At the New York Comic Con, Archie Comics announced an ambitious program for 2011 that includes adding a second magazine title, Betty Or Veronica as well as reviving a number of the company’s characters from the 1940s and 1950s including Katy Keene, Sam HillPrivate Eye, and Cosmo the Merry Martian.


Victor Gorelick, Co-President and Editor-in-Chief of Archie Comics, told ICv2 that because the Life With Archie magazine (see “Life With Archie in TRU”) “has been doing very well--it’s been very popular--in 2011 we have plans to come out with another magazine, it’s called Betty Or Veronica.”  The new magazine, which will come out every other month (Life With Archie is a monthly), will launch in February or March and will feature a continuing story by Michael Uslan in which Betty and Veronica join a student exchange program and leave Riverdale for adventures in foreign countries (will Riverdale survive their temporary absence?). 


The Betty or Veronica title will feature both girls in their teenage years, and Gorelick is hoping that the new magazine will be able to build on the success of Life With Archie, which, he told ICv2 reaches a different audience by virtue of its mass market distribution: “It is getting great distribution in CVS, Wal-Mart, all over the place,” and has a “sell-through of over 60%,” which is very good for a newsstand magazine.


Gorelick told ICv2 that Archie also plans to publish a 4-issue mini-series in 2011 featuring Kevin Keller, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character.


Many of Archie Comics’ other 2011 initiatives appear to be focused on bringing back elements of the company’s rich history of comic book publishing including Katy Keene, who was created by Bill Woggon in 1945, as well as Dan DeCarlo’s Josie and the Pussycats, which debuted in 1963.


But two of Archie Comics’ most interesting moves are the revivals of two obscure series from the 1950s.  Gorelick told ICv2 that Archie plans on reprinting the seven-issue Sam Hill, Private Eye series that debuted in 1950 and featured the expressive art of Harry Lucey, whose skill at depicting facial expressions has been cited as a major influence by Gilbert Hernandez.  Modern readers probably don’t associate Archie Comics with hardboiled detective sagas, and indeed back in 1950 Archie created a new imprint, Close-Up Comics, to publish the adventures of “America’s Hard-Boiled, Wise-Cracking Sleuth,” but it should be interesting to be able to read these classic private eye adventures from the prime era of crime comics, and also to see Archie Comics launch an updated contemporary version of Sam Hill, Private Eye later in 2011.


The other 1950s character that Archie is reviving is Cosmo the Merry Martian, a kid-targeted humor title, which was created by Bob White and lasted just six issues during the late 1950s when the launch of Sputnik created major interest in anything to do with outer space.  Gorelick told ICv2 that Archie will launch an updated Cosmo the Merry Martian title next year.