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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 09/29/2010

OBAMA & PALIN IN COMICS: Publishers keep tapping the political appeal

By Michael Cavna


pobamavar1.jpg(Variant covers courtesy of Archie Comics)


If only the nation's political figures could help stimulate the economy with the monetary might that they're able to stimulate comic-book sales.

Archie Comics announced last week that President Obama and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will arrive at Riverdale this coming December and January to support opposing candidates in a heated high-school race, "Election"-style. That cozy, sharing-a-malted cover got such attention that this week, Archie Comics released more-confrontational variant covers, with Obama and Palin squaring off as spandexed superheroes and political pugilists. No more cutesy straw polling for these two.

archcov2.jpg

So why is Riverdale suddenly attracting such prominent politicians? For that, you can thank the healthy sales of Obama's popular previous appearance, Archie Comics says.

"We'd run an earlier edition of Obama and Veronica," says Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater of Veronica Comics Issue No. 199. "She helps the president and the economy by going on a monster shopping spree. The feedback to that cover was fantastic ... and it did fantastic for us."

'It was our best-selling Veronica title this year," Goldwater told Comic Riffs on Monday afternoon, "only to now being eclipsed by the sold-out Kevin Keller first appearance" in Veronica No. 202.

(Archie Comics would not discuss exact sales numbers; Veronica Comics can sell in the low-thousands.)

pobamavar2.jpg


When Archie Comics came up with the original, kumbaya-over-a-malted cover, Goldwater says, "we figured Riverdale was the one place they both can meet [across the aisle] -- that was the genesis. That's the sweet side."

With the variant covers, he says, "There's the other side of the coin. ... Because they come from opposing viewpoints, sometimes you've got to duke it out. This is the metaphysical duking-it-out."

Goldwater acknowledges that Obama is a professed Spider-Man fan, but notes that since "he's got two daughters, I hope we can convert the Obama girls to become Archie fans."

obamaveronica.jpg


The biggest-selling Obama comic, of course, remains Marvel's "Amazing Spider-Man" (No. 583), which hit stores and stands the month of the president's inauguration. According to Comichron.com, the Obama commemorative issue racked up more than a half-million copies in sales and went through five printings, making it the decade's best-selling regular series book.


(Of that issue, Marvel chairman emeritus Stan Lee told Comic Riffs at the time: "It was an obvious thing to do. ... I think it's great. I had read that [Obama] was a big fan of Spider-Man and Conan, that he reads them -- maybe he still reads them, I hope!")


Marvel, of course, followed on the heels on Image Comics' successful "Savage Dragon," the Erik Larsen book whose Obama nod sold out four printings.

The host of other Obama comics has included "Youngblood" and "Bomb Queen" and, of course, Bluewater Comics, which steadily churns out bio-books on everyone from Caroline Kennedy to Lady Gaga to (newly announced) Mark Zuckerberg.

Bluewater's biggest seller so far, however, remains not its President Obama book, but its profile of the first lady.

"The Michelle Obama comic still is our biggest one with over 45,000 copies," Bluewater honcho Darren G. Davis tells Comic Riffs. "Then Sarah Palin, which [sold] about 15,000 copies."

Both books are part of Bluewater's "Female Force" line.

mobamacov.jpg


So as Archie Comics again plumbs the political realm in hopes of high sales, Comic Riffs has to ask: Is Riverdale more like Obama's Chicago or Palin's Wasilla?

"Riverdale is more like just your average American town," Goldwater says. "Wasilla is one extreme, New York and Chicago are another -- and Hawaii's the best of the best. But Riverdale is in the middle."

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By Michael Cavna  | September 29, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Archie Comics, Bluewater Comics, Darren G. Davis, Erik Larsen, Jon Goldwater, Marvel Entertainment, Stan Lee  
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