Some of the Scientific Minds Behind the UK's Coronavirus Response Have Helped Fund a New Sci-Fi Pandemic Comic

A young woman and sibling find themselves far from home in Planet DIVOC-91.
A young woman and sibling find themselves far from home in Planet DIVOC-91.
Image: Elsa Charretier (Wowbagger Productions

As the novel coronavirus pandemic has continued to spread around the world, scientists have scrambled to try and find effective ways to impart the risks and needs required of the public to mitigate the impact of covid-19. And now some scientists in the UK have decided to turn to comics to help educate people.

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io9 can exclusively reveal the first look at Planet DIVOC-91, a 9-part satirical sci-fi webcomic being produced by Dr Bella Starling, Director of Vocal at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Sara Kenney, Creative Director at Wowbagger Productions, in association with the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. Featuring a cavalcade of comics talent across each chapter, Planet DIVOC-91 wants to tell a fictional, sometimes absurd story about an intergalactic pandemic while educated readers about the threats faced closer to home with our current grasp of the novel coronavirus crisis.

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Each chapter will be written and illustrated by a different creative team of comics talent, including the likes of The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard, James Devlin, UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry, Nick Brokenshire, Sara Kenney, and more currently unnannounced teams, while cover artists for the series include Elsa Charretier, Marco Finnegan, Leslie Hung, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell , VV Glass, Matt Kindt, Alitha Martinez, Anand RK, and David Rubín.

Charretier’s full cover for the first chapter.
Charretier’s full cover for the first chapter.
Image: Elsa Charretier (Wowbagger Productions

While we’re arguing about social distancing over a handful of feet, the young stars of Planet DIVOC-91 have a much greater distance to worry about. The series follows Sanda Oung, a 23-year-old woman from the UK, and Champo, Sanda’s younger, non-binary sibling, after they—and 15% of the world’s population— find themselves suddenly whisked to another planet, Divoc-91. Sanda and Champo quickly learn the reason for their predicament is a dire one, after a mysterious and charismatic alien named ADRO tells them that they, and millions of other young adults, have been isolated from Earth to avoid an extinction-level event.

Being released monthly on WebToons from next week, each chapter of Planet DIVOC-91 will also include supplemental material to help educate readers about the novel coronavirus, from scientific editorials to pieces of art and music inspired by the impact the pandemic has had on people across the world. “Sharing high quality information about Covid-19 is so important,” Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government said in a statemnt provided to io9. “This project takes a fresh approach that will help explore the most pressing issues of the pandemic for young adults.”

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Check out a preview of Planet DIVOC-91's first chapter—written by Sara Kenney, with art from Charlie Adlard and James Devlin, and lettering by Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou—below, making its debut here on io9:

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Planet DIVOC-91 will begin releasing weekly on WebToons from June 15.

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For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

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simon-on-the-river3

July 15th not June.

Have you noticed Pat Mills’ Space Warp?

I got a copy of Rebellion’s Smash! Special recently. None of the characters featured ever appeared in the original Smash! but that’s the way it goes. The special is teeny-tiny American comic sized rather than proper UK mag sized. it feels like somebody read too much of the Wildstorm Albion series in the planning stages. Disappointed by the Charlie Higson-Charlie Adlard Steel Claw, less so The Spider, but there is some excellent artwork by Chris Weston for a House of Dollman yarn.