Comic Books | Interview

Towleroad Interview: Archie Comics' Dan Parent

A few months ago, Archie Comics writer and artist Dan Parent announced that the comic book publication giant will introduce it's first openly gay character in the pages of Veronica. Dan chatted with me about the character Kevin Keller, who will make his debut next month, and how he went about creating him.

Dp SP: What sparked the idea of introducing a gay character into the Archie Comics world?

DP: It all started in an editorial meeting.  I had an idea about Veronica going bonkers over a guy who was gay, and the powers that be liked it.  It coincided with our desire to expand diversity in Riverdale, so before long the idea became a reality.

SP: How did you come up with the final visual design of Kevin?

DP: Well, I tried to give him characteristics that some of the other guys didn't have, like wavy hair.  And there aren't many blonde guys in the group either. He's good looking, but has to be to catch veronica's eye. 

SP: How much did you think about stereotypes when creating Kevin?

DP: I was aware of them.  I didn't want him to be clichĂ©d, but I also didn't want to run in the other direction either.  He's the boy next door. He's just gay.

SP: Were any gays or lesbians consulted during the creation of Kevin?

Yes, some gay friends of mine and Archie's were shown early versions of the story.

SP: What kind of feedback did they give?

DP: My gay friends liked where we were going with the story.  They felt that it was important to use the word "gay", and not skirt around the word.  Of course we used the word, thankfully, without hesitation.

Read the rest of the interview, AFTER THE JUMP.

Kk SP: How did the higher ups at Archie Comics react when they learned you wanted to introduce a gay character to the series?

DP: They were fully on board.  This couldn't have happened without them.

SP: Is there talk of giving Kevin a romantic interest?

DP: Right now, I'm still getting Kevin through the door in Riverdale!  He still has to start school and meet a lot more or our cast of characters.  And he does have friends from his hometown that may be brought in.

SP: You've said that you're trying to showcase the contemporary and diverse world of Archie. What other kinds of diverse people can we expect to see introduced in the pages of the comic book series in the future?

DP: Everybody.  Different nationalities, faiths. The door is open to everyone.

SP: Have you or anyone at Archie Comics received criticism since the news was released that a gay character would be introduced into the Archie Comics world?

DP: The response has been extremely positive.  For every negative comment, there are a hundred positive ones.  We seem to be in a much more accepting place in society, which is a step forward for every kid out there who may feel like an outsider.  There's a place for you in this world, including Riverdale!

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  1. I had such a crush on Reggie Mantle when I was a kid but didn't understand why until my teens. It is indeed gratifying that we've come far enough as a society that an iconic institution like this would have an out gay character. It is a revolutionary step for Archie and the gang. I look forward to it.

    Posted by: Tone | Aug 29, 2010 1:12:36 PM

  2. I think it would have been more powerful for one of the "Archie" gang to reveal themselves as gay (Reggie, anyone?)instead of introducing some effete outsider. Seriously, could they have drawn this character any more stereotypically "gay"? What's with the penciled on eye brows, open shirt, and perm?

    It's nice to have gays represented in the media, but the community should support higher calibre representations than this.

    Posted by: Sheeple | Aug 29, 2010 2:46:45 PM

  3. OMG this will sell so many comics! Gay guys everywhere who never buy comics will be buying Archie once the gay guy is there. Very smart marketing move. This is how a consumerist culture changes. Now go buy an Archie!

    Posted by: lewlew | Aug 29, 2010 2:58:41 PM

  4. Perm? Mary, have you never heard of naturally wavy hair?

    Posted by: Tessie Tura | Aug 29, 2010 3:12:25 PM

  5. There will always be some bitter queen who has a negative view on something phenomenal! As an avid reader and collector, my teens were filled with comic crushes. I'm PROUD of Archie comics and those progressive board members who recognize equality. As for the bitter queen, bet you wish you had an ounce of comic Kevin animated looks, or perhaps you're just simply animated enough!

    Posted by: Steven N Peachtree City | Aug 29, 2010 3:52:31 PM

  6. He needs to hook up with Reggie, that'd be perfect.

    Posted by: Derek Pearce | Aug 29, 2010 3:55:00 PM

  7. My point is that they purposefully made the gay guy look different than the other teenagers in Riverdale. Who else in that comic has wavy hair, skinny jeans, and shirts open at the chest? Even Veronica isn't that flamboyant. Why can't the gay character look like everyone else (plain teenager) or *the horror* be one of the traditional characters. Why does it have to be some mysterious "out of towner"?

    Some people on this board are so desperate for validation in the media that it seems they will celebrate just about any type of gay image out there.

    Posted by: Sheeple | Aug 29, 2010 5:35:38 PM

  8. So the gay guy is white with blond hair and blue eyes. When are the PC diversity fascists going to start complaining about this?

    Posted by: GrabbinNewscum | Aug 29, 2010 6:28:15 PM

  9. Oh, you never stop with the race baiting? How do you take yourself seriously? What medication regime are you on that enables you to not laugh at every stupid thought you have? Instead, you believe you have a point...and try to draw up some imaginary inconsistency in "librul" thought?

    Posted by: TANK | Aug 29, 2010 11:07:06 PM

  10. Sheeple,

    Your "concerns", such as they are, about his looks are answered in one of the 1st questions answered in the article.

    Would you like it better if he were butt ugly like the gay couple on Modern Family?

    Posted by: Tim | Aug 31, 2010 8:23:52 AM

  11. Sheeple,
    I have a friend who runs an on-line comic ( who is quite clear on the fact that comic characters need an individual look. Open shirt? Did you notice the fashionable, and very contemporary, tee? Do you think this is all Kevin will ever wear? Please get a grip and realize that we're only at the p.r. stage, now. Hold your judgments and complaints until you've seen several months of the comic. If you don't plan to read the comic, hold your tongue.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Aug 31, 2010 1:55:02 PM

  12. Chuck Mielke,

    I think part of the problem that Sheeple is having is the "fashionable and contemporary" part that you think is a plus. Sheeple thinks "fashionable & contemporary" is stereotypically gay.

    Posted by: Tim | Aug 31, 2010 6:17:16 PM

  13. I like the square jaw, dimple and wavy blond hair. I'd have made him throwing a nice bulge, a little muscley and being an acedemic all american jock. Maybe they'll import a character who's a jock and asian or black to be his BF. I'm going to enjoy this.

    Posted by: KevPDX | Aug 31, 2010 6:39:57 PM

  14. Why can't the gay character look like everyone else -- SHEEPLE

    Why should he have to?

    Posted by: ophu | Aug 31, 2010 10:14:28 PM

  15. Why can't the gay character look like everyone else -- SHEEPLE

    Why should he have to?

    Posted by: ophu | Aug 31, 2010 10:14:28 PM

    Conversely, why should he have to look like a flamer? Of course it's the gay man who has to be the "fashionable and contemporary" one. What homosexual isn't a mincing fashionista? They might as well write "sexual other" on the back of his tailor-cut shirt.

    Posted by: Sheeple | Sep 1, 2010 7:09:10 PM

  16. Conversely, why should he have to look like a flamer? -- SHEEPLE

    Actually, he looks more like an 80s prep. I bet he ties his sweater around his waist, pops his collar and plays badminton.

    Seriously, I see straights dress gayer than that on a regular basis. Is this more like what you had in mind?

    I hope not.

    C'mon, it's 2010. Gays can dress "gay" (if we want). Do you remember the 70s and early 80s, when everybody wore these
    regardless of whether or not you liked boobs? Just look at those shorts and hum the "Rocky" theme in your head. That'll put it in perspective for you. And don't let other people tell you how to see yourself.

    Posted by: ophu | Sep 1, 2010 10:10:41 PM

  17. Page not found? How dare they?

    Posted by: ophu | Sep 1, 2010 10:12:47 PM

  18. Well anyway, shorts uses to be a lot shorter for everyone. Then it became taboo for straights for some reason. Today's "shorts" are really more like "mids".

    Anyway, I hate seeing homophobia, so it makes me sad to see members of our own community internalizing it in themselves.

    Posted by: ophu | Sep 1, 2010 10:17:50 PM

  19. I don't think I have internalized anything Ophu. I do get tired, however, of having the same two images of gay men shown everywhere I turn. Either it's ultra butch muscle daddies or fashionable lady-men. Why can't a gay character wear wide legged jeans, a t-shirt, some sneakers, and just look like one of the guys? Frankly, I find the self-imposed stereotypes of gay "culture" more oppressive than anything homophobes could conjure up.

    Posted by: Sheeple | Sep 1, 2010 11:49:32 PM

  20. Well, I'm no expert, but he doesn't look all that fashionable to me. Actually, he looks fairly normal.

    Maybe he doesn't really look butch, but there's nothing really gay about that.

    WHOA, back up, now you have me doing the whole "too gay" thing. I'm telling you, it's contagious. Let me just say, he doesn't look effeminate. He just looks sort of "in the middle".

    If you'll pardon the expression.

    Posted by: ophu | Sep 2, 2010 7:03:42 AM

  21. He looks fantastic-casual and cool. Nothing stereotype in the above image.

    Posted by: nikko | Sep 3, 2010 2:19:00 PM

  22. Bought two copies on Wednesday from Midtown Comics here in Manhattan. Welcome to Riverdale, Kevin! May you get your own title someday soon!

    And thank you, Dan Parent and Archie Comics, for giving LGBT youth --of all ages-- a new character to hold up as their own.

    Posted by: ichabod | Sep 5, 2010 10:33:06 AM

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