Relevancy is a Key Element That Keeps Archies Attractive: Nancy Silberkleit, Co-CEO Archie Comics

For years, the Archie Comics have entertained generations of teenagers and adults around the world. But over time, as the world has progressed, so has the world of Riverdale. We talk to Nancy Silberkleit, the Co-CEO of Archie Comics about the new direction the Archie Comics have taken.

Bhavneet: From being a set of comic books that spoke about the growing or formative years of a bunch of teens in Riverdale, The Archies now come with life lessons. How did The Archies go from being books that recounted the adventures of a set of kids to this?
Nancy: As I read the current stories as well as the back issues, there is a formula to Archie Comics that always had a platform that allowed those impactful messages to be inserted. Our talented writers and pencilers have inserted real life lessons into the story lines for decades and now society speaks up more than any decade has in the past on topics that may have once been taboo.

Bhavneet: How has your background in education influenced your approach to promoting literacy and educational initiatives through the Archie Comics brand?
Nancy: There is definitely synergy between my career as a teacher and my current career promoting graphic literacy! There has been no one like myself since our inception at Archie Comics that is so vocal on Comic Books + Children = Reading, Knowledge, Confidence and Creativity.  My educational background has naturally driven me to speak out on how to motivate children and adults to find the love of turning those pages in books! Reading is everything to me because you learn and perhaps readers can even learn English and in a fun way. Fluent English is a struggle for many. It’s exciting to known how well our brand has assisted in encouraging literacy all over the world.

Archie Comics has a rich history with iconic characters. How do you balance maintaining the classic appeal of these characters while introducing new elements to keep the brand relevant to contemporary audiences?
Nancy: The formula of placing the characters into a high school setting, inserting a bit of chaos, and letting them solve the issue on their own without any adult intervention is what our creative team follows in both the classic and contemporary iterations, I believe it’s that constant formula that keeps us connected to our diverse groups of fans.
How our fans desire their dose of Archie Comics, true classic or contemporary we try to make sure that they can find them! We are very much aware that we have various types of fans that we must satisfy and fortunately for us our brand is fan driven. As we see the classics’ sales continue to soar as well as the edgy story lines do the same, we just keep publishing more. We understand we need to listen to our fans while keeping the DNA of our brand the same. Relevancy is a key element that keeps our brand attractive, and our readers interested in turning the pages. We keep relevant by staying current through the news, culture of society and all things important to our readers and what they are experiencing in their day to day lives. But through all these elements to make the brand contemporary we keep the DNA of our show the same. Putting the kids in a situation, a bit of chaos and letting them solve the problems themselves. Also while updating the characters we keep their Intellectual Property consistent. For example, who Jughead is in our classic comics, is really the same character as in Riverdale even though we are updating the look and feel. That is the same with our new Netflix project The Archies and within that you find Jughead, he looks different but the same key characteristics and that is the same for all our characters. There are very few brands like Archie Comics, and I can look back to the founding generations of Archie leaders and feel the responsibility to keep Archie Comics thriving for another 80 years.

As an advocate for inclusivity and diversity, how do you ensure that Archie Comics reflects a wide range of voices and perspectives in its storytelling and character representation?
Nancy: The creative team is dedicated to reflecting society today. We continually develop new characters. I spoke about Scarlet Saltee while visiting your store but did not have a chance to explain that Scarlet is only available in a PDF format by purchasing it at PayPal. Scarlet is being introduced through a pdf opposed to being published in one of our digests because we want to be sure our readers know Scarlet’s message. The process to purchase Scarlet’s five individual stories requires our fans to email me at Scarlet’s message is encourage society to learn more about the autistic population and how they desire friendships.

Bhavneet: Of all the Archies comics that have come out, which ones are your favorite?
Nancy: That’s a hard one. I love everything Archie! I do enjoy the classics and seek out the stories that involve Mr Lodge. I enjoy seeing how Veronica interacts with her dad and shows skills of someday going into business. I love to laugh and always get a chuckle out of the relationship Archie has with Mr. Lodge.

Have you seen the Indian movie The Archies that came out recently? What did you make of it if you’ve seen it? Did it hold up the Archie comics atmosphere and ideology?
Nancy: I’ve seen the film 6 times! It’s one of those films that you start thinking about and want to go back and see that certain scene again and hear those words again. I encourage everyone to continue revisiting the film, you will find something new every time. The Archies is not only a film that will deepen the iconic Archie Andrews love story into one’s heart, it will also naturally instill a desire to explore India again and again! The production never lost the Archie Comic intellectual property’s beat, it all blended beautifully! Just like the name Bollywood, the words Bombay and Hollywood, this blend carried Archie and India through the entire production, yet it was a hundred percent the culture of India. This great film only added another intrigue to our brand.

Apart from asking the kids to read The Archies, what message do you have for the teenagers?
Nancy: Teenage life can be tough. People are social beings, especially teenagers! They desire to have friends and be included with kindness. I wish I could have enjoyed teenage life. I was always looking at others and also very unsure of allowing myself to be me. Adolescence is a tough, tough time. My best message is to block out the negative noise and believe in yourself. When you get criticized, it can be cruel, mean or just nonsense. You are the only one that knows yourself! Do not let anyone define you as they want you to be. The choices that you make are yours and not for the taking. There happens to be an Archie story call Trend Setter in digest Archie’s Funhouse Spring Annual Vol #26 where Archie Andrews himself says ‘Believe In Yourself!’ It’s one of my favorite digests because it contains many stories that can easily be used in the classroom that can open up conversation on various academic and social topics. 

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