Amazing Heroes #171, September 1989



Archie Comics has officially confirmed the cancellation of their Spectrum line of super-hero comics.


In a July 11 press release headlined “Archie Comics takes a stand against excessively violent comic books; cancels plans for new adventure comic line,” Archie said that Spectrum was cancelled “just weeks before going to press.” Archie was to have introduced the new line with two titles, The Hangman, and The Fly, to be written by Marv Wolfman and Steve Englehart, respectively.


Archie cited its reputation for wholesome entertainment, and the violence of many popular adventure comics as reasons for the cancellation.


Archie Comics Chairman Michael Silberkleit said, “We tried to produce a line that could compete in the rapidly growing adventure comics industry and at the same time would adhere to the values Archie Comics has traditionally embraced-but, quite simply, the result did not meet our standards. Thus, we have decided to permanently cancel the line:’ The Archie press release stated that the Spectrum books “did not show the same degree of graphic. Violence found in many adventure comics:’


Archie President Richard Goldwater said, “There seems to be a growing trend toward excessive violence in some areas of the industry. Archie Comics has enjoyed years of success by promoting healthy, wholesome values. We will not compromise our principles for the additional profits that might come with trying to compete with those publications.”


In a July 22 story, Silberkleit told The Washington Post that Archie had spent $25,000 on the Spectrum line at the time of the cancellation.


Deeper Motivations: In addition to his duties at Archie, Silberkleit is also the president of the Comics Magazine Association of America, the organization which administers the Comics Code Authority. In this capacity Silberkleit has been- called upon by the national media to comment on sex in violence in contemporary comics several times in recent months, due to the current spate of controversy in the mass media. In these interviews Silberkleit consistently upheld Archie’s wholesome image, and deplored the more violent turn other publishers were taking.


According to the Post, though, the deciding factor, in Archie’s cancellation of the Spectrum line was approximately 100 letters to the Comics Code Authority generated by the fundamentalist organization Focus on the Family.


The letters encouraged a stricter interpretation of the code. (Archie did not plan to submit Spectrum titles to the Code.)


The letters stemmed from an article in the organization’s newsletter, the Focus on the Family Citizen, written by Joseph Farah. The article condemned comics not only for sexual and violent content, but also criticized Marvel editor Bobbie Chase for listing in an issue of G.1. Joe, “making fun of politicians” as a hobby and, as pet peeves, “Ronald Reagan, television evangelists, the Moral Majority and other fascist organizations:’


“I know how easy it is to be damned,” Silberkleit told the Post. “Two things can happen. One is, parents can, say, `Don’t read those awful adventure books, read these good clean books.’ A lot of other parents out there will just say, “Don’t read any comics, they’re bad for you.”


Moving on: In the meantime, Archie is announcing plans to continue to expand their line in other directions. Former Spectrum editor Scott Fulop has been named editor in charge of new product development.


The ties remains ripe for development at Amebic, as Warner Brothers mores ahead with plans for a live- Archie movie to star Cory Haim. The picture is planned for release in 1991, Archie’s 50th anniversary.


Closet to hoax, Fulop is at work on revivals of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussy, and experiments with raw formats like graphic novels and a new series of trade paperbacks entitled the Amebic Americana Series.

– Ray Sablack –

Copyright © 1989 Amazing Heroes