Big City Living: Dan Parent Talks About ‘Life With Kevin’ [Pride Week]
It wasn't that long ago that Archie Comics made headlines with the introduction of Kevin Keller, the first out gay character to go to Riverdale High; he quickly became a hit with fans, and he was one of the first signs that Archie as a publisher was willing to shake up what people thought they knew about the company. Since then Kevin has become a mainstay of the Archie books and has proven to be a successful spinoff character in his own right. He'll even appear in the cast of the upcoming TV show Riverdale
This week, Archie Comics launches Life With Kevin, a new digital first series starring an adult Kevin Keller living away from Riverdale, chasing his dreams in the big city. ComicsAlliance caught up with cartoonist Dan Parent to talk about the unique style of his new book, adapting the Archie formula to adult characters, and of course, Kevin's love life.
ComicsAlliance: You’ve spent a lot of time with Kevin as a teenager; how was the decision reached to cast an older incarnation of the character for the new series?
Dan Parent: We just wanted to open up Kevin’s world a bit. With him as an adult, we can open up the world of career and romance in a way we couldn't in high school. And it’s nice to do stories outside of high school --- that’s from a writer’s point of view!
CA: From an artist’s standpoint, is there a challenge in figuring out how a teenager is going to look as an adult, and how did you settle on Kevin’s shaggy chic?
DP: Kevin’s a little older, a little looser with his image. It’s a way to separate him from teen Kevin. And when you look like Kevin, you can pull it off!
CA: The presentation of Life With Kevin is a surprising approach for an Archie book, especially the coloring and lettering. What led to the '80s underground zine vibe of the book?
DP: I never really thought of it as an '80s underground look, I’ve just seen comics that look really good with the one tone coloring. Comics like Daniel Clowes' Eightball, and Michael Cho’s Shoplifter come to mind. It actually gives you more freedom, as you’re not bound to the standard color palette.
CA: I’m interested in your method as writer/penciller/colorist; do you write a full script and then move to pencils, or are you plotting, pencilling and then scripting as you go?
DP: I write the full script first. Then pencil about six pages at a time, when we send them off to masterful artist J. Bone who inks my pencils and makes them look so good! After it’s all inked and cleaned up, then it’s color time!
CA: Life With Kevin still feels very "Archie" in the light-hearted nature of the conflicts and problems that Kevin faces; is that somewhat of a different challenge, adapting that style of storytelling to an adult character?
DP: The transition is very easy. It’s still a light, feel good story. There are more conflicts and problems, but the main goal is still humor and to put a smile on people’s faces.
CA: Veronica Lodge is very much a supporting character in the book. Will we get ongoing glimpses at her struggles, along with Kevin’s?
DP: Yes! Veronica is my favorite character (next to Kevin, of course), and I always loved the dynamic between her and Kevin. So we’ll see her struggles, as well as the many problems she causes for Kevin! She’s a hot mess in this storyline!
CA: Will we be seeing any more of Kevin’s friends from Riverdale aside from Veronica?
DP: There will be one or two minor characters popping in, but Veronica is the only main character we’ll see. It’s important to create a strong new supporting cast for Kevin.
CA: What can readers expect from Kevin’s new life in the city in the way of love interests?
DP: Kevin dates a lot in this series. For those people who wanted Kevin to have more boyfriends in his teen series, they will be happy now! He’s a young single guy in a big city! With lots of dating options in this digital age! But that doesn’t mean it all goes smoothly...
Life With Kevin #1 is released digitally Wednesday, June 22nd.