For the small subset of Americans who still read Archie Comics, there was a big development this week. The publishers introduced Kevin Keller, the franchise's first openly gay character. Debuting in September, the blond-haired, blue-eyed charmer will make a big splash in episode No. 202, titled "Isn't it Bromantic?" The bigger question, however, is how Archie fans will react. To get a sense, we ventured into the obscure world of Archie online fan forums. Here's what we found:
A House Divided Overall, many devoted fans were supportive of the new character. Frank at Archie Comics Fan Forum for instance:
As always, I support the evolution of Archie in a positive way. If one young person reads this story and understands that their feelings or the feelings of someone they know are normal then it will have a positive impact. The truth is that the general readership of Archie deserves a world-view that is inclusive and I, for one, applaud this move.
And others like Tuxedo Mark echoed this sentiment:
As someone whose best friend is gay, I definitely approve of this story. Although, I do admit I was hoping it'd be a female character.
But, as one might expect, dissenters emerged--such as Ralph, a longtime Archie fan weighing in at Animation Magazine:
The majority of the Archie comic audience are kids and sexual orientation has no place in this comic. Archie has been a pillar of honest, genuine content for many successful years so why change that? Create a new comic and have all the gay people you want if that's your thing. My young kids have been reading my old Archies for a few years and now I have to explain the gay character or have them stop reading it.
Questions About Execution Some worried about how the character would affect the comic at large. RiverPhoenixDale writes:
I hope the new character is introduced casually and without fanfare, rather than splashing it on a cover and making an event out of it. Because it really shouldn't be a big deal in 2010.
Is Jughead Gay? When publishers announced that Archie Comics was introducing the "first openly gay character"--not simply "the first gay character"--fans started wondering if some current characters were in the closet. For Sabrina Brody at The Examiner, this was a no-brainer:
Obviously Jughead, that woman hating anti-social with the dry sass, has always been the main gay of Riverdale High.
But others vehemently disagreed. Captain Hero writes:
I know some people keep trying to "out" Jughead...but I think Jughead's more asexual, if anything.
Just another day in Riverdale High ...