Archie to be Relaunched by Mark Waid & Fiona Staples

Comic Book Resources is reporting:

“Archie,” the long-running flagship Archie Comics series, will relaunch in 2015, as revealed Sunday evening by The New York Times. Along with the new #1, the book will gain a notably high-profile creative team: Writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples.

“We want to keep the lighthearted and family-friendly tone, but we have to do it in the present times, and that forces us to change,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater is quoted in the NYT article. The article states the relaunch is part of the company’s 75th anniversary plans — Archie was first introduced in 1941’s “Pep Comics” #22 — which include a “new look and an edgier tone.”

According to the piece, the goal of the new “Archie” series is to “return Archie to a modern audience.” “Over the years, some of the sharp edges have been sanded off,” Waid told the Times. “They are kids, and they should act as kids.”

A comics veteran with acclaimed work at a variety of publishers, Waid has already been involved with Archie as of late as co-writer of superhero series “The Fox” with Dean Haspiel, which is slated to relaunch in 2015 as part of the re-branded Dark Circle imprint. Staples is the artist and co-creator of Image Comics series “Saga,” written by Brian K. Vaughan and one of the most celebrated series of the current era. Also no stranger to Archie, she’s illustrated variant covers for the publisher, including an eye-catching rendition of Josie and the Pussycats. Both creators are multiple-time Eisner winners.

The relaunch of “Archie” means the end of another one of the highest-numbered series in the North American comics industry, after Marvel and DC Comics have relaunched virtually all of their long-running series in recent years. “Archie” dates back to 1942, with the latest released issue clocking in at #662.

As noted in the article, the “Archie” relaunch is one of many attention-getting moves from the company in the past few years during Goldwater’s time as CEO — including the zombie horror series “Afterlife with Archie” (written by Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla), the “Death of Archie” storyline that capped the “Life with Archie” saga, the previously announced upcoming story arc written by “Girls” creator Lena Dunham and the “Riverdale” TV show; described as “Archie meets ‘Twin Peaks'” and currently in-development in Fox. An Marc Ecko apparel line was also mentioned in the piece, with no further details revealed.

“I found Archie to be dusty, irrelevant and watered-down,” Goldwater said to the NYT. “It has taken me a while to really wrap my hands around where we are as a brand.”

Skitch Commentary: I have to say, Goldwater’s comments about “Archie [being] dusty, irrelevant and watered-down” are pretty ballsy. But at the same time, I find it really hard to disagree with him. I am not even sure who the audience for traditional Archie comics would be right now…there hasn’t been a cartoon or comic strip for years. I do think that it’s important that Archie remain all-ages friendly, but there is a TON of room for them to update the title for a new audience.

Mark Waid and Fiona Staples doing the opening arc is a real good sign that Archie wants to put some muscle behind this book. That is a flagship creative team right there. The preview image just looks terrific. Plenty there to show “this is still the Archie you know and love” BUT new and fresh. And Fiona Staples is still doing Saga, so that gets rid of my only reason concern about this.

Archie Comics has slowly and fairly quietly shifted it’s business practices over the last few years to try and give the company some new markets, and I definitely think this is the right direction. I will definitely check this one out.

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