The Kevin Keller Report

So recently history was made when Riverdale got its first openly gay resident. Last month Kevin Keller appeared in Veronica #202. I grabbed the issue and I must say, it was actually well done….for an Archie story. Keller is an awesome and likable character. He’s an aspiring journalist, a comic book junkie and he did the impossible in beating Jughead in an eating contest. He debunks negative gay stereotypes, comes from a well-adjusted loving two parent home.

I definitely look forward to seeing more of Keller,because I KNOW I will be seeing lots more of him in the very near future.

*Gives the Archie folks the evil eye*

The issue was funny and respectful. And what’s more, the issue has already sold out and is in its second printing with numbers that would make both Marvel and DC salivate.

Needless to say having a gay character introduced to the Archie-verse is progressive in and of itself, as Riverdale hasn’t always been the most progressive and neither were the people behind the Archie franchise. To put it mildly.

However with new people at the helm, they’re see being more progressive and inclusive as a wonderful opportunity (and not a sin) to garner new readers and to bring Riverdale into the 21st century.

“In the last year or two, we’ve been introducing a lot of new characters: Diverse characters, characters with different ethnicities. With trying to be diverse, we wanted to have everybody at the table,” said cartoonist Dan Parent, who’s writing and drawing the issue. “We knew at some point we wanted to introduce a gay character, and when I came up with the story idea, we felt it worked in context with this story.”

Such good faith attempts at progression were evidenced with the recent Archie/Josie & the Pussycats crossover where OMG Archie is kissing a black girl.

Between Torchwood, Midnighter’s run, Batwoman, and this, I think it’s safe to say that LGBTQs can bring in the green.

But wait, I’m confused, I thought minorities didn’t generate sales.

But Keller is a win for another important fundamental reason: he proves that being gay and being family friendly IS NOT mutually exclusive as Chuck Dixon and the like would have you believe. Being queer is not some hedonistic perverted lifestyle and that we’re ordinary human beings and God’s creatures just like our heterosexual counterparts.

And my boy Box makes another profound point:

I remember when it used to be considered an insult to compare Spider-Man to Archie… And it arguably still is, except in exactly the opposite direction as before.

How in the hell did Archie Andrews suddenly become the hippest kid in the room?

What I find hilarious is that, for as much of a rep as Archie gets for being conservative (and not unfairly, given a number of its editorial stances in years past), 1) Archie Andrews has not only dated a black girl before Peter Parker, in spite of Glory Grant being a member of Peter’s supporting cast since the 1970s, back when he was still single (the first time), whereas Archie crossed over with Josie and the Pussycats just so he could date Val, but b) Archie has just recently gained a gay supporting cast member, which I don’t think Peter has EVER had, and guess what? In both cases, Archie’s interracial relationship and Kevin Keller’s debut were treated with RESPECT, to the point that NONE of the characters in the comics themselves thought it mattered that Archie’s new girlfriend was black, and Riverdale greeted Kevin with an,

“Oh, you’re gay? Well, good to know. Welcome to the neighborhood!”

Meanwhile? Peter’s ONLY interracial relationship to date has been a mutually degrading one-night stand with a “hot-tempered Latina” ethnic stereotype whose behavior is openly psychotic, and the last person in the Spider-Man titles to even acknowledge that gay people EXIST (and in New York City, no less) was Paul Jenkins, who had Peter meet with a married gay man who mistook him for being like himself (cute, but it literally lasted, like, one page total). With these two respective track records, I ask you: Which one is the TRULY “mature” comic? The comic that (admittedly, after far too many years of offering a rather whitewashed vision of “average America”) is treating interracial couples, and gay people just living their lives, as equals with everyone else, and not that big a deal for anyone to get worked up over? Or the comic that’s trading in racist portrayals in addition to their rather misogynistic views of sexual relationships in general, in which gay people are invisible because, for all their bluster about being progressively rebellious, they’re catering almost exclusively to the worst sort of subset of heteronormative overgrown fratboys?