The line to get into the panel wrapped around the hallway, with fans showing up as early as an hour ahead of time its start time to gear themselves up for news on Archie and Veronica’s nuptials. As they shuffled into the room, they were all handed a blank index card to sign their name and turn in for a surprise raffle held at the end of the panel.
Immediately, fans were asked if they were excited for the upcoming marriage. As halfhearted boos answered back, fans’ outcry were quickly alleviated by the fact the upcoming storyline takes place five years in the future. With that said, introductions were made for everyone on the panel.
In attendance at the panel were “The Dark Knight” movie producer and Archie writer Michael Uslan, new Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater, iVerse CEO Michael Murphy, IDW Publishing COO Greg Goldstein, Archie Comics president/director of circulation Fred Mausser, Archie artist Dan Parent, and Archie Comics vice president/managing editor Mike Pellerito.
Goldwater started off by mentioning how excited he is about the future of Archie Comics, and that even though the characters have been around for 70 years, there are still so many new stories to tell; not only for Archie, but also other characters from their line. He also mentioned their new, revamped website, designed by Big Bad Tomato, will launch this September.
Archie Comics will be opening their first international office in India at the end of 2009, adding, “Archie is going global!” Archie Comics is apparently huge in India, with publications in all dialects as well as daily strips in newspapers. “Archie Marries Veronica” even made front-page news in many papers when it was first announced.
Lastly, he added that there will be new music from both The Archies and Josie and the Pussy Cats in the next few months, as there’s a new generation of fans who have never even heard the original music.
Michael Uslan, the writer of the upcoming marriage storyline, began by responding to the jovial boos from before by mentioning, “I am not Dr Doom. I am not Darkseid. But I am writing the marriage.”
Uslan continued by saying he’s been reading Archie Comics for years, and actually learned to read from reading them at the age of 3.
In 1989, he and friend put together the very first compilation, and at the time, they read every single issue in preparation for the collection. SHowing his longtime fan colors, Uslan mentioned that as he's been getting older he has been preparing a "bucket list" of things he must do, and on that list was "write for Archie Comics." He called the company to share his interest with them, and when asked what he’d like to do, he answered, “Archie gets married!” The first reaction to his request was shock, but everyone involved quickly realized, “why not?” Uslan believes the story shouldn’t seem so crazy, as a version of it as already happened in real life with Brad Pitt leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie.
And beyond that simple analogy, there are even more twists and turns involved with Archie supposedly choosing Veronica over Betty, especially since the story takes place in the future. There’s a lot of real life issues to explore in the story, and Uslan guaranteed that all six issues will seem like a roller coaster ride.
He next discussed his other upcoming work for the company: a digital comic book revamping of the Super Teens featuring characters like Pureheart the Powerful (Archie), Superteen (Betty), Evilheart (Reggie), Captain Hero (Jughead) and all the rest of the gang. Described as the Archie version of Teen Titans or X-Men, the revived team will be known as “Pureheart’s Emergency Patrol,” an homage to the original title, “PEP Comics. The artist is still a surprise, but there will be five one-shots featuring the characters with titles like “PEP Comics #1” and “Top-Notch Comics #1”
Michael Murphy of iVerse continued the digital comics discussion, starting by saying the working relationship between he and Archie Comics has been fantastic and that their iPhone Archie digital comics have been the most downloaded of their entire library.
In a few weeks, iVerse will debut an Archie standalone application for download on the iPhone. 100s of Archie comic books are already available, with new ones being added every week. The service will be 99¢ per download, $9.95 a month, or $49.95 a year. A special incentive for the annual service is a free print subscription of “Archie Marries Veronica” sent to your door. Besides the iPhone, the digital comics will also be web-based, and available on all platforms.
Greg Goldstein from IDW Publishing discussed his collaboration with Archie Comics in collecting old issues and strips, specifically ones that have never been reprinted.
Goldstein feels not enough focus has been given to the artists and writers of the series, and he plans to correct this by publishing collections by creator, like Dan Decarlo and Bob Montana.
There will also be collections of Pureheart and “Archie’s Madhouse,” adding that he can’t help but assume Matt Groening was inspired by “Archie’s Madhouse” when he created the series, “Futurama.”
Managing Editor Mike Pellerito simply loves his job, and he’s excited for the Colbie Caillat crossover. Artist Dan Parent mentioned that “Betty and Veronica Spectacular” would continue as a webcomic with a 24 page Christmas special, followed by a Valentine special. Each creator limited their speaking, both believing themselves to be more ‘Q & A kind of guys.’
Before fan questions were asked, it was announced that the ‘new look’ Archie Comics, with the supposedly modern artistic style, would end after the current Reggie storyline.
A young fan asked if Archie will ever get rid of his old jalopy and finally get a new car. Uslan mentioned that from the art he’s seen for “Archie Marries Veronica,” the car is still an old jalopy five years in the future.
One fan was curious about Reggie’s reaction to the marriage. While his reaction will of course be dealt with in the story, Uslan does not want to spoil it, but did say the reaction will be very real. He literally thought to himself as he wrote the story, “How would someone like Reggie react?” He’s known people like Reggie and thought how they’d react in similar situation. He also mentioned that there would be plenty of winks to past stories, as well as Easter Eggs hidden throughout the story.
The all-important question, “why Veronica instead of Betty?” was finally asked. Uslan began by explaining that the nicest, smartest, sweetest person can always be right under our noses without us even realizing, and that this kind of relationship is especially prevalent with young males. It can sometimes take awhile for someone to learn or realize how important a ‘friend’ is in a ‘girlfriend.’
Asked if there will be a Spanish edition of “Archie marries Veronica,” the panelists answered there will be, but they are not sure of the exact date of release, but should be available by the end of the year.
Interestingly, one fan wondered if there were any clashes of culture between Archie Comics and India as depictions of Veronica or Betty in bikinis could possibly offend the dress codes and moral values of the Indian people. As far as the panelists are concerned, there are no problems, “The comics sell, millions upon millions of issues sell every week.”
A fan of the character Midge asked if she would ever play a larger role in any upcoming stories. Besides having just had a spotlight in the Breakup Blues storyline with Moose, there will also be a future collection starring Midge and Moose.
Finally the raffle was held, and the prize revealed, as the lucky winner whose name was pulled will soon appear in an upcoming issue of Archie Comics.