To help promote Woolworth’s Jamie’s Garden campaign, I recently accepted Contagious Network‘s challenge to create a superhero out of fresh fruit and vegetables. Actually, as I have all the artistic talents of the vegetables in question, I accepted the challenge on behalf of my daughters, who were quite happy to spend a little time on a long weekend exercising their creative muscles.

And what does this have to do with speculative fiction writing, you may ask? Bear with me, we’ll get there eventually…

Preliminary sketch

Preliminary sketch

And thus, Leek the Garden Guardian was born (yeah, it’s not the most imaginative of names, but sometimes simple is best).

My New Zealand Playcentre days had instilled in me an aversion to playing with food, so I had a few twinges of guilt about using edible produce for this project, but I rationalized it by reminding myself that Leek would not go to waste once the kids had finished building and posing him; the good stuff would get eaten, and rest (leek leaves, banana peels etc) would either be recycled into our compost or go to feed the chooks at school. All good, sound environmental practice.

I’d been toying with the idea of writing for children, but was unsure of whether or not I could tone down the darkness of my usual fiction fare. Maybe I could be onto something with this Garden Guardian. He would prove his worth by sacrificing himself to the humans he vowed to assist, allowing himself to be dismembered and consumed, only to rise again, perhaps in a new, unexpected and not entirely welcome form. Or perhaps he would turn out to be no hero at all. Perhaps he would be a kind of vegetarian Frankenstein, delighted at first to have been brought to life, only to discover his ignominious fate, destined for the soup pot and for avian gullets. What revenge might this creature wreak…

Looks like the answer to the “whether or not” question is “not”.

It's ALIIIIIVE!!!

It’s ALIIIIIVE!!!

You might be smiling now, Leek, but wait until lunch time...

  You might be smiling now, Leek, but wait until lunch time…

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...?

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…?

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