Bowen McCurdy is a 26-year-old cartoonist living in New York City who has been professionally creating comics for four years. Through fandom, she learned a lot about herself, her sexuality, about being non-binary, and a variety of other factors that shaped her identity. When she was 14 years old, her first step into fan culture came after watching Neon Genesis Evangelion, a Japanese animation series that explores the story of human-made machines, known as Evangelions, who battle beings known as Angels to decide the fate of humanity. She saw herself in the story and specifically connected with the protagonist Shinji Ikari– a bisexual man who was unlike any character she had seen at that age.
As she grew older, Bowen saw herself in Richie Tozier, the protagonist of Stephen King's horror novel It. Stephen King never explicitly stated that Richie was gay in the ‘canon’ — a term that refers to source material for a certain fictional universe — yet some fans suspected that he was gay or queer-coded, which is when characters are not explicitly stated to be queer, but there is enough implied meaning for an audience to interpret them as queer. Even when a character’s sexuality isn’t explicitly mentioned, readers often make them queer in head-canons to solidify their repressed identities. A head-canon is an interpretation of, or a belief about, the details of a fictional story that were not included in the source material but are details the fans believe. Bowen, like so many fans of Richie Tozier, felt they could relate to him on a personal level, despite his sexuality never being explicitly mentioned.
Through fandom, Bowen found acceptance of herself
through these characters, and as a cartoonist, she wanted
her comics to make her audience feel as represented
and seen as she did in these fandoms. Her graphic novel,
Spector Inspector, which she co-wrote with Kaitlyn Musto,
intertwines queer romance and horror genres to
create a story about teens trying to escape /a haunted town.
Bowen says she will continue to write stories to make people like her feel included, in ways that other fandoms have made her feel included.