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Archie Comics, the publisher that is home to Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead, has a new editor-in-chief. Mike Pellerito, a 22-year veteran of the company, has been named the fourth person to hold the title in Archie’s 80-plus year history. Pellerito succeeds the late Victor Gorelick, who died in February 2020 after 60 years with Archie.
“It’s an immensely important position not only at this company but for the American publishing industry at large,” said Archie Comics Publisher/CEO Jon Goldwater in a statement. “There are very few companies that can remain independent for over 80 years while keeping their core business intact — and that’s exactly what we’ve done and will continue to do with Mike leading the charge.”
In his new role, Pellerito will oversee the publisher’s classic Archie content, such as its digest line, which tells new stories set in the nostalgic past of the publisher. He will also lead its all-ages reprint line, which brings both new and classic stories to today’s readers. Jamie L. Rotante, Archie senior director of editorial, will continue to oversee Archie’s modern comics, which are set in the present day.
Pellerito assumes the editor-in-chief role as the comic book industry continues to adapt, nearly two years after the coronavirus pandemic temporarily shuttered comic shops and professionals predicted an implosion of the industry. Those worst fears did not come to fruition, with Archie among the publishers seeing an uptick in sales driven by readers stuck at home looking for entertainment.
“Archie’s been one of those things that you can kind of escape to and just enjoy a breather,” Pellerito says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.” There was that feeling of normality that Archie could provide, that things are going to get better at the end of this.”
The editor-in-chief role was originated by founder John L. Goldwater, father of the current publisher and CEO. The title then passed to Goldwater’s son, Richard, before Gorelick took it over. For Pellerito, picking up the mantle has special meaning, as the late Gorelick hired him and was both a mentor — and at times, “taskmaster” boss, as he recalls affectionately. After Gorelick’s death, the Archie team considered retiring the editor-in-chief title but ultimately decided the time was right to name a new top editor.
The Archie gang debuted in 1941’s Pep Comics No. 22, and many of the publisher’s stories harken back to the idea of small-town Americana. Its properties include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, adapted as a recent Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Josie and the Pussycats. While historically Archie has not had sales akin to giants Marvel or DC, it enjoys strong brand recognition thanks to decades of its comics being a fixture at grocery store checkout lines.
In recent years, Archie has enjoyed an even higher profile in part thanks to the CW television adaptation Riverdale, which put a modern, more risqué twist on its classic characters. The soapy series, now in its fifth season, has become a fan favorite.
As Archie announces a new chief, it is also unveiling a crossover comic, Archie Meets Riverdale, with the classic gang interacting with the modernized versions from the CW show. The book’s origin story dates back a few years to a comic shop in Harrison, New York, where Pellerito got to chatting with writer Daniel Kibblesmith, who was there for a signing of his recent Black Panther vs. Deadpool book. Kibblesmith eventually pitched the idea of a one-shot crossover that features art from Pat and Tim Kennedy, Bob Smith, Matt Herms and Jack Morelli.
Kibblesmith got a crash course in the story logic of the Archie world. Namely, that readers are primed to go with unusual scenarios.
“His first draft, he was like, ‘I’m having a hard time. I want to make sure I explained it all clearly.’ And I’m like, dude, I just edited a story where Archie met Santa Claus, and they know each other,'” recalls Pellerito with a laugh. “Just go with it.”
A first look at the title is below.
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