The 'Star Trek' star and gay-rights advocate appears in an issue of 'Kevin Keller.'
The former Star Trek star and pop-culture fan favorite is coming to Riverdale in the pages of Archie Comics' Kevin Keller No. 6, out today. Kevin Keller, the company's popular gay character, is a Takei fan and the catalyst that brings the actor and his husband, Brad, into the comic.
As an advocate for LGBT affairs, just like Kevin in his comic, Takei felt his appearance would be a wonderful way to reach young people who may be isolated because of their family beliefs and communities.
Seeing the illustrated version of himself was just icing on the cake.
"I was flattered because I had more hair, and Brad was flattered because he had less waistline," Takei says with a laugh. "Isn't that the wonderful thing about comics? Riverdale is an idealized society, and it's an idealized Brad and me."
Takei and Kevin Keller writer Dan Parent will be at New York City's Midtown Comics tonight (9 ET) to sign copies of the issue — a later start for an event than when Takei took his autobiography To the Stars across the country. "Those book signings were held at normal, sane, rational hours, but apparently comic-book people start their day at 9 p.m.," he quips.
In the new Kevin Keller comic, Kevin and his friends are assigned to write about somebody who inspires them, and he pens an essay about Takei, who came out to the press as a gay man in 2005.
The issue shares Takei's life story, from his childhood spent in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II with his family to playing Sulu on the iconic 1960s Star Trek series to his later advocacy for gay rights and equality.
Takei was an Archie fan growing up in his preteen and teen years — with his faves being Archie and Jughead — but he never had the likes of Kevin, who acts as a role model for kids and teens who want to come out.
"It's reflecting the diversity of America, and embracing that diversity as a positive," Takei says of his comic appearance. "There I am not only as a gay man but as an Asian-American gay man and I'm idolized by Kevin. Him and his gang travel to a sci-fi convention. How much more American can you be?"
He didn't have a comic-book character, but Takei did have someone who helped him through his internment in the 1940s as a youngster: his father.
"I knew that I was in a barbed-wire internment camp during the war but I was too young then to really understand what that was," the 75-year-old actor explains. "And when I became a teenager and took history and civics classes and read about the glowing ideals of American democracy, I couldn't reconcile that with what I knew to be my childhood.
"So I had after-dinner conversations with my father. He summed it up for me by telling me that both the strength and weakness of American democracy is in the fact that it's a true people's democracy. It can be as great as the people can be but it's also as fallible as people are."
His dad instilled in Takei a belief that Americans need to be actively engaged in the political process, and he became an advocate first in the civil-rights movement and then redress for Japanese Americans, and later for equality for the LGBT community, too.
"We want to hit every level of society to persuade fair-minded, decent people to open their eyes and give a little support to those who are questioning or know they are gay or lesbian and are feeling awkward or tortured by who they are," Takei says. "We want to create a society that would be more open and accepting, and this comic contributes to that."
Takei is a popular guy on the circuit of Star Trek and other sci-fi conventions, and he hears from many fans expressing that his own openness have given them the strength to come out to friends, family and the world, but he also is bothered by the pained stories of bullying and taunting.
"Imprisoning Japanese Americans because they looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, at least we look different than American society although we're Americans," Takei says. "But with this homophobia, we're literally members of the family. We're sons and daughters, brothers and sisters."
In addition to his social efforts, Takei remains busy in the entertainment industry. His musical Allegiance about the internment that affected 120,000 Japanese Americans just finished a run and he hopes to take it to Broadway next year. He also has an upcoming appearance on the CBS series Hawaii Five-0, and Takei penned a new e-book, Oh Myyy! (There Goes the Internet), about his experiences boldly going out into the universe of social media.
Takei and his husband also have had a documentary crew following them for a couple of years, and he's not ruling out his own comic book if the Kevin Keller issue sells well.
"It should be whimsical," Takei says. "I am happy-go-lucky. Brad is much more orderly and disciplined and driven. He's a clean freak. We're the odd couple.
"It would be a more comedic comic book — it would be a comic book."