I’m regularly battling the exhaustion of work, life and the absence of normalcy. But as time marches forward I find small joys in nature and continue connecting through my work. I am participating in a free virtual author panel with Tandem Bay Area in a couple weeks. Please join if you’re interested!
Also, my debut written and illustrated book, WHAT WILL MY STORY BE, will now release on November 30th due to supply chain disruptions. Please pre-order it as well as other books because it seems these delays will continue through the holiday season.
I hope you’re finding small joys in your days.
My daughter has all kinds of awesome nicknames for her papa and I had none… so I asked her to give me one. She came up with Mama Mermaid and I thought about that as I was drawing this.
I hope you’re all safe and well.
I’ve spent the past few years making books. My calendar is full of book deadlines. It’s become somewhat of a joke among my close friends “How many books are you working on right now?” My answer is usually four (with a few in waiting). As I approach the release of my next book, What Will My Story Be, my fourth pandemic release, I realized the work has become quite lonely. I know this feeling isn’t unique. Without in person book launches, conferences or connecting with readers, making books is difficult. Many of my books take years to make and releasing them has felt like baking a deflated soufflé.
As I was languishing in my pity party (fully recognizing there are larger problems in the world) it dawned on me that it’s been over 2 years since I’ve made personal art. I’m always drawing on deadline. Books, freelance, or promotional art fills my days. The dissonance I feel is due to the pandemic but also this absence of art for art’s sake. So I decided that a couple times a week I will allow myself to create without purpose. Some I will share and some I will keep for myself.
The above is an hour quick draw. I didn’t know what would come of it. I was thinking about current events and feeling surrounded by storms. And reminding myself that there’s still beauty and love. There’s still a path forward.
I hope you’re all weathering your storms and finding love in these tumultuous times.
It’s been over a month since Jukebox released and my third pandemic book release. It’s not easy. I miss being on the road and meeting educators, librarians and of course, readers. I appreciate the emails and messages from folks who have read and enjoyed it – it keeps me going in this seemingly never ending pandemic. I’ve been on some amazing panels discussing comics, from the American Library Association panel with Jerry Craft, Varian Johnson and Nadia Shammas, to a Comicon panel with Judd Winick, Dana Simpson, B.C. Peterschmidt, and Jerry Craft. It’s always a joy to share the love of comics.
And on the one month release, I wanted to share some of my favorite interiors from Jukebox. I challenged myself with the research, story, design and of course the colors (aided by my co-colorist Elizabeth Kramer).
The first time Shahi and Naz turn on the Jukebox.
Harlem in the 30s.
Women’s march for Equality in Washington DC in the 70s.
Bud Billiken parade in Chicago in the 60s.
Break dancing in Venice Beach in the 80s.
I have many other favorites but I don’t want to give away any of the ending. You can still find signed copies here.
Now, I’m working on more books – picture books, early readers and another middle grade graphic novel. I am grateful, regularly, that I am able to do this work. And, also it’s hard to keep momentum up without the in person interaction. I long for it to return and will be overjoyed to see folks when it’s safe.
I hope you and yours are finding ways to keep your spirits up.
Thank you, always, for the support.
Today is JUKEBOX‘s book birthday!
Please join me to celebrate the virtual launch tonight at 7pm PST with Hicklebees bookstore. I will read from the book, share a drawing demo and answer questions!
I’ve waited years for today. I pitched the story in 2016, signed the contract in 2017 and submitted final art in 2020. I set out to create a story featuring two desi girls who go on a time traveling adventure. Years ago, I promised to my very good friend and artist, Faheema Chaudhury, that I would make a book with a Bangladeshi Muslim main character because it’s so underrepresented. That promise helped me find Shaheen (Shahi) and Tannaz (Naz). I spent years living with the characters in my head and then drawing them on the page. There were countless hours spent researching albums, history, watching documentaries and historical footage. I made a conscious decision to feature Black musicians because they’re the foundation of American music. My hands hurt as I inked the pages and I learned to ice them at the end of the day. JUKEBOX brought me to new places in panelling, pacing and color. I loved the process. As I finished the book, I thought about this lyric from the song What Light by Wilco “Just remember what was yours, is everyone’s from now on.”
As JUKEBOX enters the world, I know it’s no longer mine. It belongs to everyone.
Thank you for reading, sharing and supporting, always.
One week until the release of my graphic novel JUKEBOX! You can still pre-order from Bel and Bunna (or your local indie bookstore) to get your book next week! If you pre-order from Bel & Bunna you will receive 2 postcards, a double sided guitar pick and bookmark as seen below:
Wherever you pre-order from is great! In case you’re wondering why pre-orders matter, this post from Jennifer Laughran is wonderful:
“If there are a lot of pre-orders, the publisher will pay attention. They might give the book more promotion/marketing, because hey, people are excited, clearly, let’s build off that buzz!
* If there are a lot of pre-orders at physical bookstores – those bookstores will naturally order more books. Like, maybe they normally get three copies of a new book – but if dozens of people have pre-ordered it from them, well, they are likely to get a giant pile of them instead. Win/win – more copies in the store means more visibility which means more booksellers have it on their radar – all of which means more sales.
* When you pre-order a book, it actually goes through the cash register and is SOLD on release day. If there are a ton of sales on release day (or very soon after release) – then things like The New York Times Bestseller List and Indie Bestseller List are a possibility. And if authors get that coveted “Bestseller” status, again, their publisher will be even more excited about their book, the book will get promoted more (not to mention that the list itself is a promotional tool, and being able to have “NYT Bestseller” in your bio is a promotional tool) which means the book will have more visibility, which means that MORE people will buy it.
More people excited about the book ahead of time = more promotion for the book when it comes out = more books sold = the author can feed their family.”
Thank you for your support and your messages about my comic last week.
I’m sharing this comic about some recent medical things that I experienced. Trigger warning I discuss pregnancy loss. I made this comic to share and process my own complicated emotions. Thanks for reading (also understand if you choose not to read).