Why writers care about Archie Comics new gay character Kevin Keller
Don’t tell me you never read Archie Comic books, cuz I won’t buy it. I still read them, and am really pleased to see the always contemporary series is introducing a gay character to their engaging cast in Riverdale. The September issue of Veronica will feature girlish pursuit-turned-bromance when Veronica sets her sights on Kevin Keller, handsome, personable, highly engaging, and comfortably out of the closet.
I had a chance to interview Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater last week to get the scoop. Jon said the creative team at Archie always aims to be hip and current, to embrace issues that resonate with their audience, and to bring delightful entertainment to their books. Kevin Keller, the new character is likely to do just that, from the look of him.
Why Riverdale needs Kevin Keller
Any writer or artist can tell you keeping your themes fresh and your content timely is critical to success. Audiences get bored. The people who do Archie Comics, a series born in the 1940s, have always known the formula of success. You can’t keep an idea moving through three generations of readers, or sell a billion and a half comics by rehashing the same old same old, Jon told me.
Some time ago in a weekly production meeting, Dan Parent, writer/artist for ArchieComics, had a terrific idea. He postulated, says Goldwater, that Veronica always gets what she wants. She’s known for that, and we readers expect it. But. What if she didn’t? Suppose someone thwarted her and the results were surprising, yet believable?
Ok, said the rest of the crew to Mr. Parent, how you going to do such a thing? This is where burgeoning writers can take note. Spin is everything and will make the difference between selling your writing and just piling up a file called, “Stuff not sold.” Boy meets femme fatal girl. She conquers boy. Everyone else is jealous. So what?
The Veronica spin – writers’ perspective
So this time, Dan Parent decided a new character could foil Veronica’s seduction, without being a jerk, without damaging one of Veronica’s most endearing traits, and without seeming contrived. In walks Kevin Keller – blond, blue-eyed, gorgeous, a personality everyone just likes. Veronica has no idea Kevin is also gay, and quite at home in his own skin. He’s out. He’s got high self-esteem. He’s got a sense of humor.
And that is how talented, experienced writers spin a classic theme and put it smack on top of the most contemporary of issues, without being preachy. The story is full of laughs and full of the stuff that has always made readers turn the pages for more, Jon says. Kevin will hit newsstand the first week of September in Veronica # 202, but that won’t be the end of him. He joins the cast at Riverdale High as a recurring character. His family has moved to Riverdale for the long term.
Dan Parent drew and wrote the story and he feels Kevin will mesh well with the beloved group of diverse people hanging out in Riverdale. If you want to see how recasting a formula idea can make a story seem totally new, have a look at Veronica #202. Then drop a comment here about how you think Archie’s creative team handled the situation. Did they make it easy and natural? Did they miss the mark? Let’s hear from you.
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