Character Who Uses a Wheelchair Debuts in 'Archie' Comic

A woman in a wheelchair is rolling into Riverdale! One of the world's most timeless, wholesome, and popular comics continues its mission to become more and more diverse with each passing year. For decades, Archie comics have entertained millions with the off-beat misadventures of Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty in the suburban town of Riverdale. Now, the series has added a brand-new character to the cast: Veronica's cousin Harper. What's encouraging about this new character is that Harper has a disability requiring a wheelchair to get around. Harper makes her debut in Archie #656, and she is slated to be a recurring character, rather than a one-off. The character is based on a real-life writer and disability activist named Jewel Kats. Kats is known for writing a series of children's books about transcending the difficulties that come with living with a disability, and she authors a comic strip called DitzAbled Princess, which has a similar focus but is more humorous in tone. Kats met Archie writer Dan Parent at Fan Expo last year when she boldly approached Parent's booth and demanded to know why nobody in Riverdale has disabilities. Inspired by the encounter, Parent immediately started working with Kats to develop a character inspired directly by Kats. Says Parent, "Harper was fun, because even though she's in a wheelchair, she certainly is not a shrinking violet. She's outspoken, and she's fun. She and Veronica have this great banter that goes back and forth. She's just accepted as Veronica's feisty cousin. The disability is there, but it doesn't completely define her." Parent also points out that there was once a character in a wheelchair who was featured in Archie Comics, but the character, Anita Chavita, was somewhat two-dimensional and did not appear for long or regularly. The aim for Harper is to be far more fully developed and to define the character in ways other than her disability. Harper will be a three-dimensional character whose disability forms only part of who she is, rather than defining her. "In my eyes, Harper's basically the epitome of confidence," Kats reflects. "It's not easy growing up different. People stare and they glare. Like me, Harper's turned her differences into gifts. She's proud of her disability. She owns it. She's eccentric, she's sassy, and a total diva." In an era when comic-book movies full of over-muscled heroes performing over-the-top heroics dominate pop culture, it's great to see that Archie Comics is continuing a legacy of producing wholesome stories that tackle topical issues in realistic and sensitive ways. How many Archie fans do we have out there?! Source: Image Sources: