UPDATE: Archie president Jon Goldwater has released a statement on the Kickstarter. See below.
Well, here is one company you didn’t expect to be crowd funding things: Archie Comics has launched a Kickstarter for $350,000 to continue their updated, realistic version of the Riverdale Universe. For this amount, they will follow up the Mark Waid/Fiona Staples Archie book (due later this year) with a Jughead series by Chip Zdarsky and a Betty and Veronica Title by Adam Hughes, as well as Life with Kevin featuring Kevin Keller by regular writer Dan Parent and inked by J. Bone.
The Kickstarter has already garnered about $8000 and some social media scrutiny to say the least. Archie is certainly the oldest comics company to turn to crowdfunding, and some may be surprised that they need to raise capital to refurbish their line. While the Waid/Staples take on Archie was seen as the latest move in the line’s general freshening, it was also abandoning a formula that has worked for 75 years. Just the other day I spoke with Bart Beaty about his new book Twelve Cent Archie, and the incredible timeless durability of these stories. Launching a new, more contemporary, less iconic look is part of the general update that Archie has been busy with for the last five years or so.
Also, Adam Hughes on Betty and Veronica seems like a “male gaze” take on the characters that s bit out of step with the current popularity of girl-centric comics. But it does speak to a wealthy, older niche audience that might be into supporting this effort.
Archie Comics, the acclaimed and bestselling comic book publisher that is home to some of the best-known pop culture creations in the world, including Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Josie & The Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the hit AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE series, announced today that it would launch a historic crowdfunding campaign via the popular Kickstarter platform.
The Kickstarter campaign’s call to action is a simple one: Help Archie Comics build a New Riverdale. Specifically, the Kickstarter will ask fans to help fund a slate of titles that build off the surefire success of ARCHIE #1 — the debut issue of a new, ongoing ARCHIE series from writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) and artist Fiona Staples (Saga). The series will be crafted by some of the biggest names in the comic book industry and feature the most beloved characters in comic book history.
The three new titles, launching over the next 18 months, include:
JUGHEAD — Featuring the adventures of Archie’s hamburger-loving best friend, from acclaimed writer Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard the Duck) and an artist TBA. An off-the-wall series full of laughs, unexpected twists and a modern sense of humor.
BETTY AND VERONICA — Girl-next-door Betty Cooper and wealthy socialite Veronica Lodge are best friends and fiercely competitive. While they both have a history with that guy Archie, the series puts the focus squarely on them — their friendship, their high school lives and adventures beyond Riverdale. Written and drawn by comic book legend Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan).
LIFE WITH KEVIN — Kevin Keller, the hugely-popular and historic character that broke new ground in Riverdale by being the first gay character in the company’s publishing history returns in a new ongoing series. Writer/artist Dan Parent (Kevin Keller) and inker J. Bone (The Spirit) tell a tale of an older, more experienced Kevin as he navigates a new city, new romance and leaving home.
“Our fans are part of our family — they’re an integral part of everything we do,” said Archie Comics Publisher/Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We’re not flush with corporate cash like Marvel or DC. But we’re also not afraid to take calculated risks. With this Kickstarter, fans have the chance to get in on the ground floor of an exciting and forward-thinking initiative. Fans can help build a New Riverdale, brick-by-brick. We’ve put together a stellar lineup of titles — featuring the best and the brightest creators working on our top characters. With your help, we can make this New Riverdale a reality. The best part? This is only the beginning.”
The crowdfunding initiative marks the latest part of the company’s 75th anniversary celebration — while also marking the beginning of a new era for the long-running publisher. With the launch of ARCHIE #1 on July 8, the company will be poised to reimagine its core characters while retaining the humorous and edgy elements that made them instant sensations when they first appeared.
“When I first stepped into the Archie offices, the brand was frozen in time. The stories felt stiff and dated. That’s no longer the case,” Goldwater said. “This is a new Archie. A new Jughead. A new Betty and Veronica and a new Kevin. We’re holding onto the things that made them great — the humor, the love triangle, the friendship and youthful exuberance — but presenting them in a way that can appeal to everyone, from classic comic fans to new readers who might not know every nook and cranny of our history. Each part of this is a brick that will help build a New Riverdale. But we can only do it with your help.”
We live in a time of unheralded growth and awareness for comics. The Avengers are in theaters. The Flash is running around on TV and, defying odds; comic book print sales are staying strong while digital continues to grow. If comics didn’t already have an era dubbed the Golden Age, we could make a strong argument that this is it.
By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Archie Comics has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help launch three new titles. These books will expand on the foundation being created in the pages of July’s ARCHIE #1 by the hugely talented team of writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples. These books cannot exist without the support of our fans, the most important people in the world to us. The people that have supported Archie since day one, 75 years ago.
It’s also a good opportunity to talk a bit about story. About quality. About the relationships between the producers of comics – the publishers – and you, the fans.
I’m sure the first question you have about this is “Well, why does Archie need our money?” That’s a good and fair question. We understand and value every purchase our fans make. We’ve chosen to be fully transparent when launching this Kickstarter, as we have been in the past with all our initiatives. Let’s face it: we are not Marvel or DC Comics. We don’t have their bottomless bank accounts. We don’t have their corporate infrastructure.
We can’t launch 20 titles a month. We can’t flood the market with double-shipped books.
We are a privately owned company that has built a track record for being innovative, forward thinking, progressive, relevant and agile. Over the last six years, while I’ve overseen Archie Comics, we’ve acted more like a new publisher than one that’s been around for decades. We are the oldest start-up in history.
So, let me take it a step further. Not only are we not Marvel or DC – we don’t want to be.
We don’t want to tell convoluted stories that require fans to buy a dozen comics to understand one. We don’t want to reboot our titles every six months. We don’t want to alter characters to make headlines and then move on as if nothing happened.
We are not cloaked in secrecy. We’re here – we’re connected and we’re available. Our fans are as much a part of the company as our employees. We are all in this together.
What matters most to Archie Comics? For us, for me – it’s all about the story and art. It’s about making sure the level of quality is beyond sky-high. It’s about the characters. It’s about doing the best job we can to create the best comics possible with the best talent available. That’s why you have names like Waid, Staples, Zdarsky, Hughes, Parent, Aguirre-Sacasa, Francavilla, Hack, Swierczynski, Gaydos and more on our titles. The best and brightest doing career-defining work on characters recognized around the world. And this is only the beginning.
As we enter our 75th year, its obvious Archie is here to stay. This isn’t a plea to keep us in business. This is a call to action. We want to partner with our fans to build on something we already know is going to be a huge success – ARCHIE #1. But not through gimmicks, hype or smoke and mirrors. But through the thing that has gotten us to this point: great storytelling. Help us build a New Riverdale and vote with the one ballot that will get the attention of the Marvels and DCs of the world: your dollar.
Be a part of something new and vibrant. Support the little guy fighting to make some noise and show the slow-moving goliaths of the comic book industry how it’s done: through hard work, great storytelling and tactical and calculated risk-taking.
Help us build a New Riverdale for everyone.
– Jon Goldwater
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.