Archie Returns To Superheroes With A Digital Subscription Model

Archie Comics have been quite forthcoming with their digital with their own app, going day and date and going digital in Spanish.

Now, in an interview with the New York Times, Archie have announced their next step:

At the New York Comic Con this week, Archie Comics will reveal its next step in the digital frontier. In spring, the company will bring back its line of superhero characters in a subscription model that will offer an original six-page story and access to an archive of past adventures.

The idea for this initiative came up in July during the Comic Con International in San Diego. The Archie crew was meeting with Michael Murphey, the founder and chief executive of iVerse Media, a distributor of digital content. The two companies teamed up to bring Archie into the digital world in 2008. Between comics available for free, and those that have been purchased, Archie is closing in on three million downloads.

Mr. Murphey was a fan of Archie’s superheroes, who are often referred to as the Red Circle based on an earlier imprint that published them. The characters include The Fly, which was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and introduced in 1959, and The Shield, a patriotic hero who had his first adventure in 1940, predating Captain America by a year. The champions banded together as The Mighty Crusaders.

“When Marvel sold to Disney, and with DC owned by Warner Brothers, I thought those characters are the only superheroes left that are not owned by a major studio,” Mr. Murphey said.

Archie last published the characters in 1985. DC Comics licensed them from Archie and released stories in 1991 and in 2008, but both attempts were short lived.

I remember these comics and have some of the ones from 1991 – I have a couple of issues of ‘The Shield’, and #1’s of ‘The Fly’, ‘The Comet’, ‘The Web’ and ‘The Jaguar’ I think I’ve also got a Christmas Special somewhere!

Archie’s latest digital initiative will be similar to Netflix, Mr. Goldwater said. “It will be a nominal monthly charge with access to new comics and thousands and thousands of pages from the archive.”

The idea of a digital subscription charge is something which has been thought about before – IDW use it for some of their licensed apps, this could work out well!

The price, which has not been set, is another important consideration. “Value, value, value. That’s what we want to give at Archie Comics,” said Mr. Goldwater, who said he expected the subscription fee to be no more expensive than a regular comic book ($2.99 or $3.99). “We’re very conscious of what’s going on in the economy right now. We want to be recession busters. We don’t want to gouge our fans.”

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