The 2017 launch of the Riverdale series on the CW channel cast one of the longest-running franchises in the American comic book industry in an entirely new light. The popular teen drama, with its emphasis on sex and violence, served as a radical reimagining of a comics franchise that had, for more than seventy-five years until its more adult transformation in print by Mark Waid in 2016, traded on its wholesome and family-friendly reputation. For generations, Archie Comics represented an image of American comics that many actors in the field hoped to eliminate. Archie Comics have been commonly dismissed as the unserious, commercial work against which more important works are arrayed, just as the readership of Archie Comics (predominantly young, overwhelmingly female) is regarded as a problematic demographic that graphic novels struggled to overthrow. For example, writing in a new introduction to his 1979 interview with science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth describes the cultural desolation of “a monolithic Comics Industry composed primarily of Marvel and DC, which comprised what was then called the ‘mainstream’ and which published probably 98% of the comics being consumed by the American public (excepting Archie, which was under everyone’s radar, especially...

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