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FRIDAY NEWSPOST - When Comics Jump the Shark

HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 11, 2014

Earlier this week, one of my sisters sent me some upsetting news: Archie Andrews is going to be killed off in an upcoming issue of Life With Archie.

I was an avid Archie fan when I was young. My sisters and I had a truly massive collection which we kept in a big box, and they were littered throughout every room of the house. Nowadays I only ever read the odd issue and most of our old ones have been sold or given away. All the same, this made me pretty unhappy; part of the great thing about Archie comics was the happy, clean world the characters lived in. While serious comics definitely have their place, for a real kid dealing with real problems it can be a relief to dive into a world where the main character’s biggest issue is having two dates at the same time.

This news got me thinking about all the crazy things Archie comics have done in the last decade or so in an effort to boost sales and ‘reboot’ the Archie franchise: a series of “new look” stories, zombie-themed issues, and of course his marriages to Betty and Veronica.

Archie comics isn't the only comic franchise that’s guilty of this sort of thing, though. It seems that in the comics universe there's a lot of pressure to keep characters going for years and years on end. Along the way it's necessary to have a few twists and turns to keep things interesting, and of course in comics – unlike in long-running tv shows – there are no physical limits to keep things from getting too crazy. Spiderman in particular got ridiculously complicated at some points with multiple clones and so on. And a Thor reboot which began a couple years before the recent films had all the characters reborn…Loki as a woman!

Have any of your favourite webcomics or print comics become just too crazy for you to follow? Does it ruin all the good bits from beforehand when this happens? Let me know what you think in the comics!


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Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see in a newspost? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)!



smkinoshita at 4:51PM, April 12, 2014

Any long-running franchise that doesn't allow the protagonists to age face the same problem: people don't want the comic to change but the old stories get old. In the hands of unskilled writers or due to executive meddling, this leads to the series 'jumping the shark' -- the writers are out of material but the series is still making money. So the usual ploys include babies, marriages, divorces, and main character deaths -- almost none of which stick. They don't stick because it's just a temporary sales boost thing instead of a natural progression. The lack of natural progression is what causes the stagnation in the first place though -- to avoid jumping the shark, know where things are going to go long in advance.

smkinoshita at 4:38PM, April 12, 2014

@Abt_Nihil: Ironically, the Phantom was one of the few characters who COULD actually die and the story continue on, since part of the plot is that one of the Phantom's offspring always takes up the mantel after the previous Phantom dies. It was part of the ruse to make the Phantom appear immortal to his enemies.

HippieVan at 3:59PM, April 11, 2014

Oh yeah! I had completely forgotten about that! Here is the original "jumping the shark" from Happy Days, if anyone is interested:

shastab24 at 2:38PM, April 11, 2014

Doesn't he already have a superhero persona? Peter Pureheart, or something?

HippieVan at 11:58AM, April 11, 2014

@abt_nihil: I actually liked that storyline too, Thor is just the only big name comic that I keep up with at all. I mostly read the classics when it comes to print comics. :P @kimluster: I get irritated by that stuff too! When a certain main character died in one of the Star Trek films only to be brought back in the next one I got SO MAD at the writers. My family thought it was hilarious. (I did not.) I kind of expect it in superhero comics, the Red Skull. That guy was freaking invincible. @Locoma: Archie coming back as a superhero is by far the best idea I've heard about this scenario. From what I've read, the issue afterwards is just going to be his friends coping with his death, but they should for sure use your idea instead.

bravo1102 at 11:29AM, April 11, 2014

And Betty wakes up as Archie steps out of the shower... All the preceding episodes become a dream... (Patrick Duffy returning to Dallas?) Remember jumping the shark came from a TV show that tried to reinvent itself and failed miserably. Go for it Fonzie now that Richie is in the army in Greenland. Know when to end the series and go out on a high note or a great punch line. (Bob Newhart waking up beside Suzanne Pleschette and entire whole series was just a dream. After all who would name two brothers both Darryl?)

Gunwallace at 10:55AM, April 11, 2014

We're talking about Archie comics ... therefore it worked.

Locoma at 9:11AM, April 11, 2014

Well I was sucked in one of the biggest schemes to boost sales of comic history: the death of superman, but to be honest, it was awesome. Not so much for superman per se, but for all the people trying to replace him and all the schemes of the people surrounding superman. And of course, the actual fight between Doomsday was awesome. I was reading Superman before on and off, but I didn't miss a single issue of that saga. Batman did the same thing later with Bane breaking his back, and then he got a robot suit. I didn't know Archie was still being published! that's crazy, hahaha! Maybe Archie will come back just with his hair long and wearing a blue suit and a red cape ;)

KimLuster at 5:43AM, April 11, 2014

I get the occasional trade paperback or graphic novel (mostly non-superhero, with a self-contained story) - I don't read a running series of comics, but I do read 'about' them, and I've learned it's sort of a running joke that nobody ever dies permanently. That would irritate me to no end. I might get raged/saddened when a fave character dies, but then for them to come back to life, I would feel cheated, maybe even manipulated. I remember reading Anne's Rice vampire novels: Claudia (a child vampire) dies in the 1st one, and someone hinted to me that in a later novel she may be coming back. Turned out to not be true, but I thought that if it was true, I'd never read another Rice Novel again haha. Turns out I quit reading her stuff anyway, but it was because she couldn't stop writing while on Prozac instead an ass-pull like resurrecting a character. Note: I'm not against a 'resurrection' as long as it's part of the story; only when it's a stunt or a not-initially-planned revamp.

Abt_Nihil at 4:51AM, April 11, 2014

Don't underestimate the problem of having two dates at the same time...! And I agree with kawaiidaigakusei - comic book protagonists dying can't be anything but a publicity stunt. Regarding reinventing characters: Just think of what happened with characters like the Phantom who were left wayside and NOT reinvented. They are pretty much fossils. Characters need to be constantly updated in order to still be relevant. At the same time, the reinventions have to (at least seem to) retain the classic essence of the character. It's a balance that's hard to maintain, but at least in the case of Thor you mention, it worked exceedingly well. The only reason why woman-Loki isn't my fav Loki is because a few years later, Tom Hiddleston came along... :3

HippieVan at 3:26AM, April 11, 2014

Haha, that would be hilarious kawaii! Apparently he's going to die trying to save someone's life.

Genejoke at 2:27AM, April 11, 2014

Webcomics not so much, most stop tbh.

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:55AM, April 11, 2014

I believe this might be another tactic to boost printed comic sales, but for the sake of the story, I am curious as to whether Jughead or Reggie will finally do him in for always getting the ladies. Or if Betty or Veronica go after him out of a jealous rage. Either way, like the double wedding to both girls, this might be a future dream sequence.

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