BioTech: Sci-Fi Comic Looks at Technology’s Impact on Humanity

By Mallory Herrmann
Biotech Comic, Unity book comic series, sci-fi comic book by Unity, Twelve powers, Kyle Stephan artist

Unity has published a wide range of books about spiritual principles and journeys—but none quite like BioTech.

The new comic book series takes place in a dystopian future and is based on the Twelve Powers, as written by Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore. The project is cocreated by Unity employees and is proving to be an innovative and engaging way to explore what makes us human.

The First Unity Comic Book Team

David Penner, Kyle Stephan, and Mark Szymanski work together in the Communications Department at Unity World Headquarters. All have loved reading comic books for years. Now they say their dreams are coming true with the opportunity to create their own series.

Penner and Stephan realized such a project could be possible several months ago when worlds collided. Stephan had been sketching superhero characters for a fund-raising event to purchase comic books for patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

When Penner saw it, inspiration struck.

Realizing that this could be a great opportunity to create something totally different from anything they’ve done before, they developed the concept for a comic book series to be published by Unity Books.

They collaborate both on- and off-line to transform Penner’s story outlines into a book befitting of a superhero. Penner writes the series, Stephan creates the interior artwork, and Szymanski creates the covers.

“Watching them be able to visually transform the story that’s in my head onto the pages is maybe one of the neatest things I could ever see,” Penner says.

Penner, who describes himself as a “pop culture sponge,” gets inspiration all over the place and then connects the dots into a story arc that supports the journey through the Twelve Powers—and the enlightenment of the world.

Cassie Adisa, BioTech Comic characters, Unity Books Comic, Kyle Stephan artistStephan similarly gathered inspiration from other series and characters, in addition to Unity Village itself, to create the characters and settings based on Penner’s notes. He says it’s been fun to watch the characters develop, as they begin to come into their own, throughout the series.

“They feel like they have their own lives and personalities,” Stephan says.

The team admits that they’ve all been a little surprised by how much time it takes to create a comic book from scratch. While they’re all avid readers and have played around with doodles or storyboards before, this is their first published series.

“These guys already have creative jobs with Unity, but their work on this comic series is a whole new level—for them and for Unity,” Ellen Debenport, vice president of Unity Content and Media Strategy, says.

A Dystopian Future

BioTech imagines a future where advancements in technology have made it impossible to tell where humans end and machines begin.

When the story opens, Dr. Juanita Mae Cruz has developed revolutionary new science that makes it possible for humans to access technology directly—with no need for cell phones, computers, or TVs. Without devices, the digital world is streamed straight into the user’s neural network.

This technology has made it possible to create world peace and prosperity, but at what cost? A sense of individuality has been lost, along with what made people human.

Set in 2149 A.D., the series follows a journey of revelations about the past using remnants of the old civilization—like a long-lost copy of The Twelve Powers by Charles Fillmore. Can these tools be used to shed the tech and restore humanity in the world? The comic books are created for all ages and explore how the Twelve Powers can be used as spiritual tools to create a unique and fulfilling life.

Valued Spiritual Tools

Fillmore’s Twelve Powers are what he calls our “12 great centers of action.” These are faith, strength, wisdom, love, power, imagination, understanding, will, order, zeal, elimination (release), and life. These powers are to be helpers in doing the work of divine evolution. Fillmore suggests that as we expand and grow, we need not just a few helpers, but many helpers.

By engaging and strengthening these helpers, or spiritual abilities, in our lives, we can awaken our subconscious mind and our spiritual consciousness. We can use these abilities, which each of us already has at our disposal, to create our dream lives—and hopefully avoid a dystopian world like the one we see in BioTech.

Goldie concept sketch, Kyle Stephan artist, BioTech comic book, Goldie comic book character, Unity booksCharacter concept for Goldie

The series is not an explicit lesson in Fillmore’s teachings—or an attempt to convert anyone—but it does reflect some Unity core principles.

“It gives Unity a more diverse and unique set of books in order to teach their message,” Penner says of adding a comic book series to the Unity canon.

Stephan agrees: “It’s not preachy, by any means. The way the Twelve Powers are put into the story, it makes sense—they’re not shoehorned in.”

The series’ initial run will include 12 issues, expected to be released about once a month. A preview issue is available online. Full issues of BioTech will be available for purchase at the Unity Village Bookstore and Coffee Shop and at the comic website.

Mallory HerrmannMallory Herrmann is a writer and editor in the Kansas City area. Her work has been featured in Unity Magazine, Career College Central, and the Lee’s Summit Tribune.