WCW: JAMILA ROWSER-WRITER

You guys may have seen me post about Geek Girl Brunch, on my social media pages. I am so grateful to have found the Geek Girl Brunch Community. I have met so many amazing women through it and wonderful friends.

I had the opportunity last week to talk to co-founder Jamila Rowser.  Jamila is bomb! She has written for NYLON Magazine, MTV, Mass Appeal and Critical Chips 2 (which was nominated for the 2018 Angouleme Alternative Comics Award).  In addition to Wash Day and Geek Girl Brunch, she also founded Straight Outta Gotham, a project that highlights connections between hip-hop and geek culture.

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Back to her new project Wash Day!  Wash Day is a slice-of-life comic that pays tribute to the beauty and endurance of Black women and their hair. The 27-page story was written by Jamila Rowser and illustrated by Robyn Smith, with script edits by J.A. Micheline. It follows Kimana, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx, as she cares for her long, thick hair.

As Kim goes through her Sunday morning rituals, readers experience the highs and lows of her day—fresh coffee, rising rent, girl talk and catcalls.

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Jamila, inspired by her own wash day ritual and desire to read more comics by and for women of color, decided to follow the words of the great Toni Morrison, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it

Robyn decided to peruse comics so she could tell stories that highlight the personal and societal aspects of Black womanhood. It is those very facets that she saw in Wash Day and drew her to the project, “There’s something radical about a story of a Black woman taking time for herself and taking care of herself in ways extremely specific to Blackness.”

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Wash Day will be self-published with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Which runs from April 3rd - May 4th.  Hyped to see Washday exceed its Kickstarter goal of $5k to $10k! #blackgirlmagic at its finest!

A physical copy of the comic book,  Wash Day

A physical copy of the comic book, Wash Day

Check out my q&a with Jamila below!

O.C.O: What brought you to comics?

J.R: I’ve always enjoyed anime, video games and sci-fi and fantasy, so comics was inevitable for me. I also had a late uncle named Barry who was a huge comic book fan and was a big inspiration to me as well. He took me to my first comic con when I was young.

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O.C.O:  What was the inspiration behind “Wash Day”? and Why was it important to you to highlight the day in the life of Kimana?

J.R: I love josei manga and I wanted to create a Black josei comic basically. A comic by and for Black women. There’s a quote Robyn Smith, the artist of Wash Day, said that I think describes up it beautifully, “There’s something radical about a story of a Black woman taking time for herself and taking care of herself in ways extremely specific to Blackness.” 

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  How did you and Robyn link up?

J.R:  I found Robyn on Twitter! Someone had retweeted her art and I was drawn to it. I look at more of her work and I loved her style and read her moving comic The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town and reached out to about working on Wash Day. She was excited to be a part of the project and loves drawing hair, which is great because there’s a lot of it in this comic. She’s been an absolute pleasure to work with.

With a pledge of $30 or more, readers will receive a  Wash Day  sticker sheet featuring art by Robyn Smith. 

With a pledge of $30 or more, readers will receive a Wash Day sticker sheet featuring art by Robyn Smith. 

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

J.R:  Other than my Uncle Barry, I would say my friends and music are my biggest influencers. Specifically, artists like Frank Ocean, Solange, SZA and Tyler the Creator, especially their recent projects. Missy Elliot, Erykah Badu and Outkast are also big inspirations to me as well. I think they are all highly creative people whose art is often clever and intellectual, but also deeply relatable and accessible to many.

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

J.R:  That I get to work on something that I care about. It sounds simple, but it’s truly fulfilling to be able to devote time and energy into a project you’re passionate about.

O.C.O:  If a young girl is interested in creating comics, what’s the best advice you can offer her?

J.R:  Create what you want to exist in the world.

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O.C.O: What’s on your horizon? Any current/future projects and plans/dreams you can share with us?

J.R: I am working on a mini comic that I’m not ready to announce yet. I hope to release it late summer/early fall. I’m pretty excited about it! I can say that it is inspired by an iconic song.

O.C.O:  What advice would you give to aspiring artists wanting to use their art to address social issues? 

J.R:  Try to let go of the pressure to be the representative of your people. It’s often a burden I feel as one of the few Black women who works in a predominantly white space (I’m talking about my 9-5 job), but I actively try to let it go and remind myself that my experience is mines alone and I can’t and shouldn’t have to represent my race or sex. The same goes for stories, of course there are experiences we all share, but don’t get hung up on trying to include everyone’s experience.

Support Wash Day y'all: www.washdaycomic.com the kickstarter campaign runs through May 4th.

You can follow Jamila on Instagram and Twitter.

Xo

Kos

Jared Rinaldi–the eclectic artist

Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.-Colin Wright

Balance is not only essential for happiness and well-being; in the long run, it actually increases productivity and success.  I am striving to have more balance despite having 100 ideas I want executed in my head. We all have been there, so many creative projects can make taking a "break" not easy to do. 

It made me think and wonder the following:

HOW DO CREATIVE FOLKS STRIVE FOR BALANCE? 

I don’t have the answer to that but I want to use the blog as a platform for folks to read different ways many people do on top of my WCW posts.

I had the opportunity to interview my friend Jared Rinaldi a few weeks ago.  Jared is a triple threat  as a fantasy writer, actor, and musician. Similar to a few creatives that we know that carry many hats!

His first book THE UNDEAD KING, caught my attention as it has elements of post-apocalyptic politics seen in fantasy and zombie horror.  Check out the blurb:

In a post-apocalyptic future, where humankind has descended back into the dark ages, a young swordsman and his small band of allies must stand against the Undead King and his army of ravenous zombies.

There is a war brewing in the Green Lands. East versus west, might versus mind, brother versus brother…

While this battle over power and resources consumes the land, the Undead King is clandestinely marching north. At his command are an army of ravenous corpses, their appetite for living flesh insatiable. In the king’s possession is a sceptre of great power, forged in white fire by the monks of Jai Lin…

Mercer Crane is a young wanderer who has lost everything and means to make a name for himself in the war. He has come into possession of a sword, its edges lined with dark matter. This blade is special, as is the man who wields it, for together, they are the only thing that can stop… THE UNDEAD KING.

Being a writer myself that is not easy to combine (kudos Jared! It is a true mix of GoT and The Walking Dead as you described it!)

Peep our Q & A:

O.C.O: Tell us more about your new book you are working on called Sprocket Knights. How is it different from THE UNDEAD KING?

J.R: Sprocket Knights is actually the title of an entire five book series, of which the Undead King was book one, until I made some serious revisions and then changed the title to "The Sword of Jai Lin." The stories follow the same trajectory; the main difference between the two books is in the details.

O.C.O: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

J.R: Currently, I'm working on a series of five books that are all interconnected. I'm trying to build an entire world with its own history. But I also write screenplays and short stories which have nothing to do with Sprocket Knights at all, and look forward to writing books not in that world.

O.C.O: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

J.R: I'd have to say a sort of large jungle cat, like a tiger or leopard. Writing is a very solitary craft and requires me to be in full control, at the top of the food-chain if you will. Oftentimes I'm stalking the story relentlessly until I can pounce and tear it to shreds. I have a very violent process.

O.C.O: What Does Your Band Name “Kitari” Mean?

J.R:  Kitari actually didn't mean anything when I came up with the name. We were calling ourselves Annakari for a few days, which is a Japanese demon, but then I blanked on the name when a hotshot casting director asked me my band's name and I just blurted out "Kitari." We stuck with it. We came to find out that "Kitari" actually translates to guitar in Slovenian, so that's pretty accurate.

O.C.O: Describe Kitari's sound?

J.R: Kitari's sound is, of course, grounded in rock music with traditional rock instrumentation, but my ultimate focus has always been on writing the best songs I can. To me, that means that my songs should have compelling and introspective lyrics, memorable hooks and effective movement throughout the different parts. I think it gives our music and live performance an emotional weight that not a lot of other bands have. I count myself fortunate to play with some really amazing players, with backgrounds in genres as varied as jazz, punk, classical, hardcore and drum n' bass. Their styles certainly influence how the songs are performed. But as far as tying up our sound in a neat little bow? I'd say we're a psychedelic indie-rock band.

O.C.O: Do you write out your lyrics? Do you ever change a song’s lyrics in live sets?

J.R:  Yes, I wrote about 90% of the lyrics, with our former guitarist having written the remainder. And yes, I forget lyrics live a lot. I've gotten quite good at freestyling new lyrics though.

O.C.O: What creative individual would you have lunch with (can be dead or alive). Where would you go, what would you ask?

J.R: Hmmm it would be a toss-up between Jimi Hendrix and Ernest Hemingway. It would have to be a boozey lunch somewhere, and I'd ask them both basically the same thing: where else is there to go with art? What areas need to be explored today? What adventures need to be taken?

O.C.O: What embarrassing songs might I find on your IPhone now?

J.R: Oh god, let me look. There's definitely some bad ones on here. How's Kevin Lyttle, "Turn Me On?" Oh, the Scissor Sisters. That's funny.

O.C.O: What advice would you give someone when balancing different creative endeavors?

J.R: ·  In finding balance, I really try to structure my day. It may sound intuitive and like a "no duh" kind of concept, but you'd be surprised with how many people just let the day drive them from task to task. You need to drive the day. I'm not saying to just sit in your little hermit's cave away from the world or to fight tooth and nail against any sort of change. You should still remain flexible and capable of being influenced and inspired by everything around you.

But to intentionally structure your day, to work at accomplishing tasks as opposed to just getting through them, is a way to achieve balance. Once I'm done with something, once I've accomplished it, I can move on to the next task. Some tasks take longer than others - like writing a book, for instance - so I set smaller goals for myself and when I accomplish them, I feel like I can shift my attention over to another project. Time also forces me to find balance. There are only so many minutes in a day, after all.

O.C.O: Anything you would like share? (This where you direct folks to social media pages for the band and links to your books)

J.R:  All my band's material, including music, videos and pics can be found at kitaritheband.com. A quick search on Amazon of "Jared Rinaldi" will turn up the books I've written. Kitari has some a shows coming up: Saturday August 5th at Mercury Lounge and Thursday August 24th at Bar Matchless.

Follow Kitari on FB friend’s: https://www.facebook.com/kitaritheband

Hope everyone is finding their own balance while creating something rad this summer :)

xo

Kos