“Gardening” was the first comic I made with my new tablet and the Procreate app. I used three standard brushes included in Procreate, and I hadn’t yet made any modifications to them. I used the Dry Ink brush for the bulk of the illustrations, the panel lines, and title. For the snapdragon flower illustration, I used the Studio Pen. For the light bits of texture, I believe I used the texture brush Cygnet, but I can’t be sure since it’s been a while.
I was creating a comic for submitting to the publication Wizards in Space Magazine, and the pay offered was $40 USD per comic, which incentivized me to make a good story in just one page lol
At the time, I had just started two new wonderful things: testosterone and an indoor vegetable garden. I couldn’t help but notice a parallel path of excitement and anticipation for the two things to begin growing and showing signs of my efforts, and I decided to go with that theme.
The Design Process
The theme for the issue I was submitting for called for the following:
“For our last several issues, we’ve turned our gaze inward – focusing on survival in difficult times, foraging and gathering what you need to stay alive, putting up walls or reaching out hands to navigate the fraught boundaries of self and world. We’ve found private places and caring communities, wrenching sorrow and cautious hope. We’ve read stories of last resorts, precious treasures, fragile feelings held tight to the chest. There is so much strength in resilience, and Issues 06 and 07 showed us that no matter how fiercely the storm rages, there’s safety and shelter to be found. So what happens when that storm finally breaks and you can finally step outside?
When you can not just survive, but thrive. When you begin to come into yourself as someone powerful, beautiful, ambitious. When you uncurl your fingers and allow your cupped hands to overflow, bringing forth abundance and wealth. These are all ideas associated with the numerology of 8: a digit that stands for power and achievement and good fortune. It’s a number that means hard work finally paying off. The literal and metaphorical fruits of your physical and spiritual labor.
What does it mean to be empowered, to revel in your own strength? How do you take the abundance of yourself and share it freely with others? When have you felt most like dancing and singing? For our eighth issue, we want your power. Your exhalation. We want to know how your Scorpio heart and your August body take up space in this wind-tossed world.
Step forward. Be loud. Let us hear you, show us where you’re going and what you’ll find there. Tell us what you’re building, what you’ll keep for yourself, and what gifts you’ll share with others.
As always, we want to see your political and your personal, your faith, identity, truths and dreams. Even if you are not sure your work fits, we want to hear from you.”
– Wizards in Space, Submissions Page for Issue 08
I thought that sounded wonderful and exactly like something I wanted to do more of in my art, so I chose to create this one page comic. It had a few requirements, but not many:
Wizards in Space, Submittable Page
- “We will accept art in JPEG, PNG or TIFF formats.
- Artwork must be 300 dpi and in black and white.
- All artwork must be at least 4.5’’ x 7’’ to fit in the book, and should fit comfortably on a page of that aspect ratio in portrait orientation.
- Artists may submit up to four pieces, or a comic or visual story up to four pages in length.
- Lineart and comics print best in our books – please do not submit photographs, as we cannot accept them!”
I was really excited about the gardening and testosterone idea and decided to make just the single page comic at 6″ x 9.5″ at 400 dpi in grayscale. I got into comics through manga, so black and white comics are something dear to my heart, and I was excited to make something in this way. Plus, I had literally had Procreate for less than a month, I believe, at the time, and I was still intimidated by all the options for tools and colors and everything, so it felt comfortable to do something with a limited color palette and some simple tools that I knew worked for me 😅
I wish I had saved the original idea I had for this because it was very literal and clunky, and it makes me laugh now to remember it 😂 It was something like showing a house with the insides divided into two, showing the garden growing on one side and my testosterone journey on the other, but I had too many panels crammed inside it, and I had planned an unnecessary amount of detail for the outside of the house for some reason (I think I just like to include beautiful details for no reason other than that they’re pretty lol). I’m glad I didn’t go with that idea now lol
I got frustrated and started scribbling some very simple, boxy panels with a quick journey of watering my face to loosen up. I was surprised at how much I liked it and immediately began developing it further.
I decided the panels should gradually change shape with the story to emphasize the theme of transition and give it a bit more movement, so I started off with sharp edges to represent the discomfort of pre-T and slowly rounded off the corners to reach the future of being on T for a while.
The final panel uses the word “Glow” instead of “Grow,” which I personally feel is a bit cheesy, but I am a cheesy person! So! lol I also wanted to play on the idea of someone glowing with pride or joy so that it didn’t go too far into just the plant realm.
Initially I had planned to include some vegetables where I have the snapdragon design in honor of my veggie garden, but I wanted something really pretty that also read clearly as blooming, so I went with one of my favorite flowers. It’s also one of my favorites to draw because of the contrasts in it: a long, thin stalk punctuated with dozens of exploding, fluffy blooms and accented by these tiny, round buds all over waiting to blossom. It seemed to represent the idea of transitioning pretty well to me with all of this.
Finally, I felt like the negative space between the title and panels on the right hand side needed a bit of something, so I decided to include the watering can and seeds for a bit of extra emphasis on the gardening theme. I also added a bit of grunge texture and little specks all over because what’s a garden without some dirt?
Transitioning and gardening are both messy endeavors, and I really love them both so much. I had to shut down my garden in January when the electricity rates jumped up an additional 9% (curse you, ConEd!), but I’m still on the testosterone and thriving with it!
Here are some photos from my garden before I had to pull the plug, as well as some photos of me pre-T and eight months on T!
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