Enter the Archie-Verse: An Interview with Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater

The Archie comics have always meant a lot to me. When I was growing up, I was put into french immersion… but I sucked at french… being my third language and all (no mom, I’m not making an excuse I’m just stating a fact). During the many silent reading periods in my junior school, my one saving grace was the pile of comics, which almost always featured French prints of the Archie Comics. I loved those comics. Looking at the pictures and slowly stumbling through the words, one could say that those comics helped me learn french. But, a few years later, Archies’ influence struck again, as when I got my best friend in the world, a salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer, I named him Archie.

So, when I heard that there was to be a live-action adaption of Archie and the whole gang, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. So, when the first episode arrived on Netflix, my dog and I sat down and watched the show. It was immediately clear that this was not the old school Archie Andrews and Riverdale… this was something different. Much more darker, promiscuous, edgy, and a whole new style for a whole new generation of fans.

Personally, I look forward to every Thursday when the show comes on Netflix so I can download it and watch it on my commute to class. But Riverdale is not the only show that comes from Archie Comics. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is another great show that tells of the struggle between the light and dark sides of Sally Draper… I mean Sabrina… Here, we actually see Sabrina and her family “actually be witches”.

With one more episode to go for Riverdale‘s third season, I was fortunate enough to interview Jon Goldwater, who is the CEO/Publisher of Archie Comics along with being the executive producer of both Riverdale and Sabrina. Transcribed below are sections of the interview:

Nick: With shows such as Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the upcoming Katy Keene show: how does it feel to have what fans are now calling ‘the Archie-verse’?

John Goldwater: It feels fantastic, I got to tell you… There are some things you dream about and you say ‘I really hope it happens’… You work and put all your energy and effort and everything into it and you still don’t know if is going to happen. And when it actually happens, it is pretty phenomenal, it feels great, it really does… And the cool thing is, is that now we have these three shows, and we just want so much more now… We really feel like it has taken us this long and I actually feel like we are at the starting gate. I don’t feel like we gotten to anywhere near to where we area capable of going… I really feel like we are just beginning at this moment in time.

N: I can image. It is just incredible to see from the comics and the small screen to now possible even the big screen… like Archie in Bollywood. So… how does that feel?

JG: The Archie in Bollywood?

N: Yeah!

JG: Well it is weird because, for… whatever cultural reasons, Archie is an institution in India. I mean, the folks who live there just love the characters, love the comics, love the stories, love everything about Archie. It is just remarkable. I would have to say that we are as big in India as we are anywhere in the world, including the United States. It is the most wonderful and marvellous phenomenon that we are so loved and embraced down there… We are very very lucky.

Nick: As I was researching Archie in Bollywood, I came across a lot of Indian film critics who were actually using Archie, Veronica, and Betty as character tropes, saying how certain films are in essence similar to Archie and Riverdale. For example, there is a film called Student of the year 2 where critics were saying this is essentially Riverdale… It was very cool to see how the cultural impact… spread so far.

JG: Yeah, you just really hit the nail on the head. It really is a cultural impact on India. I would say probably even more than here… It is remarkable, it truly is…

N: So, now a bit on the Katy Keene production. We have Ashleigh Murray and Lucy Hale who are going to be heading this new show… Going to New York, more music, more everything… What are some core thematic concepts that the show is going to explore?

JG: Well, this show is, really for me personally, the show that we need today, the world needs today. We are going through a whole sort of strange time right now with a lot of turmoil, a lot of the darkness. And this show is just so full of energy, so full of life, it is so full of light, there is singing, dancing, I mean it is two young ladies who become fast friends, both following and pursuing their dream. Both Lucy and Ashleigh are so phenomenal, I really cannot even put it into words how magical their performances are. And it is nice because… Ashleigh has the chance now to really [show off] her singing talents are and they are remarkable. She is just an incredible singer. And Lucy is just the most wonderful performer you will ever wanna see. She is magic. And the two of them together… It is a very very special show, I am so proud of it. It is different from Riverdale, different than Sabrina, it is really its own unique thing…. It is set in New York City, which plays an important part… And it is a very good and special show. It is the show that we need today in these times. It is just a joy.

N: So, what should fans be most excited about? In your view, what is one particular aspect that fans will go crazy for?

JG: I guess… honestly… just how exciting and wonderful these characters are. I mean, I have to tell you, Katy Keene is a character if you are an Archie fan or a real comic book fan you might be aware of who [she] is… but in the real world, people do not know the backstory of Katy Keene and what she is and I think that the discovery of what that character is, is going to be so fun for people to… embrace who she really is. I think people will love it.

N: Well since we talked about such a positive thing above, let us bring things down to a more human level. With the unfortunate death of Luke Perry… how does that affect the tone and ethos of what Riverdale will become going into season 4?

JG: Obviously what happened to Luke is unthinkable, tragic. It is every horrible thing you can ever think. But as far as it changing the show, the show will change because we will not have this amazing and brilliant performer part of it anymore. But Riverdale will still be Riverdale. We will still be telling the stories, still doing what we do at Riverdale even unfortunately without Luke.

N: For my last question, I have to ask you about tonights season finale of Riverdale. Last weeks episode had a LOT of things happen in it (spoilers have been omitted). There is a lot that happened in this one single episode. So, what can fans expect with the last episode, the last 40 minutes of this third season? How are all these plots and threads going to be tied together?

JG: One of the things we love to do with Riverdale, as we did in season 1 and season 2, we do like to give viewers a reward for watching the show for the whole season, and having a satisfying conclusion. The best thing I can tell you guys for tonight is that a lot threads will be concluded tonight. It was an action packed episode last week, I give you that.

N: It seemed like there was more plot progression in that 40 min episode than there was possible in the whole season before it.

JG: Yeah, it was insane… But by the way, how great was the fight scene between Hiram and Archie?

N: That was beautiful choreography, that was awesome…

JG: That was amazing. It was brilliant.

Thank you one more time to Jon Goldwater, and be sure to catch tonight’s episode of Riverdale. More Archie-verse content will be on the way soon!

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