Archie RIP: CEO Explains Why Classic Comics Character Had To Die

Archie Comics to kill off Riverdale's Archie Andrews in upcoming issue.

Everybody has to die sometime. And in July, Archie Andrews, paramour of Betty and Veronica, denizen of Riverdale and all around good guy will finally meet the grim reaper in the pages of “Life With Archie #36″ — just in time for the 75th anniversary of Archie Comics.

“Well, it was hard decision, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not something we took lightly,” Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics CEO told MTV News on the decision to kill off Archie.

Archie Comics has been taking numerous chances with their characters in the past half decade, still publishing the gag strips and Double Digests readers probably most associate with the brand; but also adding a popular gay character named Kevin Keller, interracial relationships, a zombie invasion book called “Afterlife With Archie” and more.

In 2010, the company took what many considered the most bold step yet: marrying Archie to his long time crush Veronica. And in a case of having their cake and eating it too, they also married him to the blonde-haired Betty. The parallel universe stories ran side-by-side in a comic called “Life With Archie,” and it’s in those pages that Archie will also meet his end.

“We made the decision that in this universe, in the ‘Life With Archie’ universe, the way for it end, and end in a manner that’s consistent with 75 years of what Archie is all about, and what he stands for,” Goldwater continued. “The way to do that was for Archie to die.”

In the event, the publisher decided to do away with the dueling storylines, opting for “one big Riverdalean sort of universe,” so as better to keep the focus on Archie’s sacrifice. And in case you’re wondering, America’s favorite redhead doesn’t die of old age, or eating too many hamburgers.

“It’s very heroic, and it’s done to save somebody’s life,” Goldwater noted. “And that is what you would expect of Archie. It is extraordinarily spontaneous. It is not something that one sees coming, or at the issue begins you can feel it, because you can’t. It’s done with a sudden impact.”

As one can imagine, other than a few touches here and there “Life With Archie #36″ is a surprisingly serious comic book.

“Issue #36 is going to be… Different,” Goldwater said. “It’s probably the most different comic book we’ve ever published. It’s a very important step in the history of our company.”

On the other hand, there’s #37, which takes place a year after the death of Archie, and serves as a reflection on the legacy of what made the character great — both in the fictional world of Riverdale, and in real life as well.

“Issue #37 is a much lighter tone,” Goldwater continued. “Issue #37 is going to be very uplifting, and it is going to feel very good about what Archie is, who he is, and what it’s all been about. So issue #37 is going to be more in keeping with what people expect from Archie.”

Though the character of Archie, and Riverdale itself will continue in other comics, Goldwater isn’t underestimating the significance of this event.

“This is a very important moment in the history of our company, and this is an important moment in the history of what comic books are all about,” Goldwater added. “The foundation of the business was built on Archie, and Marvel and DC, going back decades and decades. This is one of those moments in comic book history, and comic book lore that I’m sure will resonate.”

“Life With Archie #36″ will be in comic book stores on sale July 16, followed by “Life With Archie #37″ on July 23. You can check out the full info below:

LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36 (Comic Trim)
History is in the making in this epic finale to the acclaimed series LIFE WITH ARCHIE, as America’s most beloved character makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a friend.The unthinkable happens: Archie Andrews dies! Fans will experience an epic tale of Archie’s future sure to make headlines, generate discussion and stand as one of the most-talked about Archie stories of all time. Do not miss this game-changing tale of love, friendship and true heroism.

Script: Paul Kupperberg
Art: Pat & Tim Kennedy, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli, Glenn Whitmore, Adam Hughes
Variant Cover: Adam Hughes
Fiona Staples Variant Cover: Fiona Staples
Mike Allred Variant Cover: Mike Allred
Ramon Perez Variant Cover: Ramon Perez
Francesco Francavilla Variant Cover: Francesco Francavilla
Ship Date: 7/2
On Sale Date: 7/16
48-page, full color comic
$4.99 U.S.
6 5/8 x 10 3/16″

LIFE WITH ARCHIE #37 (Comic Trim)
It’s been one year since the death of Archie that took place in Life With Archie #36 shook Riverdale to its very core. The residents of the most welcoming town in America, where the chocolate malts are always delicious and the neighbors are always smiling, gather together one last time for the closing ceremony of this groundbreaking series and a celebration of a Life with Archie.

Script: Paul Kupperberg
Art: Fernando Ruiz, Bob Smith, Jack Morelli, Glenn Whitmore
Alex Ross Variant Cover: Alex Ross
Walt Simonson Variant Cover: Walt Simonson
Cliff Chiang Variant Cover: Cliff Chiang
Jill Thompson Variant Cover: Jill Thompson
Tommy Lee Edwards Variant Cover: Tommy Lee Edwards
Ship Date: 7/9
On Sale Date: 7/23
48-page, full color comic
$4.99 U.S.
6 5/8 x 10 3/16″

LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36 (Magazine Trim)
History is in the making in this epic finale to the acclaimed series LIFE WITH ARCHIE, as America’s most beloved character makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a friend.The unthinkable happens: Archie Andrews dies! Fans will experience an epic tale of Archie’s future sure to make headlines, generate discussion and stand as one of the most-talked about Archie stories of all time. Do not miss this game-changing tale of love, friendship and true heroism. This double-sized issue combines all the material fromLife with Archie comic issues #36 & #37.
Script: Paul Kupperberg
Art: Pat & Tim Kennedy, Fernando Ruiz, Jim Amash, Bob Smith, Jack Morelli, Glenn Whitmore
Cover: Pat & Tim Kennedy
Ship Date: 7/9
On Sale Date: 7/23
96-page, full color magazine
$9.99 U.S.
8 x 10 3/4″

LIFE WITH ARCHIE (Graphic Novel)
History is in the making in this epic finale to the acclaimed series LIFE WITH ARCHIE, as America’s most beloved character makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a friend.The unthinkable happens: Archie Andrews dies! Fans will experience an epic tale of Archie’s future sure to make headlines, generate discussion and stand as one of the most-talked about Archie stories of all time. Do not miss this game-changing tale of love, friendship and true heroism.

Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.
@azalben