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Comic Book Adds Character With Disability

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In an effort to better reflect modern life, comic book mainstay Archie and his pals are set to get their first-ever friend with a disability, the series’ creators say.

The long-running

The long-running “Archie” comic book series will introduce a new character named Harper, who has a disability, later this month. (Archie Comics)

Archie Comics said that a new character named Harper will join Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Reggie in the fictional town of Riverdale beginning later this month.

A cousin to series regular and posh socialite Veronica Lodge, Harper is described as a “spunky fashionista” with a “dynamic personality.” Despite being depicted in a wheelchair, she does not let her disability define her, those behind the comic said in announcing the addition.

“Harper is the latest in a long line of characters we’ve introduced to make Riverdale feel like a city in today’s world,” said Jon Goldwater, co-CEO and publisher of Archie Comics. “Harper is, first and foremost, a funny, fashionable and witty teenager. The fact that she’s disabled is only one part of her story, and we’re excited to welcome her to Riverdale and Archie Comics.”

The idea to add a character with a disability to the venerable comic book series, which originated in the 1940s, was prompted by a conversation between writer and artist Dan Parent and Jewel Kats, an Archie fan who has a disability, officials said.

Harper’s first appearance will be in “Archie” No. 656, which will be available June 18.

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. nanyerb says:

    There have been plenty of other Archie characters with disabilities, including a blind boy named Jeffrey and a girl named Anita in a wheelchair, who were Archie’s friends way back in the 1990s. This isn’t the first by a long ways. You’d think they’d want to give themselves more credit for what they’ve already done.

  2. Skarlex Alorda says:

    I would like to thank you for creating such a character as “Harper” to your no.656 Archie collection of Comics. I wish you the best. And always remember to contact your local ADA office for any support.

    Yours truly,

    Skarlex Alorda, ISD-ADA
    Office Support Specialist II
    111 NW 1st Street, 24th Floor
    Miami, Florida 33128
    (305)375-3893
    Skarlex@miamidade.gov
    “Delivering Excellence Every Day”
    Miami-Dade County is a public entity subject to Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes concerning public records. E-mail messages are covered under such laws and thus subject to disclosure

  3. dlotem says:

    Nanyerb is absolutely correct. Archie created a female basketball coach who also happened be disabled back in 1991. They have been diversifying their cast for quite awhile. Hopefully, this character ganes a little more traction.

  4. Doug says:

    I wish they had actually looked at a contemporary wheelchair before drawing this chair, because this chair is both antiquated and not realistic.

    The chair has handles on the back, which means that the user is unable to navigate (at least part of the time) without the assistance of someone else. That’s not an empowering characteristic. The image implies that she is self-propelled enough to give Archie a ride.

    The chair arm as placed would also not allow the user to easily push the chair – she would have to reach out and over the arm to push the wheels. The type of arm is not characteristic of someone who is self-propelling her chair.

    Also, look at the portion of the chair her feet are resting on. Contemporary chairs for people who self-propel have a different front wheel set-up and even for a person who is pushed there are typically just foot-plates (without wheels) that flip up. Look at the front wheel set-up and think of being Harper and trying to go up over a curb. Or imagine trying to stand or be assisted to stand. The user would have to put her feet at least six inches in front of the chair to stand up and exit the chair. That’s tough to do – try it now if you are sitting down.

    So maybe I’m being picky but really it’s not that hard to get it right. I wish they had used a contemporary wheelchair instead of a nursing home chair from the 1960’s. The right chair would have been a more empowering image.

  5. Estee Blackley says:

    It about time so the next generation will be able to get along with people with disabilities and people with no disabilities and even now. GREAT JOB!

  6. Deborah Thompson says:

    Why don’t they have someone with a non obvious disability – like high functioning autism. Might get the point across that the “wierd kid” was actually someone that had more to them. Might help the children who are reading the comics understand better and maybe stave off some bullying.

  7. NancyL says:

    For the most part, I agree with comments made by Doug, about the era of wheelchair depicted, BUT it is a comic book so some latitude is probably due. On the other hand, I agree more with Deborah Thompson’s comment about having a character that has a “less obvious disability.” This would go further, I think, in educating the public at large about disabilities, that they are not always so obvious and are sometimes intellectual or developmental. Although, depicting someone with an intellectual or developmental disability in a cartoon publication would have to be done with great care, given the nature of “cartoons” so as not to be seen as insensitive or appearing to make fun of their appearance or other physical or speech challenges related to their particular disability (i.e. Downs, cerebral palsy, etc.) Then again, many individuals on the Autism spectrum may display no obvious signs of any disability.

    I do recall a TV show some years back that had great success using a young man with Down’s Syndrome in their family situation comedy. So it is possible to portray those with disabilities in the media and TV/movies (non-animated) would have an advantage. I hope we can see more of it in all areas of entertainment, but again, great care would need to be used so as not to be seen as disrespectful to those with “less than obvious” disabilities.

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