DC’s Teen Titans explain VR in new graphic novel
Author and illustrator Dustin Hansen used to work with The Void, building virtual reality experiences based on Star Wars and Ghostbusters. Now as part of DC’s Flash Facts, he’s the creator of a VR-themed story starring the Beast Boy and Cyborg from the Teen Titans.
The book, available Feb. 2, is an anthology of stories where DC superheroes explain otherwise complex subjects. Stories include the Flash and Kid Flash dealing with climate change and Supergirl going over the solar system. Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is among the book’s editors and her foreword to the novel recounts her journey from starting out as a teen star on Blossom to getting her doctorate in neuroscience.
Hansen became involved with Flash Facts while working with DC on My Video Game Ate My Homework, another kid-friendly story with gaming themes. Hansen’s previous VR work made him a natural fit to explain the topic, and he felt Cyborg and Beast Boy’s buddy dynamic from Teen Titans Go would work well for the story.
“I’m a huge fan of Teen Titans Go in particular and I love all the fun musical songs and goofy things that Cyborg and Beast Boy do [like] talking about food,” Hansen said. “If these two were going to play in a VR world they would absolutely want to go skiing down a spaghetti mountain,” which is exactly Hansen places them in his story.
While creating an imaginary world was a natural fit, Hansen said that working out exactly how to represent VR was more complicated. The headsets are constantly changing, after all. Hansen said he initially considered a headset that used a phone, similar to the Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR headsets from a few years ago. But ultimately he went with a design closer to the Oculus Quest 2.
“This space changes so fast and I worked on this probably about six or eight months ago and since then sensors are on their way out and gyros are becoming a much more important part of how they’re doing head tracking.”
To see Hansen’s VR story from Flash Facts, click the gallery embedded below.