Archie Comics and Comixology have announced that, beginning with this week’s Sabrina: Something Wicked #3, Archie will be making all of their new releases available on Comixology Unlimited the same day they’re released for purchase. The publisher will also be making any past 2020 releases available to read on Comixology Unlimited immediately. That means there’ll be no wait to read new and recent Archie offerings for Comixology Unlimited subscribers, versus the six-month (or more) wait for most other publishers’ titles to reach the subscription platform.
As the PR of the announcement states, Archie is the first major US publisher to make this move. It’s an extension of the partnership between Archie and Comixology that saw a digital-exclusive Josie & The Pussycats in Space miniseries last year. Archie also has its own streaming subscription service, Archie Unlimited, but that program is set up through Madefire and not Comixology.
It’s worth pointing out that subscribers to Hoopla, the digital streaming service available for free through many libraries, have had same-week access to new Archie single-issue releases (along with releases from several other publishers including BOOM! Studios and Titan Comics) for a while now. Also worth noting is how much Archie’s single-issue output has slowed of late. As mentioned last week along with the Archie Comics December 2020 solicitations (which included only five books total), their single-issue output hasn’t yet returned to its pre-pandemic levels, whereas digest, collected edition, and graphic novel releases remained relatively unaltered during the Diamond shutdown thanks to Archie not relying solely on Diamond for distribution.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Archie’s single-issue output in 2021 — the publisher has largely switched to a miniseries format, even for the flagship Archie series, although that book retains legacy numbering along with the miniseries numbering and branding. Unless they ramp up their main and horror lines again in 2021, putting all of their new releases up on Comixology Unlimited ultimately won’t amount to a ton of new Archie material being available there.
Given the format changes Archie Comics has already been experimenting with, though, could the move to put new release titles on Comixology Unlimited immediately signal a shift away from relying on single-issue sales via the direct market? Graphic novels and collections are where the real money is, after all, and putting the single issues out digitally, and allowing Comixology Unlimited subscribers to sample them via a platform they’re already using, could be a good way to entice those readers to spend the money on physical collected editions.
Whatever the reasoning, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Archie Comics. Their full digital library, including this week’s newest releases, is available on Comixology Unlimited right now.