RICHMOND, Va. — Dan Parent, creator of Archie Comics’ first gay character, Kevin Keller, says Kevin will return in a new series next year.
Parent was at Virginia Comic Con on Nov. 23 and spoke about the history of Kevin Keller, and the controversy that ignited after the when the character was first introduced.
As a comic publisher known for appealing to children, introducing a gay character in Archie Comics was seen as a huge step.
Parent said that while Marvel and DC have gay comic characters, their audience tends to be older than that of Archie’s. “It’s the parents of the kids that are the tricky part… the kids are very accepting.”
But Parent’s creation of Kevin Keller in 2010 was supported by the new owners of Archie Comics who wanted to make Riverdale, Archie’s home town, more reflective of the modern world.
“There’s not a lot of diversity at Archie,” joked Parent. “It’s very white and 1950’s.”
Keller’s first issue, Veronica #202, was so popular that the issue sold out. Sensing the power of the character, Archie Comics quickly announced a four issue mini-series, and not long after, Keller received his own ongoing title which ran from February 2012 until last summer.
Keller has been seen in the pages of Life With Archie, which included his marriage to a black character, Clay Walker. The issue generated mild controversy, prompting an unsuccessful boycott by the group One Million Moms.
But the dust-up prompted Parent to go further by featuring the publication’s first same-sex kiss just a few months later.
And this past summer, Archie Comics entered the event-comic scene with “The Death of Archie,” which saw the beloved title character die while protecting Keller.
Looking back on the year Kevin Keller was introduced, Parent says it’s hard to believe the character ever caused the controversy it did.
Lauded by LGBT advocacy groups and critics alike, the Kevin Keller series received a GLAAD award for Outstanding Comic Book in 2011. Parent said he’s happy with the great reception the character has had and is also happy that the introduction of similarly diverse characters wouldn’t be as big of a deal anymore.
“You want people to take notice of it, but it shouldn’t have to be a news event,” he said.
Parent said that there is a reboot for Keller in the works slated for spring 2015. The following day, Parent released a new sketch of Keller as he’ll appear in 2015.
Alex Segura, a marketing representative for Archie Comics, couldn’t confirm any details about the upcoming Keller series, but asked via email for fans to “stay tuned as we roll out more news on the new Kevin series.”