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AICN COMICS Q&@: Prof Challenger talks about THE RED CIRCLE and THE NEW CRUSADERS with the folks from ARCHIE COMICS!!!

@@@ What the &#$% is AICN COMICS Q&@? @@@

Q’s by Prof Challenger!

@’s by the Team Behind ARCHIE’S
New Red Circle Line!!!

Professor Challenger here and I had the opportunity recently to talk to the guys behind the new redesign and relaunch of the classic MIGHTY CRUSADERS characters from Archie Comics Publications. Ian Flynn is the writer on this project, Alex Segura is the Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing, and Paul Kaminski is the Executive Director of Editorial.

I'm glad to see someone tackling the Red Circle characters again...and without licensing them out to another publisher. In my younger days, I was a fan Rich Buckler's attempt at getting the CRUSADERS back into the marketplace. I enjoyed the IMPACT line (especially the late Mike Parobeck's work on THE FLY). I found the recent DC attempt to be a well-intentioned effort that inexplicably just disappeared.

However, from what I can gather here, Archie Comics smartly picked the characters back up immediately and started this project to not only modernize the characters but do something new and progressive in the process. Do I have that right?

IAN FLYNN (IF): That's a good way to sum it up.

PROF CHALLENGER (PROF): Ian, how did you get involved with this project?

IF: It was somewhere between San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con last year when Executive Director of Editorial Paul Kaminski sent me the series proposal he'd been working on with Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing Alex Segura said "I want you to write this." I grew up on super hero books, so I jumped at the chance. At NYCC, we had a big brain-storming session with President Mike Pellerito, hashed out the first season of the book, and that was that.

PROF: Can you explain how this "weekly app" is different than simply a weekly digital comic?

IF: The weekly app gives you six pages of the current comic every Wednesday should you be currently subscribed to the App. So instead of waiting a month between releases, as you'll have to for the printed edition, you'll be getting a steady stream of content week after week along with updates of the older Mighty Crusaders material from the 30’s all the way through to now!

PROF: Does the app have aspects to it that allow users to follow other users and interact with comments or crosspost onto social media like Facebook and Twitter?

>PAUL KAMINSKI (PK): The iVerse team I pretty incredible at what they do – and what they do is innovate and connect! Social media will play a role in the App as it continues to grow and expand, and if you want to start posting and tweeting New Crusaders news, check out!

PROF: Does the app focus on the team only or is it something that combines multiple titles or storylines within a shared universe?

PK: The App has 2 components, which each serve to enhance the other. The first component is the new material, which is the New Crusaders on-going series. New Crusaders is a direct sequel to the second component of the App, which is the classic Red Circle books, dating all the way back to 1939. Readers will be able to read an ever-growing range of the old material, which often will have a direct connection to what’s going on in New Crusaders. Comic collectors like myself tend to save, catalogue, and contextualize every event in a comic series. Most comic collectors don’t really know all that much about Red Circle as it stands right now. We’re implanting that type of collection into an App and doing the contextualizing for you!

PROF: Is this Red Circle universe going to co-exist with the mainstream Archie universe or are you going to keep them functionally separate?

PK: Red Circle is completely separate from the Archie Universe in style, tone, and presentation. Though technically speaking, Riverdale and the town of Red Circle are on the same map.

PROF: In terms of characters, who are the primary characters?

IF: The main cast are the New Crusaders - Joe Higgins, a.k.a. The Shield, is the veteran hero who's been in service since the 1940s. When disaster strikes, he has to take in the teens/heirs to the original Mighty Crusaders and introduce the new blood to the world of super heroics. Six young adults under one roof, traumatize and given super powers. Yeah, it'll go about as well as you'd expect.

PROF: So, you will be incorporating at least some past continuity with these characters?

IF: Everything under the old Archie labels - MLJ to present P is canon. We'll be tweaking things here and there where it's needed to make it all flow and make sense, but we're treating all the books as fair game. We won't be mired in that backstory, though. It'll serve as the foundation for our new characters and new adventures to take off from.

PROF: Along the same lines, will there be any recognition of the work that was published under the Red Circle line, Impact line, or the DC proper books?

IF: The Red Circle line, which eventually adopted the “Archie Adventure Series” banner again in the later issues, is the series that direct precedes ours. We won't be using the out-sourced material, but we're not ignoring it completely either. We'll get into that later in the season.

PROF: Is there a longterm goal in mind or just a plan to keep telling stories?

IF: We have the first season - or twenty-four episodes (issues) - already mapped out. We've got a log of ideas on how we want to branch out and expand. The Red Circle imprint is primed to be huge.

PROF: How do you foresee expanding this app and the world of the CRUSADERS?

ALEX SEGURA (AS): The app is going to be an immersive experience – it’s not just a standard comic app that shows you a bunch of books and lets you decide what to buy. This is like a ticket into the world of NEW CRUSADERS – past, present and future. Not only do you get to enjoy the new, never-before-seen adventures of this team, but you get to see the books that shape that narrative, as chosen by the people directly involved in the creation. Paul and his team have done a great job partnering with iVerse to really curate this app. So, each week, there’s not only new story content, but never-before-digitized books that thematically tie into the new stories. It’s amazing.

As far as expanding – once we get the main app off the ground, we’ll be slowly peeling things back and showing new corners of Red Circle and the Red Circle Comics universe. Stay tuned for news on that.

PROF: Other than Ian, who are the talent involved in delivering the stories and driving the characters and their worlds?

IF: I'm on writing duties with Ben Bates (penciler), Gary Martin (inker), Matt Herms (colorist) and John Workman (letterer) on the art team. I've worked with all of them in the past, and they're all amazingly talented people.

PROF: What level of marketing and licensing can we expect?

AS: We’ve got a pretty focused marketing and PR campaign geared at not only the comic fan sites, but pop culture venues like AICN and more tech-centric outlets. Because the story isn’t just that these characters are back – it’s HOW they’re back. This is the first superhero universe launched digitally. Red Circle Comics is looking to become a leader in digital, and the reality is, no one in comics is doing something even close to this. It’s an exciting time to be here.

PROF: As with the other ARCHIE titles, is THE CRUSADERS app intended to be something that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages?

IF: Yes, although I'm calling it "all-ages with an edge." We're going to be a little more adult with the language and the violence than your typical Archie book, but at the same time it's nothing you wouldn't see on TV (probably less-so).

PROF: How in the heck do readers of this interview get in on the ground floor of this project?

AS: Go to, download the app, and get ready to rock on May 16th. In the meantime, people can go to the website for more info and character bios!

PROF: Is the App for Apple iPhone/iPad exclusively or is it available freestanding for the Android market or PC without having to go through iTunes?

AS: As of now, the Red Circle app will be available via iTunes and on other platforms via Archie's digital comics storefront:

PROF: Do you see this type of project as groundbreaking and setting the stage for others to follow?

IF: A lot of other super hero books will use some major event to revamp their properties to be something "new" and "fresh." That's nothing new - we've seen it constantly throughout the 90s til now. What New Crusaders is doing is taking the classic material, utilizing it, but moving forward. We have new heroes that grow from and contribute to the original material, not just give it a new coat of paint.

PROF: What's your "Hollywood Pitch" for this project; that is, what's the one- or two-line description that will sell this to our readers?

IF: New Crusaders is a fun, exciting super hero book without the baggage and angst of a lot of other super hero books. Y'know how you can go to these recent super hero movies, sit down, and have a good time? That's New Crusaders in a nutshell.

PROF: Thanks for the conversation, guys, and good luck!

Prof. Challenger is Texas artist and writer, Keith Howell. You can read his stuff here and over at You can also get in on the ground floor of his new endeavor, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Comic Books" here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Readers Talkback
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  • May 10, 2012, 10:09 a.m. CST

    I'm confused.

    by 3774

    Is the blatant, carbon-copy rip-off of the Avengers, complete with Captain America, Wasp, Spider-Man, etc. an intentional parody, or is it played straight? If this isn't a parody, how are they not getting sued? Or more specifically, why should anyone take it seriously? I feel like I'm missing something. This has got to be a parody.

  • May 10, 2012, 10:30 a.m. CST

    The Mighty Crusaders

    by Mikey Wood

    debuted in November of '65 and combined the characters The Fly (debuted in 1959), The Shield (a contemporary of Captain America's debuting in 1940, more than a year BEFORE Cap), The Jaguar (debuted in '61), The Comet (1941) and FlyGirl (1960/61) so, if anything, (as hard as it may be to fathom) the AVENGERS was the rip-off. Comics existed BEFORE Marvel, you know.

  • May 10, 2012, 10:43 a.m. CST


    by 3774

    ....that explains it. So my question still remains, but it reverse. How did Marvel not get sued? I'm aware comics existed before Marvel. But I lack a complete, comprehensive knowledge of absolutely everything that has been printed in the last 80 years. It's an inexcusable failing. Please forgive me.

  • May 10, 2012, 10:56 a.m. CST

    : ) Forgiven...

    by Mikey Wood

    I don't know all the details but, as far as The Shield goes, there was a glut of patriotic heroes in the early 40's. The Shield was the first, actually. Somehow or another Jack Kirby and Joe Simon (who created Captain America - NOT Stan Lee) got hold of the rights to The Shield as well. Again, not sure on the exact history. i also don't think copyright law and/or intellectual property laws were the same back then. Most comic book characters are rip-offs of something else, anyway.

  • May 10, 2012, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Since these are retro characters

    by Snookeroo

    I think it would have been more interesting to place them in their original setting, drawn in the original style. Everyone is "updating" their character stable - these characters would be more unique (and probably work better) if they had gone the other way. Their profiles are so dated that it would have been stronger to embrace that very factor. Right, wrong, or indifferent, updating these characters and reintroducing them now - especially with a very simplified animation style of artwork - just comes off as an Avengers rip-off.

  • May 10, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST

    And, by the way

    by Snookeroo

    ANY character with insect powers (especially with insect wings) just comes off as silly. Unless it's Fearless Fly.

  • May 10, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    I just Wiki'd them.

    by 3774

    Apparently they came before Marvel with the individual characters, but then lifted Marvel's concept of bundling them up into a team, albeit with a tone that spoofed Stan Lee's work. This new take seems to eliminate the spoof aspect, which would seem to turn them into just a clone of the Avengers. So apparently my gut reaction was in the ballpark. Now I can go back to pondering real mysteries, like how Rob Liefeld keeps getting work.

  • May 10, 2012, 11:35 a.m. CST

    The Shield debuted in Pep Comics #1, cover dated Jan 40

    by Snookeroo

    However, it was on the stands November of 39, sharing rack space with the likes of Flash Comics #1, Detective Comics #34, and Superman #3. Thank you, Mike's Amazing World of Comics.

  • Shakes head at ridonkulousness...

  • No. Just... no... no... NO! Mike Parobeck is sadly long dead. Only he could've pulled off this thing.

  • As for artwork styles - Manga is just a smiley face with dead fish eyes and jagged hair.

  • Seriously? You're going to label *me* a hater now? You have been my personal favorite among the mods for as long as I can remember. I've spent years reading this site before I got enough of a wild hair to start posting. Only to end up in a tiff with the one guy I've been following all this time. I regret the day I ever gave you the opinion that *you* asked for.

  • May 10, 2012, 10:42 p.m. CST

    Well, technically...

    by dukeroberts

    They all ripped off DC who published the first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, in All-Star Comics #3 way back in December of 1940. Among Silver Age teams, the Justice League of America came first. That team's success prompted Martin Goodman to ask Stan Lee to create a superhero team book. That team was the Fantastic Four. The Avengers came later, in September of 1963.

  • May 11, 2012, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Not sure what you're talking about pinky

    by Ambush Bug

    I was simply commenting on the trend that the hot thing now is always assumed to be the first thing. If you're looking for super team ups, I believe everyone is riffing off of the original super team, The Argonauts from Greek myth which was basically a mash up of a ton of heroes including Hercules and Achilles. Team books have always been a staple of comics and criticizing a publisher releasing a book which looks to have been in production long before Avengers box office was released seems a bit off kilter. Regarding your assumption that my response had something to do with your the Jungle Book opinions, I appreciated your comments and happily debated you about it. I didn't plan on converting you on your chosen stance and am not looking for some kind of reignited flame war. Sorry, not taking the bait, doll.

  • May 11, 2012, 7:50 a.m. CST

    by Mikey Wood

    I kinda-sorta followed the characters when they were at DC under the Impact banner in the 90's. Mainly for the late and sorely missed Mike Parobeck's work on THE FLY. Sadly, the books weren't all that great (I'll have to dig them out and re-read them). This sounds like fun but the artwork isn't my cup of tea. Just too much of a manga vibe for my tastes.

  • May 11, 2012, 10:10 a.m. CST

    My mistake.

    by 3774

    Like I mentioned before, I must have misinterpreted it when you inferred that I was a pig. I was able to let it go by assuming you were just angry. Now that I know you were happy to do it, that puts everything in a new light. My radar can sometimes be off when I give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume the best. As I said, my mistake.