Archie Warner BrosIn the wake of the launch of “Riverdale” on tv at CW, Archie Comics has signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros Television to develop more of the publisher's properties for television and original content.

As Archie CEO Jon Goldwater tells The Hollywood Reporter, the deal extends beyond the traditional Riverdale crew of Archie, Betty and Veronica as seen in the current CW series. It could include lesser-known properties, including "America's Queen of Pin-Ups and Fashions" Katy Keene, as well as the superheroes of the company's Dark Circle imprint.

Said Goldwater: “Archie is unique in that we have a huge library of characters that are not only recognizable, but they’re successful and entertaining. Everyone knows Josie and Sabrina. Beyond that, we have an entire pantheon of heroes and villains that are perfect for tv or movies. Not to mention Black Hood and Sam Hill, just to name a few. The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to start talking about what we have coming up.”

“Riverdale” creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told reporters last month he was interested in creating a whole Archie world. The series, with its dark tone and sexy new murder mystery plot, was, initially, a critical hit. The deal is similar to Warner Bros tv’s pact with DC Comics, which has seen it put a whole stable of series on the air, including CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, as well as Fox's Gotham and NBC's Powerless.

“Riverdale's” success and the tv pact marks the latest stage in Goldwater's push to modernize Archie as a company, which started with the 2010 introduction of Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the publisher's long history, and continued with the launch of a series that featured an adult Archie struggling with life post-marriage (to both Betty and Veronica; the series ended with his death).

Coinciding with news of the Warner Bros deal, Archie revealed that Mark Waid, the writer of flagship comic book series Archie, will be expanding his relationship with the company later this year by signing up to co-write a number of series, as well as mentoring upcoming writers, with the overall aim of growing the current stable of talent at the company.

Goldwater, asked if he is experiencing a “sense of vindication” in seeing the success of his drive to get the characters accepted once again by a mainstream audience, agreed:

“This deal with Warners is in many ways a culmination of the work, along with the amazing staff and freelancers who work at Archie, to bring these characters forward into the present day. To show that Archie is an iconic brand that is flexible, relevant and energized.

“The moment where I could finally sit down and say “Okay, now we’re ready to roll,” Goldwater continued, “was [2015's] Archie No.1, by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. This was ground zero for the company. This was a rebirth. This was an Archie for today’s reader. Obviously, we still cherish and respect the classic Archie stories — we still produce them because that audience is hugely important to us. But the ‘Death of Archie’ was more than a publishing stunt. It was a metaphor for the company. That Archie had to die, saving Kevin Keller, the face of the new Archie brand, to ensure the company would continue.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


Black Lightning has found a home at the CW after a brief dalliance with Fox, which opted not to proceed with a pilot. The TV series is being produced by Greg Berlanti, who has also has a hand in Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Riverdale. The series is being written by the husband-and-wife duo of Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. One of DC’s first African American superheroes, Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eden. The television show would also mark the first major Black superhero for the CW’s lineup. No release date was revealed.

Black Lightning - The CW

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


BordertownThe timing may be a little off — maybe it would have been better to have debuted just as The Donald began trumpeting about Mexican rapists and murderers surging across the border — but “Bordertown,” the animated prime-time series created by “Family Guy’s” Mark Hentemann and produced by FG’s Seth MacFarlane (with La Cucaracha’s Lalo Alcaraz as a consultant), began last January on Fox. From a review that came via Internet over the Rancid Raves transom:

If you thought the political debate over immigration has devolved into a cartoon, “Bordertown” finishes the job. This animated sitcom on Fox is as subtle and amusing as a brick border wall.

In the Southwestern town of Mexifornia, a Border Patrol agent, Bud Buckwald (Hank Azaria of “The Simpsons”), works ineptly to secure the national boundary and his own sense of primacy in his country. His next-door neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez) laughs off Bud’s casual racism, but tensions are about to rise as Mexifornia considers a draconian anti-immigration bill.

As in the political diatribes, “Bordertown” casts both sides in extremes. There are the Hispanic caricatures, like the tot at a barbecue who spikes Bud’s food with a blazing hot chili pepper from a bag marked Extra Caliente. There are the white caricatures, like Bud’s 5-year-old daughter, Gert (Missi Pyle), a pageant contestant who, for some reason, has a pronounced Honey Boo Boo Southern accent. Nearly everyone, white and brown, is drawn in a similar bulbous avocado shape.

Bordertown PostcardLike MacFarlane’s other animated shows, “Bordertown” aspires to the issues-based comedy of Norman Lear. When Becky gets engaged to Ernesto’s liberal nephew, J. C. (Mr. Gonzalez), it feels like a tribute to the Archie-versus-Gloria-and-Meathead sparring of “All in the Family.”

But despite the show’s apt timing, the satire gets swallowed up by the hyperactive joke engine. There are so many cutaway gags that the show feels bored with itself. The social humor is curdled and mean, and the non sequitur jokes — like a visit to “Goofy’s rape room” at a knockoff version of Disneyland — play like “Family Guy” outtakes.

The show’s most distinctive, slapstick running joke imagines the border battle as a Looney Tunes cartoon, where the roadrunner is a coyote: El Coyote, a wily immigrant smuggler who frustrates Bud’s elaborate attempts to capture him. (One involves a giant-spring contraption that might as well have ACME stamped on it.)

It’s pointedly silly stuff, but also a sign of the anarchic comedy “Bordertown” could be if it could escape the shadow of Peter Griffin, the father on “Family Guy.” As it is, the show may appeal to “Family Guy” die-hards, but mostly gives viewers of all persuasions cause to run from the border.


For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com



McDonald’s and Coco-Cola have a new commercial on TV in which the actors speak in speech balloons. They open their mouths, and a balloon is emitted, making a mildly disgusting “bulup” noise as it balloons out. Words then show up on the balloon. ... The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran’s book of “wise sayings,” has animated many an undergraduate’s mental and moral processes, and was itself recently animated.


For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


ZombieZombies and the rest of the undead are at today’s terminus of a trend toward political correctitude that began before any of us were born. Comics — of the newspaper ilk — had been criticized by Concerned Citizens almost from the beginning. And the criticism lurked, sometimes shouting and sometimes merely growling, ever since. With the advent in 1954 of the Comics Code, we learned specifically what the Concerned Multitudes were so concerned about. It was a long list.

Prohibited were: glamorized crooks, detailed plans for crimes, the words “horror” (and “crime”) on comic book covers, gruesome pictures, vampires, walking dead, cannibalism, profanity, smut, obscenity, attacks on religion, nudity, divorce, sex perversions, unperverted sex, liquor and tobacco and fireworks advertising, scenes of violence — and more, much more, but all in the same Victorian vein.

Mainly, Concerned Citizens objected to any affront to a nineteenth century sense of decorum. They didn’t like sex or ghoulishness or violence. Particularly, they didn’t like people killing people.

The publishers and creators of comic books reacted accordingly. They skirted sex, avoided ghoulishness, and took all the weapons away from heroic characters. Batman couldn’t have a pistol. And even if he got one by disarming a foe, he couldn’t use the pistol against his opponent. No killing.

In Westerns where wholesale gunfire is common, no one is ever killed. Gunfighters shot the guns out of the hands of the bad guys. No one died.

Meanwhile, back at the superhero shops, the good guys in tights acquired new offensive armament. Force fields. Lighting bolts from the finger tips. These vibrations could render enemies unconscious or harmless. But nothing fatal or disfiguring. And no blood was shed.

Simultaneously, the bad guys were no longer members of the human (sic) sapien species. They were alien beings — with force fields under their fingernails. So the superheroes were, at last, evenly matched. Their foes were not just crooks of the same species. They were superpowered aliens. So the superheroic good guys couldn’t be accused of bullying (which, in his inaugural appearance, Superman certainly could be), of beating up on ordinary, unpowered humanoids. Perforce, it was okay to pound non-human aliens — to dismember them, to blow them full of wholes.

Admittedly, the stories told under these restraints quickly became dull. The trend reached its apotheosis in the movie “Man of Steel” wherein Superman and his similarly superpowered opponent, neither of whom, regrettably, has fingertip force fields, must resort to pure, unadulterated power: they run at each other and crash headon like a couple freight trains. After a couple of these, boredom sets in pretty quick.

And the same kind of thing was transpiring in comic books.

Then, to the rescue, we have the walking dead.

At last, our heroes have opponents they can dismember and dispose of without killing them. Because they’re already dead. Hence, the ultimate in politically correct violence — superheroes battling and bloodily disintegrating zombies and similarly no-longer-alive beings. No one, apparently, objects to desecrating animated corpses.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


At the end of this year’s October 30 airing of the Peanuts Hallowe’en special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, viewers — including all those eager-eyed moppets whose parents thought they’d treat their Great Pumpkin stilloffspring to a nice kids program — found themselves confronted by the opening scene of Scandal, in which Olivia Pope is having a very explicit dream, reports Emily Yahr at the Washington Post — “reminiscing about sleeping with President Fitz (along with the other guy in her love triangle, Jake). It’s all set to ‘Summer Breeze,’ and there are glimpses of lots of bare skin.”

The watchdog group Parents Television Council understandably went ballistic, unleashing an angry statement directed at ABC, condemning the abrupt shift from kid-centric programming to eroticism. “After all, families are known to gather around the cartoon every year and may not have anticipated that they needed to quickly change the channel. Shame on ABC for putting a peep show next to a playground,” PTC President Tim Winter said.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


Tequila Mockingbird coverFox has renewed “The Simpsons” for a 26th season, which will keep fresh episodes on tv through 2015 {New York Times}. ... A new book entitled Tequila Mockingbird offers 65 drink recipes for English major imbibers (The Last of the Mojitos, f’instance); an older book called Tequila Mockingbird is a book of animal cartoons by The New Yorker’s Leo Cullum. And there are at least three other books with the same title. ... The latest project of alternative cartoonist Peter Bagge (Neat Stuff and Hate) is a graphic biography, Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, rehearsing the life of the early 20th-century birth control activist, nurse, political celebrity and founder of Planned Parenthood {Nathalie Atkinson, nationalpost.com}. ... Craig Yoe reports that he was nominated for Best Editor in the Shel Dorf Awards at the Detroit Fanfare Comic Con; he also received the 4th Annual Jerry Bails Award For Excellence in Comics Fandom. ... Fan favorite and Archie Comics' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller has been named a Spirit Day 2013 Ambassador, the first time the GLAAD organization has bestowed the honor on a fictional character {Brilan Trukitt at USA Today}.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


ModernMickey0001All of 19 new 2D Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts will premiere June 28 on Disney Channel, online, and in Disney apps, reported icv2.com. Each episode takes Mickey to a different locale — Santa Monica, New York, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Venice and the Alps; in each, he faces "a silly situation, a quick complication, and an escalation of physical and visual gags." Other classic Disney characters such as Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto will also appear, with an "occasional homage to other icons from the storied Disney heritage." You can witness one of these new ones, “Croissant de Triomphe,” here. Mickey has been revived only sporadically over the years, but this time, the revival is in a thoroughly modern visual mode — and the action is as manic as a Tex Avery cartoon. On the right, the new Mickey, whose limbs are now as rubbery as they were at his birth over 80 years ago.
For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com