Jon Goldwater (pictured), the CEO/Publisher of Archie Comics and an executive producer on both the hit CW series “Riverdale” and the just-announced Netflix original “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” (both based on Archie characters). Goldwater is credited with revitalizing the 75-year-old Archie brand with a series of bold, unprecedented moves and initiatives, including inroads into the digital comic book space; the introduction of gay character Kevin Keller; and the launch of acclaimed horror series Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Jughead: The Hunger.
This week we caught up with Goldwater to discuss Archie Comics and the challenges the brand has faced in the more than seven decades since its founding.
VideoInk: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen producing for Hollywood vs producing for new media? Do you consider Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu any different compared to traditional networks and why?
Jon Goldwater: I think partnerships are always about what people bring to the table and how those two things sync up to create a greater whole, honestly. So I’m less interested in the streaming vs. traditional battle. For me, as someone who’s always interested in story and making sure the story and execution of the story is strong, it’s about “Are these guys the people we want to work with? What do they offer us and how can we create something special?” So, to answer your question – my outlook in Hollywood is the same as the one I had when I got into comic book publishing: let’s make something great. The tools and methods change, but the idea – to create a memorable piece of story – is the same.
In the industry’s current climate, it appears that television and digital have nearly lost their separate identities. Considering this, how do you approach the buying market as a producer?
Content is king. That’s how I look at it. Is this compelling? Will this resonate? Do I have faith in the people attached? Those questions need to be answered first before I even think about digital or television, though I do agree those terms aren’t as defined as they were, say, a decade ago.
Do you see any opportunity in producing content for platforms like Facebook, Youtube, or Snapchat? And do you see these platforms as part of Archie Comics future content strategy?
Totally. See, the benefit of Archie is that it’s an iconic, hugely-recognizable brand. Everyone knows and loves these characters. And over the last decade, the company under my leadership has become supremely flexible, and we’ve shown these characters can exist – and thrive! – in almost any setting. That goes beyond the literal – classic, horror, teen drama – to the functional and format-focused. Archie can do anything and fit anywhere.
What has been the biggest challenge in adapting Archie’s world to fit a society whose views have changed since the conception of the comic in 1939?
You know, it hasn’t been as challenging now, to be quite honest with you. We took ten years to ramp up and get to a point where not only people knew Archie and his world, but were okay with him being seen as more than the original version. We added drama, horror, realism and relevance to the comic book stories and that got the world’s attention. That primed everyone for Riverdale and made that palatable. So I think now the sky’s the limit. People want more of this and we’re here to provide it.
In terms of online video, and aside from the upcoming Sabrina series, what is the next big thing we can expect to come out of the Archie-verse?
I wish I could tell you in detail – but it’ll definitely surprise you, but it will also be, most definitely, an Archie production – which has already become a stamp of quality.