In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, see how an Archie comic book storyline “boycotted” Russia over Vladimir Putin’s Anti-LGBT stance.
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and twenty-eighth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.
Archie Comics “boycotted” a storyline in Russia over Vladimir Putin’s Anti-LGBT stance.
Years before he was drawing condemnation from around the world for his decision to invade Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was drawing condemnation from around the world for a whole other thing, his pushing of an anti-LGBT law in Russia. The Guardian described the law, passed in June of 2013…
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has signed into law a measure that stigmatises gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality.
The lower house of Russia’s parliament unanimously passed the Kremlin-backed bill on 11 June and the upper house approved it last week.
The Kremlin announced on Sunday that Putin had signed the legislation into law.
The ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values over western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian orthodox church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin’s rule.
Hefty fines can now be imposed on those who provide information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or hold gay pride rallies.
The law drew criticism from all over the world and also led to a number of boycotts of Russia from companies over the law. Interestingly, one of the areas where Russia was “boycotted” was in none other than the pages of Archie Comics.
Archie comic book writer and artist, Dan Parent, is perhaps best known for creating Archie Comics’ first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, in 2010’s Veronica #202….
In a Comics Alliance interview, Parent recalled the creation of Keller, “When Jon Goldwater came aboard five years ago, we were looking to diversify Archie a little bit more. We were looking too white bread and we needed to add more characters.
I had suggested bringing in a gay character a few years before, and it was nixed quickly, but Jon wanted new characters. When I suggested Kevin Keller, he was in. He told me to design a story and the characters and to go for it. And the character took off. People were ready to meet Kevin Keller. He’s one of the main Archie characters now, and has been embraced by everyone. Not just LGBT people, but everyone. Kids love Kevin. There was some backlash from some conservative groups, but we followed our instincts and hearts and were smart to do that. People have embraced him.”
Well, in 2013, Parent was starting work on a storyline that would involve The Archie traveling the world on a rock tour, starting in India in Archie #650…
That issue interestingly had a variant cover by the brilliant Fiona Staples…
That’s noteworthy because Staples would then reboot Archie with writer Mark Waid only a year or so later.
In any event, Parent was asked by the website Back2Stonewall about the Russian laws and he noted, “I’ve just been catching up on it. It’s really upsetting.”
When the website asked him whether he supported the boycotts against Russia, Parent agreed and went a step further, explaining, “Yes. Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four issue story arch I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.”
Instead, the Archies traveled to China…
and then Australia…
and then Canada….
I do not know which of the countries that they ended up visiting were replacements for Russia (by the way, the rock tour also involved Josie and the Pussycats, which is important because a storyline soon before this one involved Archie starting to date Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats, so them touring together and Archie meeting all these interesting girls in each of the countries made not only Betty and Veronica jealous, but Valerie, too!).
Another interesting aspect of this story is that when Dan Parent went to work for Archie Comics in the late 1980s, more or less fresh out of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, his first MAJOR assignment was to launch a brand-new Veronica ongoing series and the novel aspect of this new series, at first, was that each issue would see Veronica travel to a new part of the world, beginning with Paris…
In fact, I believe that that was literally the first time that Dan Parent even did the cover of an Archie comic book, as I believe previously he had just done interior stories and for his first cover, he worked over a Dan DeCarlo layout?!? Wow!
Anyhow, sure enough, the ninth issue of the series saw Veronica travel to Russia, soon after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down…
It’s kind of rough to reflect upon the attitude of that story, so full of promise, with the news out of Russia today, but it also hopefully gives us some hope that those types of stories could one day come true again.
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