What works in a Modern Language Association panel for English professors probably won’t succeed in the free market. In the final coup for the progressive-leaning Archie Comics crew, Archie himself—America’s hero—was shot to death while taking a bullet for his gay friend in the July 2014 issue.
When asked what a ten year old will read for fun, chances are it’s a comic book. Let’s face it: From a kid’s standpoint comic books are entertaining and a good way to spend free time. What could be better than spending free time reading an Archie comic? Archie comics provide repetitive story lines of Betty and Veronica chasing after Archie, Jughead’s extensive eating habits, chilling at the choklit shop, and that scheming Reggie! Since it is geared to 8-13 year olds, it would be strange to create completely different plot twists and anything slightly controversial. Rarely do we see anything shocking that disturbs the small town feeling of Riverdale. Yet; all that is changed when Archie comics introduced a new character!
The new character introduced is Kevin Keller, who is gay. Eventually, he married an African-American man and they lived happily ever after (Mr. Weatherbee even cried)! Kevin Keller even joined the army to show how equal our society has become. After all, we have to make a clear political statement that gay people are welcomed in the army and our society.
One would never expect to see Archie comics next to the word controversial. Until now, Archie dumping Veronica and staying with Betty or actually graduating from high school would be the most radical changes that devotees of the comic strip could expect.
Apparently, some moms were exceptionally unhappy about the addition of a controversial character into the mix. A Million Mom’s is an organization that protests explicit and inappropriate behavior on TV and in the press for children. They launched a protest to get Toys R US to stop selling the comic books, but the company refused to oblige.
Clearly some online commentators were pretty unhappy too. “I have nothing against gays or lesbians….I do have a problem with this kind of [expletive] being pushed on our children and grandchildren,” said user Proudvietvet58.
“There aren’t that many on-panel kisses in the pages of Archie, but you often see the lipstick on Archie’s face afterward,” Jon Goldwater, the CEO of Archie comics told Forbes Weekly. “The fact that Kevin Keller kisses another guy at the end was a huge step forward in the series.” Unfortunately, the company’s profits have not made the same leap forward. In fact, since the introduction of the Kevin Keller character in September 2010, profits went down by 88.6 percent, according to freewebsite.org.
It does not look like the Archie comics series are doing very well. From freewebsite.org, the net worth is $8,484 USD with a -88.60 Negative Growth. With the monthly advertising revenue of $349 USD there clearly is not that much profit. That does not seem like a lucrative investment. Perhaps the loveable Archie Comics tried to shake it up with a new character; Kevin Keller. Yet, from the following graph, it does appear that that encouraged many sales.
The chart allows for some speculation as to what caused this dramatic decrease. Perhaps consumers were turned off by gay characters being introduced in comic books. Perhaps the great division on gay marriage affected the response of consumers. Clearly, Archie Comics must rethink how they will draw attention from consumers. Perhaps, the introduction of controversial societal and political changes have caused some consumers to be unhappy.