Archie Comics’ First (openly) Gay Character

It was bound to happen, but given Archie’s history of clean-cut  (if not socially conservative) idealism, I’m still quite surprised by this news. Not to mention the fact that the company is known for its aggressive lawsuits regarding any sort of parody and satire of Archie characters … especially those with anything to do with sex.

Still, this could be a positive thing that further normalizes homosexuality, increasing acceptance in society; or it could end up smacking of tokenism like most black comic characters in the 1970s (Hey kids! I’m Black Lightning! I have the powers of lightning, except I’m black! Oh, here comes my friend Black Racer. He has all sorts of celestial powers. And he’s black!).

But I digress. The linked article makes a number of great (and funny) observations on the subject– “there’s not much point in inventing the telephone, if you haven’t built two.”

If nothing else, this is an indication that things have come a long way since implying that Smithers was gay in early episodes of The Simpsons. Plus Reggie finally has the opportunity to come out of the closet.

That’s right. Jughead was just a red-herring all along.

It's okay to be gay, Reggie!


5 thoughts on “Archie Comics’ First (openly) Gay Character”

  1. In all fairness, Black Lightning’s #1 badguy was the White Whale, a really fat guy, who was also white.

  2. Nice– double race whammy!

    I love that the solution to increase diversity in these old comics was to put the primary focus on race. It couldn’t have just been “Lightning Man” or “Whale Man”. We’re dealing with important issues here, kids.

    And it looks like things haven’t really changed in that sense. Judging from the images in the link, Jughead uses the fact that Kevin Keller is gay to play pranks on Veronica. Because Kevin’s gay, you see. (Then again, Archie characters aren’t exactly known for their depth.)

    Is this over-emphasis just a necessary part of things becoming more acceptable?

    Or do I just expect too much from the world now that I’ve seen The Wire? I mean, Omar wasn’t just ‘the gay character’, he was ‘the incredibly interesting and complicated character’.

    I guess what I’m saying is, why aren’t these cheerful comics intended for kids more like The Wire?

  3. I vote for Archie Comics being to inept to either normalize homosexuality or play the character for tokenism. The running joke over at my favorite newspaper comic blog (joshreads.com) is that a broken machine churns these things out.

    Last time I picked up one that wasn’t the Veronica/Obama meet up, there was a comic where Veronica and Betty just went around the neighborhood and examined people’s flags. Because in their bizarre world, people apparently advertise their interests – pets! gardening! – with flags.

  4. Yes, very true, James. What I mean to say is that this is an indicator or barometer of increasing acceptance of gay characters (even people!).

    But you’re right, Archie Comics are rarely a catalyst for social change. Except that one time in Jughead’s Dipsy Doodles where he saw everyone on roller blades, so he painted roller blades on a canvas, then put them on his feet and skated away.

    I’m pretty sure I learned something about the world that day.

  5. Archie is ultimately a gag strip, so we should be disappointed if they don’t play this for at least one laugh. It’s fairly late in the day for “a very special episode” on gay teens, but then I have read Archie comics produced during my lifetime where the adult characters called rock & roll ‘that infernal racket’ so, like, maybe give Archie ten years’ forgiveness on the up-to-date markers.
    Bonus Black Lightning trivia: BL was co-created by Trevor Von Eeden, who just happens to be one of my favourite all-time comic book artists–perhaps best known for the amazing 1983 Green Arrow miniseries or Batman #401 (he was also Frank Miller’s first choice to draw Batman: Year One), but should be known for the mindblowing pre-Vertigo awesomeness of Thriller or his more recent graphic biog of boxer Jack Johnson. http://www.angelfire.com/comics/trinitybuilding/

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