– For the first time since 1985, ARCHIE COMICS will publish their Red Circle line of superheroes, only this time it will be a digital comic exclusive. None other than the NEW YORK TIMES itself revealed this scoop, in advance of this weekend’s New York Comic Con, and is one of the many new pushes orchastrated by Jon Goldwater, the co-CEO of Archie (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/business/media/for-archie-comics-a-return-to-superheroes.html?_r=3). Goldwater notes how he enjoys being at the forefront of this push, as well as feeling it is cost effective since there are no printing costs (unless Archie decides to eventually sell a print version down the line, as Marvel Comics often do with their rare digital exclusives). The Red Circle heroes include The Shield, a patriotic hero whose 1940 debut date beat out Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA by a year, and The Fly, a creation by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1959. The line’s heroes united on a team called the Mighty Crusaders. The new digital version will embrace youth in plot as well as technology, as a new generation of Mighty Crusaders will assemble, being mentored by the original Shield. Archie licensed the characters out to DC Comics in 1991 and 2008, but both of DC’s attempts to re-introduce them were flops. Given how superheroes are a dime a dozen in American comics, Archie’s choice to use digital exclusiveness as a marketing tool is unique. Archie has often been rare to publish material that was of pure “adventure story” quality. In this century, there was an over 40 issue run of SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH which was akin to a “magical girl manga”, and Archie published licensed comics of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES from the late 80’s up until the mid 90’s. The NEW CRUSADERS will be written by Ian Flynn and drawn by Ben Bates, which will be sold as 6 page chunks of story next year, presumably to keep cover prices low; “impulse buy” for paid downloads tends to be 99 cents. In other ARCHIE news, the gang from Riverdale are set to team up with rock band KISS, who once again find themselves translated into comic book form (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/archie-kiss-crossover-111007.html).
– ComiXology is expanding to the east coast, and to that end they’ve decided to invest in a new hire to found a west coast branch. That man is Chip Mosher, former Marketing and Sales Director for BOOM! Studios, who will now be the Vice-President of Marketing, Public Relations and Business Development at ComiXology. Their new office will open in L.A. and will be the first time the company expands from the east coast. Having been at BOOM! since 2007, Mosher was a propnent of digital comics as well as the figure behind, among other slogans, the “Mark Waid Is Evil” promotional scheme (http://blog.comixology.com/2011/10/10/comixology-names-chip-mosher-as-vice-president-of-marketing-public-relations-and-business-development/). Since 2007, ComiXology has grown by leaps and bounds as a digital distributor of comics online and to various media devices. The company noted to ICv2 last week, roughly 40% of comic books being published today are being released both digitally and physically on the same date (“day and date”), via the publishing schemes arranged by Archie Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Comics, and even Marvel Comics (http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/21191.html). While Archie and DC are offering their entire line, Marvel and Image will be offering their top books. And despite what naysayers feared, this did not hinder physical sales in shops much, either – at least in September.
– In less optimistic comic company news, Haven Distributors – the second biggest comic book distribution company after Diamond that catered to smaller press comics like RED 5 Comics, BOOM! Studios, and Slave Labor Graphics – will be shutting down operations at the end of October (http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/10/haven-director-confirms-distributor-is-closing-but-says-hell-return/#more-93334). The company was founded in 2008 when Chicago based Rogue Wolf Entertainment bought out Cold Cuts, a company that often dealt in re-orders of comic books. Given how Diamond has increased its order threshold for titles it carries, Haven became what it professed to be for some indie publishers who struggled to hit that threshold for Diamond. Lance Stahlberg, director of Haven, blamed the poor economy as well as an owner new to the comics biz for Haven’s demise – but he plans to return at some point. A buy-out of the business by another company is possible. Sadly, it is another tale of another small competitor losing out to a monopoly giant.
Last Week’s Indie Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-10-3-11-image-teams-with-comixology-graphicly-asterix
Last Week’s DC Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-10-3-11-no-crisises-perez-off-superman-dc-s-kindle-fire
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-10-4-11-scarlet-spider-the-twelve-wolvie-s-school-movies