Robot 6

Kevin Keller — Archie’s openly gay Army brat

Kevin Keller #2

For decades, Archie Comics was viewed as somewhat out of step with society, as changes were slow in arriving to staid but friendly Riverdale, if they arrived at all. But in the past year or so, the winds seemed to abruptly shift, signaled first by an interracial kiss — a company first — between Archie Andrews and Valerie Brown, and then by the introduction of Kevin Keller, Riverdale’s first openly gay resident.

The kiss, while groundbreaking for Archie, raised few eyebrows. Kevin, however, became a target for those decrying the alleged loss of “yet another safe haven for kid’s entertainment.” But Archie Comics didn’t shrink from the criticism, and instead gave the character his own miniseries.

It’s with August’s second issue that Archie Comics is perhaps its boldest yet. In a story by cartoonist Dan Parent, Veronica helps Kevin’s family plan a birthday party for his father. It’s a simple enough premise in which Veronica learns more about Kevin while he comes to realize that, of all the places he’s lived — he’s a military brat — Riverdale has come to feel like home.

However, it’s the cover that (obviously) stands out the most: Against a backdrop of the Stars & Stripes, openly gay Kevin Keller embraces his father, a three-star general, and proclaims, “Dad, you’re my hero!”

It’s a nice moment of love and acceptance between father and son that’s difficult not to view in a larger context, that of the heated and prolonged debate over gays and lesbians serving in the military, and the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Do Archie Comics and Parent intend the cover as political or cultural commentary? Oh, I certainly hope so. They’ll undoubtedly be accused of that and (sadly) more, so they might as well embrace it.

Kevin Keller #2 goes on sale Aug. 10 in comic stores and Aug. 16 on newsstands.



I’m in the military–my old man and HIS old man were too–and I applaud Archie for telling this story. Well, at least this cover. Hopefully the story is as positive as I’m lead to believe, and I will do all I can to get a copy of it so I can support this.

I’m looking forward to this because I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the rejuvenation of the Archie line in the past year. But seeing this makes me wonder: this this the first miniseries set in Riverdale? I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to the Archie gang for the past decade or so, but I can’t think of any other minis before then.

I’m not remotely a fan of Archie comics, due in large part to the fact that I got bored of the small town simplicity and repetitive love triangle premise. I think the last time I picked up an issue of Archie was when they crossed over with Punisher and another where they crossed over with the Ninja Turtles.

But I will admit that I’m not only impressed but glad that this series has introduced a gay character, and more so one who grew up as the child of a military officer like myself. God knows I could have used a role model like that in my youth. There are a lot of gay youths in the world who are the sons and daughters of military officers, and this is something that might help them a great deal, as well as the military parents of gay teens. Bravo Archie Comics.

Kevin will mark the second gay military brat in comics, after DC’s Batwoman.

Kudos to Archie comics– hopefully the Archie gang will get a new cartoon series, it’s way past time– also a live action TV show is needed, or some live action films..

Don’t read Archie comics, but it is always nice to see social progress in comics. So kudos to Archie comics.

This is just disgusting. My children will never read this crap and neither will I.

Ah Dave (April 20, 2011 at 1:52 am)

Prejudice. “Pre” meaning “before.”

Way to display yours by proclaiming something is crap before reading it.

Now. I’m all for everything Archie is doing and salute them but frankly, the only reason I don’t read Archie comics anymore other than I’m too old is because the damn digests are TOO THIN! (Was never a fan of Archie floppies. It always seemed like I was getting gypped because there wasn’t much story in it.)

Dave your silly is showing

In my other post I wrote that a lot of the reviews here seem negative, I stand corrected. See we can all be wrong. I’m glad that this is being done. As a gay man I never thought that Archie would do this and I am proud of them for standing up the “Daves” of the world and helping negate the hate. I will not allow people to make kids feel bad about themselves anymore, nor will I stand by when I see a kid everyone thinks is gay be picked on. How many kids have to kill themselves before we see how this hatred is killing. I know I’m not making much sense, I want to say great things and be witty or wise, but looking at the comment above, “about this disgusting crap” just pisses me off. Never let anyone make you feel bad about who you are, that’s what I would tell my kids and i would let them read it. doesn’t matter if they are gay or not, I want them to know that everyone means something in this world. As long as they aren’t hurting others. Sorry about the ramble.

Chris Schillig

April 30, 2011 at 5:32 am

Totally independent of the book’s cover and content (which I wholly support), is this a mini-series within a mini-series? If you look closely at the cover, it says “Veronica Presents,” and next to the issue #2 is the number 208. So is this really Veronica #208?

why are you doing this your ruining the archie universe. or it will end up with movies like this : pleze stop! :(

Chris — Archie is kind of an odd publisher when it comes to their distribution methods. Unlike DC and Marvel, their bread and butter is newsstands, not comic shops. As I understand it, it is a little harder to issue a stand-alone mini using this sort of sales model. The last time I remember them doing this was in the 90s with their two Cheryl Blossom stand-alone minis. (Last year, there was a very underrated Tiny Titani/Little Archie crossover mini, but that was published by DC, not Archie.) Typically, when Archie puts out a “mini-series” these days, they mean a multi-issue storyline in an existing Archie book that spotlights a character who doesn’t currently have his or her own title. Other examples of this include “Young Salem” (in Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton (in Archie & Friends). This is the first time I have them do any kind of dual numbering on the books, though.

GC — Archie is a business, and they have a right to strive for profit, success and acclaim. So far, the gay character has brought them all of those — and it has been woefully needed in this economy. Kevin’s debut appearance caused the first second printing for the company EVER (after 70-some years in operation), and from what I can tell, his follow-up appearance was also a hit; it took my comic shop more than 2 months to track me down a copy, even though I have it on my pull list. Other efforts, such as Archie’s interracial romance with Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats, the guest appearances of Obama and Palin, and the grown-up, parallel-world stories in the awesome Life with Archie magazine have also helped put the publisher back on the map. Before 2010, when was the last time you heard anyone talking about Archie, unless it was to mock the books? If putting out stories that people want to buy, read and talk about — but are still 100% kid-appropriate — is your idea of “ruining the archie universe,” then I hope they keep on ruinin’!

GC: & what’s wrong with that? I’d watch it.

times change. deal with it.

The problem is that a gay character doesn’t really belong in what has been traditionally a fairly conservative universe. Putting a gay guy in Riverdale seems too much like a Mad Magazine parody. Of course if somebody just did a comic about a gay guy, nobody much would pay attention, this way you get some press. Still seems like a stunt more than anything else.

Matty Macomber

April 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

GC – That was pretty fantastic. Thanks for the link!
“AAArrrrrchhiiieee!” (camera shot from the sky) Heh.

Honestly, other than the sex and abortion scenes, I could see Archie comics writing about these topics from the distinctive Riverdale perspective.

I find it equally bigoted for people to castigate anyone’s negativity on the introduction of the gay character in “Archie” as being “homophobic”. It says much of the elitist snobbery of some people than not. At any rate, personally, I believe that all this is some stunt (“Hey, look, we have a gay character here!”) and not some outgrowth of a storyline that should be organic. Bad writing, IMO.

Archie’s comics may be socially relevant, but the gags are still tired and as old as dirt. LMK when the comic actually becomes FUNNY.

Matty Macomber

April 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

I guess I just can’t think of a very charitable explanation for why some changers are labeled as “stunts” in readers’ heads and some are labeled “unexpected twists” or “exciting development”. So, I’ll avoid “homophobic” since, apparently, elitist snobbery is as terribly oppressive, destructive, and bigoted as the high school bullying, gaybashing and murders, and picketing of funerals of gay people.

Still, weird how readers always seem to forget that comics are a business. Kevin Keller’s mini-series is about as much of a “stunt” and no less a natural “outgrowth” of a storyline than Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from Superman in the 50s, West Coast Avengers was of the Avengers, Wolverine from Uncanny X-Men, (Red) Robin from Batman, etc. I haven’t read his second appearance but the first appearance still felt like an Archie story to me. To me, Kevin Keller seems like a natural supporting character for Veronica and of course, his gay status is definitely drawing attention. I’d be REALLY surprised if Kevin ever got a boyfriend anytime soon or really explore much about his sexuality… Heck, Northstar came out in 1992 but Marvel didn’t give him a boyfriend until, what 18 years later?

Matty Macomber

April 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

And to be fair, I don’t think stories with Kevin Keller SHOULD explore sexuality any more than they do with Archie or Betty or Veronica. It’d be great to see someday a scene where he has the cartoon hearts over his head or other visual shorthand of falling in love (or, at least, a crush) but it’d feel about as odd to see him waking up in bed next to some guy as it would be to see Archie doing the same with Betty and Veronica (although I am sure there’s stuff on the net already).

Col. Trevor, USAF

April 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I’m glad they’re doing this. If it leads to Betty and Veronica no longer fighting over Archie and instead tag-teaming, well, then EVERYONE wins!

dswynne1 — When you say that the story is “bad writing” is that based on you actually reading the story, or just hearing that there was a gay character and pre-judging it, sight unseen? I have actually read the story (as well as pretty much every Archie story that has been published in the last few years), and I thought that it fit in perfectly with the Veronica title. Veronica is always a spoiled little rich girl who falls head over heals with whatever new guy that comes along (in spite of her ongoing devotion to Archie); usually, the guys she falls for reciprocate the feelings, so having her fall for Kevin but having him be 100% unavailable was a great way to put a fresh spin on the tried and true formula.

Regarding whether or not all of it is a “stunt,” would you say that all of the various straight characters introduced in an Archie title who later went on to get their own books (Jughead, Reggie, Betty, Veronica, Dilton, Josie, Sabrina, etc.) are also stunts? Does that apply to all straight DC and Marvel characters, too? Or is it just a stunt when its a gay character?

As for the words “homophobic” and “bigoted,” you were the one who brought them into the conversation. I encourage you to check out any reputable dictionary (Merriam Webster even has an online version!) to check out those words’ definitions to decide for yourself whether or not they apply to someone who would intentionally use different standards based on sexual orientation.

Col. Trev — LOL!!! I don’t really see that happening, but there’s always fanfic!

Madmike — I’m guessing you’ll never visit this page again, but if you do, I’m curious to hear what you mean by saying that the Archie universe is “fairly conservate.” Do you mean that the comics tend to play it safe? Or that they tend to fall on the right/Republican side of the political spectrum?

If you mean that Archie comics tend to play it safe (in a non-political sense), I agree. The stories are all kid-friendly; there is no swearing, very little violence, and frequently a moral message like “Make sure your friends can count on you” or “Being a gossip is bad.” And those stories that have more of a “punchline” ending similarly play it safe, as they usually use a familiar gag that most of the audience can see coming. Even the introduction of Kevin Keller was a very safe, kid-friendly comic in spite of the supposed controversy (I say “supposed” because, no disrespect to CBR, but I think they really had to go fishing to find that negative story about Kevin’s debut — according to Archie Comics, only about 2 or 3% of the response to Kevin has been negative.)

But if you are saying that Archie comics are “fairly conservative” in that they fall on the right/Republican side of the political spectrum, I have to disagree. Most Archie comics I’ve read tend to be very politically neutral (even non-political); the recent Obama/Palin issues where both politicians were treated respectfully is a good example of this. But when Archie comics do touch a left/right topic, they almost always fall on the left side. Such as:

* They are about the greenest publisher out there. Even 30 or 40 years ago, there were Archie comics with messages about conservation on the cover and related stories within. It’s really ramped up since then. To the best of my knowledge, they were the first of the big publishers to start printing on recycled paper (back in the late 80s or early 90s), and “green” is one of the most common themes in their stories today. Sometimes it is a very overt theme (they always have at least one annual Earth Day story), but many times it is more subtle — recycling bins in the background, a story that could take place anywhere taking place at a green volunteering event, etc.

* Another common theme is that all of the kids should come together for the common good of all. Lots of talk about volunteering, etc. Now, I have many Republican friends and family members who are very ardent volunteers. But I also know that there are many who (whether they volunteer or not) would hear about a kid’s comic book including “communal good” thinking and scream “Socialism!” (Hello, Glenn Beck!)

* Back in the early 90s (maybe even late 80s), in addition to their green PSAs, they ran PSAs about AIDS education. That’s not something you saw DC and Marvel doing. (Granted, DC had their wonderful “Death Talks About Life” ashcan, but that was really intended for older audience — Archie books are all ages.)

* Going back even further, when Chuck Clayton (an African American character) was introduced in the 1970s, he almost immediately became the co-star (along with Archie) of the title Archie at Riverdale High. And I do mean “co-star,” not just a supporting player; most of the covers and storylines for a good run of that book were centered around Archie and Chuck. This was at a time when there was very little African American representation in children’s entertainment in general and kid’s comics in particular. I have no doubt that there were Chuck naysayers back then, just like there are Kevin naysayers today… and yet both characters appear to be here to stay.

Col. Trevor, USAF

April 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm

ArchieFanJohn: Probably not. I guess we leave that sort of fun to Hal Jordan.

Hmm… Hey DC! Want a new media stunt? Time to let Guy Gardner out of the closet!

Kevin’s evolving into a mainstay in Riverdale, thanks to reader response. Gay readers have supported us for years, and now we can do our small part to support them. Being gay is an important PART of Kevin, but there’s a lot more to him than that. And you’ll never see any blatant sex in our books, gay or straight, just fun dating/romance stories that we’ve been doing for 70 years.

Kevin supporting his Dad and wanting to follow in his footsteps is just representative of the many patriotic gay people in this country. This isn’t a huge political statement, just the truth. And the story is still a fun, breezy Archie story, no one is getting hit over the head with any agenda or deep message. We’re past the “stunt” stage folks. Kevin’s a main character in Riverdale now. He’s here and he’s…well you know! So get used to it!

I was referring to them as playing it safe. I assume that like most publishers, the company’s political leanings would change with ownership and to reflect the times. I think there is a notable difference between introducing a black character and a gay character, and that is the matter of sex. You can’t discuss homosexuality without discussing sexuality, and I’ve always seen Archie comics as children’s comics. For that reason I don’t think it’s really appropriate. I think introducing gay characters into books that are aimed at an older audience is fine though, so those of a mind to, can spare me their homophobe accusations.

Madmike — First you say that the matter is “sex” but then you say “sexuality” — those two words do not mean the same thing.

If we’re going to accept your argument that you can’t have a homosexual character without discussing sexuality (and I think anyone who has read Veronica #202 would have to disagree), then it would surely be true that you can’t have a heterosexual character without discussing sexuality. So, by that logic Archie has been “discussing sexuality” for 70-some years with the hundreds of heterosexual characters they’ve had fawning all over each other and sharing three-way milkshakes. Would the better approach for Archie Comics be to remove any sort of romantic/physical attraction between ANY of the characters, gay or straight? Seems a bit extreme (well, except for Jughead, who is pretty much a eunuch to begin with).

Col. Trevor — Does Guy Gardner still own Warriors? That’d be one cool gay bar…

@ CG- That trailer was off the hook! I would pay good money to see that movie in an IMAX theatre. That trailer is blockbuster GOLD!!!

@ the topic of Openly gay character in Archie Comics- About damn time. I may not read Archie comics, and I’m not even 30 yet, but I stand up for Archie comics because they are a staple in the comic industry and have been around for a long time. The comic book industry owes a great deal to serialized comics like Archie, Rip Kirby, and Corrigan Agent X-9.

I applaud this bold and brave step. Keep up the great work Archie Comics!

ArchieFanJohn— I think Guy Gardner still own it, but if he turned gay. Warriors would be remade into a gay “bear” bondeage club.


Not in my Murca!

@ArchieFanJohn: Check out “Promethea” from Alan Moore. That deals with the subject of homosexuality in an organic and realistic way. Furthermore, who the hell do you think you are to be the moral arbiter on a person’s opinion on homosexuality? My objection to the character is more to do with the creators’ attempt at social engineering, rather than create a fully realized character FOR THE SAKE OF THE STORY.

But, I will tell you exactly where I am coming from.

Back a couple of years ago, there was Proposition 8 initiative in CA to ban same sex marriages. Now, personally, as a libertarian, I don’t believe that government should be govern by a charter that restricts personal liberties, so I voted against the proposition. Guess what happened when the proposition passed? Anyone who supported the initiative, and who gave donations to push the initiative, were listed on a Google map (due to CA’s campaign laws of full disclosure of all donations exceeding $1000) by gay activists, and were specifically targeted for reprisals. Some even lost their jobs because of this. Furthermore, these same activists tried to push for laws getting rid of tax exempt status of Church groups who publicly supported the proposition. But was must disturbing was that when it was found that most African-Americans and Hispanic voted against the recognizing same-sex marriages, and thus enabled the proposition to pass, you could not believe the racist rhetoric that popped up on some of these bulletin boards.

So, don’t tell me that I am misguided or off-base when I say that there isn’t a form of bigotry when it comes to this issue, especially against those who view of homosexuality differently than YOU do.

I’ll be waiting until they denounce marriage altogether in Archies comics and do away with restrictive sexist labels like ‘Man’ or ‘Woman’ and have uni-sex bathrooms at our schools. Open all our borders to anyone. Have a holliday for Tookie Williams who founded the Crips gang and killed a couple Koreans. And rightfully and finally give animals the same voting rights and legal representation as any human who shall henceforth be referred to as ‘advanced monkeys soviet americans.’

As long as none of this stuff happens in real life, we’ll be O.K.

You can deal with a person’s sexuality without showing sex. We’ve been doing it at Archie for 70 years! So introducing a character whose sexuality is homosexual vs. hetersosexual is really not that different. We can deal with romantic situatuions and attractions, sharing sodas, going to dances, etc. without dealing in loose moral behavior. We’re also aware that these characters are still teenagers, so sexual activity isn’t appropriate by Archie comics guidelines. But being true to who you are is !

“Is Archie now the most socially relevant publisher in comics?” No, Archie is now the most disgraceful and socially irresponsible publisher in comics — and that’s saying quite a lot, considering how bad companies like Marvel and DC have become. And by the way, just having a story about a gay character doesn’t automatically make a comic “socially relevant”. There ARE many other issues that are just as socially relevant as (or MORE socially relevant than) buggery. But that’s all right, because it’s very obvious that God’s judgement has fallen on this business due to trash like this and that the comics industry as we’ve known it for the past thirty years will soon be completely gone.

joe bloke- did you see the trailer so shut up


May 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

Doug & Joe Blough — Ha! Thanks for the laughs. Your posts made my morning!


May 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

dswynne1 — I actually do have very strong feelings about Proposition 8 and the actions of its supporters and detractors both before and after the vote. But I’m not clear what that has to do with the issue at hand — namely, Archie Comics and its successful new gay character.

Tell you what — to save a lot of time, can we just agree to pretend the following has already happened:
* I offer a long response to your Proposition 8 statements and your incorrect implications that I’ve somehow said its impossible to show bigotry towards those who disagree with my stance on equal rights for gay citizens and same-sex couples. Perhaps I’ll mention Archie Comics once in my reply, in passing.
* You offer an even longer rebuttal, which doesn’t even mention anything related to Archie Comics. Perhaps you’ll throw in a reference to Young Avengers or Batwoman in a half-hearted attempt to keep it comics-relevant.
* I abandon comics-talk and Archie-talk altogether with a full-fledged treatise on inequality in America.
* And we continue down this road back and forth, neither of us convincing each other (nor anyone else) of our opinions, all the while driving this thread further and further from the actual discussion people are coming here to see.

Perhaps such a conversation would be appropriate some day in the future in the unlikely event that Archie publishes a special one-shot issue around the Proposition 8 fall-out, where Kevin and Veronica take to the streets to protest while Miss Grundy clutches her bible tightly while she screams about “Adam and Steve.” But until then, I think our time is better served by staying on topic.

So, to steer this back around towards Archie Comics, Kevin Keller and his mini-series, I ask once again: Have you actually read any of Kevin’s appearances? You’ve called them “bad writing” and “some stunt” and said that it wasn’t handled in an “organic” or “realistic” way. Is all of thit just you pre-judging something you’ve never read, or are you speaking from first-hand knowledge?

As a supporter of the free market, I think that it is great that Archie Comics has found a way to be successful with their new character. Just about everything they’ve done in the last few years has been a great way to reinvigorate the brand (except the Betty title — sorry, Betty fans, but her solo book doesn’t appeal to me that much). I am excited to see what they do next!

I have no problem with gay characters. However I do have a problem with a gay guy in Archie because the setting uses only one-dimensional characters- each has a single role to play. Archie is Mischievous, and nothing else; Veronica is just a Rich Brat, Reggie is an Ass, etc. This means that Kevin will just be “The Gay Guy” and nothing more. Or at least that’s how people will remember him as being. Sexual preferences should not be a distinguishing characteristic. Unless I learn of a better reason than that to read about him, I won’t.

Sijo- Doesn’t the fact that he is patriotic and looks up to his father as his hero already make Kevin more than just “The Gay Guy”? Of course, further character depth is always welcome but this is a good start by Archie.


May 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Sijo — I think that is a really good point, but you hit the nail on the head when you said “Or at least that’s how people will remember him being.” It doesn’t matter how well or poorly Archie writers portray Kevin in that regard; the non-Archie reading public sees these characters as one-dimensional, and so Kevin will undoubtedly be painted with the “Just a gay character” brush by the non-fans.

This is similar to how many non-super-hero readers see Superman (“Boy Scout”), Batman (“broody”), Spider-man (“snarky”) and Wolverine (“violent”). It’s not that these characters don’t have these facets to their personalities, but regular readers know that there’s quite a bit more too them. Archie gets an even worse rap, though, because folks who read comics other than Archie have a tendency to play the same “Archie is just a clutz,”/”Veronica is just a brat”/etc. game as the general non-comic-reading public.

It’s true that you probably won’t see the same level of multi-faceted characterization in an Archie character as you would in, say, Barbara Gordon or Magneto. There’s just not as much as you can do in an all-ages humor book that typically has self-contained stories (many of the individual issues even have multiple stories, which makes it even more of a challenge). But that doesn’t mean that the Archie gang is just a bunch of one-dimensional clowns, even if that is the overall public perception. Kevin seems to be no different in that regard from what I’ve seen so far.

At the end of the day, though, as long as the books are selling well, I don’t think the Archie team should worry too much about what the folks who were never going to read their books anyway might say — whether it is about having a gay character or about having an (incorrectly assumed) one-dimenstional character.

By the way, if you are really interested in seeing some good, multi-faceted characterization in an Archie book, check out the Life With Archie magazine. It’s one of my top reads every month. Very fun and great characterization, especially with Reggie.


Matt Grayson

May 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm

To Dan Parent,
Thank you for introducing a character who is gay but not limiting him to be solely defined by that. Thank you for not making “a big deal” about it — as a gay man it is, but I’m happy it wasn’t exploitive. I’m happy he’s just “one of the guys”, not any stereotype, but simply one of the gang who happens to be attracted and fall in love with another guy. I’m happy that your portrayal may help with acceptance of teens who are gay also by showing that just because there’s another guy in the room, he’s not going to start hitting on him. Again, although being gay is indeed a part of him, he’s shown as one who isn’t solely defined by it, nor treated as “a gay” but “a guy”. Although I wish one day comics could include gay characters without a fuss, you definitely show you’re striving towards that goal. I truly hope we can have Kevin break away from just a star in Veronica though, and show him on covers with Archie also, a boyfriend in the future (I know it may take a while — “we’re” still second class citizens to so many, so just one gay character in Archie blows my mind!). In any case, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving us Kevin and not allowing naysayers to get rid of him. There is so much hate out there and sometimes I lose hope, but Archie Comics (which I’ve collected on and off for 31 of my 34 years) has helped keep that hope alive, and has me truly happy and excited to buy Archie Comics again!

“But that’s all right, because it’s very obvious that God’s judgement has fallen on this business due to trash like this and that the comics industry as we’ve known it for the past thirty years will soon be completely gone.”

Poe, troll, or idiot?

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