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Congratulations to George Takei
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/07/12
Last updated on: 12/08/12
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Congratulations to George Takei, whose life story is featured in a new issue of Archie Comics' Kevin Keller 6. In the new issue, Riverdale's openly gay student Kevin Keller chooses Takei as the subject of a required essay on an "inspirational hero." He chooses Takei, he says, not only for the actor's successful show business career, but also for "the triumph of his personal story," including his advocacy on behalf of Asian Americans and the glbtq community.

The essay recounts Takei's life story, from his childhood spent in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II with his family to playing Sulu on the iconic 1960s Star Trek series to his coming out and advocating for gay rights and equality.

In January 2012, I blogged about the release of Life with Archie #16 in which Kevin Keller marries his partner. In that storyline, Kevin returns to Riverdale as an adult after having served in the Army and having recovered from a battle-related injury in Iraq. He eventually ties the knot with Dr. Clay Walker, an African-American rehabilitation expert who helped Kevin regain his ability to walk, in a ceremony presided over by Riverdale's mayor.

Keller first appeared in the venerable Archie series in Veronica #202, published in September 2010, in a story entitled, "Isn't It Bromantic?" In that story, Veronica expresses interest in dating Kevin, but he explains to Jughead that the reason he does not want to date Veronica is because he is gay.

The issue sold out, prompting Archie Comics to issue a reprint for the first time in its 70-year history.

Keller returned in Veronica #205 and then in 2011 headlined his own 4-issue miniseries, Kevin Keller. That series focused on Keller's life before he arrived in Riverdale, including his struggles in junior high school.

In the new issue, Kevin is back as a student in Riverdale. Not only does he write an essay about Takei's inspiring life story, but Takei's husband Brad Altman learns about the essay and they decide to visit Riverdale when they are nearby attending a comics convention.

Takei told the Associated Press that he was "flattered" by the tribute. But beyond the personal satisfaction Takei may take in having his inspiring life story told to a new generation of young people, the tribute is also important insofar as a prominent gay activist is featured so favorably in a publication targeted at youth.

As Teresa Theophano observed in 2005, in our entry on Comic Strips and Cartoons, in their representation of glbtq people comic strips and graphic books "serve as a barometer of shifting attitudes toward gay subcultures."

A preview of the story may be read below.

Kevin Keller Issue 6 Preview

In the video below, aimed at the Asian-American community, Takei explains why he endorsed President Obama for re-election.

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