America first fell in love with the Archie comics back in 1939. It’s hard to believe the beloved characters, Archie, Betty, Veronica, and friends have been around for almost 75 years! Reads have followed the heroic tales, adventures, and romantic drama that the characters experience in the small town of Riverdale, but Riverdale has recently welcomed a new character into the mix: Harper, Archie’s friend with a disability who gets around in her pink wheelchair.
Harper debuted in the June 18th edition of the comic as Veronica’s cousin who came to Riverdale for a visit. The comic explains that she was in a car accident as a child. In an interview with CTV News, the creator explains that Harper’s character was inspired by Jewel Kats, a children’s book author from Canada. Kats met the Archie author at a convention and asked why there wasn’t a character with a disability in his comic. From there the concept for Harper’s character was born. The author says, “Harper is the latest in a long line of characters we’ve introduced to make Riverdale feel like a city in today’s world.”
The author of the comic gave Harper not only a wheelchair, but confidence, friendship, beauty, and a friendly personality to match as the audience begins to get to know her just as the other characters living in Riverdale.
Featuring a main character with a disability is rare in the mainstream media and even perhaps more rare to see in a popular comic strip that reaches readers from children to the elderly and published throughout dozens if not hundreds of newspapers and magazines throughout the world.
Many of us take don’t give comics much of a second thought when we sit down in the morning to read the paper with our hot cup of coffee or take a glance through the pages during our afternoon work break, but there is no denying the reach that comics can have.
Archie is just one example of how more and more media characters and images are becoming increasingly representative of diversity. This can only continue to encourage conversations about differences and when conversations are sparked, it opens the opportunity for a shift in attitudes and a breakdown of potentially harmful societal barriers, promoting change and equality.
To read more about Jewel Kat’s and the Archie author’s interview with CTV News, click here: http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/toronto-author-inspires-archie-comics-first-disabled-character-1.1877816
What do you think about comics and media outlets becoming more representative of reality and the diversity of our communities? Are you a fan of the Archie comic? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The Archie Comic Introduces New Character with a Disability