The Battle For Archie

The New York Times has a piece about the nasty in-fighting between the two families who own control the Archie Comics universe, which also includes properties like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie the Pussycats. In short, one side–Jonathan Goldwater–wants to bring aboard outside investors and get Hollywood involved, while the other side–Nancy Silberkleit–wants to preserve family ownership of the company. The animosities have led to accusations of sexual harassment, defecating dogs, and punctured car tires. Currently, there’s a restraining order against Ms. Silberkleit, though she was recently fined for violating that order and showing up at the company’s headquarters accompanied by an ex-football player.

As it stands, it’s remarkable that Archie hasn’t already succumbed to corporate media consolidation. Few classic comic and animation properties are owned independently nowadays. Warner Bros. owns DC, Disney owns Marvel, and Classic Media owns Rocky and Bullwinkle, Gumby, Underdog, and the Harvey Comics library, just to name a few.

Archie Comics remains one of the rare holdouts, along with Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is owned by the creator’s son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., and his wife Janice Karman. In a day and age when few mainstream cartoon creators even have the option of owning their creations, it’s nice to see an independently held company overseeing such a classic group of characters–even if its owners are fighting each other to the bitter end.

(Illustration by Mark Matcho)