3 artists made a bilingual comic to show how complicated immigration really is.

Liddy heard a scream one night from the backyard of her home in the border town of Pharr, Texas.

She was having trouble with undocumented immigrants passing through her property. She'd been especially worried ever since she found one of her horses killed and skinned, which she took as a warning sign from a Mexican drug cartel.

When she went out to her backyard to investigate the sound, she was disoriented by what she found. But not half as much as I was.


​All images by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente​/Panel Syndicate, with words by Brian K. Vaughan. Used with permission.

That's the basic setup to a cool new web comic called "Barrier."

Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente, "Barrier" is a digital-only comic about immigration and aliens — legal, illegal, and extraterrestrial. The self-published series is available online, with the purchaser setting their own price, and the horizontal pages are optimized to fit your screen or tablet.

But here's the interesting part: The comic is bilingual. Which means I can't understand all of it.

Aside from a few years of high school Spanish that I can't remember and some random Irish phrases that I never use, I'm ashamed to say that English is my only language. But half of "Barrier" follows a Honduran immigrant en route to the United States, and there's no translation guide.

It's annoying and confusing — but, well, that's kind of the point.

"We wanted to try something different, presenting a story with no translations, so that readers in various parts of the world would each have completely unique experiences," explained Vaughan — who, like me, only speaks English.

Vaughan's artistic collaborators, Martin and Vicente, are both from Barcelona.

Unlike Vaughan, they speak Spanish. But their Spanish (and Catalan) is different from Honduran Spanish, or Mexican Spanish, so while they were making the comic, they ran the translated dialogue past the Honduran consulate in Barcelona too, just to be safe.

But again: That was kind of the point.

"It’s vital to the story that readers experience the same feeling of being lost and confused that people face when finding themselves in a different country," said Martin. "And judging by the both positive and angry responses we’ve received, we’ve apparently succeeded."

"We wanted to find an entertaining, unconventional and, most importantly, visual way to explore a complicated issue [like immigration]," Vaughan said.

Before "Barrier," the trio worked on a similarly experimental webcomic about internet privacy called "The Private Eye," a digital-only story that was pay-what-you-want and free of any copyright locks or encryption. This time around, Vaughan says they wanted to tackle what might be the most important topic of conversation for the next five years.

"We didn’t exactly need a crystal ball to guess that it might be immigration," he said, although he admitted that none of them realized just how big of an issue it would be.

From a reader's perspective, the lack of translation in "Barrier" really does make the story that much more effective.

You can still figure out what's happening, for the most part; not every language uses words, and the artwork in the comic speaks for itself.

I might not be able to interpret the dialogue during Carlos' trek through South America and Mexico, for example. But thanks to Martin's and Vicente's incredible artwork, I can at least understand that he's feeling anxious, lost, and confused — because, after all, so am I.

"I’m always humbled and fascinated by the way that language both unites and separates us all," said Vaughan. "As a visual medium, comics can often smash through that language barrier, which was a phenomenon I always wanted to investigate more deeply."

And just to drive the point home even further, there are sequences without any words at all, but they still tell a powerful story. You can see it in the pages below, or in the upcoming third installment of the series, which ... well, let's just say it takes the idea of feeling alien to differently literal level.

A series of consecutive, silent pages portraying the characters' parallel lives.

The disorientation of not knowing what's happening brings clarity to the issue of immigration in an incredible way.

"Languages are not only about communication, but they also model the way we perceive, understand, and experience the reality and the world around us," Martin said.

The artists know some people will miss out on certain subtleties and nuances in the story because they don't speak the language. Some people will likely understand a different point of view entirely. Others might follow their instincts and block out the half of the story they can't understand, even if they could still infer the story from the images and moments.

But, come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the larger debate around immigration.

When it comes to a complex topic like immigration, sometimes it's hard to find the right words. But that's exactly why "Barrier" is worth checking out.

Stories bring us together, and when a story like this is accessible to anyone, it makes it easier for people to have important conversations about things like immigration and surveillance — regardless of their native tongue.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.