Dan ParentHave you had the opportunity to back the Kevin Keller Celebration! Kickstarter campaign? So long as it is funded, Kevin Keller’s first decade in Riverdale is being commemorated with a collection that includes all of his comic appearances and runs to more than 700 pages!

To learn more about this exciting Kickstarter campaign, The Beat caught up with Kevin’s creator Dan Parent over Google Meet to ask all about seeing Kevin aged-up in the panels of Life with Archie, to find out more about Parent’s most memorable Keller commissions, and to posit an obligatory inquiry about that time Kevin met the legendary Starfleet Captain George Takei!

AVERY KAPLAN: When you first created Kevin Keller, what did you expect the response to be like? Did you ever anticipate that you would be working on a commemorative collection like this at the decade point?

PARENT: When I created Kevin, I didn’t really know what to expect. I just figured the Archie readers would like Kevin, and that’s who I write for, are the Archie readers!

Did I ever think there’d be a collection going? No, I didn’t have that much foresight at all! I never thought this would happen. I’m glad it has!

Dan Parent InterviewKAPLAN: What is it like to see a character you created brought to life on Riverdale alongside Archie and the rest of the gang? What was it like seeing an older version of him in the panels of Life with Archie? 

PARENT: It’s always really exciting when you see something you created being interpreted into real life, so seeing Kevin on Riverdale was just surreal. It was odd seeing that! And Casey Cott’s really good – obviously Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa really knows how to cast a show, because he really cast Kevin well.

And seeing grown-up Kevin was great, too, because at the time, gay marriage was a big issue in the country. Kevin’s a little too young to marry off in his teenage years, so it was good that they picked that storyline up in Life with Archie.

And that again was always a funny story, too, with the whole Million Moms thing picking it up… It catapulted it into a new level of sales as far as media attention just because of the negative voices against it.

Cott as Kevin on Riverdale.

KAPLAN: Do you think Kevin could headline an Archie Horror title? What’s his greatest fear? 

PARENT: I’m sure he could lead a horror title! What is his greatest fear…

In the stories that I’ve done, the biggest problems he had growing up were from moving around a lot. He had this thing about not being able to connect with friends because he was always moving around – which is why when he moved to Riverdale, he had found a place where he could have the lasting bonds of friendship.

But I don’t know if that’s really a horror angle… I’d have to think more about that! We’ve done so many horror things: we’ve done werewolves, we’ve done vampires, so I don’t know. Slasher film…

KAPLAN: Can you tell us any details about the Kickstarter that readers might not yet be aware of? Are there any particular stretch goals you think people need to know about?

PARENT: Yeah, as far as stretch goals go – as of this recording, we’re 76% funded and we’re not even half way through, so that’s a good place to be.

With my Kickstarters, I’ve done several of them, people know I always have a lot of add-ons – mostly art add-ons. People can get sketches, they can get prints, they can get pages I’ve already done. That always helps propel the funding.

So once we hit our goal – well, our first goal, our funding level is 49.5, once we hit 50, the first large stretch goal after that, we’re going to be a hardcover book. So our first real stretch goal, the book’s a hardcover. And it’s great because people don’t have to pay any more money for it – they’ve already pledged, their pledge is in, and they get that upgrade just for us getting funded at that level.

And that’s the thing that I really love about Kickstarters is that the more money you make, the people who have already pledged get more for their money, and a lot of the times, they don’t even have to do anything to get that.

And then when we hit 55K, our next stretch goal after that, we’re going to have more t-shirts, some more add-ons. 60K is a big one, because that’s when we’re going to do a new story, and that new story will be part of the Kickstarter. And what’s exciting about that, is in the Kickstarter, people are pledging to get drawn in the comic book. So if this Kevin story happens, that will probably be where most of the backers will be appearing – in that Kevin story. So that’s really exciting, to actually bring people to life in the comic!

It’s kind of like bragging rights for people, because they can hold up the book and say, “I’m a part of Archie Comics history forever, I’m in this book.”

And that’s what I love about Kickstarters and crowd funding: you have a community of people involved in creating something, and that’s exactly what we’re doing: we’re creating this really special project. It’s really exciting!

There’s a lot to check out – there’s a lot of reward levels and add-ons. People can go on there and check it out!

dan Parent
The 2nd printing variant for Veronica #202.

KAPLAN: The first issue to feature Kevin Keller is also the first issue of Archie Comics to ever go back for a second printing! What was your reaction when you learned this news? What do you think it says about the character and Riverdale in general?

PARENT: Well, that was a very nice sigh of relief, because that meant that people were buying the book, because as proud as I was of the story and creating Kevin, sales are sort of like an indicator of how things are going, so you do want to sell books! So the book sold well it was critically well-received by people who reviewed the book.

Kevin’s entrance into Archie was also well-received by some Archie fans who were on the fence. There were some Archie fans who were a little wary about it and weren’t sure if it was the right venue to do it, but when Kevin was introduced, they were overwhelmingly happy to have Kevin in Riverdale.

KAPLAN: You have something of a reputation for your commissions (for example, our Managing Editor Joe Grunenwald has shown me an amazing depiction of Archie as The Flash you drew for him)! Is there any Kevin Keller commission you have drawn over the years that sticks out to you?

PARENT: Oh, I’ve done a lot of Kevin commissions. I get a lot of superhero commissions – I’ve done him as a lot of Legion of Superheroes characters. I just did one of him as Sun Boy – that was a couple weeks ago at a con.

Because Kevin started out as friends with Veronica, I get a lot of requests for Kevin and Veronica.

But as far as one that stands out? I guess the superhero ones always stand out to me, because they’re more unique.

A variant cover for Kevin Keller #6 by Parent.

KAPLAN: As a Star Trek devotee, I am obligated to ask you about the time Kevin met George Takei (Kevin Keller #6)! What went into this legendary meeting of the minds? 

PARENT: Well, again, it was just one of those things where I had met George at a convention shortly before that, and I had told him about Kevin and he was very excited about it.

So then when I was working on the Kevin book, I had the idea to have George as a guest star. And in the storyline, Kevin in school has to write about a public figure he admires, and he picks George Takei. So we just sort of explained that to George Takei, and he loved it, and before you know it, we were signing comics at a Midtown Comics signing together, and then I see him at conventions all the time.

This year – even though we’re kind of slowly rolling back with COVID, I’ve been at several conventions – and I think he’s been at almost every one of them! So, I run into him at shows and he’s – he’s George Takei, what can you say? He’s like the greatest person out there!

The thing about George that I love, even though I’d only met him once before at the signing – you never know how people are going to be when you meet them. They either disappoint or they don’t. And George just exceeded all expectations. He’s the most genuine person, the sweetest guy.

We were signing at Midtown Comics and it was a cold midwinter’s night. It was December, and the line was outside – and it was so cold out. And he was so concerned about the people outside being cold, he wanted to get them into the hallway at Midtown so they would be out of the cold.

And I remember him promising that everybody was going to get their book signed, and he did it – we stayed much later than was planned, because he made sure everybody got their book signed.

And the other thing about George that’s great is, his management was like, “OK George, you can only sign one thing.” People were bringing ten things, and he was signing everything. George, he just goes all out for his fans, and he’s just a great person.

KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?

PARENT: A big thank you so far to everyone that’s backed my work, backed Kevin, who’s backing the Kickstarter, who have been so supportive at conventions… it’s just really, really great!

And just the outpouring of love for Kevin is just so overwhelming. As you can see from the Kickstarter doing so well, it just shows so much support. Thank you is all I can say!

You have until Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 at 7:30 PM UTC +00:00 to pledge your support for the Kevin Keller Celebration! Kickstarter campaign.