Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Much Ado About Kevin

It's amazing how badly the mainstream media is missing the real story with Archie Comics these days. Honestly, it mystifies me.

Sure, it's worthy of buzz that a gay character is coming to Riverdale high. I'm glad that Archie Comics is continuing it's traditional of inclusion, and it's nice that it's OK to be gay in Riverdale now. Personally, I'm more excited that Kevin has curly/wavy hair than whatever his sexual orientation may be. I do wish they had surprised people with it, the cover of the issue bears no hint of what lies within and it would have caused a media storm, no doubt. So why the advance media blitz for Kevin?

The real story here is Archie Comics retaking the newsstand market, and it is huge news. Archie Comics are currently 12-18 months ahead of either DC or Marvel in finding creative avenues to get their product to readers. While Marvel was trumpeting their new iPad app, Archie already had the #4 book app, and had been dominating iTunes for a year.

Marvel Comics is widely recognized as the dominant of the "Big Two", and until recently DC was quite a ways behind. And yet Marvel is a year behind Archie comics in the digital comics realm. When Marvel EIC Joe Quesada was talking about the new Marvel app, he made this comment:

"Ever since the newsstand really died for comics, that element has been missing in many ways. Trades in bookstores picked up some of the slack, but the newsstand used to be huge. "

That's great Joe, except Archie Comics have proven that the newsstand is opening up again and you don't even see it. Even I see it, and have since Sept of last year: Sept 8 2009, The evolution of the rack.

Archie Comics used one of their biggest tricks (Archie getting married) to re-open the traditional newsstand to single issue comics. Marvel and DC? They use their "big guns" (Batman dying, Captain America dying, various Invasions, Wars and Crises) to try and get their established following to buy a myriad of tie-in issues. Seriously, how much money would one have to lay out to get every issue connected with DC's blockbuster "Blackest Night"? According to the DC Comics' checklist it looks like there are 48 single issues tied into their big event. Archie's big event? 4 issues.

In massive quantities.

Thanks to what Joe Q. calls a dead market.

The same dead market that will carry the single issues of the two upcoming series about married Archie, and the magazine that collects the two.

I'm sure the other companies will pick up on this eventually, but for now the small family company is way out front. I've said it before, but job well done.

Anyways, this is why we have an advanced blitz to celebrate Kevin Keller. I'm pretty sure every media outlet in North America ran with this one. And when it appears in the magazine rack of every supermarket, gas station, convenience store and drug store? I know. And while Marvel and DC are taking a while to figure this one out, Archie Comics signed up Stan (The Man) Lee to create a new superhero comic for them.

So we're treated to much ado about Kevin, to ensure large orders for the single issue of Veronica and maintain a tenuous foothold in a massive market. (I hope Archie Comics slows it down a bit though, I've been worried about stunt issues for a while [Oct 5 2009 Mar 2 2010] and things can easily get out of control)

Make no mistake though, Kevin Keller isn't going to leave a lasting mark. I'm glad he's being introduced, but many a third tier character has had a splashy introduction (granted, none to this degree) only to have their dreams crushed.                                                      

For a while I've been following the third tier characters (Identifying the Third Tier Characters) and watching as some of them make a break for second tier status. No doubt there are some who will say that Kevin Keller is already second tier due to his media victory. I say nay. Second tier cannot be granted, it's got to be earned. It takes years, and it ain't easy. 

Ask Cheryl Blossom, who was not only shipped out of Riverdale, but had her elected boyfriend George removed from the picture. Or Frankie Valdez, who's been trying for the next level for over 30 years. Nancy Brown has spent some time in the second tier, but mainly she belongs to the third. Chuck is firmly second tier, but took a while to get there.

Kevin may have a lot of press behind him, but he's up against the most formidable third tier character in 25 years.

I speak, of course, about Adam Chisholm.

I've been following Adam's second tier quest for quite a while now (perhaps best illustrated here: Archie's Double Digest #203) and as mentioned in my previous blog post, Betty and Veronica Digest #200 contains irrefutable evidence that Adam is on the rise, and perhaps proof that someone in Archie editorial (Victor?) is communicating with me through the digests.

And yes, I know that sounds crazy, and no, I don't really believe it. Not entirely, anyways.

The lead story in this issue is "The Dates of Your Lives!", which has a big role for Ginger Lopez (she of the streaked hair). Basically, it's a "This Is Your Life" 'show' at Pop's, where different guys Betty and Ron have dated tell their stories anonymously and the girls have to guess who the potential suitor is.

First we go through the gang: Arch, Reg, Dilton, Moose and Jughead (he went to Paris with Veronica for the food). All the stories are funny and the tone is light.

Then we cut through some dudes who couldn't even make third string: French Archie, Aaron and Brandon. These guys are given a dry editorial note saying what issue their date was, and they're treated as the jokes they are. 

But if we rewind a bit we get this:

Mon-u-mental. Not only that Betty instantly thought of Adam (it wasn't him, it was French Archie talking about Veronica) once the usual gang was dispensed with, but the addition of three little words validates both Adam's quest for second tier and my theories on his rise over his contemporaries. TO BE EXACT. That's right. As I stated in my review of ADD 203, Adam is no longer a generic character, he is Adam Chisholm...to be exact. And the inset of his face? 


Maybe, just maybe, those three words are a message to me, telling me to keep following Adam and his rise through the ranks. 

If I'm right about this, perhaps I'm right about the New Reality of Jughead Continuity as well. The mind boggles at the prospect.

It is also of note that Adam didn't deign to make an appearance at this function. The tone was that the gang are great but not boyfriend material, and that nobody else has a chance against Archie. To attend (I'm positive he was invited) would have been an admission on Adam's part that he's not match for Archie, and Adam Chisholm makes no such admission. No way.

OK, so imagine it.....I'm reeling from this monumental event, I get a nice one pager featuring Tomiko, then wham!

A two page quiz called "How Well Do You Know Betty?" (not to brag or anything, but I got a perfect score), and question number six was like receiving the gospels:

If you answered A-Reggie Mantle, you are dead wrong. 

No, you bet your ass the answer was D-Adam Chisholm.

There you have it! Archie Editorial placing Adam above Reggie in the hierarchy of Betty's suitors. This will be a day long remembered.

But I'm sure that goes without saying.

The rest of the digest is pretty solid (a nice appearance by Brigitte, some decent reprints and some Josie stories), aside from some modern Sabrina strips that just seem a waste.

What about this though?

Since when do Melody and Alan M. share a class with the gang? It's good to see Ms. Haggly though, she gets next to no play anymore.

All in all a solid single digest, and a huge move forward for our hero Adam.

Adam Chisholm.

To be exact.

I'd also like to say that as of this week my album is finished and we are moving on to the mastering stage. 

It has been a long and often difficult two years realizing this project, but it feels good to finally say it is done, instead of almost done.

A brief explanation of "Aim for the Roses"