Most of the time our kid is rainbows and curiosity but often (okay, daily) there are… moments. We love her through it but whew! They can be pretty intense.
I hope you’re all well.
Lighting + shading + magic ^_^
I’ve been making very slow progress on Jukebox over the past few weeks. I’ve lived with this story for over 2 years. I cannot wait to release it next year! While sharing some of my work with my graduate students at CCA, I realized it’s helpful to show the process of comics work. It’s very labor intensive but ultimately incredibly rewarding. Each panel is a chance to learn how to convey story with composition, expression, body language and pacing.
I wrote the story in a detailed outline, roughly 4 pages, in mid 2018. Then I worked on a thumbnail manuscript. I finished that in 5 months, in December 2018. Using that manuscript, I drew clean inked lines for the finished book. I completed inks in February of this year. Now along with Elizabeth Kramer and a team of flatters, we’re working on colors. I aim to finish the book by summer but with current events it may be longer.
For most of my life I was conflicted about my choice to pursue a path in the arts. Growing up I valued non-art careers far more. As our current mess unfolds, I realize that the arts are equally important and necessary. Books, movies, music are not only a lovely way to escape – they allow us to feel connected, and they’re important to our shared mental health. That’s one of my takeaways from this time – to value my own work.
I appreciate the opportunity to continue to make stories for that reason. Plus, work is where I find comfort and joy. I hope you are finding places of comfort and joy, as well.
Be safe and healthy, all.
We’re trying to focus on the good things during this strange time. More than ever, I feel like I’m always working between homeschool, work and household chores. However, the upside is a lot of wonderful family time. We’re trying to limit our news consumption and focus on the immediate positive experiences.
When talking to my friend and amazing artist, Angela Grammatas, I began to embrace this time as unique. An opportunity to teach our kid things that she wouldn’t normally learn during her school day. Hindi lessons with mom, piano with dad and loads of art lessons. We are exploring surrounding parks each weekend – spending time outside, eating lunch and taking long walks.
We’re in this together. I want to give away all my art these days – because I know art is saving many of us right now. I don’t have that luxury BUT in addition to free downloads and drawing demos, I’m offering my remaining calendars for free (limit 1 per customer, only pay shipping). I will draw on each package.
Stay strong and stay healthy all!
It’s a little wild around here!
I am excited to share some good news – my picture book deal with Viking Children’s books has been announced. WHAT WILL MY STORY BE? will be my debut as a picture book author AND illustrator. I cannot wait to share this story about fostering creativity and storytelling in a young brown girl’s world and the importances of chosen families. 2021 cannot come soon enough (for multiple reasons!)
Also, I wanted to share my podcast conversation with my former art teacher and amazing artist, John Wentz. If you want to hear about my early career pursuing a stubborn dream with zero skills and connections, have a listen.
Stay safe and well, everyone!
It’s comicon week and I’m happily at home – I can’t think of a better reason to miss SDCC than working on my next graphic novel.
I’ve been working on many projects I can’t share, so I’m happy to post this sneak of Jukebox panels. After drawing for my and Thrity Umrigar’s forthcoming picture book, Binny’s Diwali, I’m back on track, inking Jukebox pages. Writing characters provides one kind of insight and drawing is another layer of understanding. I love learning about Shahi and Naz as I draw them.
As I reopened the pages, I worried that after a break, I’d want to redraw everything. I hold very high standards for myself. However, I surprisingly felt the opposite. The past couple years I’ve grown as an artist and that makes me happy. There’s so much that makes me want to stop working – but I keep those moments of joy close and use them as fuel to fight and continue working.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
P.S. Thank you to all the folks who bid on the auctions last week – we raised $700. I will continue to think of ways to raise more in August.
Nick and I have been together for nearly 16 years. It’s easy to forget the person you share your life with is an individual. I regularly have conversations with Nick in my head, assuming his responses and reactions. Our recent relationship go-to phrase is “assume the best of me” whenever we fall into a familiar place of frustration. We’ve grown together as a team. We choose, more often than not, to love each other instead of fight. It’s not easy! But Nick teaches me regularly to choose love.
As we watched Queer Eye earlier this year, shedding tears and fueling up on hope, I heard his wish for an opportunity like the folks on the show. A plan began to formulate. I typically plan Nick’s birthday months in advance because my schedule is bananas AND ALSO because I love birthdays! I told a small set of friends and they agreed it was a good idea. I was nervous Nick wouldn’t be into it without the fab five but they assured me he’d like it. I finished my grand plan in April and I’m very proud to say that I didn’t spill ANYTHING. In addition to a party, I treated him to a day inspired by Queer Eye, where he could focus on the wonderful, beautiful person he is – because everyone deserves to see themselves through the lens of love.
On the morning of his birthday, I presented him with his schedule and funfetti waffles. I think he was in shock as I ushered him out the door. His first appointment was Orange Theory (which he was late to because preschoolers don’t understand tight schedules but they were so welcoming and excited) which was inspired by Karamo, then inspired by Tan, a stylist through Macy’s (did you know that’s a free service they provide?!), followed by a barber shop for a facial, shave and cut (he hasn’t had a haircut in 10 years!) inspired by Jonathan, afterwards a day spa where he had his first pedicute and finally he joined us for homemade bahn mi sandwiches and cake that I decorated with the kid, Antoni would be proud!
We missed the home make over, because I cannot be Bobby! But the Nick make over was a success! He told me he could never have imagined what I had planned and that he felt pampered and lucky. He had new experiences, a new do and new wardrobe… and I’m so happy that on his 40th birthday he felt relaxed and loved!
Thank you Queer Eye for the queerspiration!
And happy birthday, my love!
Jukebox idea, 2014
Jukebox pitch, 2016
I spent last fall thumbnailing my next graphic novel, Jukebox. It’s a story about two cousins, Tannaz and Shaheen, who find a jukebox that takes them back in time. The thumbnail manuscript is where a cartoonist lays out the story taking into account page layout, panels, page turns and flow. I wrote the book with my hubbahubba, Nick Giordano. Over the past few weeks we received early feedback and I’m wrapping up revisions. Next week I will start drawing final art for the book. It’s roughly 200 pages.
Each milestone in a long and arduous project deserves a celebration. I’m pretty terrible at taking the time to mark these moments because of my work demands. But… finishing the thumbnail manuscript was a feat. I approached it differently than Pashmina which began with a full script. I abandoned the full script for Jukebox and went straight to thumbnails, stopping to write when needed. This approach integrated the visuals and text concurrently and took five months, compared to Pashmina, which was over a year. In those five months I lived inside the story. I talked about the characters like friends I was trying to understand. It’s my absolute favorite part of the process.
Working on the final art is fun and labor intensive. I’m looking forward to using color to communicate pieces of the story visually, approaching the line work in a way that allows for focal points and nuance and drawing my favorite city, San Francisco.
I will continue to share sales, occasional art and events (I will be in LA, St Louis, New York, and PA this year) but mostly I will be quietly working on Jukebox. I will share snippets when I can and it will hit the shelves in 2021. Jukebox is very dear to my heart. Writing a book with the love of my life has been wonderful and challenging. I’m a pretty intense person to work with! The truth is that Nick contributes to all my projects but this book is our joint love letter to music, family and connection. The wait will be long but worthwhile.
For now I’m sharing these early images. Nick and I started talking about our idea in 2014 and I roughly sketched it. The next drawing was used to pitch the book immediately after finishing Pashmina in 2016. Neither will appear in the finished book but I love them both. Making a book is a looong journey and I’m in the middle. Finishing the manuscript is an important milestone. Based on my other committments and schedule, I should finish drawing it by years end but it will leave little room for anything else. So, I will stop to celebrate this milestone… and then get back to work!
I hope you have a lovely weekend!
I’m embracing quick comics! I created this direct from life comic in 30 minutes and didn’t edit or change it from its original. I love the liberation in sharing work that hasn’t been redrawn.
Also I’m heading to Houston this weekend for the National Conference for Teachers of English (and honored to be part of the South Asian Book Award, eee!) AND I have my only public signing of PASHMINA at Space Montrose Saturday night. It’s my last work trip of the year! I hope to see you there!
I hope you have a lovely weekend!