Archie Gay Marriage Comic Sells Out in Toys R Us

by JoHarrington

One Million Moms launched an anti-gay marriage boycott. The rest of the store's customers voted with their wallets.

For some Americans, gay marriage is up there with genocide and war, as a major crime against humanity. It's practically a hitherto unforeseen fifth horseman of the Apocalypse.

But then, some people will always drift towards melodrama.

So when one of the US's longest running comic strips included a homosexual couple in love, a hate campaign quickly sprung up around it. But it didn't get very far. The majority simply bought the comics without blinking an eye.

One Million Moms Fail to Convince Shoppers in Homophobic Boycott

Parents and other shoppers refused to join the protest against gay marriage in a toy store.

American Conservative pressure group, One Million Moms, found themselves out of step, as they tried to shut down sales on a comic featuring gay marriage.

Mega chain-store, Toys R Us, was bombarded with letters and e-mails threatening a boycott, if they allowed the special edition Archie comic to remain on their shelves. In a manner of speaking, the lobbyists got their wish, but not quite as they envisaged.

Life with Archie #16, which included the wedding of established Riverdale resident Kevin Keller and his partner, Clay, sold out within hours of being stocked. 

What is Archie?

The adventures of an ordinary teenage boy and his friends in a quiet American town.

Archie is one of America's longest running serial comics. It has been charting the lives of the people of Riverdale for over 70 years.

Since its first appearance, on December 22, 1941, it has led to dozens of spin-off titles.

The eponymous Archie Andrews is a seventeen year old boy, living with perpetual crushes on two local girls. Betty and Veronica both send him into fits of awe.

In 2010, a third girl named Valerie was added to his Valentine list. As an African-American, this was the first time that inter-racial themes had been explored, in this light-hearted comic.

However, the real controversy of the year came when Kevin Keller moved into the neighborhood. Openly homosexual, he automatically earned the censure of Conservative readers. Their red-faced fury went into over-drive, when it was announced that Kevin would marry his boyfriend, Clay.

Archie on Wikipedia

Archie Comics is an American comic book publisher headquartered in the Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck, New York, known for its many series featuring the fictional teenagers Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie ...

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Kevin Keller in Archie Books and Comics

Buy these single editions, or collected volumes, to get up to date with Riverdale's latest groom.

Archie Fans Support Kevin Keller

Newly wed, Kevin and Clay will have their own comic series within the Archie universe.

Archie fans have refused to get drawn into the fray. By and large, their reaction has always been positive.

Veronica #202, which introduced Kevin, went into reprint, as all back-copies were bought out. This made it the most popular issue in Archie history. That prompted a mini-series, which gave further insight into Kevin's background as an 'army brat'.

Jon Goldwater, co-executive of the company behind the comic, reported that only seven people had cancelled their subscription to protest the Kevin Keller storylines. Meanwhile writer Dan Parent had reviewed his post about it. He determined that 'about 98%' of fans were in favor.

It was Kevin's return to the main Archie series which caused the real furore. In a dream sequence, Archie married first Veronica, then Betty, exploring adult life with both before waking up. As Kevin and Clay were part of his future, he attended their wedding.

This was too much for One Million Moms, who mobilized their ranks to protest the dilution of 'family values'. They threatened that, unless Toys R Us removed the title from stock, they would boycott the entire store.

Except it all turned into a bit of a damp squib, when the Conservative lobbyists were overwhelmed by a swarm of actual fans wanting to read the latest adventures. 

It appears that America gave a firm thumbs up to gay marriage on this issue.

Buy the Archie Gay Marriage Comic

The editions have been collected into three volumes. Married Life 2 is the one with Kevin and Clay.

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Updated: 01/12/2015, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 03/11/2012

Silvergenes - Ah! I see what you're saying now. Sorry about the confusion. I haven't been reading it for so long, so I didn't realise that the insertion of any marriage is a new phenomenon.

Sam - It was all Star Wars in my day! We ran around with sticks pretending that they were light-sabres. :D But yes, I also recall playing pretend marriage. It was so ubiquitous that it seemed to be the thing that adults did.

Guest - Thank you very much for your comment and your kind words. I didn't understand the fuss re gay marriage, but people commenting here are saying that all marriage is a new insertion into the comic. That changes things slightly. But if they are going to have people getting wed, then straight, gay, whatever is all in the same pot. IMHO.

Lakeeriartists - Yes, he's still going strong! I wonder how much of that is to do with up-dating the storylines to reflect modern life. The author was saying that he'd received lots of e-mails from gay teens thanking him for introducing Kevin to the cast.

lakeerieartists on 03/10/2012

Well, I have to say that I didn't even know that Archie comics were still in existence. I have read my share of them when I was younger. I didn't know about this issue, but have no problem with it. Kevin is just another teen in Riverdale, and the reality is that the gay teen is part of the American demographic, so why not in Archie's life.

Guest on 03/10/2012

Hi Sam! We did the same thing as kids and I agree with you. Children have always imitated adults in pretend games but marriage and family life have never been part of this particular comic. It's about teenagers in their own world and aimed at younger kids who dream of one day being teens. My issue is that the publishers have changed the comic significantly in the last few years in an attempt to generate sales from an entirely different demographic. (I should probably state that Family Guy is not my idea of kid-appropriate TV either.) But this shift in Riverdale wasn't done in an attempt to introduce family life. It was to generate cash by suggesting that it would solve the riddle that has been around since 1941 - who does Archie marry one day? Betty or Veronica? This latest gambit was to create exactly this kind of firestorm in public reaction and that's where I have the problem. I don't like being manipulated for sales and I'm saddened that a kids' comic that has been around for 70 years is used to do so. That's my point. But here we are... LOL.

Sam on 03/10/2012

SilverGenes, as I was a kid we would do a lot of 'pretend play' (not sure if that is the correct term. We would imitate a lot of things that the adults do, including marriages. One of us would be the minister and would 'marry' two of us whilst the others were the wedding party guests - and then we would swap roles, so that at the end everybody had the chance to get 'married'. We did also do a lot of other stuff, like pretending to work in an office, being the teacher, pretending to be a Circus group etc. I am not sure what the main age group for these comics is, but I am pretty sure that the kids are still playing similar games like we did when I was young. So, not sure why marriage and family shouldn't feature in a kid's comic ...

Guest on 03/10/2012

Jo, marriage in Riverdale is a recent phenomenon. Why do you think it should be there? Kids don't care about adult relationships and comics were never meant to portray realism. 'Peanuts' is an example of how important adults are in a kid's recreational world. Remember the voice of Miss Peach? Kids care about teachers, principals, and parents in comic/cartoon world only as they directly affect them. I do not know one kid who wants to read comics or watch cartoons that feature marriages. If the comic is changing to embrace an older demographic, that's fine but perhaps they shouldn't market it in Toys R Us then. Actually, from a marketing perspective, creating controversy is a brilliant thing to do to increase sales and create 'collector' editions. I just find it annoying that they used sexual orientation, politics, and bigotry to do so.

JoHarrington on 03/10/2012

I would agree with you if it was the darker side of adult life with themes more akin to a soap opera. If, for example, Archie was participating in orgies, while shooting heroin and slapping his partner around, then I'd be saddened too.

But if we draw a line under marriage, then much of the realism is lost. Real life has married couples in it and so should Riverdale.

From what I gathered by reading the director and author interviews, they were merely trying to attain that demographic realism. Though obviously yes, some lines shouldn't be crossed.

Guest on 03/10/2012

Excellent article! The entire concept saddens me though. I read Archie and so did all my friends but we were not 17 at the time. We were all under the age of 12 and most of us considerably so. The subject matter was all kid stuff, not politics or social mores. We were allowed to grow up at our own pace with direction coming from our parents and not from a comic. I fail to see how exploring adult themes in children's comics is progress. To me, the inflammatory issue should not be gay marriage but rather about using a kids' comic to create controversy for the sole purpose of generating money. This is what should anger parents.

JoHarrington on 03/10/2012


JoHarrington on 03/06/2012

Thank you very much for your comments here, Sam. It's people like you who seem to me (as a degenerate Pagan) to be following the words and example of Christ. He appeared very into peace, love and compassion for all of humanity.

Thank you for sharing too. <3

Sam on 03/06/2012

As a straight, married Christian woman I can't for the life of me see how gay marriage 'threatens' family values. None of our gay friends, partnered or single, threatens our marriage and - how could they? It is as absurd as saying that a heterosexual relationship threatens a homosexual relationship! Like you said Jo, nobody should be persecuted for who they are and whom they love! Well done, thumbs up and shared!

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