Like most Earthicans, I read Archie comics as a kid. I was especially keen for the Betty & Veronica books, which were much more catty and fun than whatever Archie was up to. Still, I liked them all, and I’ll tell you why. No matter how nasty Reggie was to the gang, or how much trouble Archie got himself into, the idyllic world of Riverdale was a thousand times safer than my own school-age experience, where every single day was an exhausting fight for survival. I haven’t read Archie in years, though I did buy the recent What If issue featuring Archie’s potential wedding to Veronica. Maybe all the publicity (and sales) intoxicated the Archie folks a little, because now they’re back with an even bigger bombshell. A real, live teen homosexual is moving to Riverdale! Meet Kevin Keller:
I can’t even make fun of this, because after the initial shock of the announcement wore off, I was truly, genuinely pleased. As a little gay kid, I escaped into the world of Archie and his friends and would have been thrilled if one of them had been gay, too. All of the news stories and blogs I’ve read so far have cited Archie as some sort of final bastion of innocent Americana. That may be true, but it’s also high time a gay character was included in that picture. I’m sure there will be a minor uproar among conservative circles, but I think that’s part of the publisher’s plan anyway. It’s just more publicity for a book that wasn’t exactly relevant 30 years ago, let alone now.
I will happily add Archie (or, more specifically, Veronica, since Kevin makes his debut in her title) to my reading list. Hopefully, he’s not just a one-shot character. And since this isn’t Marvel or DC we’re talking about, I’m also hoping he manages to survive his appearance. Because more than a chance to revisit old friends, this news continues the slow, but successful normalization of homosexuality in pop culture. That’s pretty revolutionary stuff for those Riverdale squares, but it is greatly appreciated, especially by all the gay kids out there looking for confirmation that they’re normal and okay. So that even if their own school or home environment isn’t safe for them, Riverdale always will be. Thanks, Archie!
Kevin gays his way into the hearts and minds of the world in the September issue of Veronica. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak from the book.