Saturday, February 22, 2020

REVIEW: Kevin Keller: Drive Me Crazy (graphic novel) by Dan Parent, pencils by Dan Parent and Bill Galvan

Kevin Keller: Drive Me Crazy is an Archie spinoff. It's one of three volumes total.

This review includes spoilers.


Kevin Keller: Drive Me Crazy is very episodic. In the first chapter, each of the characters has to present a report on an inspirational figure, and Kevin chooses George Takei. Takei finds out about his report and decides to pay Riverdale High a visit. In the second chapter, Kevin has some car problems that complicate a date at the drive-in movie theater. In the third chapter, Kevin is now dating his first ever boyfriend, Devon, but there's just one problem: Devon isn't out yet. In the fourth chapter, Kevin's secret admirer is back (his first appearance was in a previous volume I haven't read), and both he and Kevin are starring in Veronica's musical. Devon, meanwhile, struggles with jealousy.

This is apparently the second (?) Kevin Keller volume - I thought about getting the previous one through ILL first but instead decided to just jump in.

This read much more like the original Archie comics than the Archie and Jughead reboots did, despite being more in-your-face about its progressive aspects. I found the art style to be a bit creepy, with everyone smiling 90% of the time, the dialogue was stiff and not particularly well written, and the stories beat readers over the head with their messages.

Kevin Keller is the first openly gay character in the Archie Comics universe, and it's great that he exists. It's also nice that he's not the sole gay person in Riverdale, although he seems to be the only gay guy that anyone is dating. In this one volume, Kevin goes on dates with three different guys and meets a fourth guy who was his secret admirer in a past volume. I was somewhat confused when Kevin said that Devon was his first boyfriend ever, since I'd thought Todd (in Chapter 2) was Kevin's boyfriend, and it seemed like Brian (in Chapter 1) might have been a past boyfriend of Kevin's.

It was great that Kevin got a few stories that weren't solely focused on him being gay - his car borrowing troubles and date at the drive-in were a nice examples of this. Unfortunately, there were times when I felt like Kevin was more of a big gay after school special. The end of the George Takei chapter and the "oh no, my boyfriend is in the closet" chapters were particularly glaring examples. The George Takei stuff was corny, but the stuff in Chapter 3, with Devon, struck me as being potentially painful for some readers.

Kevin began dating Devon knowing that Devon was still in the closet because his parents were homophobic and wouldn't support him the way Kevin's parents did. However, Kevin hadn't even arrived at their first date before he started to have problems with their relationship. He hated that he had to drive out of his way to meet Devon and that they had to be secretive. When kids at school started to find out, Devon said some hurtful (and extremely dated - "I'm not fruity or light in the loafers, as they say!") things to try to reestablish himself as definitely not gay. (Okay, seriously, I had to google "light in the loafers." Does anyone who is not in their 70s even use that phrase anymore?)

Things between Kevin and Devon devolved to the point where Kevin said he couldn't date anyone who was still in the closet. And yeah, he has the right to decide what's best for himself when it comes to relationships, but I disliked that the "happy" resolution to their relationship woes involved Devon coming out and becoming homeless after his parents kicked him out. Veronica gave him a place to stay, but still.

Oh, and one thing I noticed: although I'm pretty sure that even the original Archie comics allowed its characters to kiss on-page, the most Kevin did with anyone was hold hands or hug. After a bit of googling, I discovered that Kevin does get an on-page kiss later on in the series, so that's good. If two heterosexual characters can kiss on-page and still be considered sickeningly wholesome, two gay characters should be able to do the same. Although, from what I've read, Kevin's kiss results in him having to deal with a homophobic stranger's complaints.

I don't intend to read more of this series, although I do have a Kevin Keller novel in my collection that I plan on reading eventually.


Six pages of full-color illustrations of Kevin, Betty, and Veronica acting as fashion models.

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