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Friday, March 21, 2014 

Jon Goldwater remains blind to the reality of sales

ICV2 did a sugary interview with Archie's CEO Jon Goldwater, who's got no grip on reality:
What’s your overview of the market conditions for comics, graphic novels and comic properties?
My view is this: if you give people something great, they will buy it. People are starved for great comics, great movies, great television, and great entertainment. If it’s a great comic book, they will buy it. If it’s something that’s not that interesting or something that’s not tickling their fancy, I think people adopt a wait and see attitude.

With Archie we’re lucky because we have 70 years of history built in. We have generation upon generation of fans, so we sort of pass the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. We’re not just a comic book in terms of what you would traditionally say is a comic book; we’re a young person’s maybe first reading experience. We’re many things at Archie Comics.

I think the market conditions are good but they really depend on the quality of the content you put out.
Yeah, including what coming out under his stewardship! And that, alas, doesn't amount to much anymore. They've become too many things in the past 5 years, right down to left-wing politics, LGBT propaganda, and whitewashed nods to the Occupy movement.
Archie has always been strong in the newsstand channel while that channel may be shrinking for other publishers. What is Archie doing with the newsstand channel now?
We’re maintaining. Our visibility is everywhere. We’re still in your supermarkets and drugstores and your corner newsstand. Wherever it is that we can be, we are there. Archie is still the #1 mass market comic book in the world. We’ve maintained that positioning and that’s our goal for the future as well as increasing our visibility in the direct market.

You could argue that Marvel and DC characters have a lot of visibility because of the movies and television, yet Archie seems to be doing better in the outlets with the most mass exposure. Why is that?
We have something for everybody. Our content is very friendly. People love the art style, our art style is eye candy. It’s a welcoming art style. The stories are broad based about high school experience, whether a young person is aspiring to high school or whether you’ve been there and can relate back, it just works for everybody. Archie as a broad based representation of what America is about, to a certain degree, really transcends your traditional comic book.
This alone is a howler, and strains ICV2's credibility, because I looked at their latest sales chart, and flagship Archie titles don't appear anywhere, just licensed products like Sonic the Hedgehog. Sure, some of their products might still turn up in supermarkets, but any presence they have there may have since turned very, very sparse, as parents who've found out about their left-wing lurch stopped buying their books.

This interview doesn't just prove Goldwater's oblivious to Archie's own sales status, it even proves ICV2's staff ignores their own market research.

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I still sometimes see Archie digests on sale at the check-out counters in some grocery stores. Emphasis on "some." As in, "some stores, but not all." Fewer and fewer kids read comics, and the fans who do collect comics usually buy them at specialty stores or through subscriptions, not at supermarkets or drugstores.

Which, BTW, may be why Archie is "still the #1 mass market comic book." It is practically the only mass market comic book. Their competitors seem to be concentrating on the direct sales market, rather than newsstand distribution.

And I suspect that Archie's attempts to publish more "mature" stories have only alienated the fans who wanted kid-friendly comics.

Ever since bigger retailers like grocers, Walmart, etc stopped carrying direct editions of Marvel/DC books, sales have taken a big hit. The late '90s/early 2000s boom and bust is something the industry probably won't recover from, either.

That Archie's video game titles chart while Archie itself doesn't is pretty telling, though. The physical comic market is dwindling as-is, but Marvel and DC have embraced multimedia, which is what brings home the bacon for them now. What does Archie have if their comics business goes under? A legacy of pandering to the left?

I think "the #1 mass market comic book in the world" is quite a dubious claim. It's only true if:

-You insist that the direct market, no matter how many copies are sold there, cannot constituted a mass market. Even if direct market sales of, say, "Batman" far outpace supermarket sales of "Archie". For for the record I have seen "Batman" in some supermarkets in recent years.

-You say that the internet doesn't count as a mass market. Because internet sales (digital or otherwise) are obviously more than supermarket sales of Archie. Here are total combined (direct + newsstand) sales for Archie comics; they're pathetic: http://comicsworthreading.com/2013/03/08/archie-sales-figures-for-2012/

-You don't count manga as comics. Because things like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach easily appeal to a larger worldwide audience than Archie.

-You don't count collected editions of books like Walking Dead as "comic books". Because supermarket sales of Archie aren't great. But I can walk into any bookstore AND ANY WALMART and see collections of Walking Dead comics. Are that not mass market availability?

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