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.
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 clichéd, 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.
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!