduced police officer Gregory Hettinger, the new Black Hood, who struggles with an addiction to painkillers as a result of a shooting outside a school in Philadelphia.[51] The launch continued with The Fox (April 2015), picking up where Red Circle's The Fox series had left. The series was co-written by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid with art by Haspiel.[52] The Shield #1 (Oct. 2015) from co-writers Chuck Wendig and Adam Christopher and artist Drew Johnson debuted a new, female Shield named Victoria Adams.[53] The Hangman #1 (Nov. 2015) introduced a supernatural horror series from writer Frank Tieri and artist Felix Ruiz about mob hit-man Mike Minetta making a deal with the devil to become the new Hangman after the previous person to wear the mantle ascended to Heaven.[54]
Archie Comics launched a $350,000 Kickstarter in May 2015 campaign to help the publisher get three additional series out to the public sooner than otherwise: 'Life with Kevin, focusing on Kevin Keller, and new Jughead and Betty and Veronica series.[55] Five days later, Archie Comics cancelled the campaign after critical response. The company stated that the three titles would still be published at a later time.[56]
In March 2015, Archie Comics announced that its two delayed horror series would return under a new imprint, Archie Horror, with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 and Afterlife with Archie #8 being released in April and May.[57]

Flagship relaunch

In December 2014, Archie Comics announced that its flagship series Archie would relaunch with a new first issue in July 2015.[58] The new series would be a modern take on the Archie characters by writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples, featuring serialized storylines.[59] After the first three issues, Annie Wu drew an issue, followed by new regular artist Veronica Fish.[60] The new title received IGN's "Best New Comic Series of 2015" award.[61]
The first title in the company's New Riverdale universe, Archie was released with a July 2015 cover date and came in at #7 for comic book sales for the month.[62] The next title, Jughead, was released in October. In April 2015, Archie Comics announced Betty and Veronica which debuted in July 2016. Also announced was Life with Kevin, a digital-first mini-series that debuted in June 2016.[63] Josie and the Pussycats and Reggie and Me followed in September and December 2016.

Honors and awards

The United States Postal Service paid tribute to Archie by including him as part of a set of five 44-cent postage stamps on the theme "Sunday Funnies," issued July 16, 2010. The Archie stamp featured Veronica, Archie, and Betty sharing a chocolate milkshake. The other stamps depicted characters from the Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Dennis the Menace comic strips.

Characters/features

 A

The Adventures of the Fly (Comics Series) (Archie Comics)Archie Andrews (Archie Comics)

M

The Mighty Crusaders (Earth-MLJ) (Team) (Archie Comics)

 H

Joe Higgins (Earth-MLJ) (Archie Comics)William Higgins (Earth-MLJ) (Archie Comics)

 C


F

Fly Man (Comics Series) (Archie Comics)

Gallery

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