‘Anyone Can Be a Hero’: Comic Books by Local Writers Promote Inclusion and Empower LGBTQ Readers

For some, comic books are collectibles. For others, they are an escape through reading.

But for Fernando Velez, they are a tangible way to provide empowerment and inclusion.

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“Here we celebrate humanity as it is,” Velez said. “Inclusive, diverse, full of color.”

For the past eight years, Velez and partner Waiyen Wong have worked tirelessly to build the Kraven universe and use their two franchises, ‘Class6’ and ‘Loas of Kraven’, as forces for good – creating superheroes they never had back then. they grew up.

“To send a message that everyone can be a hero, that we all matter, that we are part of something bigger,” Velez said. “I decided to make ‘Class6’, which is about a group of heroes who happen to identify as LGBTQ, but they have to forgive humanity for the way we’ve been treated.”

He wants the world to know that these aren’t typical comic books – a reminder he gave his team before initial publication.

Aliens and superheroes aside, at its core every Kraven plot is grounded in a dark reality, dealing with difficult yet meaningful topics such as rape, domestic violence, and hate crimes.

“We decided to highlight issues that impact our community, to raise awareness about what we are going through,” explains Wong. “So we don’t hide the topics we talk about.”

Velez told KIRO 7’s Gwen Baumgardner that his family didn’t accept his coming out, so he left home — he moved from Puerto Rico to the US at just 17 years old.

He then overcame homelessness, drug abuse and three suicide attempts before finding stability, love and purpose.

“One day I decided I had to stand up for myself,” said Velez. And then I became powerful. I was in control of my life. So for those watching, you have to stand up for yourself. Do not be afraid that there is a large community that will support you.”

The Kraven team is small but mighty. They have artists and creators all over the world, but much of the writing, web design, and shipping is done from a home office in Redmond.

While they may not save the world in Superman style, Velez believes the superheroes they create do have some real power.

“I have one of the readers who told me that when he felt like committing suicide, it was a comic book that held him back, because if the character didn’t give up, why would he give up,” Velez said. “To see that, to hear that was a confirmation of how important it is to have representation in comics.”

He says such stories validate the work they do as they continue to compete with some of the larger, more established publications.

“I don’t measure success by how much we earn, but by how many lives we can change,” Velez said.

Velez calls this a goal, not a job, fighting to help the world page by page.

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