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Archie Comics turns to Kickstarter to fund their rebooted universe

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

You read that right: Archie Comics is rebooting their universe in a new comic series, and the company is turning to Kickstarter to fund three more set in its new "continuity," written and drawn but some of the biggest hitters in comics today.

Late last year Archie announced that they'd be renumbering their flagship title Archie, featuring the adventures of the titular red-headed Riverdale teen, and hiring comics veterans Mark Waid and Fiona Staples to write and draw the new series. To anybody who stopped following the seventy-five year old publisher of wholesome teen stories once they aged out of the company's target demographic, this can seem like a pretty crazy move. While Waid is a former Archie editor, he's made his name on superhero comics, and Fiona Staples' gorgeous art (seen above and in Image Comics' Saga) is miles from the company's house style.

Afterlife with Archie

But over the last five years, Archie has been making savvy moves to update its image as a relic of a simpler time, introducing more racial diversity to Riverdale and, most famously, creating Kevin Keller, the first gay member of the Archie cast and an immensely popular character. And it's not just diversity of character, but of tone: In 2010, Life with Archie was relaunched to follow the adult lives of two alternate futures, one in which Archie married Betty and the two live paycheck to paycheck as he struggles to get a music career off the ground, and one in which he married Veronica, and struggles with the ethicality of his job at her father's company. And then there's Afterlife with Archie, an ongoing horror title about the effects of a zombie plague on Riverdale, not to mention Archie vs. Predator.

So, a relaunched Archie isn't actually all that nuts for the Archie Comics of 2015, though a Kickstarter campaign is still pretty surprising. Archie CEO Jon Goldwater explained the choice to Comic Book Resources:

"We're not a corporate appendage, nor are we flush with corporate cash like Marvel or DC. We're a small operation and we have to be thoughtful and selective with everything we do. But that doesn't mean we have to be cautious and afraid. Quite the opposite. I think the only way to get noticed in this crowded marketplace is to take calculated risks, be daring, push the envelope and -- first and foremost -- tell good stories. The rest is just dressing if the story doesn't deliver. Once we knew Archie #1 would deliver in spades, we started brainstorming how we'd expand the line and give other talents the chance to tell stories with these characters. The lineup of talent and books blew us all away. Once the creators themselves said they were in, we were in an enviable problem: we had these books we wanted to fast-track, but we also had our own financial considerations to think about."

To Goldwater, the Kickstarter campaign is a way to do that fast-tracking and appease the obvious interest in the new direction at a faster pace than the company is otherwise financially capable of. It'll be a well-mobilized group of fans that will be able to field the project's $350,000 goal, but it could happen.

If does, it'll be thanks to an amazing lineup of talent for these new books. There's a new Betty and Veronica written and drawn by Adam Hughes, one of the superhero world's favorite pinup artists; an ongoing series for Kevin Keller, written by the character's creator, Dan Parent; and finally an ongoing series for Archie's pal Jughead, written by Chip Zdarsky, who's currently penning a Howard the Duck comic for Marvel and co-created Image Comics' Sex Criminals.

As of the time of this writing, only a few hours into the campaign, Archie Comics' Kickstarter has made around $13,000, with an average pledge of $63.

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