I’d been hearing word on the street that the controversial Archie Kickstarter campaign would be cancelled, and now about $30 K in andCBR has the official word. The planned titles—Jughead by Chip Zdarsky, Betty & Veronica by Adam Hughes and Kevin Keller by Dan Parent—will be published, as promised, but the rollout will be slower with Jughead launching in the fall.
According to Archie publisher Jon Goldwater, the negative attention was detracting too much from the actual projects:
“Very broadly, Jughead will come first, sooner than you’d think,” Archie Comics Publisher and CEO Jon Goldwater told CBR News. “Probably October. Then we’ll take a pause, figure out the rollout of the other two and how to best position them in the market. It’s going to take longer than we’d hoped, obviously, but these titles are top priority for us, and we want to make sure our fans get the best books possible.”
The decision to pull the Kickstarter, Goldwater said, came after the conversation no longer became about the books themselves — “Jughead,” to be written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by an artist to be named; “Betty and Veronica,” written and drawn by Adam Hughes; and “Life with Kevin,” written and penciled by Kevin Keller creator and Archie veteran Dan Parent and inked by J. Bone — but about the Kickstarter itself.
The Beat’s retail columnist Brandon Schatz had a detailed post on what he saw as the problems with the crowd funding effort last night.
The big problem Archie Comics is running into involves warring ideas. As a self-sufficient publishing company, they have certain contracts and financial details that they need to keep confidential. However, they are taking a step out of the “self-sufficient” bounds by asking for money – which demands that the math be shown. It might be a popsicle stick solution to a unique problem, but they are doing a poor job in convincing me that it can support the weight.
Don’t get me wrong: Archie as a company isn’t saying anything wrong. They are building a compelling narrative around this Kickstarter that I can get behind. They aren’t Marvel and DC. They don’t have parent companies, and so while they might be big, they’re still relatively small. This affords them the opportunity to move and change with greater ease, but such freedom also comes with a lack of safety net, so to speak. Opportunities arose, and tied up some funds. It happens. What’s losing me are the actions that have surrounded this launch, as well as the product currently being offered with the Kickstarter.
Other publisher Kickstarters—from Fantagraphics and Last Gasp—have been successful, but the grassroots effort seemed more appropriately placed than this one. Although the projects being funded—contrary to what everyone seems to think—were NOT going to be sold in Wal-Mart and Target, just putting the names of those chains in the same paragraph as “crowdfunding” raised an incongruous picture. Although this was a bump in the road for Archie they’ve definitely done the right thing by pulling the plug.
Archie released a statement to CBR on the effort:
We will be ending the Archie Kickstarter today.
We launched the “New Riverdale” Kickstarter as a unique and innovative way to celebrate the company’s upcoming 75th anniversary and to bring attention to some new titles that we are extremely excited about — “Jughead” by Chip Zdarsky, “Betty and Veronica” by Adam Hughes and “Life with Kevin” by Dan Parent and J. Bone. We decided to dive into crowdfunding as an energetic, interactive and different method to raise money to help expedite the launch of these titles. The chance to engage with our fans directly was really appealing to us, and we’re extremely grateful and honored by the support and pledges we’ve received.
While the response to these new titles has been amazing, the reaction to an established brand like Archie crowdfunding has not been. Though we saw this as an innovative, progressive and “outside-the-box” way to fund the accelerated schedule we wanted to produce these books, it became another conversation, leading us further away from the purpose of this whole campaign: to get these amazing books in the hands of fans faster than we could on our own. While we fully expected our goal to be funded, it was no longer about the books and how amazing they will be. We don’t want that. This is why we’re shutting the Kickstarter down today.
We don’t regret trying something new. It’s what Archie’s been about for the last six years. We will continue to be a fearless, risk-taking and vibrant brand that will do its best to embrace new platforms, technology and ways to interact with fans. As a company, we have always prided ourselves on pushing boundaries and challenging expectations and perceptions.
The wonderful New Riverdale titles we wanted to launch will still come out — albeit not as quickly as we would have hoped had we attained the funding via Kickstarter. We believe in these books and know they’ll find an audience in comic shops, fueled by great stories and amazing creators.
We’d like to thank the great team at Kickstarter for their guidance and feedback and the entire staff at Archie Comics for their endless hours of hard work and dedication to this very special initiative.
And, most importantly, to our fans that pledged money to this Kickstarter — we thank you. Your dedication, love of Archie and his friends and endless positivity are examples to all. We will be in contact shortly via Kickstarter to get a special thank-you gift in your hands as soon as possible. Your support means the world to us.
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.