There's a New Hunk in Riverdale



Just when you thought gay life couldn't penetrate any deeper into the mainstream, Archie Comics announced there's a gay high schooler coming to the über-American town of Riverdale. That’s right, all you comic-loving kids. Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie will be joined this fall (in Veronica issue 202) by Kevin Keller, a handsome, sandy-haired, good-natured fella, and the object of Veronica’s affection (good luck, girl). Kevin is expected to pal around with the guys and be both proudly gay and as wholesome as the rest of Archie’s crew.

Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater gave The Advocate an up-close look at the comic's first openly gay character and how Kevin Keller came to be.

The Advocate: When did the idea for the character of Kevin first come to the folks at Archie?
Jon Goldwater: I think early fall of last year. We were having a sort of informal, fun conversation with the staff. Dan Parent, one of our artists and writers, said, "You know how Veronica always gets what she wants? Wouldn’t it be great if one time she couldn’t?" I said, "That sounds cool, but how could we do that?" Dan said, "A new guy comes to school and Veronica is crazy about him. But she can’t have him." Again, I said, "Great, man, but why not?" Dan paused and thought for a second, then said, "Uh, because he’s gay!" I thought it was a brilliant idea. Dan went right to work on the story and drawing Kevin.

When word leaked out, what sorts of responses did you get?
For the most part, they were overwhelmingly positive. I think our audience knows that the world of Archie stays current, even if the kids have traditional values. Our readers know there are plenty of gay teenagers. Why shouldn’t we have one in Riverdale?

But there must have been some negative reactions, I’m imagining.
There were. But all these people seemed to worry about was, by introducing a gay character, would we be sexualizing Archie? Or trying to turn Archie’s whole world gay? That’s ridiculous. Kevin is gay, but just as nice, normal, and wholesome as the rest of the kids. As a comic? Archie is still Archie, man!

So you’re not concerned about any backlash when the comic hits the stands?
Not really. Hopefully, the little bit of negative reaction has already come and gone.That may be positive thinking, but the reaction has been so great, I feel optimistic.

Tags: Books