Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at the Archie revamp and gives us his best-of-2014 list.

It's finally official.  The Christmas Season, a.k.a. Christmastide has been upgraded from twelve days to a full month.  There's no longer even the pretext of a preamble, on December 1st it is well and fully on.  It seems to be more and common to see people putting up their trees that early, when a hundred years ago on top of his already busy workload Santa was expected to deliver those as well.  And you can't blame this development on American commercialism and/or exceptionalism the way you usually can; if recent episodes of the British soaps EastEnders and Coronation Street are reliable, this phenomenon appears to have made its way to the UK.

I'm honestly unsure what this antsiness is in aid of.  Is it just celebration creep, our modern innate inability to wait for anything, or some kind of unconscious Ramadan envy (i.e., if it lasts a month then Christmas should too, gosh darn it).  Or maybe it's just that in these odd, dark times, we need a little more Christmas than usual.  Personally I could use a little Christmas, right this very minute.

Being officially old you might well expect me to take these sorts of things personally, but (to coin a phrase) things change.  Take, for example, one Archie Andrews (see "A New 'Archie' #1 in 2015").  These days a comic book character undergoing a combination relaunch/revamp doesn't even qualify as "news."  Usually, publishers can count on these sorts of things to at least give them some free publicity but a quick internet search finds the story hasn't gotten much traction so far.  Maybe it's too close to Christmas or it could just be revamp fatigue.  After marrying and killing him off, it's pretty hard not seeing this more recent development as just overkill.

Which would be a mistake because it's clear Archie means business, and it could mean big business for us.  A New York Times piece quotes the publisher as saying since 2008, bookstore sales have increased 736% and direct-market sales by 226%.  Building on that momentum, a new Archie #1 by any creative team would likely have a good shot at solid sales, just from the curiosity value alone.  But a game-changing "New Look" Archie with "edgier" content, by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples?  That's a solid contender for best-selling comic of the year.

In interviews Goldwater has stressed that this new Archie will still be suitable for the youngest readers, but anyone who’s concerned that the publisher will be turning its back on its traditional art style and audience needn’t worry.  According to a piece on the Comic Book Resources website, "Archie CEO Says 'No Turning Back' Following Waid & Staples' Relaunch" new stories in the old style will be done for the Archie digests.  Just on the strength of the creative team alone, Archie #1 is going to be big in the direct sales market, but more importantly I see it as a comic that can help grow that market.  Because it's something that should appeal to the largest possible mainstream audience, an audience that would never, under any circumstances, read a superhero comic.

I've said for a while now that Archie is the most progressive, adventurous American comic book publisher and while this move is (I really don't want to use this word) extreme it's absolutely necessary.  Making the brand feel contemporary, making it reflect the world, these are things that both Marvel and DC still need to do a better job of.  I find myself not just intrigued but actively excited by the possibilities.  In that New York Times piece Archie publisher/co-CEO Jon Goldwater is quoted as saying, "I want us to be a global sensation, to be as big as Marvel.  Other publishers have superheroes, but no one has Archie."  I just wonder how long it'll be before we see the return of Marvel and DC's teen characters.

And just as Christmas keeps coming sooner and sooner so do the end of the year "Best of" lists.  Historically they were done in that gap between Christmas and New Year's, last year they started coming out before Christmas.  And this year I was seeing and hearing them, that's right, in early December.  In spite of my sometimes spectacular OCD I've never been much one for list making; I'm just not that well organized.  And I don’t have a high enough opinion of my own opinion to tell you what I consider the "best" comics of 2014.  But with a little effort I managed to put together a list of my favorites:
-- Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga
-- Scooby Doo Team-Up
-- Ms. Marvel
-- Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland
-- Gotham Academy
-- Saga
-- Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird
-- Kung Fu Bible Stories
-- The Phoenix
-- Shonen Jump Weekly

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of