During the Archie Comics panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Batman movie producer Michael Uslan joked about picking up a newspaper last week and being surprised that there wasn't a single story about Archie. While it was said tongue in cheek, it underscored a point made throughout the panel that Archie has a lot going on and isn't afraid to flirt with controversy while printing comics for kids and families -- whether it involves a crossover with "Glee," introducing gay characters to Riverdale High or tackling the Occupy movement.
Moderated by Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing and Archie writer Alex Segura, Archie Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit were joined by EIC Victor Gorelick, writer/artist Dan Parent, iVerse CEO Michael Murphy, film producers Don Murphy ("Transformers"), Michael Uslan ("Batman") and more creators and talent made up the panel discussing Archie Comics' future.
One of the first topics of conversation was the publisher's recently announced "Archie Meets Glee" crossover. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- who writes for "Glee" and will be handling the crossover -- said that while he's written mostly comics for Marvel, Archie was the first comic he read as a child.
"When I first met Jon and Nancy, I showed them pictures of me dressed as Archie," he said.
"I always joked in the 'Glee' writers room how 'Glee' kind of had a lot of archetypes based on the Archie characters," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "Finn was sort of lovable and kind of always tripping over himself, like Archie does. He's sort of caught in a love triangle with a blonde, Quinn Fabray, and a brunette, Rachel Berry. Archie has Jughead Jones, we have Mercedes Jones. The evil cheerleaders -- there were a lot of archetypes that I felt were really fun. But here's another weird one: Veronica's dad's name is Hiram, and one of Rachel Berry's dad's is named Hiram, as well."
Aguirre-Sacasa said the crossover happened after talking individually to Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater and "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy and discovering both were eager to make it happen.
Don Murphy spoke about the current status of the "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" movie, including its influences. "I don't want to say 'Harry Potter', but of course we'll have a little 'Harry Potter.' I don't want to say 'Twilight,' but of course, we'll have a little 'Twilight.' But we're going to have a lot of Sabrina," Murphy said, adding that there will some previously unseen mythology sprinkled in. The producer also hinted that while the teenage witch will still be raised by her two aunts, the story will also be about what happened to Sabrina's parents. There was also a special sneak peek at the upcoming 3D Sabrina animated series, scheduled for next year. It was also mentioned a "Little Archie" cartoon was moving forward.
A slide for one of Francesco Francavilla's "Archie Meets KISS" variant covers was show, the panel breaking into applause for the artist, who had won an Eisner Award for cover art the previous night. The crossover sequel -- "Archie Versus KISS" -- was also teased, with the panel saying that the two sides ended the first story on great terms, but something goes wrong.
"Archie" writer-artist Dan Parent added that while Sabrina had a big part in the first one, Josie's (of Josie and the Pussycats) will feature strongly in the sequel.
Shifting to another Pussycat, the panel then talked about the current "Archie" storyline that saw Archie and Valerie get married and have a baby, citing the positive fan reaction to the chemistry between the two characters.
Segura talked about his upcoming Occupy Riverdale storyline that brings the real world movement to the comic book page. "It's still an Archie story," Segura assured the audience. "It's funny!"
Talk then turned to Archie Comics' super heroes, with Michal Uslan saying that he is currently working on updated versions of Archie and Betty's costumed alter egos, Pureheart the Powerful and Superteen.
iVerse CEO Michael Murphy spoke about Archie's Red Circle Comics app which offers subscribers weekly "New Crusaders" issues, as well as access to the entire history of the Crusaders, with comics that date as far back as the early 40s.
"This is how you relaunch a universe correctly. For 99 cents, you can get the whole thing to start with," said Murphy. "You don't have to follow 25 titles to keep track of what's going on in one place. I also like the fact that this series is one that I can enjoy as an adult, and also give my 9 year-old daughter, and she can enjoy it too. I think we need more comics like that, and I commend Archie for making comics like that."
Closing out the presentation, the publisher presented something for connoisseurs of vintage Archie as Victor Gorelick showed off a copy of the "The Art of Betty and Veronica" hardcover to the crowd. The book, developed with the help of Eisner-award winning comics historian Craig Yoe, traces the artwork of Betty and Veronica over 70 years.