NYCC: Archie Comics Packs the House

Attendees were turned away from the Archie Comics Panel at this year's New York Comic Con, which could have easily packed a room twice the size. Executive director of publicity and marketing Alex Segura led the panel which included CEO Jon Goldwater, Editor in Chief Victor Gorelick, President Mike Pellerito, creators Dan Parent, Paul Kupperberg and Michael Uslan, iVerse's Michael Murphey and Licensing Coordinator Kari Silbergleit.

Jon Goldwater opened the panel by singling out a few people at the table next to him. Victor Gorelick, whom he described as his friend and a man important to the history of Archie and the history of comics, who has been working for the company for the past 53 years. "A dynamic creative force who I challenged to come up with something new and he came up with Kevin Keller, Dan Parent," who was clearly stunned to be cited in such a manner. And Michael Uslan, who breathed life into "Life with Archie" with the marriage story.

As someone who's been around the block in comics and Hollywood, Uslan said Archie has a language unlike the rest of the country. "No one says no," Uslan said. "When I was a kid, there was a company that called itself the House of Ideas, but Archie is the true house of ideas."

The first project discussed was "New Crusaders" which was announced just before the convention, and Goldwater said this new project will be released digitally first and then later collected as a graphic novel. Mike Pellerito made it clear that while Archie has been publishing superhero comics for seventy years, readers should not expect "dark, gruesome stuff like in other superhero comics." More than just releasing this new series digitally, the company will also be releasing older superhero stories featuring work by numerous comics legends such as Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, many of which have never been reprinted before.

Goldwater made it clear that the company is intent on moving into new media and as part of that, the company is partnering with the production company Moonscoop on two new animated projects. The first, which will be debuting next fall, is a "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" animated series. The other is a "Little Archie" series, which will be done in the style of the comics.

Turning to Kevin Keller, the publisher's new breakout star, he will be brought into the "Life with Archie" magazine, which consists of stories set after the characters have been out of school, where Kevin will be getting married. The character follows in the footsteps of his military father and is wounded in combat and meets his partner while going through rehab, according to writer Kupperberg. Kevin returns to Riverdale for his wedding and the backstory is detailed. "He's marrying a doctor, because of course every mother wants her kid to marry a doctor," he joked.

In regular Archie continuity, following Keller's successful miniseries, Dan Parent said the ongoing series will launch with a new #1. While Kevin was introduced in his first appearance and the miniseries addressed his past, the ongoing series will explore his place in Riverdale. Kevin goes on a first date which goes comically wrong in the tradition of many Archie stories. There will be a prom issue, a beach issue scheduled for the summer, and he'll deal with high school and the same problems that Archie and the rest of the gang deal with.

Goldwater then discussed a special issue, "Archie" #625, which is on sale now. In the book, a relative has a bout with cancer and stays at the Ronald McDonald House in New York while undergoing treatment and that one hundred percent of the profits of the book will go to the Ronald McDonald House of New York.

The following issue, #626, will guest star former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. According to Goldwater, the issue happened because Strahan is a longtime Archie fan and reached out and asked to be in an issue. The plot involves Moose who is about to break Strahan's high school record for the most sacks.

Possibly the biggest Archie Comics event of the year will be "Archie Meets Kiss," the first issue of which comes out in November. According to Goldwater, the crossover came about because Gene Simmons called the office and suggested it. Written by Segura, the four issues "have got everything," according to series artist Dan Parent -- including "Sabrina, Josie and zombies."

The "Life with Archie" magazine launched last year and has been an immense success, which Uslan credits to the fact that the book is loaded with soap opera and cited the talents of Paul Kupperberg whom he described as a great writer.

Next year will see a number of other new projects from the company including Stan Lee Comics and "The Mighty 7," though except for a cover image, little about the book was revealed. As far as "Sonic the Hedgehog," there's the "Sonic Super Special Magazine" which is available now. Coming up will be a series of hardcover graphic novels, "The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog" and next fall, "The Sonic Who's Who Encyclopedia." The recent stories featuring the character Jinx will be collected into a trade paperback in March.

Pellerito talked about one of the more controversial Archie stories in recent years, in which Archie and Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats fall in love. Valerie went on tour but she'll be coming back in #631 when the Kiss crossver is completed in a story which Parent is writing and drawing and said the cover is quite possibly the sexiest Archie cover ever.

With the regular Archie continuity, the "Life with Archie" stories and the other various tales, Uslan and Goldwater teased there is an Archie multiverse and we're heading for what Uslan called "the big bang." He encouraged people to keep one eye on Dilton Doiley and the other on Mr. Lodge.

During the Q&A session, it was revealed Archie Comics are working on an Android app, more Sam Hill is in the works, and that while there are no current plans for more "Tiny Titans/Little Archie," Goldwater hopes they get to do more at some point. When asked about the possibility of a live-action Archie project, the audience was asked whether they'd be more interested in seeing a live-action Archie movie or television show. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of a TV series.

Asked whether the upcoming "Sabrina" animated series would be different from the old one, Goldwater said yes and described it as "Harry Potter meets 'Twilight'" which led to a marked change in the audience. "I just mean there will be more action," Goldwater said. "No sparkling," he promised the audience.

In closing, Goldwater asked that fans go to stores and supermarkets and tell them they appreciate them stocking Archie and the ones that don't, to please ask them to stock Archie and not just Archie, but all kinds of comics. "Comics should be everywhere," Goldwater said to end the panel.

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