HIV-Positive Comic Book Character Battles Stigma

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Jul 3, 2013

In an effort to promote understanding and lessen the stigma around HIV, Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions has launched a four-issue science fiction comic book series featuring a character fighting asteroids, humanoids and a secret government experiment while also dealing with his new HIV diagnosis.

"I wrote the series because I wanted to make a difference in the HIV world and most of the movies and books were about people dying. I wanted to tell it from the other side, the person that manages it from a living perspective," said Davis who has been HIV-positive for the last 14 years. "It's not touchy-feely. It's basically raw emotion. Plus, it has a lot of cool monsters in it."

The series is based on "Lost Raven," the graphic novel that won the "Independent book graphic novel of the year." The mini series is book drawn by Renato Arlem, Keu Cha and Sean Murphy, who said, "We have taken it and made a comic book series from it with updated text and information."

In the comic, after learning that he has contracted HIV, attorney Zak Raven leaves his practice behind to set forth on a mission of relaxation. His peaceful trip goes wildly astray, leaving Zak shipwrecked on what he thinks is a deserted island, with only the words in his own journal to keep him company.

"It was based on my journal entries from when I was diagnosed being HIV-positive," said Davis. "The book is almost like HIV 101 for the mental state. When I first found out, I didn’t have the information and the info that was out there was confusing even with doctors help."

Unknown to Zak, four miles below the surface secretly hides a government experimentation center where scientists are playing God by trying to artificially evolve a human based species that can survive evacuation missions in deep space. Within 900 years, Earth will be dealt a deathblow by a mountain-size asteroid. But so far they have only achieved creating living abominations. Zak and these creatures are on a collision course, and he must rise to the challenge. Davis said it was a metaphor for dealing with HIV.

"This is no longer just a gay disease, so I also wrote the book so anyone with it can identify with it. I was even fired from a job after they found out I was HIV-positive," said Davis. "Coming out about this subject is to help reduce the stigma of it, which has its challenges in itself."

Davis’ work has gotten a lot of media attention from "Time Magazine," "CNN," "Fox News," "People Magazine" and other media venues. He plans to continue using comics to lessen the stigma around being HIV-positive and gay. To that end, Bluewater is releasing a biography on famed HIV-positive artist Keith Haring called "Milestones of Art: Keith Haring: Next Stop Art."

Bluewater has also started a crowd-sourcing campaign for a comic book on the Stonewall Riots, the historical uprising in June 1969 that would change the face of the LGBTQ rights movement. To contribute, visit

For more information or to order "Lost Raven" or other titles, visit

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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