With tomorrow’s release of Veronica #202 the world meets Archie Comics’ first openly gay character: Kevin Keller. According to The Daily Beast, bringing a gay student to Riverdale High School is “a sign of changing attitudes toward homosexuality.” But we’re not so sure. Archie artist Dan Parent told them that Kevin is “well-dressed” not “too flamboyant.” In other words, the kind of gay teen who shouldn’t ruffle the feathers of more conservative Americans — and absolutely nothing like the tiny fringe-wearing illustration that accompanies The Daily Beast’s article, which was done exclusively for them by Donatella Versace.
According to co-chief executive of Archie Comic Publications Jon Goldwater, this move is “about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive.” Which is a nice sentiment, if over a decade late. But rather than breaking new ground, the proposed storyline for Keller sounds a lot like what happens in a little movie called Clueless — and remember, that came out way back in 1995:
“We’re batting story ideas around and Dan says, ‘What if Veronica, who’s able to get everything she wants, isn’t able to get something? What if a new good-looking boy comes into town and Veronica wants to date him and he turns her down?’” Goldwater recalls in an interview. “And I say, ‘Why would he do that?’ And Dan says, ‘Because he’s gay.’ And I say, ‘Now that’s funny. That’s a good premise.’”
Because what are gay characters good for if not comic relief.
That said, Parent promises that Keller is not just a temporary plot device: “Especially in the gay community, we’ve reassured people that we’re not going to dump him after this. The Kevin character is here to stay.” What remains to be seen is whether he’ll ever have more than a supporting role as a hunky gay loner in the series. And of course, whether he’ll ever date Reggie.
Preview a panel from the new issue below.