Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett comes down from C2E2 and looks ahead to Archie’s Kevin Keller comic.
I can vividly recall the last couple of hours of C2E2 Sunday afternoon, engulfed in the crowd, a big smile on my face never wanting it to end. I’d been there five solid days, seeing the show from setup to breakdown, watching a miniature city rise up around me in a matter of hours then disappear just as fast. I’m sure for a lot of you what I’m describing is old hat, but I’ve been in the direct sales comics business for well over twenty years and this was my first chance to see a convention this way. And for those of you who haven’t done it yet let me tell you, it’s definitely an experience worth having.
But maybe because it was my first convention in a very long time, I had completely forgotten about the inevitable comedown. Sure, while I was out having all that fun there was still a small part of me that wished I was sleeping in my own bed, but once I had gotten home I discovered I had become quite accustomed to having an ice machine literally inches away from the free amenities of my luxury hotel room. Comedians since the 1970’s have been complaining about being stuck in the room next to the ice machine because of having to listen to it make, then dispense, ice all night but I can tell you from personal experience, it totally rules. Real life kind of pales in comparison to that.
But after living exclusively in a bubble where everybody 'gets it' my slow recovery was finally over yesterday when I woke up and listened to an installment of the podcast The Adam Carolla Show. In it I heard the 'comedian' bitterly, bitterly complain for five solid minutes about how the poor baby had been forced to read comic books to his four year old son. Because comic books are, you know, unimaginative, homoerotic crap intended exclusively for morons.
While we continue to wait (and wait) for DC to release the first issue of Batwoman in June, Archie’s only (for the moment anyway) gay character Kevin Keller will be getting his own miniseries. So far he’s been an amusing supporting player (the Archie Comics version of the ‘gay best friend’ trope so readily found everywhere else in popular culture) but supposedly in his own comic he’ll be dealing with subject matter “heavier” than what you ordinarily find in your average Archie comic, like bullying and how he came out to his parents. "This is the most important book this company has released in 70 years." Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater said.
Like I wrote in a previous column (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy --A Safe World For Everyone"), "I’ll actually be impressed when the publisher shows us what happens when the second openly gay character appears in Riverdale." Or to be more blunt, when they give Kevin a boyfriend I’ll take this as more of a serious change in the baseline of Riverdale reality rather than just a calculated cosmetic attempt to make an old brand seem 'contemporary.'
Though of course I'm intrigued with how Archie deals with the subject of bullying, partially because Riverdale exists in a state of grace where nothing really bad can happen to anyone, not for very long anyway. And partially because while companies like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network all have major anti-bullying campaigns going, most comic book publishers have been strangely silent on the subject. Maybe it’s assumed their comics are now exclusively intended for adults; or maybe the thinking is, bullies buy comics too, so why make trouble?
But if DC actually wanted to do a anti-bullying public service comic they could just reprint the scene from All-Star Superman #10 where Superman hugs suicidal Goth girl Regan (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--This Is Who He Is"). Since it didn’t make it into the direct to DVD animated film version they could even animate it, though I imagine mental health experts would be afraid putting Regan out on that ledge would only encourage copycat teen suicides.
Details about Marvel’s Fear Itself are slowly being revealed but the only detail that’s stuck with me so far are the plans to (I’m assuming) temporarily turn the Black Panther into "American Panther." Though this turns the character into yet another Captain America: The First Avenger movie tie-in it’s just really, really wrong seeing the regent of Wakanda in red, white and blue (if that is in fact T’Challa under that hood; I would not put it back Marvel to pull a switcheroo).
And, finally, this week’s must have comic is Nick Spencer's Jimmy Olsen. Let’s sell so many copies it shames DC into publishing this on a regular basis.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on March 29, 2011 @ 10:00 pm CT
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