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UK writers creating social change at San Diego Comic-Con

Among the hustle and bustle of the small press exhibitors at San Diego Comic-Con, you’ll find Yomi Ayeni. He is the mastermind behind a futuristic book and comic series set in Victorian England called "Clockwork Watch."

“I love steampunk, but I dislike colonialism," Ayeni said.

He described "Clockwork Watch" as "a steampunk story that has recontextualized or revisits the world of colonialism."

A goal for the series is to make a heavy subject accessible to every reader, Ayeni said.

"It’s kind of funny, you know, when a Black person is revisiting the colonial age but is trying to put together a story that’s everybody, irrespective of your race, your color, your gender," he said.

Corey Brotherson co-wrote and adapted the book to a comic series. He and Ayeni have been working on this series together for over a decade and have a steampunk fan base at Comic-Con. This year they are launching a new book in the series, "Sins of My Father." Brotherson said the pair was excited to interact with their fans again after being apart because of the pandemic lockdowns.

"Not having that for several years has been a real kind of blow in that sense of just like being able to talk to people, being able to actually get some feedback on your work, and kind of seeing their eyes light up when they start to understand and engage with the actual creativity process and everything that comes with that," Brotherson said.

Creating a series that helps people escape into a fantasy world is the easy part, Ayeni said. The hard part is getting fans to emerge from it wanting to take action.

"When we look back at history, in some instances there are things we see that aren’t that palatable. The story itself gives you an opportunity to look in the mirror and question your background. But also ask whether you as an individual can make the world a better place," Ayeni said.

Through the book, they are fundraising for a school in Kenya that takes in underage girls who are forced into marriages or escape female genital mutilation.

Ayeni said that through his books fans can find their own voice for change.