At this point, comic readers expect Archie Comics to roll out a ready-made pop culture crossover story with each new major convention. But on the heels of multiple headline-grabbing stories with new Riverdale cast member Kevin Keller and the "Archie Meets KISS" crossover, the publisher's next big blip pop culture radar will be even more musical.
Today in advance of Comic-Con International, Archie announced that it's cast of all-American teens will crossover with the cast of the Fox Network's hit drama "Glee" in a story arc written by playwrite, comics and TV scribe Roberto Aguirre Sacasa and drawn by company mainstay Dan Parent. Of course, aside from Aguirre-Sacasa's work on Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" and comics including "Fantastic Four," the writer is currently on the staff of "Glee" as it enters its fourth season (not to mention the fact that the Archie gang proved a major inspiration for the characters in his play "The Golden Age" to the cease-and-desit chagrin of a previous Archie administration).
The "Archie Meets Glee" story arc will ship to comic shops early in 2013, once the series is back on the air full time. But before that, CBR News spoke with Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the origins of the move, the Archie gang's connection to music of all stripes and the future of the company's pop culture goals.
CBR News: Jon, Archie's recent string of "shake up" stories and mass media crossovers like "Archie Meets KISS" have definitely shined a spotlight on the company's output in a way few would have expected. What made a crossover with Fox's "Glee" the next ideal story in this group of stories, and how did you approach the show and Roberto to write this book?
Jon Goldwater: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and I have become quite friendly over the last couple of years. Roberto is just an incredible Archie fan – a died in the wool Archie fan his whole life. He was brought in to save "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" and is just a genius writer in general, but he's such an Archie fan that during the most recent Halloween, he went to his Halloween party dressed as Archie! So Roberto stopped by our booth at New York Comic Con to say hi to me. We were just chatting, and he was telling me about working on "Glee," and I was telling him about the latest and greatest coming from Archie. We talked about all the crossover stuff, most notably "Archie Meets KISS." He was so enthused about that that when we did our signing in LA with Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] and Alex [Segura] and Dan Parent, Roberto showed up to get his book signed.
So we were shooting the breeze there at NYCC, and this just evolved naturally out of our conversation. Roberto just said, "You know, it would be cool if we had the Archie characters and the 'Glee' characters crossover in a story. I'd love to write that." And I just looked at him and said, "Are you serious? Let's do it!" That was the genesis of all of it – a friendly, casual conversation.
More importantly than that, I am and everyone at Archie are tremendous fans of the show "Glee." They're not just you're ordinary television show. They're an important television show. They've broken new ground in what they do. They're very courageous in their storylines and very courageous in the characters they've introduced into mainstream, prime time television. I sort of view Archie, at least since I've been here, as trying to go down that same road of being culturally relevant and important and breaking new ground in comic books. They've done it very, very wonderfully and successfully on "Glee" while they can also be very entertaining. They break into song in the middle of a show, and it actually works, for goodness sake! That's phenomenal. They're an iconic pop cultural institution now, and after 70 years, I also view Archie as being pop culturally iconic.
So for us to be associated with "Glee" and with Roberto – for us, it's just remarkable and thrilling at the same time.
I know you have a long background in music before coming back to work for the family business, and aside from crossovers with KISS and "Glee," The Archies as a band have been a part of the pop culture landscape as well. What is it that you think works with music stars working their way into Archie comics?
That is my dream come true. Music to me is a part of the fabric of who I am. I love music, and I've been surrounded by it my whole life. And I think it works well in comic books. If you go back to the beginnings of modern music, if you will, with Elvis and moving forward with the Beatles and [Bob] Dylan – they established culturally the tone of what's going on in the country. That's what I've been trying to establish in Riverdale. The characters stay the same, but Riverdale changes. And as musicians change in the culture, they can seamlessly integrate into comic books.
When I first came here, I wanted to get a music artist into the Archie books even though I'd only been here two or three months. I met with a friend of mine who runs Universal music, and I asked him, "What can we do to get an artist into an Archie book?" He said, "Colbie Caillat has a new album coming out. What about putting her in a book?" And I thought that was a great idea. So we put Colbie in a "Veronica" comic, and her album opened at #1. I'd like to think we were a small part of helping it get to #1.
So from The Archies all the way through for me, there's a connection. Obviously, I want there to be a New Archies at some point. Josie And The Pussycats is something that we're working on right now. Josie, for the company moving forward on the Archie Music side of the business, is going to be very, very important. So hang tight for some information on that in the future. But we have a lot going on here musically, and we think that "Glee" is a part of that continuation.
Roberto and Dan are now working on the story, I'm sure. But as "Glee" is a show that very much relies on the musical nature of the world and the show, what can we expect in terms of how that aspect of the show will translate to the four-color world of Riverdale? Will Archie and company be belting out songs in this book?
I hope so! Roberto is working on the story as we speak, and it will, of course, incorporate traditional Archie Comics elements. Dilton is going to be a key figure in the book, and how all the music stuff transpires is something I'm giving Roberto free reign on. At some point, I'm sure you'll see The Archies in there and hopefully some other musical elements incorporated into the book.
It's early in the game now, but any time a crossover like this happens, I think the hope from the comics community is that this attention will draw in some more readers from the general pop culture population. Is there a chance we'll be seeing Archie comics work their way onto the air in "Glee's" next season somehow?
All I can tell you is "Fingers crossed." I hope so, and we're talking about that right now. I see Archie in the TV future, coming right down the pike.
Stay tuned for more Archie Comics news in CBR's coverage of Comic-Con International in San Diego.