“Kevin Keller” Comic Ending, But Archie Has Big Plans For Riverdale’s Resident Gay: EXCLUSIVE:

kevin keller THKevin Keller broke new ground back in 2010 when he became the first openly gay character in the Archie Comics universe.

He was an instant fan-favorite—Kevin’s debut issue, Veronica #202,quickly sold out and became the first reprinted comic in Archie history. In 2011, Kevin landed his first miniseries and received a GLAAD Media Award.

The following year, a Kevin Keller ongoing comic debuted.

That comic is coming to an end in July with Kevin Keller #15, but creator Dan Parent tells us in an exclusive interview that it’s far from the last we’ll see of Riverdale’s #1 out teen.

“We will be making a new Kevin announcement at the end of the year,” says Parent. “It will be exciting, and I promise will be even better than the current series!”

Below, we talk with the legendary artist-writer about Kevin’s legacy, his future and his place in the larger Archie-verse.

Why is Kevin Keller being cancelled? 

To be clear, we’re not canceling the book: It’s ending so we can take a minute to plan a relaunch for the character. In the meantime, Kevin will continue to be a big part of the other Archie titles— including Afterlife with Archie.

Comics Kevin Keller.JPEG-0a7fbIt’s about direction for the character. I’ve had some ideas for Kevin that I have discussed with the powers that be at Archie, and these ideas would work better as a relaunch rather than as a continuation of the current book.

What are the advantages of taking the focus off Kevin for a beat and letting him take a supporting role in other books?

His role in Riverdale is very important—we don’t want to forget that he’s part of the gang. And his interaction with Archie, Betty, Veronica and everyone is very key. We’ll be seeing Kevin pop up more frequently across the Archie line.

Is Kevin’s love life going to continue to be explored in other titles?

KevinKeller_15_PhilJimenezVar

Kevin Keller #15 varient cover by Phil Jimenez

Of course! He’s a normal red-blooded teenager and that goes with the territory!

How about the supporting characters from Kevin Keller—will they find new homes within the Archie universe? 

Yes, his family always played an important role in his stories, and will continue too. And his friends—and boyfriends—will pop up here and there too.

Looking back, what was the most rewarding Kevin Keller story you’ve told?

In the second issue, Kevin had a secret admirer who was leaving him notes in his locker. But when Kevin went to meet him, the guy wasn’t ready to come out. And I think this hit a chord with young gay people who sometimes need time and space to come out.

On a larger scale, what do you think Kevin adds to the Archie mythos?

He’s added a layer of reality and diversity to Riverdale that was never there before. And I think we’ve treated the character with respect and honesty—which is why he’s become a fan favorite and permanent fixture in Riverdale.

As Kevin’s creator, have you noticed a change in the response to the character from when he was introduced in 2010?

People were surprised at first that we were introducing a gay character, but once they got to meet Kevin, they liked him and welcomed him with open arms to the Archie-verse. Gay fans tell me how much Kevin means to them, and how their lives would have been different had Kevin existed when they were growing up. And straight fans like him because he’s another cool kid in Riverdale!

Kevin Keller #15 hits stands July 16, 2014.