Kevin Keller cartoonist Dan Parent accepted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 24th annual Media Award for outstanding comic book, presented Saturday in San Francisco. The awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
This was the second nomination and first win for the Archie Comics series, which beat out Astonishing X-Men, Batwoman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Earth 2. Introduced in 2010 in Veronica #202, Kevin was the publisher’s first gay character. After a four-issue miniseries, the character received debuted in his own ongoing series in February 2012.
Events | Richard Pachter surveys the graphic novel scene at Miami Book Fair International, which this year will include appearances by Chris Ware, Derf Backderf, Marjorie Liu, Dan Parent and Chip Kidd, among others. [The Miami Herald]
Events | A group of Canadian creators and publishers are in Tokyo right now for the International Comics Festa, where they are selling an anthology that includes work by Darwyn Cooke, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Seth. Manga blogger Deb Aoki is there too, and she has all the details. [About.com]
BuzzFeed has debuted Dan Parent’s cover for Archie #641, the first issue of a storyline in which the Riverdale gang meets the cast of Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama Glee. The image is kind of odd, in that it looks as if someone may have gone in after the artist to touch up the faces of Glee characters Rachel, Finn and Quinn. See the full cover below.
Announced in July, the crossover is penned by comics writer and Glee co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Parent, and arrives on the heels of publisher’s much-publicized “Archie meets KISS” storyline.
“If you go back to the beginnings of modern music, if you will, with Elvis and moving forward with the Beatles and [Bob] Dylan – they established culturally the tone of what’s going on in the country,” Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater told Comic Book Resources. “That’s what I’ve been trying to establish in Riverdale. The characters stay the same, but Riverdale changes. And as musicians change in the culture, they can seamlessly integrate into comic books.”
Archie #641 arrives Feb. 27.
In this week’s What Are You Reading?, I mentioned that Jughead Double Digest #182 includes a strange, surrealistic story from 1990, “Jughead’s Diner.” The Archie folks were kind enough to share a couple of pages with Robot 6 so you can see what I was talking about. The intro to the story is done in blue and gray tones, and when Jughead is transported, on the page above, the palette shifts into full color and the panels start getting crowded. It’s written by Dan Parent (who later would create Archie’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller) and illustrated by Bill Golliher.
Like Archie’s Mad House, this wanders off the Riverdale reservation but never gets too edgy. On the other hand, it’s fun to see Parent and Golliher playing with the basic ingredients and coming up with new characters, even if most of them only have a few lines.
Star Trek alum, and gay-rights activist, George Takei is set to guest star early next year in Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller #6.
According to BuzzFeed, cartoonist Dan Parent met the actor at a comic convention, where he pitched him the idea of the cameo so Kevin, Riverdale’s first gay resident, could meet his hero. Takei was thrilled.
Although Archie Comics has traditionally opted for cameos by parodies of celebrities over actual celebrities, the publisher brought President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Riverdale in 2010. (Another notable, and downright odd, exception was minor ’80s child actor Glenn Scarpelli — son of Archie cartoonist Henry Scarpelli — who appeared in a handful of shorts, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Brooke Shields, Boy George, Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen. Seriously.)
Takei, who’s best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek series and in six movies, revealed he’s gay in a 2005 magazine interview. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman in 2008, and has been vocal on issues of marriage equality, homophobia and bullying.
Since moving to Riverdale nearly two years ago, Kevin Keller has established himself as the town’s first gay resident, gotten married (in the alternate-future Life With Archie, at least) and even beaten back the forces of One Million Moms. But in Kevin Keller #5, which goes on sale Wednesday, he faces a homophobic reaction from one of Cheryl Blossom’s Pembrooke Academy classmates.
Comic Book Resources has an exclusive preview for the issue, by Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski, which finds Kevin enjoying his first summer as a lifeguard on Riverdale Beach — until he meets up with Cheryl and her snobby, trouble-making friends. One in particular, the goateed Sloan, takes issue with Kevin’s sexual orientation, referring to him as “twinkle-toes” — it is Riverdale, after all — and facetiously offering to kiss his hand.
However, apparently not all of the Pembrooke gang has a problem with Kevin: The solicitation text teases that, “to make matters more complicated, a guy across enemy lines has eyes for Kevin … a surefire way to add drama to the whole mix!” Maybe it’s Sloan; he does seem to be overcompensating for something.
Check out the entire exchange below, and read the full preview at CBR.
Legal | A Tunisian court last week convicted Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which features a scene that briefly shows an image of God. The Oct. 7 airing resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Karoui was fined $1,600 by the five-judge panel; two members of his staff were fined $800 each. Prosecutors and attorneys representing Islamist groups pushed for Karoui to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Others argued for the death penalty. [The Washington Post]
Business | Target will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle devices in its stores over a dispute regarding “showrooming,” where consumers check out a product at Target stores and then go home to buy it on Amazon for a cheaper price. Around Christmas, Amazon’s Price Check app gave shoppers a 5 percent discount on any item scanned at a retail store. “What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices,” Target executives wrote in a letter to vendors. Target will continue to carry Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Aluratek Libre. [The New York Times]
Archie Meets Kiss (Archie Comics) Archie has proven especially adept at coming up with attention-grabbing — as in mainstream media attention-grabbing — storylines of late, and of all the “stunt” stories they’ve pulled off in the last few years, this one is by far the weirdest.
The closest thing I can think to which to compare it would be 1994’s Archie Meets The Punisher, although if that project worked by gleefully combining two funnybook polar opposites and letting that unlikely tension sell the book, having the eternal teenagers of Riverdale meet a rock band from the 1970s in the year 2012 is … well, it’s not so much the team-up you thought you’d never see, as it is the team-up no one could have imagined (except, I guess, for Gene Simmons, who apparently called up Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and asked him to do the story).
Archie PR guy-turned-Archie writer Alex Segura and regular Archie artist Dan Parent (inked by Rich Koslowski) tell the tale: One night at a treehouse meeting of the Riverdale Monster Society, Sabrina (the Teenage Witch) is attempting to cast a protection spell over the city, but Veronica and Reggie accidentally mess it up, casting a projection spell that summons a quartet of monsters to town and, hot on their heels, Kiss.
The monsters—specific, teenage stereotype versions of the Universal monsters — set about sucking all of the fun out of Riverdale, threatening to make it an eternal land of lameness and tedium (Don’t worry, Segura makes the joke you yourself were just thinking of), and turning its residents into mindless zombies.
Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, gets his own series starting today, and when you think about it, that in itself is pretty historic—when was the last time an Archie character got a new series? It seems like all the individual comics (Jughead, Betty and Veronica, etc.) have been around since I was a kid.
Anyway, Out Magazine has a preview of the first six pages of the comic. It starts with typical Archie exposition, but there is a plot: Kevin gets asked out on his first date. Up till now, Kevin’s gayness has been purely theoretical, so it will be interesting to see him join in the romantic hurly-burly of Riverdale. Hopefully there are at least two other gay guys in town, so he can accidentally invite both to the prom or send flowers to the wrong one.
Out also has a brief interview with Kevin creator Dan Parent, who says that he based Kevin’s look on Justin Timberlake, although he ended up looking more like Glee’s Mr. Schuster. And Kevin’s husband Clay (who is seen only in the Life With Archie magazines, not the regular continuity) was inspired by the Old Spice guy. Life is good in Riverdale!
Creators | Dan Parent discusses an upcoming Archie storyline that will bring Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats to Riverdale, causing sparks to once again fly: “The fans can expect the next step in what I think is the most romantic story in Archie history. The chemistry between Archie and Valerie was hot the first time they got together, and now you’ve really got to see it simmer, all the way from the rekindling of their romance to getting much more serious than we’ve seen before.” [USA Today]
Editorial cartoons | Cartoonist Jeff Stahler has resigned from The Columbus Dispatch following accusations that he lifted ideas from other cartoons, including one that ran in The New Yorker. [Poynter]
As we mentioned earlier, Archie Comics has some big news this week: Kevin Keller, their first openly gay character, is getting his own series. We fired off a couple of quick questions to Kevin creator Dan Parent and here’s what he had to say:
Robot 6: What makes you think Kevin has a strong enough personality to sustain his own series?
Dan Parent: I think he’s proven that with his popularity beyond his initial appearance. He feels like he’s been a part of the gang for years already.
Robot 6: Will he have his own set of friends, or will he hang out with Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the rest of the Riverdale crowd?
Dan Parent: Both actually. We’ve met some of his friends from his past who will continue to be around, and we’ve seen his relationship with the main five characters. What will be interesting are his relationships with other members of the Riverdale gang. And there will be a few new characters too.
It may have seemed daring for Archie Comics to introduce their first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, in Veronica #202 last year, but it’s a move that has paid off handsomely. Not only did the move draw a lot of attention to the publisher, but Kevin himself has proved to be a popular character, and his creator, Dan Parent, has been fleshing out his personality and backstory in a four-part miniseries that debuted last month. Today, the New York Times revealed that Kevin will get his own series next year, and readers will get some glimpses of the grown-up Kevin in the Life With Archie magazine, which features dual storylines in which Archie marries Veronica and Betty, respectively. And yes, Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater says, they are going there: Kevin will get married in early 2012.
Parent has already taken on another controversial topic in the current miniseries, which reveals that Kevin’s father is in the military and Kevin himself would like to serve someday. The comic also tackles homophobia head-on but in a very Archie kind of way, by having the kids who are taunting Kevin turn out to be friends from his old school who were just trying to get a rise out of his Riverdale buddies. These new friends are a refreshing addition to the cast, and hopefully they will stick around for a while. Parent says that Kevin will be class president in the new series, but he adds, ” “Even the most popular kids are not popular with everybody. There’s some adversity he’ll have to deal with.”
As for controversy, Goldwater says it’s a non-issue: “Out of all the people who subscribe to the Archie books, we only had seven total cancellations,” he told the Times.
Publishing | We noted in late April that Archie Comics appeared to be embracing cultural and political commentary with its upcoming Kevin Keller miniseries, which features Riverdale’s first openly gay character and his father, a retired three-star general. But now the publisher, or at least the character, is going a step further, marching into the middle of the debate over gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces by revealing that Kevin aspires to be a journalist, but only after attending the U.S. Military Academy and becoming an Army officer. “Even though we don’t tackle the specific issue of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell, the goal was to show that patriotism knows no specific gender, race or sexual orientation,” cartoonist Dan Parent says. “While it sounds like heavy subject matter, I tried to show it simply that Kevin, like his dad, loves his country. Being gay doesn’t effect that in any way.” [The Associated Press]
Publishing | DC Comics’ line-wide reboot has received extensive coverage by mainstream media outlets, based largely on the original USA Today article or The Associated Press report. But my favorite piece is this one by George Gene Gustines that turns back the clock to 1985 and attempts to explain to The New York Times audience the effects, and problems, of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the publisher’s subsequent attempts to streamline continuity: “… If the goal was to make the DC universe easier to understand, the end result was the opposite: to this day, fans frequently mention ‘pre-Crisis‘ and ‘post-Crisis‘ as a way to distinguish stories. Twenty years later, in the Infinite Crisis limited series, DC tried to clean continuity up again: Superman’s career as Superboy was back; Batman knew who murdered the Waynes; and Wonder Woman was a founder of the Justice League again.” [The New York Times]
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.
Response to the new Archie character, Kevin Keller, has been so strong that starting this June he will be starring in his own four-issue miniseries by writer/artist Dan Parent. If you had said to me two years ago that Archie Comics would one day build a miniseries around the first openly gay character in the company’s history, I would not have believed you. But clearly (as noted in this 2010 CBR News Parent interview) the fine folks at Archie Comics want “to make Riverdale more diverse while avoiding the pitfalls of stereotypes and parody”. So to find out more about Parent’s plans for this new miniseries, we conducted a quite enjoyable email interview. As an added bonus, Archie’s Alex Segura was generous enough to share an exclusive preview of issue 2′s variant cover. If you happen to be at the Pittsburgh Comicon this weekend, be sure to visit Parent in Artists Alley, where he’ll be doing sketches and signing books.
Tim O’Shea: Is it challenging to build comedy around an openly gay character, or is it a non-issue as if I was asking you “is it hard to build comedy around a left-handed character”?
Dan Parent: It’s not really that challenging, since we have the core Archie characters to play off of. Their familiarity helps us build a story around Kevin.