Archie Comics’ Foray Into New Territory
Kevin Keller is a character that was first introduced into the Archie universe, in the spin-off title “Veronica”. He’s become very popular among the fans, with a father that was in the Army, and Kevin’s character is carried over to the “Life with Archie” series, which follows the Riverdale rat-pack into adulthood, in a very Beverly Hills 90210 like story. Did I mention the important part? Kevin Keller is gay.
“When you enter into new territory — and frankly, we were the first company to really enter into this realm — you’re just never certain how it’s going to go, and you’re never certain how the character is going to develop,” said Archie CEO Jon Goldwater.
Dan Parent, the writer of the “Veronica” series, is the man developing Kevin Keller’s story, from teenage years to adulthood. He’s also getting married to his partner, a character named Clay Walker, in “Life with Archie” #16, scheduled to ship this January. Everyone that has a say in the direction of Archie Comics had a hand in the development of this character, and his upcoming wedding. CEO Goldwater, Kevin’s aforementioned writer Dan Parent, “Life with Archie” writer Paul Kupperberg, and Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick.
“We certainly consulted with Dan on how this was going to be positioned in ‘Life with Archie.’ Goldwater said. We’re very sensitive to the fact that this is his baby, and we’re not going to cut him out of the process. He was involved in talking to Paul, and frankly, before we went forward with Paul, we asked if he was cool with it. And more than being cool with it, he said ‘That’s fantastic!’ He was incredibly enthusiastic, and he knows that ‘Life with Archie’ is Paul’s book so he was extraordinarily supportive.”
Kevin Keller will continue to be written, and featured in Archie’s universe, despite the expected disapproval of people that can’t accept, or understand that people have a right to live their own lives. These stories are about characters that happen to be gay, not because they are gay.
Kupperberg says about Kevin being a new character: “It made it a little easier in a way. I talked to Dan about Kevin as a character in general, and he created Kevin’s spouse Clay Walker and came up with a persona for him, and I took it from there,” Kupperberg said. “The Kevin of the teenage Archie world if very different from the version we see in ‘Life with Archie.’ Now not only is he grown up, but he’s also a decorated military hero who has seen his fair share of action and been wounded in battle. Once I got into it, it wasn’t tough writing the character. The first scene I wrote for him involves Kevin reflecting back on his time in the Middle East, and as I was doing it, I thought, ‘He’s Sgt. Rock now! I’m not writing Kevin Keller so much as I’m writing Lt. Kevin Keller, United States Army.'”
Is this a milestone for comics? Yes. Does it show how far our society has come, in terms of accepting people for who they are? Yes. It’s a stand to say that there is a character out there, even though fictional, that not only was proudly displayed as a gay teenager, and that’s okay, to being someone on the front lines of a war, risking their lives just like the man next to him in combat. This is a big day for comics, and you’d be a fool not to pass it on.
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