Jukebox, a month later

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.

 

Jukebox is here!

Jukebox

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 JUKEBOX!

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.

Jukebox trailer!

⭐ Enjoy this sneak peek at the interior art for JUKEBOX releasing in 5 WEEKS! ⭐

Shahi and Naz find a jukebox that takes them back in time. Each album sends them to eras of American history in their journey to find Shahi’s father. A story about how music shapes our past and present and connects us to one another. 🎵📚

Pre-order from a local independent bookstore here or here!

Thanks to @nickaiart for this beautiful animation (she’s available for commissions!)

Jukebox preorder!

Jukebox

In two months my second graphic novel, Jukebox, will release and I’ve partnered with two local bookshops for some exciting preorder promos!

Preorder from Bel and Bunna, for a signed book AND pre-order postcards and a guitar pick (limited to the first 100 orders).

Preorder from Hicklebees, join the virtual launch party on June 22 AND get your book signed and personalized.

I cannot wait to share the story of Shahi and Naz with you all. Thank you for your support of my books and independent bookstores (plus Saturday is independent bookstore day)!

Have a lovely week!

Jukebox cover and excerpt

I’m very excited to share the cover reveal of Jukebox along with a short interview and excerpt (!!) over on Comics Beat.

Out June 2021 – much to look forward to!

woman’s best friend

I’ve added this print to the shop and today is the last day of my shop sale for cards or magnets for $2 (no coupon required).

Meanwhile, yesterday I finished coloring my next graphic novel, Jukebox.

I had the story idea in 2014. I pitched and sold it in 2017. I began inking in January 2019. It took 1.5 years to draw and color. It’s 210 pages in full color. Making a graphic novel is an intense and lonely process. I fell in love with my main characters, Shaheen and Tannaz. Two brown girls on a time traveling adventure. I felt their confusion, pain and joy. While working on Jukebox, it’s like living with them. And today, I feel relieved, tired, proud and honestly, sad. My sadness is tempered because I know I’ll meet them anew when readers discover their story next year.

For now, I am going to take a short break before diving back into more book making.

I hope you have a lovely week.

Jukebox process

Thumbnails

Inks

Base colors

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.

 

slow progress

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.

the jukebox journey

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!