Science comic ‘Planet DIVOC-91’ launches on Webtoon today

UK science organizations come together to fund a webcomic inspired by COVID-19.

Several UK-based scientific organizations have funded a new webcomic that debuted today on the webcomics platform Webtoon. Planet Divoc-19 is a nine-part series featuring the work of many different creators, including Charlie Adlard, Alex Paknadel, Hannah Berry, James Devlin, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Elsa Charretier and more.

As you might have guessed if you held the title up to a mirror, Planet Divoc-19 is inspired by COVID-19 and is billed as a sci-fi satire.

“Although the topics we’re discussing in the series are incredibly serious, Planet Divoc-91 is full of humor and is occasionally ridiculous,” said Sara Kenney, who wrote the first chapter. “We’re aiming for more of a District 9 or The Good Place feel than, say, Star Trek.”

cover by Elsa Charretier

The comic follows the adventures of two siblings from Earth: “Sanda Oung, a 23-year-old girl from the UK, and Champo Oung,Sanda’s 19-year-old, non-binary sibling. In the series, 15% of the world’s population of 7.5 billion people are now stuck on another planet, miles from the safety of home. Sanda learns that humans have been brought to Planet Divoc-91 because the Earth is at risk of an extinction level event – and young adults have been moved to safety by the Board of Adversity Scientists for Intergalactic Leadership’ (BASIL), led by a charismatic and fearsome alien named ADRO.”

The project is being supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, The Science and Technology Facilities Council, Royal Society of Chemistry, The University of Manchester through the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund award, and several others. Each chapter will feature the work of a different creative team and will also include short articles, links to videos, art by young adults about issues related to COVID-19, and mixes from world renowned DJs and producers.  

“Planet Divoc-91 is a thought experiment, one that’s a metaphor for what we’re currently experiencing around the world with COVID-19,” said Kenney. “We’re releasing the series on Webtoons because it’s an inclusive, wide-reaching, digital platform, with a global audience of 10 million readers daily, and we want to foster a dialogue in the comments section, about the pandemic and where we go from here. We’ve also got some exclusive mixes hidden as Easter Eggs in the comic starting with one of the best UK Grime DJs, and a uniquely talented and much loved producer in his own right Grandmixxer. Chapter 2 features a mix from one of the most important new-generation experimental UK club music producer, artist and label owner LCY. Chapter 3 features an Afrofuturism playlist from one of the UKs best loved MCs Juice Aleem. And at the end of the day, we want readers to come back each month for the story and art. Why is Planet Divoc-91 inhabited only by 16-25 year old humans? Who are these strange aliens? Sanda Oung, a bit of a conspiracy theorist at first, has to figure out what is real and who to trust.”

Check out the first chapter now.

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