Anthony Mason spotlighted the death of comic book character Archie Andrews on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, and pointed out that "it all ends...when an adult Archie takes a bullet aimed by a stalker at a gay friend." Mason turned to the comics' publisher, Jon Goldwater, and wondered if he was "trying to make a political statement with this comic book" [MP3 audio available here; video below].
Goldwater denied that he was doing so, even though he underlined that "gun violence is too prevalent in this country, and we should do everything we can to prevent it." However, just hours earlier on NPR's Morning Edition, he hinted that he was indeed making a political statement:
STEVE INSKEEP: The politician [friend of Archie] is a veteran, who is pushing for better gun control in Riverdale. The publisher of the comic books, Jon Goldwater, acknowledges that this end might seem a bit political.
JON GOLDWATER, ARCHIE COMICS (from phone interview): Frankly, we do have a point of view here.
Anchor Scott Pelley led the segment by noting that "a young man, who entertained generations of Americans, has died – Archie Andrews. He was born during World War II, and yet, only in his 20s when he died today. Anthony Mason has the story behind his untimely passing."
After highlighting a longtime fan and his granddaughter buying the latest Archie comic in New York City, the CBS correspondent spent most of his report playing clips of his interview of Goldwater:
ANTHONY MASON: ...It all ends for the redheaded hero from Riverdale in issue 16 of 'Life with Archie,' when an adult Archie takes a bullet aimed by a stalker at a gay friend.
MASON (on-camera): You put it right on the cover.
JON GOLDWATER: We put it right on the cover. I mean, no point in being subtle here.
MASON (voice-over): Jon Goldwater is publisher of Archie Comics.
MASON (on-camera): I don't think anybody who grew up with Archie ever thought they'd see this.
GOLDWATER: I grew up with Archie, Anthony, and I never thought I'd see it. So, it is – it's probably the most important moment in the history of this company.
MASON (voice-over): Goldwater's father started the company. Born in 1941, Archie was an immediate success. By the '60s, he had his own TV series, and his own rock band with a number-one record. (clip of animated music video for "Sugar, Sugar")
GOLDWATER: From inception, we have sold over two billion comics. It's an unbelievable number.
MASON: But a nearly 75-year-old comic book needs to stay relevant.
MASON (on-camera): Are you trying to make a political statement with this comic book?
GOLDWATER: No. Gun violence is too prevalent in this country, and we should do everything we can to prevent it. So am I making a political statement? Absolutely not. But should Riverdale be a safe and secure metaphor for every city in the United States? It absolutely should.
MASON: Goldwater insists it's not a sales gimmick. The older Archie will not magically be reborn.
GOLDWATER: Archie is not a superhero. Bullets don't bounce off his chest. He's a human being.
MASON: But Archie will have an afterlife as his old teenage self, and in a new zombie comic that's become the series' bestseller. Anthony Mason, CBS News, New York.