October 28, 2012 by shepla
Archie comics were a mainstay of my childhood. But unlike most people my age, I still read them sometimes. Every time he goes grocery shopping, my husband buys the digest versions (for me? for our kid? I’m not sure, but I think he just likes buying stuff). (Note to publishers: Get supermarket distribution, and you’re GOLDEN.)
Anyway, I’ve noticed story quality is all over the place over the last few years–and most are absolutely terrible. When you’re forced to produce the volumes of material that Archie Comics is, it really makes sense that most of it is bad, and probably if you’re a kid, you don’t notice or care. My own kid happily reads each new issue.
I’ve been curious about some of the things Archie Comics has done to refresh the franchise, like the Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty issues, and the introduction of a gay character, Kevin Keller, in 2010. Other comics aficionados were even more curious than I was, because they actually bought the comic in which he made his first appearance, Veronica #202–earning Archie’s Comics its first-ever reprint. Kevin’s creator Dan Parent told USA Today in February 2011, “Not everybody’s particularly happy about it, but from where I’m sitting it’s been about 98% positive.”
I was positive about this update as well–I’m absolutely in favor of Riverdale having a more diverse population. I’ve read a bunch of the digest issues since Kevin’s introduction, but hadn’t seen him in any of the stories, so I finally bought a specific Kevin Keller comic yesterday.
Kevin Keller #4 sends Kevin and Veronica off to the Olympic Games in London, where Kevin’s father is to be a torchbearer. That’s the only story in the issue, and it’s as squeaky clean and bland as any Archie comic–there was no mention of Kevin being gay at all. There is, however, an awesome fashion spread.
Anyway, the whole experience leads me to wonder: Is Archie Comics adopting a separate-but-equal stance? Why is Kevin segregated into his own separate series, but not integrated into the regular Archie stories, like Jughead, Midge, Moose are? Or did I just miss issues where he’s in the stories? Anyone know the answer to this or care to conjecture?