Today is National Coming Out Day, an annual tradition that celebrates members of the LGBTQIA+ community living their lives openly. To mark the occasion, Archie Comics and the It Gets Better Project have teamed up to create a series of short comics. Titled “A Better Universe,” the strips, by creators Dan Parent and Bob Smith, feature the Riverdale gang interacting with original characters in different “coming out” scenarios. Archie and friends model how to be supportive friends and allies to these queer characters as they open up about their sexuality and gender for the first time.

In a statement, Archie Comics co-president Alex Segura expounded on why the National Coming Out Day partnership with It Gets Better is a natural fit:

“At Archie Comics, being inclusive and welcoming is a major part of who we – and Riverdale – are. It’s a place where friendship and unity are essential, integral elements,” said Archie Comics Co-President Alex Segura. “It’s always an honor and pleasure to work with our friends at the It Gets Better Project, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with them on a special series of comic strips timed to National Coming Out Day. Archie Comics legend Dan Parent – who introduced Kevin Keller to the world, years ago – was the first and only person for this, and he did an amazing job crafting these meaningful vignettes featuring Archie and his friends at Riverdale High. Like Dan and the It Gets Better Project, we’re hopeful that by sharing these short stories we can start to make #ABetterUniverse a reality for today’s LGBTQ+ youth, their friends, and families.”

Writer/artist Parent created Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, in 2010. Keller has since become a prominent character both in the Archie universe of comics and on the Riverdale TV series.

You can check out a few of the strips below, or head over to itgetsbetter.org to see all of Archie and It Gets Better’s “A Better Universe” strips for National Coming Out Day.

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