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Indie comics news: Archie R.I.P., "Big Trouble" comic, Eco Comics and ESCAPO

No word on if Archie will return as Archie-Boy, Cyber-Archie, the Archinator or Steel-Arch a few months later.
No word on if Archie will return as Archie-Boy, Cyber-Archie, the Archinator or Steel-Arch a few months later.
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Archie Andrews to get an "iconic" death!

As the last family owned major comic book publisher left in North America, "Archie Comics" has undergone many changes under the tenure of CEO Jon Goldwater. This has not only included the addition of the "Mega Man" license (and a successful crossover with Archie's long running "Sonic the Hedgehog" comics), but a series of spectacular stunts which have capitalized on the lack of any "continuity" to the core "Archie" comics to garner added attention and sales in a market clogged with grim superhero books. One of these was a wedding story line which envisioned Archie marrying either Veronica or Betty, which kicked off a "Life with Archie" magazine following both married paths in subsequent stories for the fans who wish to explore them. Three years later, writer Paul Kupperberg is ending his run with a bang; a "death of Archie" story.

In an interview, Kupperberg revealed that this story was born during a meeting with himself, Goldwater, editor-in-chief Victor Gorelick and president Mike Pellerito in which it came up simply as a story the company has never done. Such a thing is staggering considering Archie once had a crossover with Marvel's Punisher. Kupperberg calls it "an iconic moment" and it seems that Archie's death will be heroic in some manner. The aftermath will "merge" the separate stories in "Life of Archie" between Betty and Veronica, as well as cover the cast in mourning for "Life with Archie #36" and thirty-seven. As usual with comic book "events", there will be variant covers - a whopping ten of them across the two issues, not including the cover to the trade collection. Artists such as Walt Simonson, Jill Thompson, Cliff Chang, Alex Ross, Mike Allred, Adam Hughes, Fiona Staples, and Francesco Francavilla will be contributing for these variant covers. As Goldwater himself said, "This story is going to inspire a wide range of reactions because we all feel so close to Archie. Fans will laugh, cry, and hopefully understand why this comic will go down as one of the most important moments in Archie’s entire history. It’s the biggest story we’ve ever done".

It is worth noting that none of this will effect the core "Archie" comics line of titles (which include spin-offs like "Kevin Keller", "Jughead", or "Betty & Veronica") which are sold in single comics and in cheap digest reprints in both comic shops and avenues outside the direct market (i.e. retail chains such as "Rite Aid"). As a company, "Archie Comics" is genuinely seeking to offer all products to all people, especially as their core readership not only is found outside traditional comic shops, but are statistically more likely to be female than male. While many cynics deride the "timeless" nature of their comics as being worse than the half century (or more) of "continuity" which most Marvel and DC Comics series have stuck to, Jon Goldwater has merely capitalized on this as liberating the franchise enough that anything can be done with it. At the same time as this "Death with Archie" story is discussed, Mike Pellerito was establishing plans to expand the "kids line" of comics already mentioned. Archie Comics have figured out they can successfully sell general "Archie" issues where the ageless high school gang meets KISS or continues their groovy adventures alongside a more serious zombie series in "Afterlife with Archie" for older audiences as well as apart from their "adventures" line of Sonic, Mega Man, and even some superhero titles like Mark Waid's "The Fox". From embracing homosexual characters to digital comics, Archie Comics have seemed to be able to mirror some of the moves of "bigger" companies, only without half as much hand wringing.

More details emerge about BOOM!'s "Big Trouble in Little China" comic!

At the start of March, BOOM! Studios revealed that it had attained the license to the 1980's cult film "Big Trouble in Little China" and were setting about to create a comic book series about it. It will be written by Eric Powell ("The Goon"), drawn by Brian Churilla ("The Secret History of DB Cooper"), with original director John Carpenter consulting on the series. Now, Newsarama has revealed three variant covers and a set date of release as June. Eric Powell also firmly states, "The story picks up from the very last shot of the film. I definitely wrote it as a comic book sequel". The series will feature the return of other characters from the film (besides it's star, trucker Jack Burton) as well as newer characters, and the hairy monster seen at the end of the film. It's been known for some time that 1980's nostalgia comics can sell, and it has even been shown that they can still be written well (i.e. IDW Comics' licensed line). The time is right for BOOM! to jump into the practice as well.

Eco Comics & ComiXology form digital comic alliance!

Ever since 2008, U.K. based digital publisher Eco Comics have sought to provide quality comic books with as minimal a carbon footprint as possible by selling all of their wares exclusively online. To wit, it seems that it was inevitable that they would unite with ComiXology, the world's foremost digital comic book provider, to bring their comics to wider audiences. This is an exclusive deal which is similar to many that ComiXology have made with various publishers, which will allow Eco Comics' series of the past, present, and future - such as "Mr. T", "Tough Guy", "Green Man", and "Dracula vs. Robin Hood vs. Jekyll & Hyde" - to be sold via ComiXology's online store and app. Eco Comics offers more than reasonable prices for their wares - individual issues range from .99 to $1.99 with graphic novels being had at $2.99, with many preview comics offers for free.

Paul Pope's "ESCAPO" launch party in NYC is a rock and roll charity gala!

Paul Pope, best known for "Batman: Year 100" and "Battling Boy", is overseeing the reprint of "ESCAPO", a surreal series about an escape artist which was originally published in 1999 but has long been out of print. Z2 Comics, formerly "Zip Comics", is overseeing the reprint of this work and a "launch event" has been scheduled for it on April 19th at 7:00 p.m. at the famous Webster Hall's Marlin Room (125 East 11th Street in Manhattan). Admission is $20 a head and it will feature a performance by U.K. based rock band "The Jim Jones Revue", with Paul Pope on hand himself to serve as the DJ for the party! In addition, all of the event's proceeds will go towards the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit which legally defends the First Amendment rights of any comic book creator, publisher, retailer, or librarian. A union of comics, rock and roll, and charity seems about the right fix for a Saturday night! Tickets can be had at Ticketweb for those 19 and up.