NYCC: Archie Comics Springs Some Surprises

The Archie Comics booth was a beehive of activity during New York Comic Con, as kids and adults alike stopped by to meet the creators or pick up advance copies of upcoming issues.

The venerable publisher also made a slew of new announcements during NYCC, including the launch of a "Mega Man" series, the relaunch of several characters from the deepest recesses of the vault and new formats for some ongoing characters.

One of the biggest announcement was that Archie Comics will be partnering with Capcom to produce "Mega Man" comics. Writer Ian Flynn and artist Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante, the creative team behind "Sonic the Hedgehog," will be responsible for "Mega Man" were happily signing "Mega Man" posters for fans during the show. The new series will debut in spring 2011.

While that news caught everyone's attention, managing editor Mike Pellerito pointed out another new program that is a historic departure for Archie: The company is creating a separate imprint for its "Sam Hill" comics. Sam Hill, who was created by Harry Lucey, started out as a suave but hard-boiled detective in the Sam Spade/Nick Charles mode. The original comic only ran for seven issues, from 1950 to 1952, but it was recently featured in Dan Nadel's "Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures 1940-1980." Tom DeFalco will write the new series, with Greg Scott handling the art. The new comics will sport black and white covers with a strong graphic feel, and the stories will be targeted at an older audience than the usual Archie reader, Pellerito said, which was the impetus for the new imprint.

Cosmo the Merry Martian is another legacy character that will be dusted off and presented his own comic in the near future. Pellerito said plans were in the works to re-release the older comics as well as create new adventures for the character. Cosmo's original run lasted just six issues, from 1958 to 1959, although he popped up for a brief appearance in "Archie & Friends" #137 and 138 last year. Flynn will handle writing duties for this comic as well.

"Veronica" #202, the issue that introduced Kevin Keller, Riverdale's first openly gay character, has sold out, and Archie is reissuing it with a new cover. Additoonaly, Kevin will be getting his own four-issue miniseries, Pellerito said, with Dan Parent, the character's creator, handling the writing chores.

With two issues on the stands and a third due out next month, "Life with Archie" has been a big success, Pellerito said, and as a result, the publisher will launch a new magazine, "Betty Or Veronica," with a similar format featuring "Two comic books worth of reading for $3.99," Pellerito said. Written by Michael Uslan, the comic will invite the reader to explore the question of "Which are you?" Betty and Veronica will leave Riverdale to become exchange students and two new characters will arrive to take their places. The stories will go back and forth between Riverdale and Betty and Veronica's travels.

Betty and Veronica will also star in a set of novels targeted towards middle grade readers to be published by Penguin. "Betty and Veronica: We're With the Band" and "Betty and Veronica: Living the Dream" will be released next year, with at least one more novel and a joke book to follow.

Archie is also partnering with DC Comics to do a Tiny Titans/Little Archie crossover. DC will publish the stories as comics, then Archie Comics will collect them in digest form.

Stan Lee has already worked with Archie to create one series, "Stan Lee and the 7," and a second series was announced at NYCC. "Airwalker," a spinoff from the HBO series "Entourage," based on the superhero movie the lead character, Vincent Chase, auditioned for in the latest season.

Archie will also launch new Sabrina, Josie and Katy Keene comics next year, and the teenage Jinx (based on the older character Little Jinx) will debut in "Life With Archie" #7, due out in February.

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