Ivan Velez is a comic book illustrator who dedicates his practice to creating cartoons for social change.

Artist Bio

THE BALLAD OF WHAM KABAM! is a series of five interconnected comic books that tell the story of America’s multicultural history—from the subjugation of the indigenous to slavery, from the Civil Rights movement to today’s pop culture—using the tropes and style of the classic superhero genre. In our official comic book past, all the heroes were white Americans. Even as times changed and more diversity was included, the characters that were created were often stereotyped or weaker than the main characters. Each book will explore history not as it was recorded in ”official” American pop culture, but through the experiences of America’s diverse and often oppressed families. WHAM KABAM! creates a new multicultural mythology that aims to contradict and subvert the history of American comic books.

Graphic Novel
Award Year

In Progress

Ivan Velez presents his project at the Creative Capital Retreat

Ivan Velez

Ivan Velez

Bronx, NY

Born in the Civil Rights-era South Bronx, Ivan Velez became addicted to comic books at an early age, even though his face was never reflected in his heroes. After college, Velez used cartooning to help create social change. Tales of the Closet, a series of comic books first used as a popular educational tool, was one of the first interventions for LGBT youth. Velez later joined MILESTONE, a company that focused on multicultural superheroes. He designed characters and wrote numerous comic books for Marvel and DC Comics, and has shown his work in galleries in New York and Taipei. Velez is also a teaching artist for the New York Public Library and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. His work has been included in several award-winning comic anthologies.