Archie writer opens new doors






In his young adult book Kevin, Paul Kupperberg offers fans of the Life With Archie comic strip series an in-depth view of its first openly gay character’s middle school years.

A former editor at DC Comics and veteran writer for Archie Comics, Kupperberg signed copies of Kevin and Archie the Married Life: Book Three at the Fairfield University bookstore on Saturday, May 11.

Kupperberg said the character was introduced as a teen in Veronica #202.

“It was an instant hit and the first time the magazine sold out,” Kupperberg, a Fairfield resident, said.

Based on his popularity, Kevin received his own eponymous comic book series, currently in its eighth issue.

All members of the Archie gang are portrayed as young adults in their mid-20s in the Life With Archie series. Every month Kupperberg pens two separate plot lines for the magazine: One in which Archie is married to Betty and another in which he is wed to Veronica.

Last year the comic book sold out for the second time when Life with Archie: The Marriage of Kevin Keller was published.

Along with tackling contemporary issues such as sexuality and gay marriage, the Life With Archie magazines have also explored cancer, death and divorce.

“Archie Comics is at a really interesting place right now,” Kupperberg explained. “It’s always been a fun, kids comic company. In recent years, though, they’ve been pushing the envelope and really trying out some very brave story lines, especially given the politics of today.”

When Archie Comics signed a deal with Grossett & Dunlap/Penguin Books for a young adult novel about Kevin, Kupperberg was a logical choice to write it. He’s written several fiction and nonfiction books based on superheroes, such as Batman and Spiderman.

In the novel Kevin, the protagonist is overweight and self-conscious and has acne. He becomes aware of his sexuality while also dealing with school bullies. Although Kevin is portrayed as a tall, blond and handsome young man in the comic book series, readers of the novel have the opportunity to see him at another stage of his life.

Kupperberg said the novel depicts a “typical middle school” experience.

“There are themes about feeling like an outsider at school and wanting to be accepted,” he said.

The prolific writer was thrilled to appear last month at a book release signing and book talk with Kevin’s creator, Dan Parent, at New York City’s renowned Strand Book Store.

“It was nice, relaxed and friendly,” said Kupperberg. “You just sit there and look around and see all of these great books on the shelves.”

For Kevin, Kupperberg was nominated in 2012 for the Eisner Award for the Best Publications in the Young Adults category.

During his 38-year career, Kupperberg has seen drastic changes in the comic book industry. Because of changes in sales, licensing and distribution, today’s comic book companies don’t have to sell a lot of magazine copies “to keep the doors open,” he said.

On Aug. 24, Kupperberg will appear at Connecticut ComicCon, held at the Trumbull Marriott.

“It’s always a fun time, even if you’re not into the comic book genre,” Kupperberg said.

Kupperberg has been a resident of Connecticut since the late 1980s.

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