Well, finally, after over 60 years of following the Archie gang and their Riverdale antics, the comic series will introduce its first gay character, Kevin Keller. This September in Veronica #202, Veronica falls for Kevin, the new boy in town, but can't figure out why he's unresponsive.
Archie comics have become more current in later years, with last year's marriage of Archie to Betty and Veronica (don't ask...), to Archie's latest relationship with Val from Josie and the Pussycats, who happens to be African American, but this will be the first openly gay character in the comic's history, and instead of crisis and drama, Kevin will be met with nothing but acceptance.
There have been rumors for years that Jughead was Riverdale's resident gay, and while that is never going to be ruled out (sorry Jughead, you wear a crown after all) it is refreshing to see an openly gay character, comfortable with himself and his sexuality never being an issue (except when Veronica is baffled that Kevin pays her no mind). Below is an excerpt from Newsarama.com, with Dan Parent, Archie artist and writer for the past 20 years, talking about the storyline:
"In his introductory story, titled 'Isn't it Bromantic?' Kevin's good looks get the attention of Veronica, who doesn't know he's gay because he's the new kid in town. Her thwarted attempts at winning his attraction amuse the other characters -- particularly Jughead. 'They just like watching Veronica making a fool of herself, trying to get this guy to like her,' Parent said. "At the beginning of the book, Kevin tells Jughead first that he's gay. And Kevin feels kind of bad and wants to tell Veronica why he's not interested. But Jughead keeps saying, 'No, you should wait to tell her,' because he's enjoying watching Veronica's antics."
As someone who grew up reading Archie, I know that as a young gay kid, I would've loved to have seen someone like myself reflected positively in the pages of my favorite comic. The most inspiring part is Dan Parent's final words on the subject: "We're trying to show that Riverdale is an accepting community -- that everyone is welcome in Riverdale. We're trying to show that Riverdale is that ideal town that everybody wants to be a part of." If only every small town in America was more like Riverdale. Hopefully enough comic fans will pick up the issue so that Kevin stars in his own spin-off series, but until then we'll just have to wait for the double-sized Archie-Kevin sleepover special issue.
Veronica #202 goes on sale in September, and you can see the video of Dan Parent breaking the news of Archie Comics's first gay character here.
-- CHRISTOPHER RUDOLPH
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