Archie Comics introduces first gay character; Shobhaa Dé Books; YA writing on bullying.

So, there’s a gay character on Archie Comics–the very blond, very blue-eyed Kevin Keller.  From the website:  “The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive.” Late much?

The headline for the piece says “ARCHIE COMICS INTRODUCES FIRST OPENLY GAY CHARACTER”. Does this mean the series has gay characters who aren’t out yet? If I had to pick one, I’d go with Jughead…

Yes, all this would not be newsworthy in a just universe.

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Via Bitch Media, a nice analysis of Penguin India’s proposed tie up with Shobhaa Dé for a new imprint, Shobhaa Dé  Books. 

Shobhaa Dé Books will focus on celebrity memoirs, guidebooks, biographies of famous figures in cinema and business, and cutting-edge mass-market fiction. The iconic Dé is seen by many as an innovative authority on Indian popular culture and all things glamorously desi. This self-branding as a pioneering rebel will no doubt be represented in what is to come on Dé’s imprint.

However, I have doubts about how gamechanging this new imprint will be, as Dé’s form of rebellion is based in shallow, individualist consumerism rather than a progressive ideology with a goal of widespread social change.

“It’s a great disservice to feminism and to South Asian women–who exist within a different power structure and have different parameters of ‘self-esteem’ and ’empowerment’–to formulate ‘feminism’ exclusively in terms of market-based consumerism, sexual license, and the sort of ‘power’ that one derives from these things.”

Even though it’s BOOKS, I could not be less excited were I hearing about a Paris Hilton meets MNC perfume.

What do you mean it’s out there?

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From author Neesha Meminger’s blog, a piece on bullying that you should read. 

When I was growing up, we were all bullied – only then we called it racism, and our parents dared not name it for fear of any number of repercussions. 

In recent years, there have been more books by people of colour, LGBTQ writers, and working class authors than when I was coming up, but we have a long way to go. Part of empowering young people is to show them reflections of themselves as powerful, valuable, important members of their communities – no less deserving of privilege, love, wealth, dignity and respect than their peers. I know from experience that stories do that. Stories heal and mend and expand.

Neesha is the author of Shine, Coconut Moon, a YA novel dealing with a Sikh girl’s search for her identity in post 9/11 America.

For further reading on bullying, do check out this list of 35 YA novels that battle bullying on writer Mitali Perkins’s  blog.

8 responses to “Archie Comics introduces first gay character; Shobhaa Dé Books; YA writing on bullying.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_comics

    It’s sad that such a nice comic book company has gone this way.

  2. Pingback: Archie Comics Results | Worldwide News

  3. “Kevin” may be gay but he doesn’t seem very sexual. The early Archie comics were quite erotic, in their own stylized way:

    http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2009/01/archie-from-hideous-itchiness-to.html

  4. Don’t think Shoba De is an iconic authority. She is read more because she writes about topics which most other people fringe from

    Book Reviews

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    Cheers
    Booklover

  5. @ Steve: I hope I’m mistaken in your meaning. Surely you don’t disapprove of the comics now showcasing a more diverse set of characters who are more representative of the real world? And, please do read Neesha’s post, where she talks about LGBT teens who have committed suicide because they were bullied about their sexual preferences.

    @ Batty: I’ve always believed the comics were targeted at a tween audience–I read them most avidly when I was about 9 or 10, in the eighties. I wonder if the characters were consciously de-sexualized so as to capture this demographic?
    And thanks for the link. Fascinating stuff.

    @Booklover: I agree she’s not a literary icon, but she is certainly an authority on the topics that “other people cringe from” (by which I gather you mean soft pornish potboilers?) And she *is* iconic in many other ways, don’t you think?

  6. Shobha De suffers from severe celebrity syndrome. Her writings, though interesting at times, lacks spirit and at best can be described as rhetoric bluff.

  7. Came here via Nupur’s blog. Loved reading your reviews! Clearly, this is a place where I am going to spend a lot of time!

  8. @ Partha: I don’t quite know what you mean by “rhetoric bluff”. But it’s clear that you (and other) readers have pretty strong opinions about her work!

    @ Aqua: Thank you so much! Your blog is lovely–so elegant looking, and so interesting. I am *so* going to enjoy discovering it.

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