Posts Tagged ‘Archie’

Rebuilding Riverdale At Whose Expense?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

The magic number must be 75! It is no mistake that Marvel, DC and now Archie Comics, all of which published their premier iconic characters between 1938 and 1941, have rolled out celebrations of their 75th year anniversary finding interesting ways to reboot their entire universes in the process.

DC rebooted with Flashpoint, then The New 52 and now Convergence. Marvel is rebooting with Secret Wars and the establishment of Battleworld. Now Archie is planning to “Build a New Riverdale” with a controversial Kickstarter.

No coincidence that, as copyright law stands today, characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Prince Namor, The Human Torch, Archie and most of the gang living in Reverdale are sitting on the precipice of public domain as their copyrights, whose duration is 95 years from first publication, are set to expire within the next 20 years.

All three publishers are scrambling to recreate their brand to distance the next generation of consumers and those that follow from the classic versions of their characters guaranteeing that their origin stories and adventures will  be considered outdated and unmarketable. In the meantime, trademarks of every variation of those characters, their costumes and logos which can be prevented from ever expiring will be maintained an marketed as aggressively as possible.

So while Archie is rebuilding Riverdale and seemingly throwing out any style guide that remotely looks like the characters originally designed by Bob Montana, they are just ensuring that nobody else can tell a story about life in Riverdale without infringing on their trademark. Soon Archie and the gang will have as many different looks and styles as Batman has logos.

The funny thing is Archie wants our help and is seeking $350,000 on a Kickstarter campaign to do it!

Why?

According to Archie publisher Jon Goldwater, they just want to get the new product to market as fast as possible and have their funds tied up in a deal to expand digest distribution into Target and Wal-Mart stores.

What is Target and Wal-Mart’s sudden interest in Archie all about? If they wanted comics wouldn’t they be going after Marvel or DC first? Something is in the wind. Probably the “Riverdale” TV series that will soon be coming to FOX. All that exposure has got to be killing them!

In their rush to market these new projects by selling direct to the audience through Kickstarter, they also managed to offend their most ardent supporters, the retailers in the Direct Market. They should’ve seen that coming! Publishers like Marvel, DC and Archie are the bread and butter of the Direct Market retailer. When these publishers venture into a direct-to-customer distribution system they simply cut the retailers out at the knees.

Retailers are not the only victims. So are Indy publishers that have come rely on crowdfunding as a means to generate precious preorders on a product that may not meet the sales requirements of distribution through Diamond. A company like Archie, seeking a huge some of money in a campaign will crowd out smaller publishers, especially those that are now producing comics that compete directly for the audience that Archie has appealed to  for decades.

This is the same technique that Marvel and DC employed in the 1980’s when they were threatened by the emergence of successful independent publishers in the fledgeling Direct Market. They simply flooded the market. More product does not mean that consumers will spend more money. Consumers have a limited amount of funds and when more product is introduced into a market it only means that the consumer now has to make choices on how they spend their money. The winners are usually the ones that have a big enough budget to promote their product and an already committed audience. That is not the small indy publisher.

How many Kickstarter campaigns have you read about in the news feeds this week besides Archie’s?

Point made.

If Archie reaches their goal, that is $350,000 that is not going to other crowdfunding campaigns. It is also $350,000 not venturing into a comic shop.

Archie wants to rebuild Riverdale by strip-mining the resources of the current comics market all in an effort to erect a bulkhead that will secure them from public domain which is intended as a reward for a culture that supported their work for 95 years. In the process they describe themselves as small and scrappy, yet tread on those publishers that  genuinely meet that description. Their campaign does not even offer great rewards! Supporters are asked to pay twice as much for product that will soon be available in stores.

Archie is a company that has been around for over 75 years with celebrated characters that have been in films, cartoons and live action series on TV. They have managed to maintain a presence with their comics outside of the Direct Market with their digest format, a  feat that even Marvel and DC cannot claim. Now they have a deal with Target and Wal-Mart and a television deal with FOX, yet they still need $350,000 of our money to launch three new comic books, something the’ve been capable of doing themselves with no problem for three quarters of a century. Sounds like an easy way to get a lot of free advertising with a major dash of greed.

Not-so-poor or  little Archie wants our help but remember who loses in this one… everyone but Archie Comics. If their campaign is a success, they are laughing all the way to the bank, where they should have gone for a loan in the first place.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company: Direct Marketing with Style

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

In 1987 the Comico graphic novel The World of Ginger Fox was wowing readers with its action, adventure and style. Lucky for us all this brilliantly executed work is available in serialized form right here at CO2 Comics where it is updated weekly!

Ginger Fox Cover

Ginger Fox attracted a lot of attention because, not only was it written by Mike Baron, one of the top talents in comics it was illustrated by a young and outrageously gifted Mitch O’Connell who’s work was already infiltrating pop culture.
Mitch’s art had a signature style that had already caught the eye of Playboy magazine and propelled Ginger Fox into a larger arena than the Direct Market could provide at the time.

A creative director at Jordan Marsh, which was a big department store chain in New England but has since been absorbed by Macy’s, took notice and evolved a plan to turn a negative into a positive.

Jordan Marsh had been heavily criticized in the press for a “Jack and Jill” themed ad campaign that many felt targeted white’s only and slighted other races in their demographic. They needed to patch things up with their minority shoppers.

The idea was to create a comic that had the feel of “Archie” with a multi-cultural cast to support the Jackson and Jillian characters. The characters would be presented in numerous situations that would allow for wardrobe changes where they would model the outfits that were being sold in Jordan Marsh’s Style-o-rama department for young men and women. Text boxes with pointers would be used to describe the products and their prices.

The call rang out to Comico. We knew how to get Mitch and we knew how to make comics that looked great. Who else would you call, Ghostbusters?

I flew up to Boston a few times to work out the details of the campaign and I wrote the script. Mitch of course provided the art which was colored by Linda Lessman.
L. Lois Buhalis provided the lettering and Maggie Brenner had the editing chores.

This was to be Jordan Marshes fall catalog and though it had a playfully spooky theme to the story it was not particularly about Halloween.

Style O Rama cover, click to see the catalog

The finished product was stunning and was used as a direct mail ad to be distributed to mailboxes throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. (Sorry Vermont!)

The effectiveness of the mailer was questioned by the venders of the outfits who would have rather seen actual photos of their products but Advertising Age magazine, the leading source for news in the advertising industry, awarded it as one of the best Direct Marketing campaigns of 1987!

Best of Advertising Age

We also produced a few full-page newspaper ads to support the campaign. Though they were black-and-white, they they were just as stylish and beautiful as the color comic which was separated by Murphy Anderson’s Visual Concepts.

Style O Rama newspaper ads

As I mentioned in previous blogs Murphy’s son, Murphy Jr. was a master at creating effects in flat-color comics. His specialty was an effect that looked like acid washed denim which was the rage in the late 80’s. Needless to say it was used often in this sixteen-page catalog that was disguised as a comic book.

Jillian makes a point

I’m sitting here re-reading the comic twenty-three years later and I notice a line that had to be changed for political correctness and was never quite as funny as it was intended (heck it barely made sense.) In the first panel on page 8, Jillian originally points out to Jackson that his fly is open. This is what was suppose to cause the fit of embarrassment in the next panel that is lost on the reader in the final copy.

It’s amazing the power one word balloon can have!

The most influential word balloon I can think of is the one that graces the cover of CO2 Comics very own publication as the logo of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection.

Comics Interview Standard Edition

That balloon represents the voices of a generations of comic professionals and fans that provide unique insight into the heart and soul of the comic industry over the last seventy years.

If you are not familiar with COMICS INTERVIEW stop over at http://www.comicsinterview.com/purchase.html for a little sample of what the excitement is all about.

If you love comics and the history of the industry you will love this collection.

There you have it! I am not ashamed to blatantly plug a product that I so passionately believe in. When you get your copy, you’ll be wanting to tell your friends about it too!

Making Comics Because I Want To!

Gerry Giovinco


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