Kevin Keller is Archie Comics’ first gay character if one puts aside sub-text, innuendo, reader wishes, and slash. Keller debuted in a story titled “Isn’t It Bromantic?”. Writer/ artist Dan Parent created Keller as a blond, blue-eyed teen next door and planted him into the Archie world by relocating his family to Riverdale. In this first appearance Kevin is presented as a serious contender for Jughead’s legendary bottomless stomach, besting him in a hamburger eating contest and later losing another contest by a single hot wing. Quickly bonding, Keller confides to Jughead the news that he’s gay. Jughead is completely unfazed though he recognizes an opportunity to make Veronica the butt of a joke when he sees one, and persuades Kevin to withhold telling Veronica, getting him to naively play along as long as possible. Parent succeeds in creating some cute scenes built around this without condescending or pandering before allowing Veronica to discover Jughead’s scheme, and ending the story in typical, amiable Riverdale fashion. Parent is not above letting readers romantically speculate about Kevin by having him text William and giving no clues to their relationship till Kevin’s third appearance. In a nod to comics readers, Parent has made Kevin a collector of old comics, as well as giving him another common interest with Jughead.
By the time of his next appearance, Keller and Veronica have become BFF’s. The new relationship is the vehicle for Parent to further integrate Keller and explore the meaning of friendship while fleshing Keller out a little more as a character. Here we’re told that Kevin is an aspiring journalist and his father is a retired Army colonel.Kevin’s background comes more fully to life with the character’s third appearance. Here we meet Wendy and William, the boy Kevin texted in the first story. Kevin’s invited his best friends from a former school to Riverdale for a Fourth of July celebration in which his father, Thomas, will be the parade’s guest of honor. The visit is an opportunity for Kevin to catch up with his old friends since their “Muska-dweeb” days in Bricktown. Parent shows Kevin to be a loyal friend, sticking with and standing up for Wendy and William and fighting a mean kid who plans to break Wendy’s heart by standing her up for a dance after pretending to be interested in her. Kevin’s further devotion is demonstrated when he reassures Wendy and William that he won’t dump them for a place with the popular kids after a growth spurt transforms from nerd status to hottie. The enduring friendship between William and Kevin underscores the reality that gay and straight males of any age can and do have non-romantic/ non-sexual relationships. Most importantly, Parent conveys the dual messages for unconditional parental acceptance of LGBT children and that patriotism is not limited to heterosexuals in a scene in which Thomas reassures Kevin of his love during a heartfelt father-son talk
Kevin has proven to be a hugely popular character for the publisher and his story will continue in the remainder of this mini series as well as a solo Keller title in 2012. This entry will occasionally be updated to reflect new and relevant details. Kevin’s first appearance is in and shown as gay in Veronica #202. Other appearances include Veronica #205 and the Kevin Keller mini series (under the Veronica title). Kevin Keller created by Dan Parent.
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