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Dan Parent on Creating Archie Comics’ First Openly Gay Character

Dan Parent (pictured) has worked at Archie Comics for over 20 years as an illustrator, writer, and editor. His first big project was Veronica‘s first solo comic.

This year he created Kevin Keller, the series’ first openly gay character. We caught up with Parent to learn more about creating this character. Here are some highlights from the interview.

Q: What inspired you to create Kevin Keller?
A: A combination of a couple of things. First, I had an idea where Veronica falls for the unattainable gay guy, and we really liked the story idea at Archie. Secondly, we were adding a variety of new characters, and wanted to show that Riverdale is a diverse and accepting community.

Q: How would you describe Kevin Keller’s personality?
A: Loyal, smart, fun-loving; really, the all-American boy next door…who just happens to be gay.

Q: How has the LGBT community responded to Kevin Keller?
A: We’ve gotten a great response from the LGBT community; I think because we didn’t skirt around the issue. Kevin openly comes out as gay, unapologetically. And his homosexuality is accepted by the Riverdale gang, just as they would accept someone with a different ethnicity.

Q: You’ve been working on Veronica particularly for more than 10 years–how has she evolved in that time?
A: She’s evolved by…not evolving at all! She’s the same lovable, spoiled rich girl!

Q: What challenges do you think comic book artists/writers face in the digital age?
A: I think good art and stories will thrive, whether it’s for digital or print medium. I think there will be room for both.

Q: What’s next for you in terms of projects, goals, etc.?
A: The free comic book day 2011 issue…The Kevin mini-series is a biggie…plus I’m working on the new Veronica and Betty magazine. Then, there are issues of Veronica, and various issues of our other books that I will write, draw, or both. As far as goals go, I just want to keep on expanding the Archie university, with Kevin landing in a permanent title of his own. I’d also like to work on Josie or Sabrina, but I don’t have the time for that! Maybe someday! I’d also love to do a Jughead vs. Veronica mini-series…the list goes on and on…

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