Archie Meets His First Openly Gay Classmate

Jughead and Kevin

"I'm Gay!": Kevin comes out to Jughead in the story, "Isn't It Bromantic," from Veronica #202 of the Archie Comics series.  Kevin, introduced in September 2010, is the series' first openly gay character. Archie Comic Publications Inc. hide caption

itoggle caption Archie Comic Publications Inc.

Riverdale High, home of the upright and the relentlessly mainstream, has a new student.

His name is Kevin Keller, and he isn't interested in that age-old Archie conflict — Betty or Veronica? — because Kevin is openly gay.

While Kevin's not the first gay character in a comic, he represents a milestone for Riverdale, where the utterly wholesome Archie comic series takes place.

Kevin and Jughead i i
Archie Comic Publications Inc.
Kevin and Jughead
Archie Comic Publications Inc.

After the comic introduced Kevin in September 2010, Archie Comics writer and artist Dan Parent told Comic Book Resources: "The key is to bring this character into the future of the Archie characters and the town of Riverdale. We want to make sure Kevin can continue on and won’t be just a one-shot, which he’s not going to be.”

But with Archie Andrews and friends, one thing is certain: If things change, it’s not enough to shake up the essence of Riverdale's vital sameness. NPR comic-book blogger Glen Weldon tells NPR's Neal Conan that that consistency is just part of the comic's unshakable charm — and also the secret to its success.

It's not yet clear if Kevin will become a permanent member of the Riverdale gang. The comic has introduced a variety of characters in recent years, including several African-American, Asian-American and Latino characters. But most of these characters, Weldon says, "tend to kind of cycle into the background."

Weldon says Archie Comics plans to bring Kevin back in at least several more issues. But "whether or not Kevin makes it to the big time," Weldon says, "or he just sort of cycles through, remains to be seen."

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