Unveiling at MCM London Comic Con this weekend, from the Japanese company Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited and Marvel Custom Solutions, comes The Unbeatables.
A new super-hero comic designed to highlight both the daily battles and the strength of the global inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community. And part of wider promotion called IBD Unmasked – it has its own hashtag #IBDUnmasked.
The Unbeatables were created by Marvel Custom Solutions with input from a panel of IBD patients from around the globe. The published comics so far have been written by Deadpool's co-creator Fabian Nicieza and Buddy Scalera, with artists JL Giles who recently created an Avengers customs job for Western Union, Fernando Blanco and colourist Chris Sotomayor and cover artist Kirbi Fagan.
Fagan, who suffers from the health condition IBD herself. She says "I'm thrilled to be a part of IBD Unmasked! I was diagnosed with Crohn's at a very young age and I never imagined that my artwork could ever influence people with IBD. To see characters in the pages of Marvel this relatable is incredible. These diverse characters have the power to fill minds with courage and humour during this hard fight I know so well." Kirbi will be drawing life size characters from the comic at MCM London Comic Con this weekend, alongside Samarium, the first cosplay of one the IBD Super Heroes.
Fabian Nicieza added "It's always a great challenge to work on something new like IBD Unmasked – the Marvel/Takeda project. Working with patients from all over the world to create a group of heroic characters who are living with IBD, and creating a dramatic adventure story that showcases their struggles — and their ultimate triumphs — has been a really rewarding experience."
The Super Heroes will appear in a new opening chapter of the IBD Unmasked graphic novel series available right now at IBDunmasked.com, where visitors can also create and share their own Super Hero avatar, take part in quizzes and download tips to help them talk to their doctor, family or friends about their condition.
Takeda is also the first pharmaceutical company to partner with Marvel Custom Solutions on any disease awareness campaign raising awareness of health conditions. Darren Sanchez, Editor and Project Manager, Marvel Custom Solutions said "Marvel Custom Solutions is excited to be part of this unique partnership with Takeda which has given us the opportunity to collaborate with such a courageous group of patient advisors to bring to life our new IBD Unmasked Super Hero squad, The Unbeatables, We strongly hope that our characters Luminaria, Switchback, Rubblerouser, Datawave and the inaugural Samarium, inspire the very brave, real-life warriors with IBD across the globe, to speak out and celebrate their strength."
IBD Unmasked patient panel member, Seb Tucknott, commented "It has been a wonderful experience to be on the patient panel working with Marvel and Takeda to bring IBD experiences to life. What makes IBD Unmasked unique is its power to inspire people actually living with the condition, and in an imaginative way. IBD can be scary, but this campaign replaces fear with inspiration, empathy and humor – helping real life IBD Super Heroes fight their own IBD battles every day."
Elissa Johnsen, Head of Global Product & Pipeline Communications at Takeda explained "Patients told us about the physical and emotional battles they face every day from living with IBD and particularly highlighted the isolating nature of this disease. Through working with Marvel Custom Solutions and our global panel of patient advisors, we were able to creatively bring these insights to life and create parallels between the strength, perseverance and positivity of comic book Super Heroes and those living with IBD. At Takeda we believe that IBD Unmasked will continue to celebrate the strength that real life IBD Super Heroes exhibit every day and go on to spark powerful conversations, transform perceptions, and ultimately improve understanding of the impact of these diseases."
There are more than 5 million people worldwide who live with IBD, which include the two most common types – ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) – of which comic creators Jeffrey Brown and Mark Millar are well-known sufferers.
For these people, everyday activities like getting together with friends and family or going to the cinema may be challenging. The condition affects people of all ages and diagnosis is most common in early adulthood.
In a large European study of people living with IBD, 48 percent of respondents reported that their lives are significantly or somewhat impacted by IBD symptoms even between flare-ups, IBD prevented 35 percent of people from pursuing an intimate relationship and 26 percent reported that IBD has gotten in the way of making and keeping friends.
Dr. James Lindsay, consultant in Gastroenterology at Barts Health NHS Trust says "IBD Unmasked uses the medium of fantasy and fiction in an attempt to highlight the hidden reality and daily battles that people with IBD have to fight every day. Feeling comfortable about discussing symptoms and their impact on your life is a crucial part of every consultation. Therefore, I encourage people with IBD to use the online IBD Unmasked resources to enhance consultations with their healthcare team so they can map out the best management plan for them."
Watch for their booth at MCM London Comic Con.