Dan Parent on "Kevin Keller's" Ongoing & Life in Riverdale

Dan Parent has worked at Archie Comics since he graduated from the Kubert School in 1987. In recent years, Parent has become one of the most prominent creators at Archie Comics. As a writer, artist or both, Parent has been involved with many high profile Archie stories including the Archie-Valerie romance, "Archie" #625 which celebrated the company's 70th anniversary, and the current four-part "Archie Meets Kiss" story running through "Archie" concluding later this month.

Parent gained the most notoriety for creating Kevin Keller, a character who made international headlines when Archie announced Keller would be its first openly gay character. Kevin Keller was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award and took off after appearing in "Veronica" #202, appearing in a miniseries last year and graduating to his very own ongoing series this week with "Kevin Keller" #1, written and drawn by Parent. CBR News reached Parent via e-mail to discuss "Keller" and his other Archie Comics work.

CBR News: Dan, what is your background with comics, and how did you end up working in the industry?

After numerous guest appearances and a mini, "Kevin Keller" graduates to an ongoing series

Dan Parent: I was a comic book fanatic growing up, drawing every chance I got. This led me to the Joe Kubert School. There I was trained in all things comics.

You don't have a "mainstream/superhero" style which the school is often associated with. What was your experience at the Kubert School like?

The Kubert School was a great experience. It was a lot of work, but they really teach you a lot there. You'd better get used to drawing eight to ten hours per day there! The fact that I didn't have a mainstream superhero style kind of helped me, since I think it helped me stand out a bit more.

How did you first start working at Archie Comics?

I started working in Archie right after graduation from the Kubert School, which was *gasp* twenty-five years ago!

How long have you and inker Rich Koslowski been working together and what's your working relationship like?

Rich is awesome. He fixes everything and makes me look good! He's a great guy and I see him at various comic conventions and he's a lot of fun. And very easy to work with.

You've worked with many artists and writers during your time at the company, but do you have any favorite collaborators or favorite collaborations?

Well, working with Dan DeCarlo was the greatest, because he was an idol of mine. I finished his stories for a few years -- he would do breakdowns and I'd tighten the pencils -- and I learned so much about layout and figure drawing that way. In the early Archie days, I worked a lot with my longtime buddy Bill Golliher. I also love working with Rich Koslowski. And I just worked on "Archie Meets Kiss" with Alex Segura, and he's great to work with too!

I'm sure that finishing Dan DeCarlo's breakdowns was an incredible education. What was it that you learned both from reading his work and then actually working alongside him?

Working with Dan was the best learning experience. Just finishing his figures taught me so much (especially drawing girls) and he was such a gentleman to work for. Just the nicest guy.

How did you end up drawing "Archie Meets Kiss" which wraps up later this month?

I just got lucky! The guys at Archie wanted me to do it, and I was thrilled!

Was it as much fun to make as it was to read? It feels like you and Alex each had a blast working on the book.

It was too much fun! That much fun shouldn't be allowed by law!

Another story in the Archie books that you've been involved in recently is the Archie-Valerie romance.

This is a storyline where Archie and Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats fall in love. The story was just another story idea a year ago, but has blossomed into a fan-favorite.

You drew a story written by Alex Simmons in the recent anniversary issue, "Archie" #625, this past fall. Can you talk about that issue and what it means to be asked to be a part of an anniversary issue like that?

Working on Alex's script was a pleasure and to work on a book featuring the Ronald McDonald House was a real honor. It's a great organization, and a perfect way for Archie to celebrate its anniversary.

Where did the idea for Kevin Keller come from initially?

Kevin Keller came about from a story idea I had about Veronica chasing the most unattainable guy! And Jon Goldwater, our CEO, was looking for more diversity in Riverdale, so I got the green light and Kevin Keller was born!

Why did you decide to make the character an army brat who wants to join the service after school and what do you think that adds to Riverdale?

Victor Gorelick, our Editor in Chief and a former Army man himself, came up with the military angle. It adds so much to the landscape of Riverdale because we never really had a character with that kind of background before.

When you proposed this, you must have been aware this would create some noise. Have you been surprised by the response to Kevin, both within the company after your proposal and from fans and readers over the past year?

Any time you introduce a new idea or concept, someone won't be happy. But there were way more Kevin supporters than detractors, and even some on the fence have come around to like the character. Kevin is now part of the fabric of Riverdale, and it seems like he's been around for years, and it's only been a little over a year!

The miniseries was in part about looking back at Kevin's past and the ongoing moves forward. What do you want to accomplish in the ongoing series, and what are you interested in doing with the character?

I think giving Kevin a prominent role at Riverdale High is important, and getting him a social life too!

Kevin will also be appearing in "Life with Archie," which features the Riverdale characters as adults. Have you had any say or had conversations about how the character appears in that book?

Yes, I outlined the character of Clay, Kevin's husband, and mapped out the basic premise of the story with the folks at Archie. And Paul Kupperberg wrote the story, which turned out fantastic. And a shout out to Fernando Ruiz and Pat and Tim Kennedy on the great artwork they did on the story!

You seem to be interested in fashion. What about fashion appeals to you as an artist and how can it be valuable as a storyteller?

When you're dealing with comics for teens and younger, you'd better be up on fashion. I learned that from Dan DeCarlo. Plus, it's fun!

What is it that you enjoy about working for Archie and what's kept you working steadily at the company for the past quarter century?

It was always my dream to write and draw for Archie, so I'm fulfilling my life's dream, for sure. The fact that it's been twenty-five years is shocking even to me!

"Kevin Keller" #1 is on sale February 8.

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Tags: archie comics, kevin keller, dan parent, alex segura, gay heroes, rich koslowski, dan decarlo, archie meets kiss

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