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Set in Philadelphia, author's comics feature, Black, gay heroes

Philadelphia author's comics feature Black, gay superheroes
Philadelphia author's comics feature Black, gay superheroes 02:15

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia-based author is getting set to release his third comic book featuring Black, gay superheroes.

"In my stories, I see us not just surviving but also thriving as well," says Alex Smith.

The 'us' smith is referring to are Afro-Latinos, who are also gay, and who are plus-sized. They all come to life in "Black Vans," his four-part comic book series.

"I wanted to highlight characters and people that don't really get the shine or the spotlight," Smith said. "Basically I wanted it to be people of color, Black people, queer people and people of size sort of taking the reigns of their own destiny if you will, and being the hero of the story as opposed to being the background character."

Smith wrote "Black Vans" in his Southwest Philly studio. The main character is Bo, who must save the day after his superhero bosses go missing. 

The comic book, which is illustrated by James Dillenbeck, is set in a future Philadelphia. Smith says that similar to the characters in the series, Philadelphia is also oftentimes overlooked and overshadowed, despite its positives.

 Author Alex Smith holds a copy of "Black Vans." The series is set in a future Philadelphia, and focuses on Black, gay characters. CBS News Philadelphia

"I set most of my writings in Philadelphia," Smith said. "The culture is just so rich, so robust and there's so many different types of people and there's so many different types of stories to tell."

"Black Vans" is self-published by Smith. He's been writing comics since he was a kid. And he says just like Bo, he set out on a superhero mission and won.

"You can still fight against oppression, but you also have to just be who you are and don't compromise it and don't question it. So that's been the main goal with this comic and i think we achieved it pretty well," Smith said.

Smith says that once the entire four-part series is published, he'd like to see it turned into a short film or animated series.

The cover of "Black Vans" a comic by Alex Smith and illustrated by James Dillenbeck. The series features Black, gay superheroes. CBS News Philadelphia
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