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Entertainment & Arts

Gabby Rivera’s new comic book series is a ‘love letter to queer kids everywhere’

Illustration of b.b. free
“b.b. free” is a new comic book series on the way from Gabby Rivera and Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)

Ready to meet the Swamp Nerds?

Writer Gabby Rivera and artist Royal A. Dunlap are teaming up for “b.b. free,” a new original comic book series set in a world where a disease called “the Plague That Ate Greed” has wiped out the extremely wealthy, and natural disasters have disrupted everything else. The title will be released from Boom! Studios’ Boom! Box imprint.

Announced Monday, the coming-of-age series will follow young b.b. free who lives with her father in the Florida Islands. A teen whose limited contact with the rest of the world is through her radio show, b.b. eventually stumbles upon a secret that could tear apart her family and their tight-knit community.

Learning there’s a lot her father has not been telling her is just the nudge b.b. needs to finally venture into the world outside her swamp in search of the truth. And readers can expect b.b. also to figure out some truths about herself along the way.

Gabby Rivera, left, and Royal A. Dunlap
Writer Gabby Rivera, left, and artist Royal A. Dunlap.
(Julieta Salgado, Scott Southall / Boom! Studios)
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“’b.b. free’ is the trippy, wild adventure road trip I always wanted to go on as a kid, with a post-climate-change-America twist,” said Rivera in a statement. “Chubby, nerdy, teen me daydreamed about heading out into the world with a super cool best friend and doing whatever we wanted. Usually on motorcycles, with magical powers, and no parents to mess with our fun.

“With ‘b.b. free,’ I get to do all that and more, with one of the best artists on the planet, Royal Dunlap.”

Comic book fans perhaps know Rivera best from her time as the writer of “America,” Marvel’s first solo series about the queer Latina superhero America Chavez, which launched in 2017. The queer Puerto Rican author’s 2016 debut novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath,” is being re-published in September.

“’b.b. free’ is a bouncy love letter to queer kids everywhere, especially the chubby Puerto Rican ones,” added Rivera.

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The new series arrives as there is increasing scrutiny about the dearth of Latinx representation in media. Some have even pointed out how this lack of Latinx stories and storytelling is not only problematic, but dangerous.

Illustration of characters from ‘b.b. free’
b.b., left, Chulita, Orion, Deviana, Key and Prema from the upcoming series "b.b. free."
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)

b.b. will not be alone in her adventures, and Midwest-based artist Dunlap can’t wait for readers to meet the entire crew.

“What I’m most excited about is introducing to readers the rag-tag group known as the Swamp Nerds, a.k.a the ‘inadvertedly-trying-to-save-the-world’ young protagonists of this adventurous story,” Dunlap said in a statement.

Dunlap added: “When I first read through the story outline for ‘b.b. free,’ I was immediately sold by the eco-dystopian setting. A setting partnered by themes of coming-of-age, fractured family and found family, all layered with an eerie mist of wonder and magic enveloping it all.”

“b.b. free” No. 1 will hit comic book shops on Nov. 6.

Comic book cover of ‘b.b. free’
The variant cover for "b.b. free" No. 1 by Natacha Bustos.
(Natacha Bustos / Boom! Studios)
Interior art from b.b. free comic book series
Art in "b.b. free" No. 1 by Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)
Interior art from b.b. free comic book series
Art in "b.b. free" No. 1 by Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)
Interior art from b.b. free comic book series
Art in "b.b. free" No. 1 by Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)
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Interior art from b.b. free comic book series
Art in "b.b. free" No. 1 by Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)
Comic book cover of ‘b.b. free’
The main cover of "b.b. free" No. 1 by Royal A. Dunlap.
(Royal A. Dunlap / Boom! Studios)


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