What’s the synergy between a popular show featuring comic book characters and the sales of original comic art? Did Riverdale disenfranchise traditional fans hurting art sales? Or maybe, new fans tuned in and turned on to investing in art featuring Archie and the gang? I probe these questions as I try to figure out, did Riverdale sell Archie art?
Riverdale and Traditional Archie Fans
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of CW’s Riverdale. There are probably a lot of Archie traditionalists who feel the same way. But in defense of Riverdale’s fans, Archie Comics ventured into the realm of horror and (mild) teen drama years before CW’s offering.
Archie’s Weird Mysteries cartoon and comic delved into light-hearted Sci-Fi and Horror at the turn of the century. So, maybe Riverdale only stretched Archie’s lore, rather than tearing it into pieces–stick with me Riverdale fans!
But Did Riverdale Sell Archie Art?
Here’s something I learned while writing this article: Long-time Archie artist Bob Montana was co-creator of the gang. So, it seemed appropriate to review art sales by Montana. Further, his sales might be a good gauge of what Riverdale is doing to influence the traditional Archie art fan. Or Not!
First step, number-crunch about 700 Montana Archie art sales to find out, did Riverdale sell Archie art? The vast majority of sales came from Sunday or daily comic strips. Most sales were individual sales rather than a group sale. The large number of sales helped to create a balanced cross-section of data for each year.
I started by grouping art sales by year sold. In each year, I calculated the Minimum, Maximum, Mean (average), and Median. I also had the total sales for that year. Curiously, the biggest sales price is from almost 20 years ago, roughly $23 thousand dollars. The most sales in a given year came in 2007-2008. During that stretch, over a hundred sales were recorded each year for a total of 276 sales.
Riverdale aired from 2017 to present (almost six years). That period has enjoyed pretty good sales volume, but only a total of 277 up to this point. [data from Heritage Auctions]
The graph type I used is a stock graph known as a candlestick. Here the Max and Min are represented by the long line extending beyond the rectangle. The rectangle ends are the Mean and Median. Like a healthy stock, one would expect the filled rectangles to be arranged in an upward slope as the years go from past to present. We’re NOT seeing that here.
In fact, the Afterlife with Archie #8 variant cover may summarize how Montana investors feel. That cover art by Andrew Pepoy is up for sale at ComicConnect. It may be just what the newer fans are looking for.
Second Look at Sales
In another view of the 700+ sales, again the mean and moving average don’t suggest any strength created by the show which has run from 2017 to 2022. However, the increased sales volume advocates that sellers believe their art will fetch a fair price, or they probably wouldn’t be selling it.
Dan DeCarlo may be the second most renowned Archie artist. He is credited with the popular look of the Riverdale gang for the past several decades. Many of his works sell as complete stories or covers. Often, they tend to be new art, and relatively inexpensive. While the prices are not huge, it could be that the sheer volume of sales is indicative of a resurgence in fan appreciation for Archie since the advent of the CW series.
When did the Archie characters develop a personality?
One reason I’ve spent relatively little time reviewing or analyzing art featuring Archie, Harvey characters, or funny animals is because of the tendency for house-style drawings. In other words, down through the years, ‘Harvey Artist’ or “Archie Artist’ illustrate the characters just about the same as the known artists. So, it’s hard for a Neal Adams or Bernie Wrightson to excel in that format. But lately, I’ve seen a lot of Archie covers by popular artists that show a new side to the Riverdale gang.
These pages of art command decent prices. And, I suspect the influence of Riverdale has brought about this change. Thus, Riverdale has probably had a positive impact, at least for speculators in original art. But I don’t think the traditional Archie investors will necessarily benefit.
Check out my article on Adam Hughes for an example of modern Archie art.