When you don’t see the representation you want in the world, you go out and try to create it. That’s exactly what writer Alex Smith and James Dillenbeck are doing with their upcoming comic series, BLACK VANS, a sci-fi, cyberpunk comic featuring fat and queer POC leads.
The main character of BLACK VANS is Bo, a plus-size, Afro-Latino queer hacker also known as an EQ, living in a futuristic version of Philadelphia. Bo operates from his van, providing surveillance and intel for superheroes. When superheroes start to disappear, it’s up to Bo and his gang of hackers to step out of the shadows and find them.
Smith says writing the BLACK VANS comic was important to him because of a lack of pop culture representation of people with bigger bodies. “I’m a scifi and comics fan, and a writer, and I long to see bodies that represent my interests and attractions, people that look like my friends, on-screen or on panel.”
When people of size are represented in popular culture, it’s not always favorably. “In all of my work I represent under-served people – queer, Black, POC, disabled, and fat or plus-size people. No one else is doing this as robustly and earnestly, in a way that feels realistic and palpable, so it just felt natural to create characters who represent largely ignored segments of the population” says Smith.
Smith’s words fit perfectly with Dillenbeck’s artwork, which he describes as combining 80’s retrofuturism with weird fantasy elements inspired by HEAVY METAL magazine, Mad Max and Blade Runner.
Help Smith and Dillenbeck realize their dream of creating all four issues of BLACK VANS by supporting their kickstarter, which, as of this writing, was already more than 70% of the way to its goal with more than 20 days remaining. The Kickstarter funds with cover printing of the four issues, plus taxes, fees, and shipping. Backers who pledge funds to tiers at $30 and above can get goodies like action prints, character stickers, an illustrated appearance in one of the issues, and of course, the comics themselves.
Support the BLACK VANS comic Kickstarter campaign here, and follow Alex Smith at @theyarebirds and James Dillenbeck at @jamesdillenbeck on Instagram.