Black Sands Entertainment

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Black Sands Entertainment is a production studio established in 2016 to develop comics and animated series aimed at African-American families. Their successful series The Seven Kingdoms, Sons of Nibiru, Cosmic Girls, and Mori’s Family Adventures have sold over 25,000 copies direct to consumers and generated $500K in revenue in less than 3 years.

Published books:

Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #1, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #2, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #3, Black Sands Entertainment
Sons of Nibiru, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Advantures – South Africa, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands Ultimate Edition, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Adventures – Rio, Black Sands Entertainment
Brazilian Culture Exchange, Black Sands Entertainment
World Traveling Coloring Book, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #4, Black Sands Entertainment
Cosmic Girls, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #5, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the First Pharaoh, Black Sands Entertainment


Shannon Slaughter

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Shannon Slaughter’s artist’s name is Jazine (JazineDraws). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. At the time of graduating, she specialized in oil paintings, but she later transitioned to digital mediums, where she is self-taught. Her style is inspired by fantasy, portraiture, semi-realism, and Japanese pop culture.

She currently works as an elementary school special education teacher.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman. I loved the dog’s hat and I wanted to make one of my own as a kid, but I never did.  Maybe it is not too late though?

What is your favorite food?

I love mashed potatoes. I know they are not the healthiest thing to eat, but if it is offered to me, I won’t turn it down. My mom told me that one day I will turn into a potato.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHANNON

Art Process:

For illustrations, I begin with several pencil sketches in my sketchbook or on Bristol paper. I may use Copic markers for shading. I will then scan the chosen sketch into the computer and open it in Clipstudio Paint.

I first create a grayscale draft that includes shadows and highlights. I choose a combination of digital watercolor and digital oil paint as my mediums. Once I am satisfied with the grayscale draft, I will use a combination of gradient maps, tweaking of layer attributes and overlaying layers of color at a low opacity to add color to my painting. Throughout the process, I am thinking of which colors can best convey the feeling I want for the final picture. I use the graphics editor Krita to assist in any additional color corrections.


Damon Lehrer

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Born in Boston in 1967, Damon Lehrer attended Amherst College and apprenticed to sculptor Philip Grausman in Connecticut. He traveled in Eastern Europe and lived in London during the 90s, then taught art at schools including the Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, and Lesley University. In 2010 he started the Boston Figurative Art Center. His first children’s wordless picture book, Rocket Boy, was published by David R. Godine in 2017. He lives with his wife and son in Lexington, MA.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It depends which age… In the Night Kitchen and The Phantom Tollbooth, certainly. And Susan Cooper’s books!

What do you love to do for fun?

Play soccer with my 12-year-old son!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAMON

Art Process:

For a book project, I sit at my drawing table and visualize what I need to express. If things go well, I collect a few ideas that I jot down and use as the basis for pencil sketches. I often photograph these basic sketches and import them to Photoshop, where I can play with their tonal parameters and get new ideas. I might play with color at this stage, too. When I feel good about a small drawing, I make a larger drawing on Canson 14×17 drawing paper. I’ll import these into Photoshop and play with them in the same way, and if possible do finishing work and small adjustments.

I find the alternation between drawing with paper and pencil and working digitally really enjoyable. It helps me separate from the drawing and see it in a new way. It also makes me feel very free to take risks with color, image order, and pencil drawing.

Published books:

Rocket Boy, David Godine, 2017

Location:

Visit Damon at:

New website coming soon.

Awards and honors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in Painting, 2000

Available for School Visits:

I do free-form author visits where I place enlarged posters of pages from my book  at the front of the room. I ask the kids about themselves to loosen them up (what they do, what they like, what they think of the illustrations, etc.) until they start asking me questions. We have fun and I enjoy it.


Shauna J. Grant

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Shauna J. Grant is a cartoonist and illustrator with the magical power to create cuteness. Born and raised in NYC during the boom of Japanese anime and manga, her artwork is heavily influenced by shoujo and magical girls, with a mix of Western cartoon flare. Adding diversity into the comic world is her biggest goal and she’s on a mission to create stories starring Black girls as the adorable heroines of their own tales.

She’s most proud of being part of Black Comix Returns, curated by John Jennings and Damian Duffy, and Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Sheena Howard. She’s currently signed onto two graphic novels to be published by First Second.

What do you love to do for fun?

For fun I love reading romance books! It feels like the dorkiest thing ever but I love seeing two characters butting heads as they get used to each other’s differences, and discovering a mutual love and respect for each other.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

It’s easy for me to say (and, well, I often do say) that Sailor Moon is my biggest inspiration! Watching it as a child made me want to create characters and stories of my own and even now, having reached my thirties, I still get swoony when I see anything Sailor Moon-related. There wasn’t a lot of media geared towards girls that felt so empowering while also recognizing the strength in femininity and relationships. Sailor Moon was clumsy, struggled with school, and preferred to just eat, sleep, and play games all day… but when duty called, she was always there to save the day.

Even more importantly than Sailor Moon, I must say my mother is a true inspiration. She has always been my biggest cheerleader from day one. She was a single mother who raised me on the tough streets of the Bronx and made sure I knew what love was and always put me in places that would foster my growth. Mother-daughter relationships can be very intricate, even when full of love, and it’s something that I’m interested in writing about in my stories as well.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHAUNA

Art Process:

I start my art process with lots and lots of doodles to get my ideas down. They tend to be very loose as I’m just trying to get down the feel of the piece. What emotion am I focused on? What composition best suits it?

From here, I’ll tighten up my doodles and start my penciling process. Either I’ll draw right on top of the doodle, cleaning up areas as I go, or I’ll put a new layer on top and redraw everything neater with the doodle being used as reference. Once I’m satisfied, I’ll ink the image on a new layer and from there I give the illustration a quick coloring to see what colors will work before I decide on a palette.

I tend to do best with pastel colors and go for a whimsical, dreamy, and eye-catching color scheme. I try to keep things as simple as possible with my coloring, with a little bit of airbrushed shading, some crisp shaded areas, and lots of highlights to make the colors pop. Once finished, I’ll color the lineart so the whole piece looks delicious like candy!

Mediums:

Specialties:

Location:

Visit Shauna J. Grant at:

Available for School Visits:

I’ve done school visits in the past where I show off my illustrations (on projectors) and read through my comics with the kids. I use these moments to encourage a love for creating art, being yourself, and feeling no shame for liking something that’s not stereotypically masculine. With older kids I go more in depth over the art process and pursuing art as a career.

Forthcoming books:

Untitled Memoir, First Second (TBA)

Published books:

Natural, Alien, Virginity, Backstage – Dirty Diamonds issues #6- #9, 2015-2018
My Cute Girl! – Can I Pet Your Werewolf, Kel McDonald, 2017
Our Story – Secret Loves of Geeks, Dark Horse, 2018

Awards and honors:

Top 20 Up and Coming Black Artists, Comics Alliance, 2016
Best artist, the Glyph Awards, 2018


Matt Loux

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Matthew Loux is the author and artist of the graphic novels The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (published by First Second Books), Sidescrollers and the five volume series Salt Water Taffy (originally published by Oni Press).

Matthew also illustrated the graphic novel F-Stop and the board comic Good Night Gabbaland based on the Nick Jr. television show Yo Gabba Gabba and has contributed comics and cover art for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Matthew lives in New York and is currently working on his first watercolor-painted graphic novel aimed at early middle grade readers, soon to be announced.

Favorite food:

Pepperoni pizza

Favorite travel spots:

Just about any place in Japan but particularly the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka and the Shimokitazawa and Nakameguro neighborhoods of Tokyo.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MATT

Art Process:

Matthew’s art process involves a foundation of hand pencils, which are then finished with line art using a Winsor & Newton brush and ink.

Colors are either done using Photoshop, resulting in a slightly more polished and modern illustration look, or hand-painted with watercolor for a more classic, vintage feel.

Published books:

The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (First Second Books)
Sidescrollers (Oni Press)
Salt Water Taffy Vol. 1-5 (Oni Press)
F-Stop (Oni Press)
Good Night Gabbaland (Oni Press)

Awards and honors:

Starred Kirkus review (The Time Museum)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2018 (The Time Museum)
Panda Book Award winner, 2018 (The Time Museum)
RI Children’s Book Award nomination (The Time Museum)
American Library Association’s YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008 (Sidescrollers)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2009 (Salt Water Taffy)

Location:

Visit Matt Loux at:

Available for School Visits:

Matthew’s main school presentation (aimed at middle grade readers) begins with a personal look at the influences throughout his younger life that led him to a career in comics. He discusses the steps it takes to actually create a graphic novel from idea to finished book. The presentation includes live drawing and a slideshow.

Matthew’s second presentation (accessible for all ages) begins with a shorter version of what brought him to making comics, then quickly focuses on live drawing and an interactive “create a character” game. In the end, the drawings will be left for the school to display or give to student participants.


Mike Sgier

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Mike Sgier is a cartoonist and printmaker based in Philadelphia. Born and raised outside of Denver, Mike received a BFA from Creighton University, and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has been making comics since 2006, exploring a wide range of genres in the medium, including autobio, indie romance, and humorous sci-fi. His current comics are based in the fantasy genre, following an array of characters in a world called Vespers.

Mike is an active member of BYO Print, a printmaking studio and collective in Philadelphia.

What was your favorite book as a child?

A tie between ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, and ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary.

Favorite travel spots:

Dublin, Ireland and Kyoto, Japan

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MIKE

Art Process:

My creative process starts by drawing quick, small thumbnails of the image, trying out different compositions, and determining which visual elements will be used. Based on these quick drawings, I’ll complete 3-4 small drawings (around 4.25” x 5.5”) with the basic elements in play, but still not too detailed. These drawings help to give an idea of where the image can go, but also help to determine if different routes are needed to achieve the result the client is seeking.

Once a drawing is approved by the client, I transfer it to a fresh sheet of paper where I finish it, most often with pen and ink. Then I scan and clean it up, adding digital techniques if necessary.

For relief printmaking, I transfer the drawing to a block of wood or linoleum, carve it, and pull prints from the block. This process may add more time, but it can also provide the image with a singular expressive element.

Location:

Visit Mike at:

Published books:

Once Upon a Time Machine Vol. 2: Greek Gods and Legends (Dark Horse Comics, 2018)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream
(Locust Moon Press, 2014)
Quarter Moon
(Locust Moon Press, 2013-2015)
Colonial Comics – New England, 1620-1750
(Fulcrum Publishing, 2014)
Rock Ink Roll
(Altered Esthetics, 2013)
Lutefisk Sushi
(International Cartoonist Conspiracy/Big Time Attic, 2008 & 2010)

Available for School Visits:

I have worked with all ages of students to show my creative process for both comics and printmaking, from college level to elementary school. I enjoy teaching kids how to create their own characters, gadgets, and environments as part of a game.


Misako Rocks!

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Misako Rocks! is a Japanese manga artist based in Brooklyn, NY. At age 19, she won a scholarship to come to American as an exchange student. Her first break came when The Onion decided to use her illustrations for their “Savage Love” column.

Since then, she has published seven books in both the United States and Japan, and teaches manga students privately and at several schools throughout New York City.

What do you love to do for fun?

Kickboxing! Everyday!

Why did you leave Japan to America?

When I was a kid, I watched a movie Back to the Future and got a huge crush on Michael J Fox. I wanted to be his girlfriend. That’s the main reason why I moved to America. Hahaha!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MISAKO

Art Process:

If I’m working on comic books, I like to start with a finished manuscript first. It’s easier for me to work this way. My thumbnails look like a bunch of eggs are talking. Once I complete the entire thumbnails, then I can move to the “pencil” process. I normally use awesome manga paper from Japan. I start drawing carefully on these papers. Meanwhile, I draw backgrounds like cities or streets separately. Then I move to the “inking” process. I use Japanese calligraphy brush pens and Copic ink pens to trace the pencil lines. Once it’s done, I scan every page to color them with Photoshop. That’s my favorite part!

Forthcoming books:

Bounce Back, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, Fall 2021

Published books:

Biker Girl, Hyperion 2006
Rock and Roll Love, Hyperion 2007
Detective Jermain, Henry Holt 2009
How to Find a Gaijin Boyfriend Discover 21, Japan, 2014
New York Life Style: How to make your life fun and exciting Discover 21, Japan, 2015
How to speak English with Misako’s method, Ascom Publisher, Japan, 2015

Location:

Visit Misako at:

Awards and honors:

NYPL Best Teens Book List, 2007
Selected as one of 5 Japanese artists to meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe, 2015

Available for School Visits:

I’ve been teaching manga at so many schools! I offer a Manga Drawing Workshop for all ages, where I teach students how to create their own manga characters step by step. I also offer a motivational talk aimed at middle and high school student called “How Misako became a manga artist in America!” I use a slideshow with photos of Japan and comic books to talk about why and how I left Japan and became a manga artist in America.