Tagged: Archie Comics

New Crusaders Brings Archie Heroes Back

With four months of digital success under their belt, Archie Comics brings their superhero stable back to comic shops with the first print issue of New Crusaders, in comic shops this week.  Each issue collecting the four weekly “acts” of the digital release, the comic is a response to the many requests from readers who wanted to see a traditional edition as well.  Archie has done a good job of it, with several special covers and some extra bonuses not seen in the digital release.

Archie Comics superheroes have had a long and varied publishing history. They premiered in 1939, enjoyed a a re-emergence in the 60s, another in the 80s, a couple revivals that never got out of the gate, and two attempted revivals by DC Comics, the woefully underappreciated Impact imprint from the 90s (helmed by our own Mike Gold), and the more recent Red Circle line which started strong with the J. Michael Straczynski books, but never seemed to find its audience.  This time around, Archie has chosen to do the job themselves, and unlike the DC revivals, have made the new series part of the continuity of all their books, starting back in to 40s.  While the book has decades of history and continuity, the book is carefully written to not require knowledge of those stories.  It can easily be picked up as a first issue, with no fear of getting lost.

The members of the superhero team known as the Mighty Crusaders did something never before heard of in the annals of super-herodom; they succeeded.  They beast evil into submission, sent the villains running, and spent the last couple of decades happily retired.  After an explosive tease, the story starts with the Crusaders enjoying a reunion in the peaceful  town of Red Circle, where Mayor Jack (Steel) Sterling is throwing a party for the heroes and their families.  While the heroes reminisce in the Mayoral mansion, their kids are getting to know each other outside.  Lucky for them, because one of their greatest foes, alien overlord the Brain Emperor takes the opportunity to take out his old foes all at once.  Only Joe Higgins, the original Shield, escapes, and manages to get the kids to safety in his home, or more specifically, his secret headquarters below, where he’s maintained vigilance for the return of their enemies.

Ian Flynn, who’s made quite a name for himself piloting both of Archie’s big video game franchises, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man, handles the writing for the series, and he’s got a solid grasp of what makes an action comic work.  Even more importantly, as the digital book is coming out six pages at a time, he’s been able to pace the story so that each weekly chapter reads like a complete adventure, yet still flows smoothly in this single-issue format. Artist Ben Bates has a wonderful open style – his characters are drawn simply, his layouts uncluttered, very reminiscent of Impact artist Mike Parobeck; an art that is complex without being overly busy.  There’s lots of easter eggs for older readers; the aforementioned city of “Red Circle” is only the first. In addition to the main adventure, this issue features a reprint of a original Shield story from the 80’s run of the series, written by Marty Greim and art by industry vets Dick Ayres and Rich Buckler.

The print edition of New Crusaders publishes monthly.  The digital edition is available via an iPhone app and for the web and other devices via the Iverse website.  For a 99 cent weekly subscription, readers receive a new six-page chapter each week, as well as access to a growing library of the classic MLJ/Radio/Archie runs of the comics.  For the occasional “Fifth week”, a second series, Lost Crusade, will fill in the blanks of the events between the end of the 80s run of adventures and the new ones.  It’s one of the best digital books being done by a major publisher right now, and both it and the new print edition are well worth a look

For those interested in learning more about the members of the Crusaders, I have a series of histories up on my website:

The Shield

The Comet

The Web

Steel Sterling


Archie Digital Exclusive: Comic Con Chaos!

Comic Con is just around the corner, and Archie and the gang are all set for whatever adventures (or misadventures!) may come their way. Which one of the girls will win the Cosplay Costume Contest? Can Chuck Clayton strike a publishing deal for his new comics? And just how will the gang crack the Crooked Comic-Con Caper?! Explore the expanses of the convention floor with creators like Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz, Alex Segura and Bill Galvan!

Archie Comics hires Jim Sokolowski; promotes Alex Segura, Harold Buchholz, Paul Kaminski

Archie Comics hires Jim Sokolowski; promotes Alex Segura, Harold Buchholz, Paul Kaminski

Jim Sokolowski, formerly of Marvel and DC Comics, joins Archie Comics as Senior Vice President – Sales and Business Development. “Ski” will oversee the company’s sales efforts in the direct, bookstore, digital and newsstand markets and guide plans to expand the reach of the company’s iconic characters and storylines. “Ski” brings a wealth of experience to the company, having previously served as Chief Operating Officer at Marvel and Executive Director of Publishing Operations at DC Comics.

In addition to the new faces, Archie Comics is proud to announce the promotion of a few key staff members to executive positions.

• Harold Buchholz has been promoted from Executive Director of Publishing and Operations to Senior Vice President – Publishing and Operations. Buchholz will continue to oversee the company’s distribution, printing and packaging in order to maximize sales through various channels. Thanks to Buchholz’s diligent efforts, Archie has seen a significant spike in graphic novel output, profitability and visibility – reaching a previously untapped number of new and returning fans. Prior to Archie, Buchholz worked with Jimmy Gownley and Renaissance Press on the popular Amelia Rules! line of graphic novels and was president of Acredale Media, an all-ages comic book print brokerage and consulting service. In addition to his work at Archie, Buchholz is also a cartoonist and writer, and has taught animation and entrepreneurship on the college level.

• Paul Kaminski, editor of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, SONIC UNIVERSE, MEGA MAN, STAN LEE AND THE MIGHTY SEVEN and NEW CRUSADERS, has been promoted to Executive Director of Editorial. In his new role, Paul will oversee the editorial side of Archie’s graphic novel and comic book output and coordinate the editorial side of Archie’s entire line of titles and imprints. Kaminski saw Archie’s licensed titles, including SONIC and MEGA MAN, rise to new heights of success during his tenure as editor, and will bring his keen editorial insight and managerial style to the company as a whole. A BFA graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Kaminski brings a lifelong love of comics, music and pop culture to his work.

• Alex Segura has been promoted from Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing to Vice President – Publicity and Marketing, and will continue to oversee the company’s external messaging to the press, social media and marketing outlets. Since his arrival at Archie, the company has seen an unprecedented spike in attention and critical praise, including regular and focused news, feature and review attention in the mainstream, book trade and pop culture press, including THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, CBS NEWS, THE DAILY MAIL and more. Before coming to Archie, Segura worked at DC Comics. In addition to his publicity and marketing work for the company, Segura was also the writer of the best-selling ARCHIE MEETS KISS storyline among other stories.

George Takei meets Kevin Keller in Archie Comics

English: George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comi...

In October, one gay icon meets another, in Archie Comics.

Kevin Keller #6 will co-star George Takei, best known as Lieutenant Sulu. And it was at a comic convention that George met Kevin’s creator Dan Parent and succumbed to Parent’s request that the two meet in person. George and Kevin, that is.

Here’s hoping Kevin’s future husband doesn’t get too jealous from seeing this photo…

Thanks to Buzzfeed.

Archie Comics CEOs end their court fight… for now

English: Archie Comics logo

Have we achieved peace in our time? The Associated Press piece is skeptical…

The two CEOs of the company that publishes Archie Comics on Wednesday ended their court feud over control of the comics kingdom, but now some relatives are accusing both sides of funny business.

A judge on Wednesday signed off on a settlement between Nancy Silberkleit and Jon Goldwater, the co-CEOs of Archie Comic Publications, even as Goldwater’s nieces told the judge in court papers that they think both chief executives’ “hands are dirty.”

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich said the nieces weren’t in a legal position to weigh in on the settlement, but she noted that they could file a suit of their own. A lawyer for the nieces’ trust, Charles W. Grimes, said it “will be pursuing the requisite steps to protect the interests of the trust and its beneficiaries.”

The settlement ends — at least for now— a bitter and sometimes bizarre fight at the company that produces the congenial, more than 70-year-old comic that follows Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and others through dating and other teenage adventures.

via The Associated Press: Archie comics’ 2 CEOs end their NY court fight.

REVIEW: The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast got its Crunch

The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast got its Crunch
By Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis
Abrams Image. Hardcover. 368 pages. $19.95

cereal1-300x394-9038980Come breakfast time, my kitchen cabinet holds a limited, and boring, offering of ready-to-eat cereals; just some Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios. In my mid-fifties, breakfast cereal no longer holds any importance in my life. To tell the truth, if I’m going to have cereal, I would much rather sit down with a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal and leave the cold, crunchy stuff for when I’m feeling especially lazy.

But, as The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch reminds me, once upon a time, in that galaxy far, far away of childhood, breakfast cereal was important. Very important. The Golden Age of comic books, as someone once observed, is eleven years old. That is, whatever it is we’re exposed to as children is what we hold in our memories and imaginations as the best ever of that particular thing. What’s true for comic books is also true for breakfast cereals and, as it turns out, not only do co-author Marty Gitlin and I have a Golden Age of breakfast cereals in common, but that shared mid-1960s era of cereal seriousness came at a time when the breakfast cereal business was in fact booming thanks, in large part, to Saturday morning cartoons. (more…)

MIKE GOLD’s Top 10 Comics Of 2011

It’s the end of the year and everybody’s got their Top 10 list, and since I went to journalism school I’m obligated to list mine. I’m looking at titles that were released in 2011 because cover dates are meaningless. I’m not looking at original graphic novels or reprint projects, even though in dollar volume they constitute the majority of my purchases. Besides, original graphic novels are done to very different standards. Finally, some of these titles are done by friends of mine; I refuse to disqualify them because they just might buy me lunch. Having said all that…

#1 – Life With Archie Magazine (Archie)

Top of my list for the second year straight. Two stories – Archie marries Veronica, Archie marries Betty. Parallel worlds which converge, but that’s not why this book is great. There’s very real character development here, layered on personalities that existed for 70 years without it. We watch them grow, not into adults, but as adults. Better still, the most interesting character in both series is Reggie Mantle! Paul Kupperberg writes this, with art from Norm Breyfogle, Fernando Ruiz, Pat and Tim Kennedy and a host of others.

#2 – Tiny Titans (DC)

If you see this as a kid’s comic, that’s great, particularly if you’re a kid. If you see this as a brilliant loving satire of DC Comics and its convoluted universe, that’s great too, particularly if you’re an “adult.” Art Baltazar and Franco are pushing towards 50 issues here, and there ain’t a clunker in the bunch.

#3 – Elric: The Balance Lost (Boom)

Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion has been in the hands of a lot of comics creators and a lot of comics publishers, and the output has been… inconsistent. This latest series is among the very best: all of the various shades of Elric are here, and interweaved through the storyline are very contemporary elements and environs. Good stuff from Chris Roberson and Francesco Biagini.

#4 – Daredevil (Marvel)

Once again, Mark Waid does what he does best: he takes a well-established character that, like all well-established comics characters, has been covered in paint about a dozen too many times and strips it back down to the wall, preserving everything that made the character work while imbuing it with a contemporary environment. On this series, he’s going just that – and he’s doing it better than ever. Penciler Marcos Martin ain’t no slouch, neither. This is a real superhero book.

#5 – Justice League Dark (DC)

This one’s my surprise of the year. While very little of DC’s New 52 answers the question “why bother,” this one takes a bunch of characters of a somewhat mystical nature and thrusts them, Justice League like, into a trauma vastly larger than any one of them… and maybe all of them. Sort of like The Defenders, with all the style and John Constantine’s wit. Peter Milligan’s DC work has been inconsistent for me (I tend to prefer his U.K. work), but I’m glad I checked this one out. Mikel Jann draws the series. Very different… and very good.

#6 – Fly (Zenoscope)

I reviewed Raven Gregory and Eric J’s series about a recreational drug that gives kids the power to fly way back here. I liked it then, I like it now. Of course it’s out in trade paperback, so if you blew me off in August, give it a shot now.

#7 – Red Skull (Marvel)

Retrofitting a backstory onto a well-established character is a gambit that is often ill conceived and, worse, boring. Not this one. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak take us back to the villain’s adolescence where we learn – definitively – where his allegiances truly lie… and why. The fact that it’s got the best covers I’ve seen on a mini-series in a long while doesn’t hurt, either.

#8 – Batgirl (DC)

I don’t have a clue about how this series fits into any continuity, current or past. I’m told it does. What I do know is that this is a series about a young woman who’s trying to reestablish herself as a superhero after enduring traumas that shattered her body and soul. She’s not necessarily great at being a superhero, but she’s giving it all she’s got. This is exactly what I expect out of Gail Simone, and that is a very high standard. Adrian Syaf offers solid and exciting storytelling.

#9 – Action Comics (DC)

I went here because of Rags Morales’ art – I’d buy Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes if Rags drew the box – and I stayed for Grant Morrison’s innovative and engrossing script. This is the all-new young Superman, before he figured out what to wear on the job. It’s set well before the all-new older Superman in his eponymous title. I don’t know how this leads up to that, and I don’t care. This is supposed to hold up on its own, and it does. I’ll get over the slap in history’s face with the numbering (if such lasts); this is the best-produced Superman title in a decade-and-a-half.

#10 – To my friends who didn’t make this list: each of you came in tied for #10. Now go fight it out.

Notice how there aren’t any teevee or movie tie-ins? I never warmed up to that stuff. Not even as a kid. Which means it took me a while to realize Steve Ditko actually drew Hogan’s Heroes.

I have no doubt that within weeks at least two of the above-named will start to suck. Like all commercial media, comic books are subject to the whims of the lords and ladies of irony. But as a professional cynic, these titles and perhaps another half-dozen meet and exceed my bizarrely encrusted standards. Your opinions might differ, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong.

Of course not.

Extra: Happy birthday wishes to fellow columnist Marc Alan Fishman, who turns 30 today and, therefore, is old enough to know better. His son turns 0 in about a month.

Extra-Extra: Thanks to Gatekeeper Glenn for saving my life this year.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Joe Simon

Joe Simon: 1913 – 2011

One of the last of the founding fathers of comic books, writer/editor/artist/publisher Joe Simon, died yesterday at the age of 98.

Joe was the first editor at Marvel Comics, then called Timely Comics. After creating Captain America with artist Jack Kirby, the team moved over to DC Comics to create the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter and take over the Sandman feature. The “Simon and Kirby” team were the first to receive regular cover credit. In the past several years, both Marvel and DC has reprinted all of this material in hardcover.

After World War II, the team reunited to form their own comics imprints, Prize Comics and Mainline Publications. In those endeavors they created the romance comic (Young Romance) and published titles including Boys’ Ranch, Black Magic, Bullseye, Foxhole, In Love, Police Trap and Young Love. They also created what at first was a knock-off of their own Captain America titled Fighting American. By the end of the first issue, Fighting American became a straight-forward yet satirical series lampooning the excesses of the anti-Communist hysteria at the time.

Their final creative collaborations occurred after the team formally split up following the dissolving of their imprints: they created The Adventures of the Fly and The Double Life of Private Strong (a.k.a. The Shield) for Archie Comics at the end of the 1950s, which was another knock-off of their Captain America, complete with military theme.

On his own, Joe Simon did an enormous amount of work for his friend Al Harvey and Harvey Comics, including covers to many of their newspaper reprint titles such as Dick Tracy and co-creating their short-lived mid-60s superhero line. More significant, in 1960 Joe created one of the few successful Mad Magazine imitations, Sick. It differed from most of the many, many competitors of the era in that Sick was both well-drawn and actually funny.

Returning to DC Comics at the end of the 1960s, he created and edited Prez, Brother Power the Geek, Outsiders, and The Green Team, and reunited with Jack Kirby for a one-shot featuring their take on Sandman.

His autobiography, [[[Joe Simon: My Life in Comics]]], was published earlier this year by Titan Books. Preceding that was a personal history of comics, [[[The Comic Book Makers]]], was co-written with his son Jim.

In the past several years, Titan Books has been publishing The Simon and Kirby Library, starting with [[[The Best of Simon and Kirby]]] and continuing with [[[The Simon and Kirby Superheroes]]], [[[Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics]]], and [[[The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime]]]. This series was compiled and edited by Joe’s long-time friend and agent, Steve Saffel.

Joe was the recipient of the Inkpot Award in 1998 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame award the following year.

Joe Simon was one of a handful of creators without whom the American comic book field would not be as we know it today. To say he will be greatly missed would be to overstate the obvious.

Let Them Talk

letthemtalk-300x175-2694018Let Them Talk
Hugh Laurie
Produced by Joe Henry Warner Bros. Records

Let us stipulate up front that Hugh Laurie is an insanely talented individual. He’s a comedian, a comic actor, a dramatic actor, a comedy writer, a novelist, plays piano, guitar, and percussion, and, apparently, deep down in his soul, according to the liner notes of Let Them Talk, he’s also an 80-year old, gravelly-voiced Negro ex-sharecropper blues singer.

Sure. Why not?

Most of us think he’s a dyspeptic American medical miracle man (hearing his acceptance speech for his Emmy win as Dr. House, my ex-wife, who knew Hugh Laurie only from House and Stuart Little, asked, “Why is he putting on an English accent?”), so why couldn’t this British born, Oxford and Cambridge educated actor also be Jellyroll Morton?

In Let Them Talk, Hugh Laurie sings the blues, and if he ain’t Jellyroll Morton (and who could be?), he dives into these classic numbers as though he wished he could be. “These great and beautiful artists lived it as they played it,” Laurie writes in the liner notes. “But at the same time, I could never bear to see this music confined to a glass cabinet, under the heading Culture: Only To Be Handled By Elderly Black Men. That way lies the grave, for the blues and just about everything else: Shakespeare only performed at The Globe, Bach only played by Germans in tights. It’s formaldehyde, and I pray that Leadbelly will never be dead enough to warrant that.”

Laurie offers his credentials for playing the blues: a lifelong love for the music and its performers, “I love this music, as authentically as I know how.” The love is there, and combined with some of the abovementioned insane talent, Let Them Talk comes across with some new takes on the old blues worth listening to.

“St. James Infirmary Blues” opens with a quiet, almost symphonic rendition of this great, mournful song that eventually slides into a more traditional take that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The high points include “Swanee River,” the Stephen Foster classic that Laurie weaves with the swinging, piano pounding verve of a Jerry Lee Lewis and Craig Eastman’s haunting violin accompaniment; the energetic power of Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot”; the lazy Ferdinand Joseph Morton composition, “Winin’ Boys Blues,” Cosimo Matassa’s “Tipitina,” and the simple, crisp pickings on Arthur Phelps’ “Police Dog Blues.”

Joining Laurie are such guest vocalists as Dr. John on the Harry Creamer and Turner Layton classic “After You’ve Gone,” which pays no uncertain homage to the 1928 Bessie Smith and later Mac Rebennack recordings; Irma Thomas on the soulful “John Henry,” and Sir Tom Jones (yes, that Tom Jones), plaintively begging “Baby Please Make A Change,” by Armenta Bo, Carter Chatmon/Alonzo Lonnie Chatmon.

For the most part, Laurie’s voice carries him through, but polish and sophistication were never a perquisite for singing the blues. We can forgive him if he has to reach and sometimes strain to hit that note; the blues are, after all, about struggle and pain. But like the first time you heard Hugh Laurie speak without an American accent or play the piano, you’ll be delighted and surprised by what this talented individual can do. Kind of makes you wonder what he has to sing the blues about.

Paul Kupperberg is, deep down in his soul, an 80-year old phlegmy-voiced Jewish comedy writer. He also writes the critically acclaimed Life With Archie Magazine for Archie Comics and is the author of the mystery novel, The Same Old Story (available as an eBook on Amazon.com).


Archie Rock And Rolls All Night With KISS

This may be one of the stranger announcements out of the San Diego Comic-Con, and we think you actually can judge this book by its cover.

KISS  returns to comics later this year with two major projects from publishers Archie Comics and IDW Publishing. This marks the first time that two major publishers have entered into such a groundbreaking, simultaneous deal with such a popular property and trademark.

No stranger to the comic book medium, KISS’ latest foray into four-color adventures will build on the group’s epic and unparalleled legacy, which continues to grow among the band’s fanbase – also known as the KISS Army.

“KISS has a comic book history that spans almost four decades…but it was time to do things better than ever before,” said KISS founder Gene Simmons. “What’s bigger than two different companies sharing the KISS license? Archie and IDW will tell two unique and in-your-face tales of KISS, and we’re thrilled to be working with them on these projects.”

KISS arrives in Riverdale this November in the pages of ARCHIE #627, which kicks off the four-part “ARCHIE MEETS KISS” storyline, written by Archie’s own Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing, Alex Segura, and featuring art by Archie superstar Dan Parent. When one of Sabrina’s spells goes awry and a cabal of monsters invade the town, the Archie gang and KISS join forces to try and save the day. Full of adventure, humor and – of course – rock, the story is certain to appeal to fans of the band and the Riverdale gang.

“We’re ecstatic to team up with Gene, Paul and the entire KISS Army for this project,” said Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “KISS is such a huge part of Americana and that goes hand-in-hand with Archie and friends. We’re honored and excited to help bring KISS back to comics in a huge way.

“This is a unique arrangement but one that we’re proud to be a part of. IDW – like Archie – know their audience and create high-quality and mass-appeal product. We’re looking forward to bringing two great KISS comic series out in the coming months that’ll appeal to the biggest audience possible.”

IDW’s KISS series will kick off in a very special way in 2012. “Having done comics with Gene Simmons for a number of years already, I’m ecstatic to now be involved fully with the ‘hottest band in the world,’” said Chris Ryall, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer. “We’ve found a very unique way to launch our KISS comics, and have big plans for the series that we’ll be revealing soon. I look forward to bringing KISS back to comics in a huge way!”

Ryall added “I think this is the first time two comic publishers have shared a license at the same time, and I’m happy that setting this precedent are Archie and IDW. We both have very different audiences and distribution methods to reach our unique audiences, as well as both of us reaching traditional comics fans, too. We’ll be able to reach all ages of the KISS Army in ways never before equaled. We’re both ready to rock and roll (all night).”

Disclaimer: IDW is the print publisher for ComicMix.