We’re back with another edition of our comic book publisher 101 series. This time, we’re looking at Archie Comics. You’ve probably heard of this company already – its history is just as extensive as DC’s – but they’re joining the pop culture conversation with their recent TV show Riverdale on the CW. Before bigger Archie Comics projects are released, here’s what you should know about the comic book company.
Location: Pelham, New York
Founder: Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, John L. Goldwater
Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
History: When the company was originally founded as MLJ Comics, the publisher mostly produced superhero comics. This changed in 1941, when Archie characters Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, and Archie Andrews appeared in an issue of Pep Comics #22. The company quickly moved to have Archie as the face of their comic book company. Not only did the company change their name to Archie Comic Publications, but Archie and his friends became the main headliners of the company. Archie has been produced regularly for decades and is regularly available in non-comic book retailer locations.
In the 2010s, Archie Comics became the first publisher to make their entire line digitally available at the same time of print release. They also relaunched their flagship title Archie with a modern take. It has been critically acclaimed and is partially responsible for the company’s reinvigorated popularity.
Imprints: Archie Comics essentially has three imprints. The first is everything related to Archie, which includes Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica as well as characters that exist in the same universe like Josie and the Pussycats. Most everything that Archie Comics publishes is in this category. Archie Horror, the company’s second imprint, infuses all of the above characters with a horror element. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Afterlife with Archie are in this imprint. The final imprint – Dark Circle Comics – is what remains of MLJ Comics’ superhero books. It was previously called “Red Circle Comics” and at one point, its characters were licensed by DC to be published as Impact Comics. The rights have since reverted back to Archie Comics.
Notable Books: Of course, the company’s flagship title Archie is a must-read to understand this company. Its classically-styled version and the recently revamped version are both important for different reasons, but their characters define the entire company. If you read these two books, you’re pretty much good to go from there.
Notable Creators: Mark Waid and Fiona Staples were the key creatives responsible for relaunching Archie, and it would not have been successful without both of their work. On a more historical note, co-founder John L. Goldwater later became a key custodian of the Comics Code Authority.
Future Projects: Aside from future seasons of Riverdale, the CW recently signed a development deal with Archie Comics. This means that more Archie-inspired series are bound to follow. Our guess? We’ll see a reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and a Josie and the Pussycats-fronted TV show in the next few years.
What You Should Read: Fans are obsessed with the newest iteration of Sabrina’s stories, titled Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. As a horror book, it’s a lot scarier than the ABC Family sitcom you grew up with. The rebooted Archie is a great look at what “Americana literature” means in the current age, and when you need a laugh, pick up an issue of Jughead.