Meet Kevin Keller
April 24, 2010 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Archie Comics Introduces Openly Gay Character (not from The Onion)
posted by wittgenstein (69 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why it Matters.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:28 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


YES!!! WTG

but seriously... but I wonder what Papa will think about this since he's the Archie addict in the house and introduced us to comics by religiously buying the Dandy and Beano every week plus Double Digests for weekends.
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on April 24, 2010


This accompanying excerpt is awesome, in that Jughead doesn't bat an eye when Kevin comes out to him, but also in that Kevin cuts right to the chase about how odd Archie, Veronica, and Betty's relationship is.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:36 PM on April 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


From the first article: "Kevin arrives in VERONICA #202's "Isn't it Bromantic?" this September"

I don't want to get label neurotic, but aren't bromances between two straight dudes? Also, it seems a bit unfair to introduce just one gay character, especially in the Archie universe.
posted by boo_radley at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I noticed the cover of Archie this month was something like "what is this, your hundredth free birthday ice cream?" - this was the first time I have ever laughed at an Archie comic.
posted by mek at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2010


It does matter -- but I just wish he didn't look like a cross between a Malibu Ken doll and Tab Hunter.
posted by blucevalo at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Good on them! And of course it matters. It matters a lot, believe me.

When I was about thirteen or so, I decided that Jughead was gay. Maybe that was some sort of self esteem issue. Of course while I identified with him, and thought he was gay, I wasn't gay ... oh, no, no, no.). So it's good to know that all gays are great looking! That's a lot better self image.
posted by Some1 at 12:42 PM on April 24, 2010


Actually, more than Malibu Ken, he looks pretty much exactly like Skipper's boyfriend Kevin from the 90s.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:44 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"openly"
posted by benzenedream at 12:44 PM on April 24, 2010 [15 favorites]


Kevin Keller is the new hunk in town and Veronica just has to have him. After Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger eating contest at Pop's Chocklit Shoppe, she desperately latches onto him. Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent.

I have the sneaking suspicion Veronica will bust the windows out Kevin's car.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:47 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's terrific. One of the things that makes it so difficult for some creators to see how they can integrate gay characters into YA material is, I think, that sex in general is a very difficult subject to navigate in YA literature. But the Archie comics have been doing just that forever...in a totally chaste way, the stories tend to concern love and infatuation, so that they're about sex without being about sex. Older readers probably give, um, a good deal of thought to the complicated dynamics of whatever exactly is going on between Archie, Betty and Veronica (I....may have), but kids just get that there's a boy and he's friends with these girls and he can't really date one without alienating the other and that's it, really. In the same way, kids will probably get that Kevin likes boys, and just kinda fold that idea into their reality and go on with their day. I kinda hope there's no Very Special Issue about homophobia -- I think it's a much more positive step to present being gay as something completely unremarkable.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:55 PM on April 24, 2010 [23 favorites]


Finally, someone for that ol' girl hater Jughead to love.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:56 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am now no longer having sex with men, having sex with men (not that Kevin will actually ever have anything resembling having sex with men) is no longer political, or interesting, or even a worthwhile activity. i am now buying a house in the suburbs
posted by PinkMoose at 12:58 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like good news to me.

Now if they'll just rejig their female characters so that they have some interests in life besides chasing and competing boys (especially when the boy they seem to desire most is nothing special), the comic might seem a little less hopelessly dated.
posted by orange swan at 12:58 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dan Parent, who has been writing and drawing the Archie comic series for two decades, tells Newsarama that they've been introducing a lot of diversity into the comic recently, and finally came up with a storyline for a gay character:
"In his introductory story, titled 'Isn't it Bromantic?,' Kevin's good looks get the attention of Veronica, who doesn't know he's gay because he's the new kid in town. Her thwarted attempts at winning his attraction amuse the other characters – particularly Jughead. 'They just like watching Veronica making a fool of herself, trying to get this guy to like her,' Parent said. 'At the beginning of the book, Kevin tells Jughead first that he's gay. And Kevin feels kind of bad and wants to tell Veronica why he's not interested. But Jughead keeps saying, 'No, you should wait to tell her,' because he's enjoying watching Veronica's antics.' Parent said the story works because it's wasn't something radical concocted just to introduce a gay character. 'The story is very much in the true context of our Archie stories,' he said. 'It's Veronica being Veronica. The fact that there's a gay character in the story isn't a big deal to the characters. We didn't do something with turmoil. The guy just happens to be gay, and the characters accept it, and that's it.' The longtime Archie cartoonist said Archie Comics wants to reflect what high schools are like in America, where being gay 'isn't a big deal anymore.'"
Archie Comic's New Gay Teen Character! - Interview with Dan Parent.
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am now no longer having sex with men, having sex with men (not that Kevin will actually ever have anything resembling having sex with men) is no longer political, or interesting, or even a worthwhile activity. i am now buying a house in the suburbs

jeez what's wrong with me? that's all I can think about and renting an apartment in the city
posted by infini at 1:04 PM on April 24, 2010


1. Kevin Keller's a cutie. ;)

2. Jeez, I can't begin to imagine how my life would have unfolded differently if I'd had normal gay characters in comic books, tv shows and movies like this when I was a kid. I'm really hopeful for the next generation of gay boys growing up. It's a brave new world.
posted by darkstar at 1:05 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The inclusion of the character meets twin goals, one real world and one in-story. 'Riverdale has to reflect the diversity of the world today,' said Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comic Publications. 'We want to be all inclusive.' Mr. Goldwater also said he’s not afraid of any repercussions. 'We think everyone is going to enjoy the story,' he said. 'It’s completely in the tradition of your typical Archie comic.'"*
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


boo_radley: From the first article: "Kevin arrives in VERONICA.....

But I thought he was supposed to be Gay!
posted by mach at 1:13 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a sad state of affairs when we *frequently* have to tag posts as "Not The Onion"
posted by schmod at 1:45 PM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, maybe they can introduce another gay character, then Kevin, Jughead, and the New Guy can have a strange Betty, Veronica, and Archie-style relationship, too. Leaving Reggie all alone again, because that guy is a serious tool...
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:45 PM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Meh, talk to me when Wolverine comes out of the closet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:45 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is great. Most of Archie's readers are kids, and this is exactly where this kind of thing needs to happen, and where it can make a difference. Good for them.
posted by interrobang at 2:01 PM on April 24, 2010


FWIW, I have an Archie comic, where Jughead does actually express his feelings for Ethel, and says that he hadn't done anything about it because he was too shy.
He asks her to go steady with him - she says yes.
Then she says "Shall we seal things with a kiss?", and Jughead faints, so that's the end of that.

As an adult, and potential parent, I don't know what to think about Archie. I like that the stories are good-natured and fun, and I spent a lot of my youth enjoying the content.

But I agree that the female characters need more depth to them and Betty really needs to stop running after Archie. I wonder what type of influence that will have on young girls and women reading these things.

I say this b/c Archie comics taught me that dating was as easy as pie and having friends was as easy as pie, and parents would be warm and understanding, and when my actual reality didn't reflect Archieès world, I became horribly disappointed (and subsequently disenchanted).

Meh, I shouldn't blame only Archie comics, I guess. It's the entire media circus that markets this lifestyle. And I am probably a bit too sensitive and easily-influenced too...
posted by bitteroldman at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2010


I stopped reading Archie when it started getting all Christian-y back in 20th century. This was completely unexpected. I may actually buy a copy for old times sake.
posted by ambulocetus at 2:03 PM on April 24, 2010


oh yeah, sorry about the derail.
But gay character in Archie comics - it's about time! And good on them for the way they're introducing him.
posted by bitteroldman at 2:03 PM on April 24, 2010


I stopped reading Archie when it started getting all Christian-y back in 20th century.
I don't think any of the Spire Christian Comics stuff at leaked over into the regular comic.

(I stopped reading Archie when the comics digests shrunk down to 128 pages...)
posted by Lazlo at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always had/will have a crush on Jughead

hmm...

btw, bitteroldman, as the daughter of an Archie addict, I can attest to the fact that the only thing I learnt from them was the image of "what a typical american must be like" and inspiring hours of drawing betty/veronica with new outfits ;p
posted by infini at 2:28 PM on April 24, 2010


I always thought that Moose was overcompensating.
posted by ColdChef at 3:07 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Archie comics are like liver & onions. I understand that people genuinely like it for all sorts of valid reasons, but not for me, thanks. But I'm glad to see a gay character introduced in such a humdrum way. Unlike Wiccan and Hulkling in Marvel comics, who seem to spend half their panel time reminding readers that they're Gay And Just Like Everyone Else And That's Perfectly OK. A fine sentiment, but Marvel's approach has the distinct whiff of "trying too hard", IMO. Contrast with Batwoman, whose relationship with her partner is an unremarkable facet of Kate Kane's larger story.

Yay, comics.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:11 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid I was obsessed with Archie comics, I had hundreds of them. I'm so happy that they're introducing a gay character- that's going to be so validating for all the kids who were like me with no understanding of why they felt different and that it was OK.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:11 PM on April 24, 2010


...who seem to spend half their panel time reminding readers that they're Gay And Just Like Everyone Else And That's Perfectly OK.

Back in the day when Northstar came out in Alpha Flight 103, it was a big deal. Which was funny, since the story was pretty ridiculous -- Northsatr throwing freezer cases at a super-enhanced Mountie while shouting AIDS statistics (as I recall). Meanwhile, over in the Flash, William Mesner-Loebs had been quietly writing a gay character for more than a year whose sexual orientation was an issue only when it made sense for the story. It's great that Marvel does this, but why is it that DC does it right more often?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:31 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


who seem to spend half their panel time reminding readers that they're Gay And Just Like Everyone Else And That's Perfectly OK.

you know who else overdoes this bit? Mercedes Lackey
posted by infini at 3:33 PM on April 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


While I'm as happy as anyone to see a gay character, I really wish that he wasn't stereotypically glamorous, and that his being gay wasn't the point of introducing him. I wish he were, you know, incidentally gay, in the way that'd get noted, but not be pushed on us.
posted by LSK at 3:34 PM on April 24, 2010


i have to say this about stereotypes, they're not always a bad thing. one of my best friends is a gay french hair stylist with that health problem, he even acknowledges he's a stereotype - sometimes you need the "typical" if you want to make a point or get a message across, especially in a venue like Archie comics
posted by infini at 3:38 PM on April 24, 2010


I wish he were, you know, incidentally gay...

What way could they possibly do this without outing an existing character?
posted by hermitosis at 3:44 PM on April 24, 2010


"I always thought that Moose was overcompensating."

I went to high school with a guy who was a dead ringer for Moose, was a football lineman and always the guy making homophobic locker room jokes ("You lookin' at my dick, fag?"). Then he got a job as an activities director on a cruise ship and became so flaming I assume they keep him in a fire blanket.
posted by klangklangston at 3:46 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also saw this on the Archie site, which is also all kinds of awesome.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:48 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but anyone else expect this character to be actually named "Openly Gay Character"? I certainly did...
posted by tmcw at 3:53 PM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kevin's got a nice basket.
posted by Nelson at 4:11 PM on April 24, 2010


I think they're setting us up for bringing Reggie out of the closet.
posted by bwg at 4:25 PM on April 24, 2010


Actually, more than Malibu Ken, he looks pretty much exactly like Skipper's boyfriend Kevin from the 90s.

I don't mind that, but only because Ken is so hilariously metrosexual in Toy Story 3 that I now have a permanent crush on him.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2010


Why do the female characters need more depth? Are the male characters deep? I'd be surprised. (not archieist)
posted by five fresh fish at 4:39 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is just a Good Thing, not much more to say!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:18 PM on April 24, 2010


This has already been met with howls of outrage and threats of boycott from people who haven't bought an Archie comic in decades, if ever.
posted by Legomancer at 5:18 PM on April 24, 2010


What way could they possibly do this without outing an existing character?

They could have run with a B-list, like Dilton Doiley, or a C-list, like Midge Klump.
posted by Alt F4 at 5:27 PM on April 24, 2010


Legomancer, I'd really like to see a link to that. I've no doubt it's true, I just want to see it for the amusement value.


Our agenda is working!! Soon we'll have age of consent laws repealed and THEN we can make all heteros marry horses!! HaHaHaaaa. *Twirls very thin John Waters type mustache. (Which is hard to do!*
posted by Some1 at 5:31 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yay! Sort of!

Things that irritate me about this:
1. He looks like Vanity fucking Smurf. Boooooo.
2. He's new. This makes him completely disposable. Booooo.

Basically, I'd prefer if they just had Moose and Jughead make out.

I guess they could still do that, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:08 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, more than Malibu Ken, he looks pretty much exactly like Skipper's boyfriend Kevin from the 90s.

Ick! She should've stuck with Ricky.
posted by jgirl at 6:15 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does Raj Patel still live in Riverdale?
posted by dr_dank at 6:23 PM on April 24, 2010


so who the fuck does HE date?
posted by shmegegge at 6:53 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay, this is really damn cool! However, I do have a bit of quibble:

The longtime Archie cartoonist said Archie Comics wants to reflect what high schools are like in America, where being gay 'isn't a big deal anymore.'

And so that's why you're doing it? Not because it's the right thing, but rather merely to keep up with "the way high schools are now"?

In other words, if he and his publisher had had bigger balls, they could have done this much earlier and could have actually helped create the (overall) more tolerant conditions that exist now.
posted by treepour at 7:26 PM on April 24, 2010


bitteroldman > Betty really needs to stop running after Archie.

MeFi's own Mightgodking has been presenting the case for some time now that Betty is, in fact, grade-A certifiably nuts.
posted by Decimask at 8:01 PM on April 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


So does he end up always running around and never getting sexual satisfaction like all of the rest of the characters in Archie comics?

He'll be just fine there.

Puh-lease!
posted by Splunge at 8:36 PM on April 24, 2010


Mmmm... had to go look at Archie kissing Valerie once again. (Thanks for the reminder billyfleetwood.) Damn fine cover. DeCarlo would be proud. Also, previously and larger.
posted by scrowdid at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2010


after Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger eating contest at Pop's Chocklit Shoppe

I call Bullshit. The only person who could possibly defeat Jughead in a burger eating contest is this guy.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:51 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back in the day when NorthStar came out in Alpha Flight

NorthStar came out ages before people were talking about NorthStar coming out. When Sasquatch ended up in Songbird's body, Northstar said something to him like "I liked your old body better" in a way that left no doubt what he meant. Googling the Sasquatch/Songbird thing, that must have been something like Alpha Flight #46 in 1987. I appear to be the only person to remember this. But "7 Major Gay Moments from Marvel History" digs up hints from back in Alpha Flight 7&8.

I can't be the only one to notice that Kevin is a blond Will Schuester, right?
posted by Zed at 11:42 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope this does turn out to be more than just the token gay icon for the comic. It's all well and good to say it's a reflection of society today, but there's more than one gay person in the world. Sort of like how J.K. Rowling said Dumbledore was gay, but goodness no, none of the other characters are gay! *cough*
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:20 AM on April 25, 2010


Now if they'll just rejig their female characters so that they have some interests in life besides chasing and competing boys

Oh, but they do. Betty is always famously up to some do-gooder activity or other; she's always organizing a fundraiser for charity, running a 10K, starting a business, getting her CPR and First Aid, stuff like that. Betty's actually a pretty driven individual, especially for a high-school kid. And just because Veronica's interests aren't particularly laudable doesn't make them legitimate - she's interested in fashion, jewelry, shopping, travel, relaxing poolside, etc. There are possible readings of Archie where these two young women are actually in control of the entire milieu, and the competition between them is about negotiating their own areas of leadership and dominance.

So they both have a lot of interests besides chasing and competing for boys. I agree with FFF that these characters don't need to be more complex - how many interests do the boys have, other than chasing and competing for girls? The entire world of Archie is intentionally reductive.

As a longtime reader and still a fan, I would say that Archie comics are indeed about love and infatuation - but more importantly, they're about friendship. That's why they've had enduring power with very young kids, but older ones and adults too. They're almost like a proto-Friends or Seinfeld - a group of kids in one town remain a cohesive social unit as they learn to negotiate the vicissitudes of love, attraction, betrayal, jealousy, disappointment, self-development, honesty, deceit, hope, self-respect, hard work, inequality, and fortune. This is no easy trick in life for any of us. Archie creates a really entertaining shadow theatre in which all of these issues can be foregrounded in a setting so comfortable, generic, familiar and unchanging as to give a sense of security in a world of wild and potentially destructive emotion.

That's why Archie is awesome. And definitely - it's high time there was a gay character. It just makes sense. It was one truly missing piece of relationship complexity, in high school and beyond.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on April 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Correction: "...just because Veronica's interests aren't particularly laudable doesn't make them LESS legitimate..."
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on April 25, 2010


I haven't read Archie in a long time, but I love this, and reflecting on Archie and its place in the real world, I'm really glad we still have it. Archie is a world where there aren't any hardcore douchebags, and if any characters act like douchebags (Reggie is of course the proto douche here) they get their comeuppance. It's a fucking fairytale, but it's an important one. It demonstrates a model society where folks can be different but still get along, and where friendship and good humour ultimately trumps selfishness and boorishness.

So, Kevin Keller -- fuck yeah!
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:20 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are there any gay characters in mainstream media that are not super hot, queeny or some other stereotype? I think it'd be more of a coup if a recurring, average 'background' character would come out and be dating / chasing / whatever they do in Archie comics after Kevin.

I know what Moko said, Archie is intentionally reductive, but the constant media barrage of gay men must be pretty, witty and flitty completely screwed up my teenage years. I see it as reductive as having a black character being a gangbanger or a brown character being an illegal immigrant.
posted by kzin602 at 10:16 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, with the exception of Mitchell from 'Modern Family'.
posted by kzin602 at 10:18 AM on April 25, 2010


Are there any gay characters in mainstream media that are not super hot, queeny or some other stereotype?

Brian & Steve from The Sarah Silverman Show.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


All the main characters in Archie are stereotypes. Why would you expect different of the gay character?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Isn't it bromantic"? Seriously, wasn't the word "bromance" banned earlier this year?
posted by iviken at 3:22 PM on April 25, 2010


I'm tickled pink.
posted by Goofyy at 10:40 AM on April 27, 2010


Are there any gay characters in mainstream media that are not super hot, queeny or some other stereotype?

Cliff in Ugly Betty. Marc, of course, is about the queeniest queen I've ever seen on TV, but the show makes fairly explicit that he's camping it up at work in general, and especially around Wilhelmina and Amanda, but not so much in private.
posted by Zed at 11:11 AM on April 27, 2010




« Older The Disturbing Gallery Of Rodney Alcala   |   Beyond 40 acres and a mule Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments