Salto a gay, plus size performer and his lover Ubba want to realize a Bearlesque Talent Show, but his rival Ponky is lurking in the wings.

The stories are centered around the relationship between Salto & Ubba and their friends. An important theme is realizing one’s dreams. In the serie body positivity plays a relevant role. As in all, open communication is key.

Slice of life, love, friendships, dream, doubt, theatre, a rival, body positive.

My name is Wilbert van der Steen. I’m a Dutch graphic artist and I am the creator of the graphic novel series Salto & Ubba. You can find a short professional resume here on wvds.net.

Salto and Ubba, a male couple in a same sex relationship, came to me because I wanted to make an original Dutch comic about LGBTQ+ characters. In the Dutch market there are too few comics where the main characters are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Salto & Ubba live in a coastal town where a large LGBTQ+community resides. Salto performs his bearlesque act in Pontus, the local theatre. His stage name is Salto Por Favor. Ubba has a small cleaning company: Sponge Poof. They have a dog and a cat, Hundred and Honor.

At the beginning of their story the tourist season is slowing down and so are bookings for performances. This makes Salto nervous. He and Ubba have and had several discussions over this. After an argument Ubba cuts Salto off with the words: ‘Find a project!’ And that remark sets something big in motion.

The story arc will be in four graphic novels. I’ve set up crowdfunding campaigns to print and publish the comics in Dutch myself.

Salto & Ubba

In the first part we get to know all main characters. We see how Salto gets triggered in pursuing his dreams. The first book ends with Salto wishing to set up a Bearlesque Talent Show.

In the second volume Salto tries to realize his Bearlesque Talent Show (BTS). But Ponky, his rival, has other plans. Ubba is struggling with his company and lacks some needed support from his partner Salto. Preparations for the first show are in full bloom and quite a few surprises pop up. And then, Salto’s estranged parents make a surprise visit.

Parts 3 and 4 are in development but will continue theme’s of various forms of relationships, dealing with setbacks, realizing one’s dreams, and in doing so creating healthy body positive environments.

Volume 1 and 2 together are 200 pages long

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“I absolutely loved Salto and Ubba! Your characters have delightful personalities and designs and really light up the pages, and I’m already drawn into the world you’ve created. Your background in children’s books comes through in wonderful ways, as you’ve managed to hit this sweet spot with an engaging cartooniness that still illustrates a real diversity of body types and genuine emotion in the faces.” “Fabulous! I’m excited to see where it all goes… I’m there for the ride!”

Justin Hall, editor No Straight Lines

“Wilbert van der Steen made an absolutely funny and unaffectedly feel-good comic. He intentionally created it to incorporate the LGBTQ community into the Dutch language version graphic novel genre, but in doing so succeeded in making it all inclusive. Salto & Ubba part 1 will certainly leave you wanting more.”
Belgian VRT/LangZullenWeLezen’s review on Salto & Ubba 1

“I want the books to be turned into a Bearlesque musical. It would be a great night out. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and liked the baddies very much (the bastards) and admire your consistency of style and gripping plot line from start to finish.” David Shenton author Forty Lies