“RIP Jewel Kats,” tweeted Archie Comics cartoonist Dan Parent. “You’ve inspired so many! You won’t be forgotten!”
Kats, who was injured in a car accident at age 9, leading her to use a crutch or a wheelchair (hot pink), wrote the “Fairy Ability Tales” books, which cast characters with chronic illnesses or disabilities in the primary roles. It was while promoting her graphic novel DitzAbled Princess at Fan Expo 2013 that she encountered Parent, which led to the creation of Veronica’s cousin Harper.
“I knew Dan was there, and I had a bone to pick with him — so I did,” she told CBR News in 2014, before Harper’s debut in Archie #656. “I wheeled right up to him and I looked at him square in the eye, and I said to him, ‘Why isn’t there a character with a disability in Riverdale? How is that possible?’ Dan didn’t have an answer prepared, obviously, but he gave me something that was way more important. He gave me his contact info. From there, I started messaging him, and I told him how I felt about Archie, I told him why this character was so important and I sent him writing ideas. Eventually, the new character was hatched.”
“I just found Jewel to be very inspiring,” Parent added. “She has a lot of fans, a lot of attention at her booth. She’s just a very exciting girl. Harper was definitely an inspiration from Jewel — Harper’s full of personality, too. Seeing the work that Jewel does is inspiring.”