Kraven Comics: Fernando Velez' LGBTQ Superheroes

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022
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Kraven Comics and 'Class6' creator Fernando Velez
Kraven Comics and 'Class6' creator Fernando Velez

The pages of Kraven Comics appear on the surface to be like any other superhero comic book. But look closer. Kraven, the brainchild of artist and publisher Fernando Velez, is a comic book by and for LGBTQ people, and no wonder. Velez, 34, is a gay man who wants to see comic book heroes that look like him and other members of the community. Velez is the writer, creator and founder of Kraven Comics.

Kraven Comics has its roots from back in the days when Velez was publishing Kraven Magazine. One of his writers wrote an article on the misrepresentation of LGBTQ people in the comic book industry, and this had an impact on him.

"As a kid, there wasn't any hero that I could relate to that could motivate me," Velez said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "And to think that twenty-something years later we continue to be invisible, and that wasn't acceptable. As I walked around the Castro thinking more about this, I found myself around a diverse and inclusive community of unheard heroes who need to be represented and celebrated. And that's how 'Class6' came to life, starting with six LGBTQ heroes representing some parts of our community and subcommunities."

"Class6" is one of the titles being published by Kraven Comics, created by Velez and nine contributing artists and writers. As the story begins, a woman named Neveah is enjoying a glass of wine with her girlfriend at a cafe in Paris. Neveah tells her girlfriend about her childhood, when she was a boy named Andy. As Andy, she was thrown out onto the streets by her father where she eked out a living through panhandling.

One night, after a brutal gay bashing, she attempts to commit suicide, but is rescued by a Dr. Jovanovic, who is mourning the loss of the transgender child whom he did not accept. After his child takes his own life, Jovanovic's wife kills herself out of grief. The guilt-ridden doctor now tries to make amends by being an ally to the trans community.

He offers to perform sex-reassignment surgery on Neveah, but before the operation is completed, Jovanovic is thwarted by the evil Dr. Tihon, who hates gay and trans people. Tihon tries to reverse Neveah's surgery, but only manages to upset her genetic make-up, which gives her the power to switch from female to male and vice versa. She can transform herself into anyone and can shape-shift. She can also realign cellular structure in others and is able to speed up their aging process.

Queen Izaar, inspired by Sister Roma  

Heads of the Class
Neveah is just the first queer super hero introduced in "Class6." The characters represent a wide range of diversity.

"We started with the first six characters representing some part of our community and sub-community like the bear, transgender, leather, twink, drag queen, and lesbian," said Velez. "They come from different parts of the world; Venezuela, Hong Kong, Uganda, Montenegro, and the U.S. Their ages vary from young to daddy. Each character has a unique backstory that shows some of the traumatic scenarios that many in our community have experienced."

Although the Puerto Rico-born Velez now lives in Redmond Washington, one of the characters is based on a real life San Francisco icon.

"I have found inspiration in real people," Velez said. "When it came time to design Queen Izaar's character, our artist based her on a true hero, Sister Roma. When I first moved to San Francisco she was always there, supporting the community and using her voice to advocate and fundraise."

Like Sister Roma (of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence), Queen Izaar is a drag hero. She is a non-gender immortal who safeguards humanity and its secrets. Her main power is to take and give life.

"I find inspiration in the collective experiences that we shared as a community so that in every character the reader can relate," said Velez. "For example, in episode three, we show the back story of our lesbian hero, Jaseri, who was raped by her father to clean her from homosexuality, an act known as corrective rape."

Velez can also find inspiration from real life events. Remember Pastor Scott Lively, the virulently homophobic cleric who was behind the "Kill the gays" bill in Uganda? In "Class6," Neveah and Jaseri capture the pastor and bring him to justice.

"I also get inspired by science and space aliens, and science fiction, so you mix all of that and make the Kraven Comics Universe unique and inclusive," Velez said.

The comic book entrepreneur has a simple message for anyone who might not be sure if they want to check out Kraven Comics.

"What I have created is a masterpiece," said Velez. "The way I connected all the characters, presented religion from different aspects in an unexpected way, and explained the origins of humanity are incredible while embracing diversity. It took me years to develop the stories I lived in these characters. I will make you feel the emotions of the characters. You will cry, cheer and feel angry. I assure you that you will relate to the characters and the stories."

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