Kevin Keller, Archie Comics and Controversy

I was never an Archie Comics fan as a kid. One o those things I just never got into. Maybe it was because I always thought it was for kids and I was much too grown-up for that? I'm not quite sure. It's been interesting to watch the moves that the company has made in recent years as they've been trying to do something different and shake up what many people–myself included–think of as an Archie Comic. From the marriage storyline to the magazine "Life with Archie" which explores the characters in their twenties and crafts a different kind of soap opera to the recent Archie Meets KISS storyline which involved Sabrina the Teenage Witch, zombies, monsters and more, it feels like the creators are having fun with the characters.

Their most recent and most controversial move was the creation of Kevin Keller, a topic I discussed with creator Dan Parent recently. Of course the character happens to be gay. (He's also a military brat who in "Life with Archie" goes to join the army himself, but no one talks about that aspect of the character.)

And now a group titled "One Million Moms" is up at arms calling on Toys R Us to stop selling Archie because in "Life with Archie," Kevin is getting married. This phrase jumped out at me in the complaint:

"Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand"

Now I haven't set foot in a Toys R Us or a toy store for a long time, but aren't there lots of things in a toy store that most parents find troubling. From Twilight to wrestling to violent video games to toy guns, isn't there a lot that some parent would rather not address? I say that with some sarcasm and a little anger, but I do sympathize about trying to keep the world away from child for a time. What I don't understand–and what I find offensive–is that this is the biggest problem.

Of course they also want to boycott JC Penney because of Ellen DeGeneres is the company's spokeswoman and happens to be gay. So really the problem is that children might be exposed to gay people because gay people exist so we have to act like they don't exist. At least I think that's what they're after.


The response to this from Jon Goldwater, the co-CEO of Archie, though, is great:

“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/ feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.

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