Archie's new love interest inspired by Toronto author
Jewel Kats convinced Archie creator to include character who uses a wheelchair
Betty or Veronica?
That is the question Archie Andrews has had to grapple with for decades in the iconic Archie comic books. But now, there's a new girl in Riverdale who's vying for his affections.
Harper, a character unveiled in the June 18 issue of Archie, is inspired by Toronto children's author, Jewel Kats.
"She is beautiful, she's fashionable, she's eccentric and she's very smart," Kats said Thursday in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "The difference about her is that she uses a wheelchair. She still looks like a Barbie, but just not your typical Barbie in a toy box."
Kats is an Archie fan who noticed something was missing in the comic's storylines — someone who looked like her. Kats uses a wheelchair.
"Kids … they need people who look like themselves," she told host Matt Galloway. "You want to be reflected in the media. You want to be seen and heard."
Kats approached Archie author Dan Parent at Fan Expo in Toronto. Kats was there to promote her comic DitzAbled Princess about "a zany quirky woman with a disability."
Kats convinced Parent that Archie needs a character who uses a wheelchair.
"I wheeled up to him, looked at him square in the eye and I said 'Why isn't there a character with a disability in Riverdale? How is that possible? He didn't have an answer right away. But he gave me his contact information."
The two corresponded and developed ideas for the character.
"When he actually finished his draft, it was me that looked over it," said Kats. "I gave him pointers as to what worked, and what didn't work.
So Harper — who is Veronica Lodge's cousin — is introduced in issue 656 of Archie Comics.
The Archie series introduced Kevin Keller, the comic's first openly gay character, in 2010.
The issue is out on stands June 18.
Galloway asked Kats for hints about what will happen to Harper as she ventures into the decades-old Veronica-Betty-Archie love triangle .
"I can't tell you that," she said. "It's top secret."