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A frame from the "Wash Day" comic “Wash Day” by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
Ahead of Free Comic Book Day Saturday, we talked with the local author of “Wash Day,” about her super successful first comic, illustrated by Robyn Smith. The slice-of-life comic follows 26-year-old Kimana, a Bronx resident, through a day of caring for her hair, and everything that happens on the sidelines of that – girl talk, rent stress, catcalls.
By day, Jamila runs social media at a cancer organization. By night the Bronx-born SoFlo resident is passionate about writing comics with women of color at their center. “There were stories that I wanted to read that were not out there, stories that featured women who looks like me, women of color, with experiences I could relate to,” she said.
“Wash Day” killed its Kickstarter goal and it’s been featured in places like Ebony, Essence, and Buzzfeed Cocoa Butter. And it will soon be translated into Spanish as well (Jamila is Afro-Latina, and so is one of her characters). Here’s what you should know about this geek girl:
HOW SHE ENDED UP WRITING HER OWN COMIC
Jamila’s been in the geek culture scene a long time. She used to run a blog called Girl Gone Geek and she founded the international meetup group, Geek Girl Brunch, as a place to “geek out away from all the misogyny and hate that’s online and at comic conventions.” There are now Ft. Lauderdale and Miami chapters.
“I love comics and I had all these different ideas for stories, but I never really considered it. I didn’t have the courage, didn’t feel like it was something I should do,” she said. “[I finally said] forget it, give it a shot. If it’s bad, it’s bad, at least I tried.”
WHY START WITH “WASH DAY?”
“I really love slice of life comics and I wanted to create a slice of life story that could relate to a lot of women,” she said. “Washing natural hair is a lot of work and we have a whole day catering to do it.… I wanted a story that showed that ritual and make women of color who experience this ritual feel like they’re being seen,” she said.
Jamila also hoped it would draw in people who think comics aren’t for them. “It’s still a very white male dominated culture, so by creating ‘Wash Day’… I wanted to disrupt that,” she said. “The reason I thought it might not do well – because it was so niche – is the reason it ended up doing up really well.”
HER FAVORITE SCENE IN “WASH DAY”
“When the character Kim is detangling her hair for two pages. I feel bad that me and Robyn gave her so much hair. I’m like, ‘So sorry, girl, I know how much work it is’,” she said.
HOW SHE GEEKS OUT LOCALLY
Geek Girl Brunch meetups, obviously. She also goes to all the conventions she can and has a membership to the Frost Museum of Science. But mostly it’s her hanging out at home, watching all the anime she can.
FAVORITE LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP
COMIC SHE’S CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH
The anime comic, “My Hero Academia.” “It is a story about a world where most of the population develops superpowers, but what I love about it is the pure goodness of a lot of the characters,” she said. “I’m very heavily invested in these teenage kids and their superpowers.”
BEST COSPLAY COSTUME EVER
Her African Sailor Moon costume for New York Comic Con in 2016 – she made it out of kente print, and put an ankh on her forehead instead of a gem.
WHERE TO MEET HER AND TALK COMICS
She’ll be at Florida SuperCon in July and the next Geek Girl Brunch. Plus, hit her up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you want to find out when “Wash Day” merch is available, you can sign up to be notified here.
REACH OUT TO SOMEONE TODAY
It’s Day 3 of the 10 Days of Connection challenge. If you haven’t joined yet, what are you waiting for?
HOW TO CONNECT TODAY
Find all the events through May 10 here.
Or take this challenge in the Facebook group: What questions do you ask to get to really know someone new? Let us know here.
CONNECT WITH US ON MONDAY
We’ll be hosting a Facebook live with formerly incarcerated women on their re-entry experience and what it takes to put prison behind you. It will kick off at 7 p.m. online (sorry, no in-person option for this). Want to propose some questions? Want details? Head here.
P.S. Connect Miami hit 1,000 Instagram followers yesterday, so now we’re trying to get there in the Facebook group as well (we went from 200 to 700 since the official launch on May 1!). Help us out and join here.
Is this the first you’re hearing about the 10 Days of Connection? It’s an initiative to help Miamians build empathy, kindness, and connection across lines of difference, in person and online. Read more here.
You have a 1 in 200 chance of being related to Genghis Khan. The chances are better that you’ll like this message from our advertiser.
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WHAT'S NEW IN THE 305
Goodbye bikini bod. The Salty Donut’s original pastry chef is about to make the name go national – he’s competing on May 7 on the Food Network’s “Best Bakers in America.” Even more exciting is the big announcement he made to coincide with the show: he’s planning to open an all-day doughnut breakfast bar in spring 2019. (Miami.com)
Grab that DEET. Rising temperatures have expanded the length and range of mosquito season in South Florida for many mosquitoes, including one we’ve gotten to know well: the Aedes aegypti, which carries viruses like Zika. The rising temps also could bring back many diseases that were eliminated from North America, like yellow fever. (Miami Herald)
Bad news bears. Mangroves are incredibly important to South Florida’s ecosystem – so much so that property owners can even get blocked from building if it might endanger nearby mangrove clusters (and massively fined if they damage them). But as seas rise, mangroves have been moving further and further inland – where they eventually hit barriers that prevent them from moving any further. They’re rapidly disappearing as a result. (Miami New Times)
Tough call. North Beach’s Tatum Waterway has an impressive collection of buildings built in the iconic “Miami Modern” (aka MiMo) architectural style, and it’s about to be designated a historic district to save them from demolition. But that has some homeowners pretty nervous, because Tatum is also one of lowest lying areas in all of Miami Beach, and if the designation goes through, that’s going to make it a lot harder for owners to make the changes they need to keep their property resilient amid rising seas. This balancing act between historic preservation and resilience is sure to come up again and again. (Miami Herald)
No tickets to this gun show. After getting slammed for running a gun show ad on the front page – right underneath a story about one of the victims of the Parkland shooting and another about the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting – the Sun-Sentinel said it will no longer run any advertising for guns. (Politico)
2 Fast 2 Furious 2 Loud? Miami is considering a deal with Formula One to bring a three-day Grand Prix straight to the heart of downtown. The commission will vote on whether to get into negotiations with the company next week, but that’s only the beginning. They’ll likely face a fight from downtown residents, because those cars are LOUD. (Miami Herald)
Happy news for tiny humans. Parents and parents-to-be of little ones, some life-saving medical research has arrived in Miami. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital has just launched two research studies that will allow them to quickly assess a baby’s entire DNA sequence and better diagnose rare diseases. The new method was created in San Diego and it’s made it to a few other hospitals, but we’re the first city east of the Mississippi River to try it out. (Miami Herald)
Today is the LAST DAY to submit your idea to The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge. The submission window closes at 11:59 p.m. ET tonight.
We have seen awesome projects come alive through this challenge over the years — like how this place of worship turned a vacant lot of land into the Miami Youth Garden. It provides kids in the area a chance to get their hands dirty and learn about gardening. Check out more on the project here.
OUR EVENTS AND PARTNER EVENTS
🏇 5/5 Dress to impress and watch the Kentucky Derby (South Beach)
🌮 5/8: Mingle over tostadas and cafecito at FIU’s Tostada Tuesdays (Sweetwater)
😲5/11 Peep a five-story, multi-sensory immersive art, music, and tech experience (Design District)
👒 5/13 Hit up the 1920s at Vizcaya’s Seersucker Social (Coconut Grove; get tickets early. This usually sells out!)
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Check out this event from our advertiser, Capital One Cafe.
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THURSDAY, MAY 3
💪Get inspired at the Just Fearless Women Rising Economic Empowerment Summit – $100 off with code “MeToo”; through Friday (Downtown)
🚴Drink to the Underline (Little Havana)
📷Meet the photographers behind CIC Miami’s newest exhibit (Allapattah)
🇭🇹Celebrate Haitian Heritage Month on the PAMM veranda (Downtown)
FRIDAY, MAY 4
🖼 Sample the Rubell Collection + The Wynwood Yard’s food concepts – every Friday in May (Wynwood)
SATURDAY, MAY 5
🇭🇹Learn something at the Little Haiti Book Festival –Through Sunday (Little Haiti)
🎻Catch the last WALLCAST of the season, Mahler Legacy 9 (South Beach)
🎉Go big at Brickell’s Cinco de Mayo block party (Brickell)
SUNDAY, MAY 6
🚲Explore Little Havana by bike with the Underline (Various locations)
Going to one of these events? Tag us on Instagram with @thenewtropic.
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY.
We’ll see you mañana – or over in the 10 Days of Connection Facebook group. 🙌