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Wednesday, October 14, 2015 

Jon Goldwater gushes about his supposedly modern take on Archie

The son of the original Archie comics founder gave a gushy interview to PR Week about the changes they're making to his father's creations:
In July, you revamped Archie’s look, bringing him into the 21st century by equipping him with a smartphone and skinny jeans. Why rebrand now?
Next year we celebrate our 75th anniversary and there is no better way to celebrate than with a new Archie #1.

We have given him a modern image young people can relate to, a look based in something real. We are making Archie less cartoony and comic-booky, and more character driven. When we put it out, the hashtag #HotArchie was trending on Twitter.
Visual image is not enough, and all he's doing is hinting this is more for the sake of adults who supposedly can't connect because the original character designs were cartoonish. Some way to show respect for artists like Dan DeCarlo after all the hard work they did to build up a style all their own. If he's saying it can't be character driven if the art is cartoonish, that's rubbish.

Oh, and suuuurrrre they've made Archie and company relatable. All they did in past years was force more liberal politics into their products. And speaking of liberal, something else comes up in the interview that made me shudder:
How do you engage readers and attract new ones?
We tell great stories. We put out a lot of products between our comic books, digests, graphic novels, and what we do digitally. But we treat every story with the same care, even though some of them have received more notoriety than others. That is how you attract readers and keep the ones you have. That is how you keep the ball rolling. In terms of PR, we have three communications staffers and do not use external firms.

The good thing about being around for 75 years is you have a dedicated fan base, so people search for your books. Archie has a legacy that is generational.

Also, if we recognize someone has an audience and they are fans, we try to network with them. There are a lot of celebrities out there who are Archie fans, such as actresses Lena Dunham and Rashida Jones and WWE’s Chris Jericho. It’s good to amplify some of the things they say on social media.
Ugh. His citation of Dunham as an example really turns me off. She's already gained serious notoriety herself because of a repulsive chapter she wrote in a memoir last year where she proudly(!) described molesting her sister (if you read that, be advised, you'll need a strong stomach because it's pretty graphic and enough to vomit, IMHO). She even said she doesn't care what "conservative white men" think about her. In that case, does she care what Black women and men think of her, no matter their politics? Goldwater, unfortunately, doesn't seem bothered about her disturbing thought patterns at all. If that's the kind of person he thinks they should network with, something is clearly wrong with their whole approach.

Naturally, he can't be bothered to discuss actual sales figures or explain how such low numbers spell significant success in reaching out to anybody but speculators and aimless addicts. So how can he say they're successful today when their sales are dismal? And what great stories have they told? Riverdale being flooded with Occupiers? Archie dying for the sake of LGBT propaganda? Those kind of stories are standout examples of the overt leftism they've been consumed with over the past couple years. How can you tell great stories with that overshadowing everything?
Superheroes dominate today’s comic book industry. Are the crossovers helping you contend with that?
The crossovers help us stay relevant. But the most important thing is that we continue to tell great and fun stories and give people an option away from the superhero characters.

After a while – and this is no slap at super-hero characters as I enjoy them myself – people who watch serious movies also enjoy a comedy. Archie, with its great stories and artists, is a terrific alternative to superhero comic books.
Not with the way they're going now. Crossovers have largely become little more than a way to milk a shrinking audience of as much money as possible by buying a ton of books that don't stand the test of time.
How are digital comic book sales compared with hard copy sales?
Traditional, hard copy comic books still make up our bread and butter. But digital is growing slowly and steadily. I have high hopes for the future of digital. We are a private company, so I am unable to give any figures.
What a joke. Most other mainstream companies haven't given clear figures either. As an ostensibly private company, they're actually in a better position to offer figures, but it's not a hard guess their digital sales aren't doing spectacularly either.
What is your take on the current state of the comic book industry?
The comic book industry is more exciting than it has been in many years. It is not a niche market. It is the barometer of what is happening in pop culture. The comic book business leads the way in what is going on in contemporary society. The music business used to do that, but not anymore.
I"m sorry, but the distinctions between how movies and comics sell have long been apparent. Films, computer games and music tapes sell in many millions of dollars, whereas comics - certainly pamphlets - sell poorly in the paltry thousands, and who knows how many of certain books wind up gathering dust in the bargain bins? It's laughable to say music doesn't lead anymore when so many tapes and DVDs sell far better than Archie's own products do.

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I know this has been said a billion times, but it's still true: comics ARE a niche market. Today's best sellers would have been cancelled for low sales in the Silver Age.

Goldwater is whistling in the dark.

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