Crash and Burn is a whole new frontier of science fiction! The two-time Aurora-nominated web comic from queer creators Finn Lucullan and Kate Larking throws readers right into a beautiful, brilliantly-colored alien world with rich details and political intrigue that immediately pull you in, promising one hell of an adventure.
Set in the future, the comic explores the relationship between humans, some of which have access to incredible power that is beyond the scope of typical humans, and the Ornos, an alien race of beautiful bird-like creatures whose whole society is different from ours—including their ideas of gender and relationships. When the Ornos kingdom’s heir disappears in a crash with an entourage of human peacekeepers, war seems to be just on the horizon. But everything is not as it appears: the crash had survivors and the Ornos' royal family is full of secrets. The group of survivors must work together, a task easier said than done as they discover they are all very different people.
"Queerness has always had a space in sci-fi, but I think the more nerd culture goes mainstream, the more it's being pushed to the sidelines for marketability. Ultimately, sci-fi is about examining our culture by asking where it might go, so it's fertile ground for queer exploration," Finn LuCullan, Crash and Burn's agender co-creator told PRIDE. The idea was born from chat sessions where Finn and their friends kicked around ideas for a series after finding current media lacking in what they were looking for. "We felt that no one was applying their boundless imaginations to gender or sexuality. If nonbinary genders are ever included, they're considered inhuman or alien. The gender binary is replicated in alien races in order to "humanize" them or make straight interplanetary romance possible. Rude!"
Eventually most of the group moved on from the ideas, but Finn kept coming back to the world. They met writer Kate Larking through a day job, and the two clicked. Once they got started, the comic took on a life of its own, even including a soundtrack, to help make an immersive world.
"Being queer has absolutely informed what we create. We don't carry the same assumptions into our work—about sex, romance, identity, or hierarchy—and that changes how we build fictional societies and what traits we reward or discourage in our characters. We write with a queer reader in mind," Finn said of the interaction between identity and the story.
That mentality is everywhere in the comic, from character design to distribution choice. "In illustration, I don't feel compelled to make sure gender neutral designs would be considered androgynous by a viewer, or that men or women should look a certain way, so I can design more freely," they said. "It also informs our more business-oriented decisions. It's been really important for us to retain creative control over our work, to make sure that although we sell it, our work remains available to read for free, and that everyone who works with us on it is queer too."
Crash and Burn can be read for free—and also purchased both physically and in digital format—on their official site, cb-comic.com! You can also follow keep up with Crash and Burn on Tumblr and with Finn on Twitter!