In a move that’s depressing both for its cultural implications and for the naked desperation for relevance that it betrays, Archie Comics will be introducing its first “openly gay character” in September.  According to the comic’s website,

VERONICA #202 features the full-issue story, “Isn’t it Bromantic?” that introduces Kevin, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. Kevin Keller is the new hunk in town and Veronica just has to have him . . .

  Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent.

The art and story lines of Archie comics have displayed nothing but the opposite of mayhem and hilarity for many decades, so I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I were the editors. 

The old Archie comics from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s were actually quite good:  the artists put a lot of effort into composing the pages, the characters’ vocabulary was what would now be considered scholarly (I remember Veronica purring that she would “brook no interference when pursuing her masculine quarry” or something like that), and the stories were adequately witty, or at least made sense.

Like so many other things, the Archie universe moved toiletward (see how hard I try?) in the 80’s.  The drawing became vague and blobby, the stories pointless and smarmy, and the carefully constructed, baldly stereotyped characters were all subsumed into an undifferentiated miasma of cool kids in cool clothes doing cool stuff. 

In this brave new Riverdale, Betty got plenty of dates with Archie, who ditched his jalopy for a snappy red convertible.  Jughead finally noticed girls, and bony, buck-toothed Big Ethel began to enjoy an inexplicably regular love life. But for me, the dream was really over when Moose, the bloody-minded, jealous, tactless, moronic buffoon was abruptly revealed to be a noble and misunderstood sufferer of dyslexia. 

If I may say so on a Sunday:  geez louise. 

Anyway, what do they mean, “first openly gay character?”  Who’s been in the closet?  Jughead?  Dilton Doiley?  Poor old Mr. Svenson?  That tragic fatty, Fangs Fogarty?  Sabrina’s homebody aunts, Hilda and Zelda?  The unconvincing Harvey?

Or maybe . . . could it be?  Say it ain’t so, Professor Flutesnoot.

By

Simcha Fisher is a cradle Hebrew Catholic, freelance writer, and mother of eight young kids. She received her BA in literature from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. She contributes to Crisis Magazine and Faith & Family Live!, and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She is sort of writing a book.

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