Trans* Planetarium: A Voice for Change – The Inspiration

I want to welcome a new column from Graphic Policy contributor Phillip Knox who along with other folks is working on a comic series Trans* Planetarium. The Trans* Planetarium team is going to take us through the process of comic creation, talking about their experiences with the series. – the Management

trans planetariumTrans* Planetarium is a comic series I wrote, that’s in the process of being drawn. It tells the story of Alice, a 24 year old transgender woman, who has suffered hardship and rejection from the world, and attempts to end it all by committing suicide. Alice is saved by a Seraphim, a divine power committed to guiding her towards self acceptance and who challenges her to face her inner demons (literally), so that she may gain the courage necessary to help change the world around her.

For the next few weeks the creative team on Trans* Planetarium: myself, editor Kristine Chester (Marketing Associate Darby Pop Publishing, Senior Contributor Fanboy Comics), artist Joanne Romae, and colorist Brikalyn Benigno are going to explore the comic creation process, from the script to the art to seeking a publisher. The place to start is how this idea came about and why we decided to create such a story. Well, let me explain:

Back in February this year, I decided, as a comic creator, I wanted to do something more with my stories. I wanted to create a story of social importance. One that, in a way, shared my moral belief that we are all equal and deserve to live life to the fullest without prejudice like Stan Lee’s X-Men had done. But, I also wanted to write and create a story that would push my storytelling out of its comfort zone. Why? To be honest, I still don’t have an answer.

I found myself watching a documentary on Hulu about Grant Morrison. How he worked out his comic ideas and what drove him to create such beautiful works of comic genius, that has both fans loving and hating him at the same time. However, we all seem to admire his talent and come to appreciate the way the man thinks. So, there I was on my couch just watching as a typical fan boy as Grant Morrison gave me the best advice. As he answered the interviewer in the most honest way, “I create my stories as they play in my head. It’s like a million films all playing at once and I want to share them. If no one likes them, I don’t care, I just enjoying doing them because all of my work bears my heart.”

I’ve heard artists and creators say that writing from the heart is the way to create the best story possible, but it never really sank in until I was listening to Morrison’s description. All comic creators write out of passion and not for the money. We have this urge to bleed our hearts out into these beautiful stories and share them to the world. But, I hadn’t bled yet. I created a horror comic called Tatted for fun last year and became involved with The ODD Comics’ The Bud as a publishing agent because I enjoyed the character’s premise and the challenge of selling it. Until this point, I never knew what it felt like to create a comic book that tore open my heart strings. That was until I found my inspiration for Trans* Planetarium.

IMG_1227Growing up, I don’t know how or why I was built into accepting all people and loving them no matter what. Without judgement. Without fear. I just have always done it, even when it wasn’t popular. I was shocked when I found an old article where a man saw a trans* woman with her boyfriend at a bar and proceeded to beat her boyfriend senseless and strangled her to death. You mean to tell me as civilized as our world is, we still have monsters willing to kill another human being for the crime of being different? I mean, I felt my blood boil in a heated rage like I never had before. I don’t know what it was, but I felt compelled to do something. Especially since I found myself delving deeper into America’s transphobia issue and finding out some dark truths in this country about inequality that I thought didn’t exist.

And then it hit me. I can use my love for comics in the most positive way and provide a voice for a community that has seen so much ugliness because of ignorance. So, the idea for Trans* Planetarium was born. I wanted to educate people about the transgender community in an attempt to stop the bigotry and hatred that ignorance bred into our society. And within minutes of my decision, I began to sketch out the logo that was going to be used for the story’s title.

In seconds I knew Trans* Planetarium was going to be the name of the story. Why? Because in my head it sounded really cool when you said it out loud, and for the other, because of what its meaning implies. Trans is used to explain someone going: across, beyond, or through. Which is used to describe a transgender person who chooses to go across one gender to another and planetarium, which is a theatre built primarily for presenting educational and entertaining shows about astronomy and the night sky, or for training in celestial navigation. Putting them together though, is a play on words that fit the story’s main goal: Transforming the world’s viewpoint on transgender people, so they are willing to understand and accept the transgender community with love and grace.

Little did I know as a straight, cisgender (which means not trans*) man, the fight I was getting myself into. Nor, did I know how many awesome people I was going to meet along the way to ensure this story was going to be created and published. It’s all still amazing and humbling me to no end. Next week, I’ll cover the script writing process for this comic and how two comic community powerhouses Matt Hawkins (Top Cow) and Renae Geerlings (Darby Pop) found the perfect editor for this project and why I am still in shock those two wonderful people were so willing to help me. Thanks for reading. Hope to entertain you soon.

Check out some more art below.