The Transvengers: Origins

3 November 2014

A group of young trans people from Gendered Intelligence worked with an artist to produce The Transvengers: a web comic that will feature in the forthcoming Institute of Sexology exhibition at Wellcome Collection. In this series, Jason Barker, the artist in question, writes about his experience of working with the group. In this post he talks about the process.

In the beginning we drew a lot. We drew self portraits, played drawing games, drew in pairs and we made collaborative drawings on long rolls of paper. We shared jokes, stories, ideas or silence while we drew. These drawings were part of the process of finding out what our comic was about, the characters that would be in it, their backstories and the locations in which events would take place.

Each member of the group designed their own Transvenger character. Some are alter-egos, some are people we’d like to be, some are purely imaginary. Pencil sketches were scanned in and then we used Photoshop to trace over and colour them. Learning how to use the drawing tablets took quite a while but the results are fantastic. The great thing about them being digital was that we could make changes really easily to fit the requirements of the script and the same drawing could be used and reused in different panels.

I had been avoiding the glossary. Every time I thought about defining some really tricky words like trans, cisgender and heteronormativity, I’d slump over the keyboard.

euorheiuohasoifhioehfio  <- There look, that was just from thinking about it again. A member of the group offered to write the glossary and did so brilliantly and succinctly in about five minutes.

I was quite nervous showing the work in progress to the group. Overall they were pleased but there were more suggestions of changes. Although part of me just wanted them to like it (and not give me more work to do!), from the start, this project has been a collaboration with the aim of creating something that truly represents the people in the group, their ideas and experiences.

Whenever I’ve worked with young trans people I’ve always learnt a lot and I wanted this project to be an opportunity for the wider public to hear what they have to say.

Jason is an illustrator, animator and film maker. Look out for the rest of his posts about the project.

The comic will be available to read online from 20 November.