Yesterday I was browsing through articles online when I stumbled upon a piece of news announcing that Archie Comics will introduce its first gay character this September! Archie will also have his first interracial kiss, with Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats!
Archie Comics, which has been around since 1941, features a group of typical, all-American, “average” teenagers growing up somewhere in the midwest. Archie featured an all-caucasian cast until the 1970’s, when Chuck Clayton, and African American, was introduced. He is now a regular member of the group. His girlfriend Nancy Woods is also African-American, and the two have never been depicted dating outside of their race.
Frankie Valdez, who is Puerto Rican, and his girlfriend Maria Rodriguez, who is Hispanic, only dated each other, in the same vein of that of Chuck and Nancy. Ginger Lopez, a Spanish-American teen, was introduced in the early 2000’s, and Tomoko Yoshida, a Japanese exchange student came in the 2000’s. Raj Patel, who is of Indian descent and the newest minority character, entered the scene in 2007. Now, they will greet Kevin, the first openly-gay character to join the crew, in the upcoming September issue of Veronica, #202.
There exist some minor characters of diverse backgrounds as well, most notably Anita Chavita, who was brought in for a short period ib the 1990s, and who was African-American and paraplegic. According to an article on Wapedia,
“Rather than handling her disabilities naturally, Anita kept bringing them to the surface with comments like “my legs may not work, but at least my brain does”. Ultimately she was jettisoned due to lack of reader interest. However, she is worthy of note because she was a love interest for both Jughead Jones and Dilton Doiley, making her the first instance, in an Archie comic, of interracial romance.”
I’m glad for these additions, although it is always difficult for a series to introduce a minority without making the character into the “token black guy” or the equivalent. However, just think about the fact that kids all across the world read Archie, and hopefully they will embrace people of all different sexual orientations and ethnicities due to these additions!