Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Comics of 2011 no. 4: Kevin Keller/ The Simpsons

Intending to quickly finish these, since circumstances have made me postpone them for more than two weeks.
Next up is a doubleheader.
First, an Archie treat: Veronica Presents Kevin Keller.
I've been doing a lot of research and academic writing on Archie Comics lately. Coupled with current events in the company, this has renewed my interest in the formerly tame comics.
What current events?
There's been a fair amount of talk about Archie comics of late, largely due to the dueling lawsuits of the company and its former CEO, Nancy Seiberkleit.
Whether any of these suits have merit or not, it does need to be said that within the rather rigid confines of the Archie brand, Nancy took some big chances that paid off very well. The stories got more interesting, despite the lack of tension required in the plucky Horation Alger meets Henry Aldrich world of Riverdale.
To that end, we had the two Archie Marries storylines, the Day in the Comics Shop mini that paid homage to the company's history in a rather fun way, and the current Archie Meets KISS mini.
Oh, and Kevin Keller.
As gay characters go, Kevin is rather innocuous, but makes up for it in two ways.

First, he's supposedly named after a gay porn star, according to a friend who is, ahem, an occasional consumer of same.
Second, he's got guts.

And style.
 The storylines have addressed significant issues, including politics and marriage, in a slightly watered down Archie fashion. And I find it both laudable and amusing that there's a gay character getting his own book from Archie Comics, the company that championed the Comics Code Authority to the end.
Dovetailing on this is The Simpsons No. 183.
This is a swipe at numerous Archie conventions accumulated over seven decades of stories, beginning with Archie no. 1.
This fun Simpsons issue includes swipes at The Archies, Sabrina, Captain Pureheart, and so many more staples from Archie's history. While Simpsons parodies sometimes feel forced, this one works. Random pages on point posted below.

While Archie is usually rather mundane, the line has evolved a substantial history and has taken a lot of chances (relative to their wholesome mission statement) in recent years. These issues are worth your time.
Next: Best of 2011 No. 3, a blessing and a curse from Allah