The Battle for a Comic Empire That Archie Built

From The New York Times:

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — The entry vestibule at Archie Comic Publications here is a glass portal to childhood innocence, sunny summer days and endless nostalgia: The back end of a vintage white Cadillac, with its killer shark-fin fenders and leather interior intact, has been retrofitted to function as a sofa. Two salvaged audio hookups from an extinct drive-in movie theater complete the Memory Lane montage. Framed posters of Archie, the gullible Riverdale High School redhead, and his equally colorful entourage invigorate the walls.

But to gain access to the company’s administrative offices, you must pass through a reminder of its troubled present: double-locked doors and security cameras primarily installed to keep out a designated intruder, the company’s co-chief executive, Nancy Silberkleit, who since January has been under court order to stay away from Archie.

At this, the last of the privately run Mom-and-Pop comic book dynasties, Ms. Silberkleit, 59, the daughter-in-law of a company founder, Louis H. Silberkleit, is deadlocked in a court battle for control of the company with Jonathan Goldwater, 52, a son of another founder, John L. Goldwater. Like Betty and Veronica, the two are feuding over Archie’s future, but there is nothing comic — or friendly — about their rivalry. Each accuses the other of endangering the family legacy, Mr. Goldwater by wanting to expand Archie into a megabrand with help from outside investors and the Hollywood uber-agent Ari Emanuel, Ms. Silberkleit by vowing to keep the company’s traditions intact and preserve family ownership, ostensibly leading to stagnation.

The hostilities are withering. She says he defamed her and conspired with their employees against her in order to steal control of the company. He says she poisoned the workplace by threatening longtime employees with termination and spewing sexual insults. Meanwhile, they both claim to love Archie dearly, almost like a son — a son who is pushing 71 yet retains a head of lush red hair, abundant freckles and the top spot in a famous love triangle.

Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.

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