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Layoffs at Archie Comics

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The Beat has learned that last week Archie Comics laid off five employees from their 30 person staff.

Archie did not respond to enquiries.

Earlier this year Archie launched a Kickstarter that sought $350,000 to help fund it’s updated Archie line that includes Archie #1 by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. After a a firestorm of controversy, it was cancelled shortly later.

Archie #1 has been a sales success, with 101,488 copies of the but ordered, according to ICv2, and 30,642 sold of the second issue. It’s a steep drop but still above what the usual Archie comic sells.

The Archie downsizing is just one sign of a market correction that seems to be taking place at several companies. The Beat will have more coverage of these signs but in the meantime you might want to check out Todd Allen’s Four Risk Factors Facing the Comics Industry in 2015, which lays out why we’re seeing some of these corrections. It’s not the end of the world or the end of comics, but just the logical follow-up to what has been a fairly tumultuous year. 


15 COMMENTS

  1. I’m always sad to see anyone lose their job, but I must say that maybe the time for Archie has passed. I thought their core business had nothing to do with comic shops and were all about those digests for young readers which seem to be present at almost every supermarket check-out in the country. But maybe that’s not enough anymore to keep the company afloat. And frankly, I don’t see their road to redemption in playing the characters straight.

    I’ve always enjoyed the talents of Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, and while their first issue of their ‘all new’ Archie was a good try and played fine, at the end of the day it was neither fish nor fowl: not a slice of Americana or anything all that outrageous. Without the trappings of the classic, stylized Archie art and the slapstick gags, isn’t it just a another book about a bunch of teenagers? The only real juice it gets is riffing on our perceived notions of the characters — but it’s never going to be edgy enough to be all that unique either. Let’s face it, Betty’s not gonna be a teen mom and Professor Flutesnoot isn’t gonna be Walter White.

    I can understand nostalgia piquing an old comic fan’s curiosity, but after picking it up once or twice to take a look, I can’t see this version sustaining itself in the long term (and the sales figures from issue one to two seem to bear this out.) Why would a reader under 30 pick up and follow a more realistic Archie? But this seems to be the basket management is now placing their eggs. And it looks like it’s a pretty small basket.

  2. What hasn’t been addressed is why the creative teams on the two Archie titles that kickstarted this new age of Archie, Afterlife of Archie and Sabrina, are unable to meet any kind of publishing schedule? These titles aren’t even quarterly, there’s sadly only been one issue of Afterlife released this year. I have heard from a lot of people who think these titles are canceled. The momentum on these two titles has been totally killed.

  3. Ralph: I’ve jumped into threads like this and even on TW to ask Francisco Francavilla directly about this. It’s been a lot of “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” stuff. Could the lack of output on Sabrina and Afterlife could be creative or a pay problem? It would be good to hear from SOMEBODY…

  4. I have to say I’m surprised by this. Excluding the delays on titles, Afterlife with Archie has been selling amazingly well, the Sabrina reboot has sold great, The Life with Archie had a few issues that sold huge due to gay marriage, etc. The first issue of Archie just sold a ton… you’re telling me the Archie before all the huge changes brought in more money than all the hits they’ve been having lately? It seemed to me that they were breathing new life into the company, so I’m shocked! I wonder if they’re stretching themselves too thin with finances. Aren’t they trying to get back into TV and movies? Maybe they attempted that too early…

  5. Ralph: By the looks of FF’s twitter page, it’s all about covers and exclusive prints now, so I think we may have seen the last of Afterlife. I’m just really surprised that NOBODY besides fans like us are talking about this, and NOBODY in the comics press has asked the creative folks — Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, FF and Richard Hack — about it. Their Afterlife FB page hall monitor claims neither book has been cancelled, but, in this case, NOTHING speaks louder than words.

  6. @Wayne Beamer 9/22/ 12:48pm –

    FF makes like $400 or more dollars for every print he does. (He sells them.) I don’t think Archie Comics is paying him that much for a comic page. I can’t blame the guy for focusing more on his work/finances, but it makes me mad that Archie Comics won’t drop him and get someone else who has ‘Afterlife’ as a priority to work on it. His ‘Afterlife’ style is not that unique that somebody else can’t copy it.

  7. As someone who thought there might be a rain cloud over Archie a while back, I don’t see their current position as doom-and-gloom. Everything they’ve done in the past several years has been in service of remaining relevant, and they have done a stellar job of making noise, and getting back into the limelight.

    The smart money is on the Horror books being on hold until they can guarantee release – just like the company has done with much of it’s Dark Circle line, and this new set of Riverdale launches. The writer of the horror line is wrapped up in the production of Riverdale, which is definitely a contributing factor – and considering how the creative teams on those books are fueling those books, I’d say good on them for that.

    But as with all things, we’ll see.

  8. Hikari: To me it seems, between the covers, commissions and print work, FF is really doing want he wants to do at the right price. Comics got him to this place, and he doesn’t owe the industry anything. But it would be the right thing to let everyone who’s followed him up to this point — or Archie — to fess up.

    As far as replacing FF on Afterlife, not gonna happen. The idea started with his zombie variant cover done at least two years ago if not more. Retailers and readers won’t support a new Afterlife co-creator.

    Brandon: If Afterlife was really active, we’d have known about it by now. Comics is a world that straddles books and periodicals. I’m not sure if an original GN of new material would sell nearly as well given all the delays, plus the reprinting of each comics issue as a magazine.

    Believe me, I hope I’m dead wrong about the intentions of Archie Comics going forward, but I’ve seen this stuff happen before, and it rarely ends well.

  9. @Wayne Mmm, yes and no. They aren’t being released, but their accounts remain fairly active, and they teased a third title at SDCC. I think they’re waiting on content, and a solid relaunching point to get a good chunk of media.

  10. Brandon: Again, I hope I’m wrong. BTW, here are the last release dates for AWA 6-8, as best as I can find them:
    #6 5.7.14
    #7 12.10.14
    #8 4.29.15
    A book with that much momentum going for it dying on the vine… That’s really a shame.
    Here’s something worth mentioning. Just received FF’s Baltimore Comic-Con schedule. His only panel is with the Dynamite guys. Take that for what you will. Maybe nothing at all. But telling…

  11. I would honestly point to the bevy of covers he has coming from the company still to this date. I actually just placed initial orders for an Archie variant, a Jughead variant, and a Black Hood regular cover with Francavilla. So, still definitely working for the company.

  12. “The Archie downsizing is just one sign of a market correction that seems to be taking place at several companies.”

    No, actually the rest of the industry is up. There are more comic shops this year than there were last year. Single copy sales are up. Collected editions sales are up. Comichron.com reported that 2014 was the best year since the mid-’90s, and that’s even with an adjustment for inflation. Everything is up, and the ONLY other negative blip was DC not quite meeting their target after moving their entire company across the country.

    Meanwhile everyone except Archie True Believers can obviously see that the company has been doing a number of things to alienate fans and it’s finally catching up with them. (Actually, not even “finally”. Their sales have been awful for half a decade now, but this is just the latest drop.)

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