Kevin Keller :: Archie’s gay character goes solo
Heads turned last September when Archie Comics introduced their first gay character - Kevin Keller. Enough heads, it turns out, for the character to merit his own comic book starting next February according to a report in the New York Times.
"He’s proven to be incredibly popular," said Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comics to the Times. "We’re just so proud of the success of Kevin and the fact that he adds a new dynamic to Riverdale."
Keller was introduced in Veronica, issue 202 in a story line called "Isn’t It Bromatic?" In it Veronica expressed interest in dating Kevin, but he’s disinterested. He later tells Jughead that he’s gay and becomes best buds with Betty.
The issue was so popular that it sold out and Archie Comics had to do a second printing -- the first time it did so in its history.
"Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books," Goldwater told the Washington Post last September.
A positive response
The series will be titled Kevin Keller and comes after a 4-part mini-series that started this month that provided the character’s back-story: his relationship with his dad (in the military), how he wants to follow in his footsteps (in the military) and his day-to-day in high school. "He’s going to be the class president," said Dan Parent, the writer-artist who created Kevin told the Times. But it won’t all be a good time. "Even the most popular kids are not popular with everybody," Mr. Parent said. "There’s some adversity he’ll have to deal with."
Parent was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2011 for creating Kevin.
"We knew going into it we were doing the right thing," Parent told the website AfterElton.com. "You’re always prepared in the back of your mind for some backlash. Not to say there hasn’t been some. Not everybody’s particularly happy about it, but from where I’m sitting it’s been about 98% positive."
The Times report continued: "Readers will also get a glimpse into Kevin’s adulthood thanks to a continuing married life story line in Life With Archie, which shows that famous redhead’s life on two paths: one in which he married Betty, the other in which he married Veronica. In early 2012 that story line will feature Kevin’s marriage. ’We needed to figure out how to get Kevin into that book and, frankly, not sidestep the issue,’ Mr. Goldwater said. ’It deals with the fact that he’s a gay man and has gay relationships.’ Mr. Goldwater said the overall reception to Kevin has been positive. ’Out of all the people who subscribe to the Archie books, we only had seven total cancellations,’ he said.