When is your “wash day”? Saturday mornings? Sunday afternoons after church? However a black woman wears her hair, the wash-day ritual is one she undoubtedly knows well, with techniques sometimes preserved since childhood, or honed to perfection after starting her natural-hair journey.
A group of young female creatives are paying “tribute to the beauty and endurance of black women and their hair” with Wash Day, a new comic that follows its 26-year-old Bronx, N.Y.-based heroine, Kimana (“Kim” for short), through her Sunday-morning wash-day rituals.
Written by Afro-Latina writer and self-proclaimed “geek” Jamila Rowser (co-founder of Geek Girl Brunch), illustrated by Jamaican cartoonist Robyn Smith and edited by fiction writer J. A. Micheline, the 27-page comic is full of #BlackGirlMagic, using Kim’s care for her long, thick hair as a metaphor for the highs and lows of a day in her life and neighborhood, including “fresh coffee, rising rent, girl talk and catcalls.”
Inspired by “a desire to read more comics by and for women of color,” Rowser dreamed up a narrative inspired by her own wash-day ritual, taking a page from living legend Toni Morrison, who famously said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it” (a quote recently also cited as inspiration by another young visionary, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler).
For artist Smith, Wash Day communicates something both intensely personal and extremely relatable to black women. Smith is no stranger to radically personal narratives; her autobiographical mini comic, The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town, is “dedicated to the intersectionality of blackness and mental health.” In the Wash Day press release, she says, “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.”
To self-publish Wash Day, Rowser launched a Kickstarter campaign on April 3, with the goal of raising $5,000 and a very reasonable minimum-reward pledge of $5. To date, the campaign has raised more than $13,000, proving that this is a story women are ready to read. Those extra funds will enable the team not only to make a profit but also to consider future projects, and there’s still time to donate: The campaign doesn’t close until May 4.
The Glow Up tip: According to the campaign page, Wash Day contains some nudity, profanity and marijuana use. Consider this if purchasing for minors, or be sure to receive a parent’s or guardian’s permission to purchase if you’re under 17.