Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale, by Dan Parent, Rich Koslowski, and Jack Morelli, was published in 2012.
It is a graphic novel, in the sense that it is a collection of Kevin Keller comics. It’s like a collection of short stories tied together with a central theme.
The first line of dialog is: “Wow! It seems like I just moved to Riverdale!”
Kevin Keller is an army brat. He was born in England, and has lived all over the world. He has a big, loving family. He plans to follow in his father’s footsteps someday, and have a military career. The Keller family is now living in Riverdale.
Kevin goes to Riverdale High, where he has been elected Class President. He’s active in the ROTC and the Chess Club. He hangs out with his friends Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper.
Kevin and Veronica are best friends. Veronica has a crush on Kevin. She looks at him with her chin resting in her hands, while little hearts orbit her head. However, Veronica has (mostly) accepted that she and Kevin are never going to be anything more than pals. Kevin Keller is openly gay.
In Chapter 1, Kevin speaks directly to the readers, breaking that fourth wall. He tells us that this story contains a lot of firsts for him: It’s his first week as Class President, his first article has been printed in The Riverdale Times, and he’s won his first journalism award. He’s also “freakin’ out”. He’s been asked out on his first date. Hilarity ensues.
In Chapter 2, Kevin and Veronica plan the prom together. They decide, with the help of Kevin’s family, on a 1970s disco theme. Conflict arises. Who should Archie ask to the prom: Betty or Veronica? Should Kevin ask Veronica, or the secret admirer who’s been leaving notes in his locker?
In Chapter 3, the school year has ended and the Riverdale gang heads for the beach. Kevin needs to save some money for college, so he’s landed a job as a life guard. (At least he’ll be near his friends while he works.) All the girls swoon over Kevin, the dreamy new life guard. Suddenly, the snobs from Pembrooke show up. Their private beach is closed, and they want to use Riverdale’s beach. There’s not enough room for everyone, so Kevin suggests a winner-take-all surfing competition. The kids from Riverdale and Pembrooke prepare for a friendly competition. However, Sloan, the jerk from Pembrooke, is not above using some homophobic taunting, and outright cheating, to win.
In Chapter 4, the Riverdale gang is hanging out in Pop’s, watching an ad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Kevin announces to his friends that he’ll be there, in London, because his father will be a torchbearer. Veronica asks to go along, and the Keller family is thrilled to have her join them. In London, Kevin shows Veronica his old neighborhood, and introduces her to his longtime friends. The Olympic torch run doesn’t go as planned, however. Mishaps include a stuck tube train, Veronica’s new dress, and a cup of water.
I started reading Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale, knowing that I wasn’t going be getting into complex stories with deep, philosophical allegories. I knew the artwork wasn’t going to be especially inventive. I got what I was expecting, and that was fine with me. There are times that I enjoy silly entertainment just for the sake of entertainment.
There isn’t much drama, aside from a sabotaged surfboard, or many surprises.
The Riverdale gang acted pretty much like I expected them to act – just like they’ve probably been acting since the 1940s. Betty gives Kevin dating advice and immediately realizes that her advice has yet to help her land Archie. Jughead loves enormous hamburgers, which is something he and Kevin have in common. Reggie is his typical sarcastic, bad boy self. Veronica is lovely and glamorous, and fully aware that she is. Archie, however, doesn’t do a whole lot in any of the four stories. (He can’t be the center of attention when the stories are about Kevin Keller.)
I enjoyed this collection of comics. It was a fun read.
Why I chose this book:
Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale was in the same Humble Bundle folder as The Infinite Loop. I’d heard of Kevin Keller, Riverdale’s first openly gay citizen, but I knew nothing about The Infinite Loop.
I started reading The Infinite Loop, and chose it as my “book with a LBGTQ+ protagonist”. I was almost finished with it when I remembered that there was also a category named “a book about time travel”. So The Infinite Loop changed categories. Sorry, Kevin, but you were the runner-up who got picked because the winner dropped out.