Archie’s First Openly Gay Character
Wow, I think this proves to me that the new management at Archie Comics is serious about making some well-needed changes to modernize the titles and brand.
Archie Comics has announced that in September, new character Kevin Keller will be introduced. And he’s “openly gay”, to use their terms, which has led to speculation and jokes that someone else in the Archieverse is closeted. (Leading contenders: Jughead, Midge, and Miss Grundy, although that would be quite the stereotype.)
Kevin will appear in Veronica #202, which is due in comic shops on September 1 and on newsstands September 14. Humor ensues when Veronica decides she wants to go out with the cute new guy, and Kevin has to figure out how to let her down easy. Says Jon Goldwater, co-CEO, “The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. 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.” The press release continues, “The introduction of Kevin as an openly gay character is part of the commitment to keep Archie properties reflective of the current world of teens and teen media.”
Now here’s hoping that he becomes a recurring character quickly. There have been other introductions to expand character diversity, but what really matters is how they’re used and whether they become part of the core group. If the stories are about “darn, all the cute ones are gay or taken”, then Kevin’s presence will pale quickly. But if they follow his dating exploits the same way they do the struggles of Chuck and Nancy, for example, I will love reading it.
When Archie was promoting an interracial kiss in January, I hoped that we’d see a same-sex kiss, but I never expected it to happen this soon. I think that’s the next big milestone — characters being gay aren’t as scary as those who demonstrate their sexuality physically. Who’s going to be Kevin’s boyfriend?
Update: (4/25/10) Salon has an excellent piece by Douglas Wolk on what this means and other reactions.