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Sci-fi comic gives voice to young people during pandemic

PLANET DIVOC-91

Credit: PLANET DIVOC-91

PLANET DIVOC-91, an exciting new webcomic released this week, wants to bring COVID-19 issues to the fore in a unique way for young people.

PLANET DIVOC-91 is a sci-fi satire about a pandemic. Young adults are transported to safety on an earth-like planet in a far corner of space where they find themselves living side by side with aliens. The adventure follows young earthlings Sanda and Champo Oung as they navigate the new normal on the planet known as Divoc-91.

Full of off-beat humour, the series actually covers serious topics around the COVID-19 pandemic in a unique style. Each of the nine episodes of the series, released between now and December, will be accompanied by short articles, video links and COVID-19 art created by young people. There will also be exclusive music mixes from DJs and producers to really bring the work to life.

This new look at the pandemic was created by Dr Bella Starling, Director of Vocal at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Sara Kenney’s Wowbagger Productions, in association with the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. PLANET DOVIC-19 has been funded by several partners, including the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The project continues to grow, and there is a young editorial team from UK, India, South Africa, and Malawi who are interviewing experts from scientists to historians, ethicists to anthropologists. Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government Chief Scientific Officer, spoke to some of the young people involved in the project.  He said: “This innovative project  is an inspired way to connect with young adults, explore their views on the coronavirus pandemic and help understand what it means for them. I look forward  to reading the articles and the publication they produce. Seeing and understanding how young adults tackle the issues of a fictional pandemic can help scientists, doctors and governments around the world better understand how to respond to the very real coronavirus pandemic.”

Jenni Chambers, STFC’s Intermin Head of Public Engagement and Skills commented: “Bella and Sara approached us with the PLANET DIVOC-91 idea and we were impressed with the breadth of research that was going into it. In creating another Universe they are actually creating a safe space for young people to talk about the pandemic. There will be layers of  stories, artwork, music and interviews, with well researched facts which readers can trust. We are thrilled to see some of the work done here at STFC being included and brought alive in such an engaging way, so it is great to be able to support this though our public engagement programme. We can’t wait to see it go live!”

Fans of comic art will be impressed with the roll-call of artists who are involved in the project. The first chapter features a cover by acclaimed French comic book artist and illustrator Elsa Charretier. There will also be hidden mixes in each chapter to encourage readers to come back for more. Chapter one features UK Grime artist Grandmixxer.

The PLANET DIVOC-91 project has been supported by STFC, the Royal Society of Chemistry, NIHR, Wellcome Trust, Sarah Iqbal and her team at DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance,  Anita Shervington from Blast Fest and Nabeel Petersen at Interfer (South Africa).

Episode one of PLANET DIVOC-19 is released on 15 July on WebToons – an international digital platform. It is free and available at https://bit.ly/planetdivoc91.

You can also follow @planetdivoc91 on Twitter and Instagram.


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Last updated: 15 July 2020

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