Archie Comics

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Archie Comics
Founded 1939
Founder
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Mamaroneck, New York
Key people
  • John L. Goldwater
  • Vic Bloom
  • Bob Montana
  • Victor Gorelick (editor-in-chief)[1]
Publication types Comic books
Fiction genres Humor, romance, superheroes
Imprints
Official website archiecomics.com

Archie Comic Publications, Inc. is an American comic book publisher headquartered in the village of Mamaroneck, New York,[2][3] The comic is known for its many series featuring the fictional teenagers Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones. The characters were created by publisher/editor John L. Goldwater, written by Vic Bloom, and drawn by Bob Montana. They were based in part on people met by Goldwater "in the Midwest" during his travels throughout the United States while looking for jobs and places to stay.

Archie's first appearance in Pep Comics #22 on December 22, 1941, was drawn by Montana and written by Vic Bloom. With the creation of Archie, publisher Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.[4] Archie Comics is also the title of the company's longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie.

History[edit]

MLJ Magazines[edit]

Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater formed MLJ Magazines and started publishing in November 1939. The company name was derived from the initials of the partners' first names.[5]

Coyne served as MLJ's bookkeeper and CFO. Coyne and Silberkleit had been partners in Columbia Publishing, a pulp company that published its last pulp in the late 1950s. Silberkleit had a college degree from St. John's University, was a licensed and registered pharmacist, and had a law degree from New York Law School. His efforts were focused on the business, printing, separating, distribution and financial ends of the company. John Goldwater served as editor-in-chief. Goldwater was one of the founders of the Comics Magazine Association of America, and served as its president for 25 years. The Comics Magazine Association of America is best known to comic fans for its Comics Code Authority. He was also a national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League.[6]

MLJ's first comic book published in November 1939 was Blue Ribbon Comics with the first half full color and the last half in red and white tints. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield, the first USA patriotic comic book hero, created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick. Top Notch Comics was launched in December 1941. Until March 1944, the cover feature of Pep was the Shield when Archie took over the cover. The Shield was a forerunner for Joe Simon's and Jack Kirby's Captain America, being published 14 months earlier.[4][7]

Archie Comics[edit]

The Andy Hardy movies were an inspiration for Goldwater to have a comic book about a relatable normal person. Teenaged Archibald "Chick" Andrews debuted with Betty Cooper in Pep Comics #22 (Dec. 1941), in a story by writer Vic Bloom and artist Bob Montana.[4] Archie soon became MLJ Magazine's headliner, which led to the company changing its name to Archie Comic Publications. Siberkleit and Coyne discontinued Columbia Publications.[4] In the late 1950s, Archie Publishing launched its "Archie Adventure Series" line with a new version of the Shield and two new characters.[5]

The February 1962 issue of Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine featured his parody of the Archie characters in its Goodman Beaver story, "Goodman Goes Playboy", which was illustrated by frequent collaborator, Will Elder.[8] A parody of the sybaritic Playboy lifestyle, the article featured various characters drinking, living out of wedlock, stealing cars, becoming pregnant, attending an orgy, and selling their soul to Satan.[citation needed] Help! publisher Jim Warren received a letter on 6 December 1961 accusing Help! of copyright infringement, and demanded removal of the offending issue from newsstands. Warren couldn't recall the magazine,[9] but agreed to settle out of court rather than risk an expensive lawsuit. Warren paid Archie Comics $1000, and ran a note of apology in a subsequent issue of Help!.[10] The story was reprinted in the book collection Executive Comic Book in 1962, with the artwork modified by Elder to obscure the appearance of the Archie characters. Archie Comics found their appearance still too close to their copyrighted properties, and threatened another lawsuit. Kurtzman and Elder settled out of court by handing over the copyright to the story. Archie Comics held onto the copyright and refused to allow the story to be republished. A request from Denis Kitchen in 1983 to include the story in his Goodman Beaver reprint collection was turned down.[9] After The Comics Journal co-owner Gary Groth discovered that Archie Comics had let the copyright on "Goodman Goes Playboy" expire, he had the story reprinted in The Comics Journal #262 (September 2004),[11] and made it available as a PDF on the magazine's website.[12][13]

In the mid-1960s, during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books, Archie switched its superheroes to a new imprint, "Mighty Comics Group", with the MLJ heroes done in the campy humor of the Batman TV show. This imprint ended in 1967.[5]

In the early 1970s, Archie Enterprises Inc. went public. Just over 10 years later, Louis Silberkleit's son Michael and John Goldwater's son Richard returned Archie Comic Publications to private ownership.[4] Michael Silberkleit served as chairman and co-publisher, while Richard Goldwater served as president and co-publisher.[14] Coyne retired in the 1970s as CFO.[4]

Archie launched a short-lived fantasy and horror imprint, Red Circle Comics, in the 1970s. The company revived that imprint in the 1980s for its brief line of superheroes comics.[5] Later in the 1980s, Archie planned to publish superheroes again with the Spectrum Comics imprint, featuring a number of high-profile talents, but cancelled this attempt before publishing a single issue.[15]

Having licensed Archie's MLJ Superheroes in 1991, DC Comics launched its imprint Impact Comics with these heroes.[16][17]

On April 4, 2003, Dad's Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta was scheduled to debut a new play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie's Weird Fantasy, which depicted Riverdale's most famous resident coming out of the closet and moving to New York. The day before the play was scheduled to open, Archie Comics issued a cease and desist order, threatening litigation if the play proceeded as written. Dad's Garage artistic director Sean Daniels said, "The play was to depict Archie and his pals from Riverdale growing up, coming out and facing censorship. Archie Comics thought if Archie was portrayed as being gay, that would dilute and tarnish his image."[18] It opened a few days later as "Weird Comic Book Fantasy" with the character names changed.[19]

Archie Comics sued music duo The Veronicas for trademark infringement in 2005 over the band's name, which Archie Comics alleges was taken from the comic book character. Archie Comics and Sire Records (The Veronicas' record company) finally resolved their problems through a co-promotion deal.[20]

In 2008, Archie Publications once again licensed DC Comics its MLJ Super heroes for a DC Universe integrated line, Red Circle.[16]

Following Goldwater's death in 2007 and Silberkleit's in 2008, Silberkleit's widow Nancy and Goldwater's half-brother Jonathan became co-CEOs in 2009.[14] Nancy Silberkleit, a former elementary-school art teacher, was given responsibility for scholastic and theater projects, and Jon Goldwater, a former rock/pop music manager, was responsible for all the other company elements.[14] The company sued Silberkleit in July 2011, and Goldwater filed another lawsuit against her in January 2012, alleging she was making bad business decisions and alienating staff; she in turn sued him for defamation.[14] As of February 2012, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, in Manhattan, fined Silberkleit $500 for violating the court's autumn order to temporarily barring her from the company's headquarters, and said the court might appoint a temporary receiver to protect the company's assets.[14]

Although the comic started in the 1940s, it has changed over the years to stay current with the times, said writer and artist Dan Parent. One example is the introduction in 2010 of openly gay character Kevin Keller, who first appeared in Veronica #202.[21] In June 2011 Keller was featured in his own four-part miniseries.[citation needed] Beginning in early 2012, Kevin Keller was given his own comic book that is published bi-monthly. Some changes for the new Life with Archie magazine, that created two possible "future" continuities, included the death of teacher Miss Grundy[citation needed] and Archie's wedding.[1] Bill Yoshida learned comic book lettering from Ben Oda and was hired in 1965 by Archie Comics, where he averaged 75 pages a week for 40 years for an approximate total of 156,000 pages.[22] In March 2014, it was announced that Archie would die in the July issue of Life with Archie.[23]

In February 2010, Archie Comics partnered with A Squared Entertainment (A2) and POW! Entertainment to create Stan Lee Comics print and digital line.[24] Also in that year, the company contracted with Random House Publisher Services for its bookstore distribution and added trade paperbacks, children’s book formats and additional other book formats. Archie Comics was only publishing 10 titles this year.[1]

In 2011, a copy of Archie Comics #1, first published in 1942, was sold at auction for $167,300, a record for a non-superhero comic book.[25]

Archie Comics announced at the New York Comic Con in October 2011 that its superheroes would return in an all-digital line under a subscription model with back-issue archive access.[17] It was announced as the Red Circle imprint starting with the New Crusader comic in 2012.[26] In 2012, ACP published 33 titles.[1] 40 titles will be released in 2013 and the company is up 410% in book sales and 1,000% in e-book sales since 2010.[1]

In July 2014, Archie Comics announced that the Red Circle Comics imprint is being relaunched as Dark Circle Comics in early 2015 with the past continuity removed. Tales will be self-contained 5 issue arc stories in ongoing title while skipping for trade collections.[27]

Characters[edit]

Archie and Riverdale[edit]

Archie is set in the small town of Riverdale. While the state or even the general location of the town is unspecified, John L. Goldwater attended Horace Mann School in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, New York City. In the early years of Archie, Riverdale was located in Massachusetts, with Mr. Lodge being a senator for that state, but this is no longer considered canon.[citation needed] Drawings of Riverdale High School appeared to follow the general design of the original high school, now City Hall, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. "The Thinker" statue still sits outside the front entrance, just like it did in the comic strip.

The New York Times postulated that "the cartoonist Bob Montana inked the original likenesses of Archie and his pals and plopped them in an idyllic Midwestern community named Riverdale because Mr. Goldwater, a New Yorker, had fond memories of time spent in Hiawatha, Kansas."[28]

For the comics' 60th anniversary in 2002, several geographical and historical hints to the location of Riverdale were printed in every digest issue. At the end of the year, it was revealed[where?] that the hints point to Riverdale being located in the "Missouri area," but that officially Riverdale has no location. It is essentially located wherever the reader wants it to be. Indeed, the geography of Riverdale is far too inconsistent for it to be any one specific location (see below).

Superheroes[edit]

Initial, MLJ started out publishing humor and adventure strips in anthology comic books as was the standard. But quickly added superheroes in their first title's second issue, Blue Ribbon Comics #2, with Bob Phantom.[5] In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted featuring the Shield, America's first patriotic comic book hero, by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick.[7] MLJ's Golden Age heroes also included the Black Hood, who also appeared in pulp magazines[29][30] and a radio show;[30][31] and The Wizard, who shared a title with the Shield.[32]

Later revivals of the MLJ superheroes occurred under a number of imprints: Archie Adventure Series, Mighty Comics, Red Circle Comics[5] and one aborted attempt, Spectrum Comics.[15] Archies Publications then licensed them out to DC Comics in the 1990s for Impact Comics universe imprint then again in 2008 for an DC Universe integrated Red Circle line.[16][33]

Archie's Silver Age relaunch of its superheroes under the Archie Adventure Series imprint and then the Mighty Comics imprint began with a new version of the Shield and two new characters the Jaguar and the Fly.[5] In the mid-1960s with the Silver Age of Comics, Archie switch the heroes to a new imprint, "Mighty Comics Group", with the revival of all the MLJ heroes done as Marvel parodies with "the campy humor of the Batman TV show."[5] This imprint shift soon brought the company its first super hero team book similar to Marvel's Avengers with the Mighty Crusaders.[34] This imprint ended in 1967.[5]

With the conversion of Archie's Red Circle Comics from horror to superheroes in the 1980s, the Mighty Crusaders,[34] Black Hood, the Comet, the Fly and two version of the Shields had their own titles.[35]

Archie planned to publishing superheroes again in the late 1980s with an imprint called Spectrum Comics, featuring a number of high-profile talents, including Steve Englehart, Jim Valentino, Marv Wolfman, Michael Bair, Kelley Jones, and Rob Liefeld. Planned Spectrum titles included The Fly, The Fox, Hangman, Jaguar, Mister Justice, and The Shield. Ultimately, Archie cancelled Spectrum Comics before publishing a single issue.[15]

In 2012, Archie Comics relaunched its superhero imprint, Red Circle Comics, as an all-digital line under a subscription model with back issues archive access starting with New Crusader.[17][26]

Titles[edit]

Titles in publication as of 2014[edit]

  • Afterlife with Archie (October 2013— )
  • Archie (Winter 1942— )
  • Archie's Funhouse Comics Digest (January 2014—)
  • Archie Comics Digest (January 1982— )
  • B & V Friends Comics Digest (November 2010—)
  • Betty and Veronica Vol. 2 (June 1987— )
  • Betty and Veronica Comics Digest (1987— )
  • Jughead and Archie Comics Digest (June 2014— )
  • Kevin Keller (March 2012– )
  • Life with Archie: The Married Life (September 2010—July 2014)
  • Mega Man (April 2011— )
  • Sonic Archives (May 2011— )
  • Sonic Select (June 2011— )
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (June 1992— )
  • Sonic Universe (February 2009— )
  • Sonic Boom (August 2014-)
  • World of Archie Comics Digest (October 2010— )

"New look" series[edit]

In 2007, Archie Comics launched a "new look" series of stories, featuring Archie characters drawn in an updated, less cartoony style similar to the characters' first appearance. Comprising seven storylines and published as part of four different digest series, the "new look" series ended in 2010.

Title Featured character(s) Comic Release Issue Numbers First Issue's Release Date Last Issue's Release Date
"Bad Boy Trouble" Veronica, Betty Betty & Veronica Double Digest 151–154 May 20, 2007 September 4, 2007
"The Matchmakers" Jughead Jughead's Double Digest 139–142 April 19, 2008 August 4, 2008
"Breakup Blues' Moose, Midge Archie's Pals n' Gals Double Digest 125–128 October 13, 2008 February 2, 2009
"My Father's Betrayal" Hiram Lodge, Veronica Betty & Veronica Double Digest 170–173 May 4, 2009 August 18, 2009
"Goodbye Forever" Archie Archie's Double Digest 200–203 July 21, 2009 November 11, 2009
"A Funny Kind of Love" Reggie Archie's Pals n' Gals Double Digest 135–138 September 23, 2009 February 1, 2010
"No Baseball for Betty" Betty Betty & Veronica Double Digest 180–183 May 4, 2010 August 17, 2010

Spire Christian Comics[edit]

Spire Christian Comics were a line of comic books not published by Archie Comics, but by Fleming H. Revell, which eventually became Barbour & Company. Through Al Hartley, one of Spire's illustrators who also worked for Archie Comics at the time, Revell obtained license to feature the Archie characters in several of its titles, including Archie's Sonshine, Archie's Roller Coaster, Archie's Family Album, and Archie's Parables. These comics used Archie and his friends to tell stories with strong Christian themes and morals, sometimes incorporating Bible scripture. In at least one instance, the regular characters meet a Christ-like figure on the beach, and listen as he gently preaches Christian values.[36] Spire Christian Comics were produced from 1972 through to the 1980s.

Honors and awards[edit]

The United States Postal Service included Archie in a set of five 44-cent commemorative postage stamps on the theme "Sunday Funnies", issued July 16, 2010. The Archie stamp featured Veronica, Archie, and Betty sharing a chocolate milkshake. The other stamps depicted characters from the comic strips Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Dennis the Menace.[37]

Television[edit]

Animation[edit]

In 1968, CBS began airing episodes of The Archie Show, a cartoon series produced by Filmation. Although it only lasted for a single season, it aired in reruns for the next decade, and was followed by several spin-off programs, which used segments from this original Archie show and new material. In 1971, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch got her own animated series, also produced by Filmation. In 1970, another Archie property received the Saturday morning cartoon treatment: Josie and the Pussycats. Unlike Archie and Sabrina, Josie's show was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, the company behind such animated hits as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. The show was followed by a spin-off, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, in 1972. The Archie Show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, and several of the spin-off shows including Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space are currently available on DVD in complete series boxed sets.

In 1987, DIC Entertainment produced an NBC Saturday morning cartoon, The New Archies. This children's television cartoon re-imagined the teenage students of Riverdale High School as pre-teens in junior high. Fourteen episodes of the show were produced, which aired during the show's only season in 1987 and were repeated in 1989. A short-lived Archie Comics series was produced bearing the same title and set in the same universe as the animated series. Reruns of the series ran on The Family Channel's Saturday morning lineup from 1991 to 1993, and on Toon Disney from 1998 to 2002. The cast was basically the same, but Dilton Doiley was replaced as the "intellectual" character by an African American named Eugene. Eugene's girlfriend Amani was another addition to the cast. Archie also gained a dog named Red.

In 1999, another animated program featuring Archie and his friends was produced by DIC Entertainment. Archie's Weird Mysteries featured core Archie characters solving mysteries occurring in their hometown of Riverdale. The show ran on the PAX network for a single 40-episode season, and continues to air sporadically in reruns on various other networks. The complete series was released on DVD in 2012. As a companion to the Archie series, DIC also produced Sabrina: the Animated Series and Sabrina: Friends Forever; a third series, Sabrina's Secret Life, featured Sabrina and her aunts at a younger age than they were in the comic books. Tie-in comic book titles were produced for all of these series.

In 2012, it was announced that MoonScoop would produce a new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series titled Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch. It began airing on the Hub in 2013. MoonScoop will also produce a new Archie animated series titled It's Archie which will feature Archie and friends in junior high.[38][39]

Live action[edit]

In the early 1970s, a live-action special of Archie and the Archie characters was aired on U.S. television. In 1990, NBC aired Archie: to Riverdale and Back Again (titled Archie: Return to Riverdale on video), a TV movie featuring Christopher Rich as a 30-something Archie Andrews who returns to his hometown for a high school reunion, and reunites with Betty, Veronica, and several other original comic book characters.

In 1996, cable network Showtime aired Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, a live-action TV movie starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina. The film served as the pilot for a TV series, also starring Hart, which began airing in the fall of 1996 on ABC. The sitcom was relatively faithful to the comic book series, and enjoyed a lengthy run until 2003. It is now available in its entirety on DVD, as is the original TV movie.

Film[edit]

In 2003, Miramax announced that they were working on a Betty and Veronica movie, but the project was cancelled.[40] Warner Bros. has closed a deal for a live action movie based on the Archie Comics books with Roy Lee and Dan Lin producing, Jon Goldwater, Krishnan Menon and Jon Silk executive producing, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writing and Jason Moore has signed on to direct. The film is described as a "high school comedy based on the original line of Archie Comics set in present-day Riverdale".[41] In an interview with Comic Book Resource, Aguirre-Sacasa has hinted about doing an Afterlife with Archie film.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Reid, Calvin (May 11, 2013). "Archie Comics Grows Book Side". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mamaroneck town, Westchester county, New York." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 29, 2009.
  3. ^ "Management." Archie Comics. Retrieved on August 29, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Offenberger, Rik (March 1, 2003). "Publisher Profile: Archie Comics". Borderline (19). Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Archie (MLJ) Comics at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths: Goldwater, John L.". The New York Times. February 28, 1999. 
  7. ^ a b "The Shield". An International Catalogue of Superheroes. internationalhero.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Goodman Beaver at Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
  9. ^ a b Harvey 2011, p. 4.
  10. ^ Kitchen & Buhle 2009, p. 204.
  11. ^ Markstein 2010; Petersen 2010, p. 249.
  12. ^ Frauenfelder 2008.
  13. ^ "Goodman Goes Playboy" public domain parody at Wikimedia Commons
  14. ^ a b c d e Peltz, Jennifer (February 20, 2012). "CEOs' Clash Roils Company Behind Comic Hero Archie". Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "Archie Comics Scraps Spectrum Comics Imprint". 'The Comics Journal' (131): 5–7. September 1989. 
  16. ^ a b c Renaud, Jeffrey (October 30, 2008). "JMS Gets Brave & Bold with Archie Gang". comicbookresources.com. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Gustines, George Gene (October 10, 2011). "For Archie Comics, a Return to Superheroes". New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  18. ^ Hicks, Cinque (April 9, 2003). "Fallen Archies | Off Script | Creative Loafing Atlanta". Atlanta.creativeloafing.com. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 
  19. ^ Holman, Curt (2003-04-16). "Arch humor: Fantasy sends comic characters into real world". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  20. ^ Archie Comics sues The Veronicas, Comics Bulletin, August 16, 2005
  21. ^ Forbes. Com: Associated Press: “Archie Comics plans series for 1st gay character.” Moore. April 1, 2011.
  22. ^ Weiland, Jonah (April 3, 2005). "Long Time Archive Comics Letterer Bill Yoshida Dies". 
  23. ^ http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/archie-comics-announces-beloved-redhead-to-die-in-july-issue/
  24. ^ Truitt, Brian (February 22, 2010). "Meet Stan Lee's newest super-team, 'Super Seven'". USA TODAY. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  25. ^ Melrose, Kevin (March 3, 2011). "Archie #1 sets auction record; more bookstore layoffs". Robot 6 (Comic Book Resources). Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  26. ^ a b Phegley, Kiel (October 12, 2011). "Inside the Red Circle with Archie's "New Crusaders"". comicbookresources.com. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  27. ^ Truitt, Brian (July 10, 2014). "Archie to launch Dark Circle superhero line in 2015". USA Today. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ Finn, Robin (April 13, 2012). "The Battle for a Comic Empire That Archie Built". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Pulps. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  30. ^ a b The Black Hood. International Catalogue of Superheroes
  31. ^ Radio. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  32. ^ Shield-Wizard Comics. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  33. ^ "SDCC '08 JMS Talks DC's Brave & the Bold... and Archie???". Newsarama. July 26, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2008. 
  34. ^ a b Mighty Crusaders at Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
  35. ^ Scott Martin. "Red Circle Index." Imprints. Mighty Crusader Network.
  36. ^ Fleming H. Revell Company (1974). Archie's Sonshine: 12–17. 
  37. ^ "US Postal Service Gives Archie a Stamp". World Stamp News. May 16, 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. 
  38. ^ "IT'S ARCHIE" CARTOON SENDS RIVERDALE'S GANG BACK TO JUNIOR HIGH
  39. ^ EXCLUSIVE: BEHIND THE SCENES OF ANIMATED "IT'S ARCHIE" WITH JON GOLDWATER
  40. ^ From Comics to Movies - "Betty & Veronica"
  41. ^ Archie Comics Movie Deal Set At Warner Bros: High School Comedy With Zombies? Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa To Write, Jason Moore To Direct, Roy Lee-Dan Lin Producing
  42. ^ "An ‘Afterlife with Archie’ Movie is Possible, Execs Say". Comic Book Resource. March 3, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]