The motley crew of "Riverdale" has a brand new member. Raj, an Indian American character, made his debut this month in Out-Raj-ous Behavior featured in Tales From Riverdale Digest No 21.
Together with an increased focus on the African-American Chuck Clayton character and Veronica's friend Ginger Lopez, it seems that Archie Comics is making a concerted effort to make their books more diverse.
"My editor, Victor (Gorelick), asked me if I had any ideas for a character of Indian ancestry. I did some research into the culture and I also sat down to come up with a personality that was distinct from the other Archie characters and could bring something new to the Archie pantheon," creator Fernando Ruiz said in an interview to comicon.com
According to Ruiz, Raj has just moved into Riverdale and likes sci-fi movies, building models and making films. And he's just as impulsive as Archie.
"Coming up with the Raj's was one of the biggest challenges of creating the whole character. I wanted a character that reflected his background without looking like a caricature and still fit in seamlessly with the other characters. In terms of personality, I wanted to give him an interest that was unique and could be strongly associated with the character."
"Many of Archie's friends have a signature interest. Chuck loves art and comics. Jughead loves food. Betty loves... well, Archie! Raj loves films. His main interest is making his own movies and so he's often going around with a camcorder recording his friends' crazy antics," adds Ruiz.
Ruiz has given Raj a perky appearance. He's a bit smaller than most of Riverdale's males. His lively, optimistic personality is portrayed as much through his wardrobe, bedroom and expressive face as it is through his words.
So how will Archie and gang relate to Raj?
"Archie and his friends are a very friendly and cordial bunch. They welcome and take to Raj right away. Archie is the first of the Riverdale gang to meet Raj, who has just moved to Riverdale. They both become fast friends, but Raj's interest in film, art and sci-fi makes it natural for him to be friends with Chuck and Jughead," says Ruiz.
As for the rest of the family, there aren't much background details but they do look good. Raj's father Ravi Patel is a doctor and his character is along the lines of Mr Lodge, only younger and Indian.
Mona Patel, Raj's mother, is a lovely, elegant looking lady who apparently has the ability to change clothes between panels. Younger sister Tina is an Indian Veronica and judging by her body language in the few panels she appears in, she shares more than looks with that beauty.