Tag Archives: Archie Comics

Archie Comics’ Big Gay Kiss

14 Aug

KellerKissArchie Comics’ first gay character continues to blaze trails for equality. Since his introduction three years ago, Kevin Keller has become one of the publisher’s most popular characters. He received his own title only months after his introduction and his appearances have been instrumental in the updating of life in idyllic Riverdale. Kevin Keller #10 continues this trend with a story that mixes Archie-style hijinks with solid social commentary.

Kevin recently began dating Devon, a young man who ran away from home when his father reacted badly to discovering he was gay. Devon is staying with Kevin’s pal (and frequent Archie love interest) Veronica Lodge. After events of the past couple of issues, Devon decides to return home to reconcile. After a chat at Pop’s diner, he and Kevin exchange a quick kiss.

A woman in the diner responds badly, accusing the couple of trying to corrupt her young daughter. Veronica rushes to their defense, and Pop himself bans the woman from the diner for her bigotry and disruption. Things get wacky (this is a comic book, after all) when Veronica accidentally posts the kiss to YouTube. The story goes viral, threatening to disrupt Devon’s plans and creating a media frenzy.

The blend of social justice and comic energy is perfect. Kevin just wants to be a normal teenager, a theme that helps make his book so charming and successful. Accepting the responsibility thrust on him by circumstance, he agrees to appear on Ellen to discuss the hyperbolic response to a simple kiss.

The issue also takes a poke at the infamous group One Million Moms, the hyperbolically named group that has mounted failed boycotts and protests of many representations of LGBT people. The group went after Archie Comics last year when the series Life With Archie, set in the future, featured Kevin’s wedding to his partner Clay. Using Ellen as the group’s clever foil, the story dismantles their homophobia and hypocrisy nicely while staying true to the characters and overall story.

The pacing is excellent and the characters are strong and believable. Writer and artist Dan Parent manages to convey important messages without being overly preachy. Besides Pop’s stand for equality, Riverdale High Mr. Wetherbee makes a bold statement about treating everyone fairly. Archie and his current African-American girlfriend reflect that their kiss at Pop’s would have created a similar stir not too long ago.

It’s an Archie Comic, so everything works out pretty well in the end. The story rings very true and the characters are strong. Devon’s interaction with his father is realistic but hopeful. Kevin and Devon continue to grow as characters and as a couple. Deftly handled and cleverly written, Kevin Keller #10 gets a full five stars for telling an important story and remaining true to the spirit of fun that readers expect from Archie.

Hero of the Week Award: March 2, Archie Comics

2 Mar

Hero of the Week

Today we are pleased to honor the continued commitment of what was once a surprising player in LGBT equality, Archie Comics. The company has a reputation as being conservative and traditional, bolstered by an ill-advised 70s partnership with a right-wing evangelical publisher. Over the past few years, however, the Archie brand has been surprisingly successful at re-inventing itself and creating a relevant, safe place for young comic readers to see how everyone really can get along.

Last year Archie Comics made a great move toward equality by introducing their first gay character, the loveable Kevin Keller. Creator Dan Parent made Kevin a realistic, complex character. He happens to be gay; he’s also a teen in Riverdale, so he has his share of typical misadventures but also knows everyone loves and supports him. It’s a great message for LGBTQ youth and their allies and families. While previous diversity characters have been given short shrift after their initial introductions, Kevin has quickly become an Archie mainstay. After taking over Veronica for four issues (and exploring coming out, dating, bullying, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), Kevin was given his own title which debuted last month. It’s off to a promising start and Kevin looks to be a vital part of the Riverdale community.

The company took equality even farther last month. In the Life With Archie series which shows the life of the characters as adults, they celebrated Kevin’s wedding to his partner, Clay. In typical Riverdale fashion, no-one bats an eye at true marriage equality and the wedding is a marvelous, supportive event. They are also a bi-racial couple, adding to the “everyone belongs” message. That issue alone was almost enough to earn the company HWA. But this week they did even better.

The American Family Association’s One Million Moms project noted the presence of Life With Archie #16 in Toys ‘R’ Us stores and started another boycott attempt. The extremist hate group objected to the presence of a loving same-sex couple on the cover of a comic book. So far Toys ‘R’ Us has not replied (perhaps not wishing to waste time debating with lunatics?). Archie Comics, on the other hand, came out with a strong, wonderful statement issued by CEO John Goldwater.

We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate, and narrow-minded people.

Way to go Archie Comics. Let’s hope your efforts speed the pace by which all of America becomes a bit more like Riverdale when it comes to inclusion.

LGBTQ Review: Veronica #202 featuring Kevin Keller

10 Apr

Kevin's Debut Issue

Having posted about Archie Comics’ new gay character, Kevin Keller, I thought perhaps I should read the issue and see if it lived up to the hype. I got my hands on a copy of Kevin’s first appearance in Veronica #202 and was pleasantly surprised.

I was never much of an Archie fan, even in my 40-titles-a-month comic habit days. When I was young enough to be part of the target audience, the stories were too 50’s-ish and out-of-date. Frankly, I was surprised a couple of years ago when the comic blog I follow had an Archie Comics upcoming issues post, having thought the company was reduced to digest-sized supermarket reprints. Having not followed the characters in their updated (but familiar enough) issues, I can’t really put this story in context. (Johanna at Comics Worth Reading has a review that takes the continuity into consideration and finds the story a bit lacking from that perspective.)

What works well for me is that Kevin is just another teen in Riverdale. The story acknowledges that he’s new to town, gives him enough back-story to anchor the character (he’s a budding writer), and then shows him getting to know his new classmates. When Veronica and Jughead get into a typical squabble, wacky hijinks ensue. The central plot point is Veronica’s crush on the new kid and Jughead’s efforts to keep her from finding out that Kevin is gay.

The plot may be a bit thin, but it works as a kids-with-pretty-casual-problems kind of story. The great thing is that Kevin is so comfortable with himself – and so is everyone else. He is very matter-of-fact with Jughead and Betty about his sexual orientation and tries to be up-front with Veronica despite Jughead’s shallow ploys. It is this honesty that makes the story work for me. Kevin is just a new kid in town who happens to be gay. That fact allows for the somewhat goofy, very Archie plot to move forward, but not at the expense of Kevin as a potentially interesting character. This kind of light-hearted, easy-going approach to sexual orientation is exactly what kids need to see. It will be interesting to see how they build on this in Kevin’s own mini-series this summer.

I’m not going to start collecting Archie Comics as a result of this character or story, but they deserve great congratulations for creating a safe, happy space for LGBTQ kids who read their books.

(Bonus content: the inside back cover ad is for the American Library Association!)

Archie Takes Gay Character Seriously

29 Mar

Kevin Keller: Out in Riverdale

Regular readers of The Solipsistic Me will recall our posts about Kevin Keller, the first gay character published by Archie Comics. The company has just released a teaser of the first issue of Kevin’s own mini-series, due in June.

According to the publisher, these four issues will address important and relevant topics, including Kevin’s struggles with coming out to his parents and bullying. It’s impressive to see the commitment to making Kevin a real character in Archie’s world, not just a placeholder stereotype. As quoted in the New York Post, Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater says, “This is the most important book this company has released in 70 years.”

We’ll see how the series shapes up this summer, but things look very promising for Kevin and for all the kids — regardless of their sexual orientation — who get to learn from his adventures in Riverdale.

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