Archie Comics is welcoming a gay character. It isn’t Archie, Jughead, Veronica, or Betty. Same-sex attraction enters Archie’s world through a character named Kevin Keller. Salon’s Douglas Wolk describes his first appearance in
Veronica No. 202 (cover caption: “Meet the Hot New Guy!”), written and drawn by veteran Archie artist Dan Parent, will introduce slender, blond Kevin Keller. From the few pages of the story released so far, it appears Parent is treating Kevin’s orientation as a surprise but not a shock: The hot new guy is being pursued by Veronica but has no interest in her, Jughead advises him that she’s pretty persistent, and Kevin declares that “it’s nothing against her! I’m gay!” To which Jughead’s immediate reaction is deciding to to wait and let Veronica figure it out for herself, and the plot goes on.
A gay character in comics is nothing new; they show up in both DC and Marvel comics. DC’s Batwoman is one who will be breaking out of Detective Comics into an ongoing series. The Question/Renee Montoya is another from DC. There is, however, a difference with Archie comics.
[U]nlike superhero comics, Archie comics are specifically aimed at kids … : They’re a fantasy about what high school will be like.
Douglas Wolk is quite happy with Kevin’s addition to the Archie milieu.
[T]he addition of Kevin to the series’ endless comedy of desire and disdain is welcome and long overdue. The social fabric of high school is going to include gay people, and the sooner kids (and aging collectors) take that as much for granted as they do the Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, the better.
Wherever one falls, pro or con, on this issue one thing is perfectly clear: Archie Comic’s publishers want to change your child’s worldview, and apparently this is change that Wolk agrees with.
Archie’s bosses get points for trying to make Riverdale a slightly less 1940s vision of what American culture is like, because stories for children don’t just reflect the world, they shape it.
That 1940s vision of America culture defeated Nazism and set the groundwork for the downfall of Communism. Those who created American culture during that period of our history fought against Jim Crow laws. Wolk should be careful about what he wants to throw out. As G.K. Chesterton noted,
“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”