The long-running comic book series, Archie Comics, which is best known for its wholesome all-American teenage characters, is to get its first openly gay protagonist.
The comics, launched in the 1940s and popular with generations of US youngsters, follow the fortunes of high school students Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead in the fictional town of Riverdale.
Now the teenage characters are to welcome a new gay classmate, Kevin Keller, in a move designed to reflect the reality of the modern world, Archie Comics co-chief executive Jon Goldwater said.
"The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive," Goldwater said in a statement.
"Archie's hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books."
Kevin Keller's character features in an upcoming edition of the Archie comic spin-off "Veronica," titled "Isn't It Bromantic?"
After Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger-eating contest held at Pop's Chocklit Shoppe, Veronica decides to woo him only to be baffled when she is rebuffed.