Visit Planet DIVOC-91
An ambitious storytelling project to help us make sense of a pandemic
Vocal has been working with Wowbagger Productions to produce an innovative nine-part webcomic, Planet DIVOC-91. You can now see the first chapter on Webtoon. Our aim is to inspire audiences, create a new forum for discussion, and ultimately, to inform scientific research and policy.
Young people’s voices haven’t been heard much in the wider discussions about COVID-19 and the comic will amplify their views and experience as well as enabling audiences to make sense of a pandemic situation.
Being teenagers and going through the most challenging stage of our lives is hard in itself — but now the impact of this new virus is resonating through our lives without any sense of when this will end.—Shanjida Hossain, Comic contributor, Voice Up
The project is a huge collaborative effort, with stories and artwork from acclaimed comic creators, articles from young people and the involvement of scientists and researchers from a wide range of disciplines spanning infectious diseases, behavioural sciences, health economy, health inequalities and more. Young people have been interviewing experts for the comic, so far they’ve spoken to the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, and researchers from public health, immunology and social history.
As a scientist leading a major research organisation working on COVID-19, it’s really important for us to listen to the people we’re aiming to help through our research. It’s vital that we support young adults to express themselves about the situation we’re in and to hear what they have to say about future research that will hopefully improve all our lives.—Ian Bruce, Director, NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
The comic is a sci-fi satire in which all young adults between the age of 16-25 have been transported to Planet DIVOC-91. In the story, 23 year old Sanda learns that the Earth is at risk of an extinction level event. All 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 Ardo. The comic chapters are being created over the next few months, so the story will be informed by the real world of COVID-19.
The project will share young people’s thoughts and views about pandemics and related research, feed into scientific research and policy, as well as inspire and challenge our research communities to think about the best ways of actively involving young adults in ongoing and future research.
The series will be released monthly on Webtoon, which has a global audience of 10 million readers daily. Find the comic here.
Planet DIVOC-91 is produced by Vocal and Sara Kenney’s Wowbagger Productions, in association with the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. Many thanks to partners for their funding and support; NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Royal Society of Chemistry, Science and Technology Facilities Council and The University of Manchester through the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund award.