As Archie Comics prepares for its 75th anniversary, co-CEO Jon Goldwater visited the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego to speak with Jonah Weiland about the creative changes at Archie in recent years and where the company is headed next. Goldwater explains how the company feels different across its titles, internal staff and public perception, why Archie will finally find success with its superheroes thanks to the launch of the upcoming Dark Circle imprint and what’s next for fan-favorite characters like Josie and the Pussycats. He also comments on how far the company will take its horror universe that began with “Afterlife with Archie,” his managerial style and upcoming crossovers that have the potential to rock the comics world.
On why Dark Circle will be Archie’s most successful superhero venture yet: We have, I believe, the right creators around the content. We have Alex Segura, who we brought back from DC, who’s captaining that ship. We have Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] as our Chief Creative Officer. Plus, the feedback we’ve gotten from the “Afterlife” titles — I mean, we’ve learned so much. We know what to do, we know what direction we’re going in. I trust the people under me. I feel great about the pitches we’re getting in. A lot of people who may not have wanted to work with Archie years ago — we have our pick now of great people. And plus we also have a vision now for Dark Circle creatively which I don’t think we really had before. We have a very strong vision, led by Alex, led by Roberto, and I feel very confident we’re gonna do extremely well.
I think the rebranding combined with a great story [will change the perception of these titles]. If you have a great story, and great art, I believe everything else will come, and it’ll come naturally and it will come from the bottom on up. We need to tell a great story, which we’re gonna tell, we’re gonna tell a different kind of story than we’ve told before, and our art is going to be as exceptional as Francesco [Francavilla]’s art, and wait ’til you see the new “Sabrina” art that we’re launching for that book. I think it’s really all about the creatives and I think that’s going to be as exceptional as everything we’re doing right now.
On how far Archie will take the world that began with “Afterlife with Archie” and its hinted at third title: I think we keep going. I mean, why stop as long as the quality is there and it’s something we believe in and it’s a story we want to tell, we keep going. I mean, without a doubt. When Roberto approached me about doing the “Sabrina” title as “Rosemary’s Baby” meets… I don’t know, “The Omen” or whatever he was saying about [it] earlier, and then he gave me his pitch for it, I was like, “Oh my god, we have to do this.”
I would have to say at this point with Archie, creatively everything’s on the table. There’s nothing right now that I will just say absolutely we’re never going to do. I mean look, there’s some things, some barriers, you never break, without a doubt, but as long as it makes sense within the context of the Archie universe — I think that was Roberto’s genius in “Afterlife,” is that even though the characters are in, you know, the “zombie apocalypse,” so to speak, the integrity of the character is the same. I mean Archie’s still Archie, he’s just in this whole unusual setting that you never could have imagined him in before. And sure, I mean we’ve ramped it up a bit, I mean he’s not the typical, goofy Archie that you see in the teenage world, but the integrity of the character and all our characters are consistent with Archie and I think that’s why it works so well.
On upcoming intra- and inter-company crossovers: We actually have some amazing crossover announcements coming up, not for San Diego though, but yes we do. So we have some real incredible crossovers that I think are going to set the comic book world on fire. Everything [is on the table], and not just with Archie but Archie partnering with other companies that you may not think. Things are really happening. The great thing about what “Afterlife” has done is that we’re getting calls from so many people who are not just part of the independent comic book world but the big comic book world saying, “Hey, what do you think of this idea? What do you think of that idea?” So there’s some really cool things coming down the line.
On whether there is added pressure given Archie’s recent moves I love it. It’s what you want. You know the last thing you want is for your phone not to ring, you know what I mean? You want your phone to ring, you want your e-mail box to fill up, you want opportunities, you want possibilities. You want the opportunity for your company to grow. One of the things I recognized when I came into Archie five years ago was, “Okay, we are where we are, and I get it, but we have an incredible opportunity to grow.” And we’re starting to see all those seeds that we laid the last couple years really bearing fruit right now and it’s just the beginning. We’re gonna play, and we are in the same sandbox as Marvel and DC, next year we celebrate our 75th anniversary, which is remarkable, and the best is yet to come from Archie.