L.L. McKinney is a novelist and poet, best known for writing A Blade So Black, A Dream So Dark, and A Crown So Cursed. An active member of the kidlit community, she's an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing and the creator of the hashtag #WhatWOCWritersHear. She also looked through submission piles for publishers, serving as a reader for agents and by participating as a judge in various online writing contests.
Robyn Smith is a Jamaican cartoonist, currently based in New York City. She is best known for her minicomic The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town and for illustrating Jamila Rowser's comic Wash Day.
Together they are creating an original graphic novel, Nubia Real One, featuring Wonder Woman's sister, to be published by DC Comics at the beginning of February, 2021, in time for Black History Month. This is their first project for DC. Nubia: Real One will be coloured by Brie Henderson, cover colours by Bex Glendining and the book will be lettered by Ariana Maher.
The original YA graphic novel is an endearing tale filled with heart and wit and follows a teenage Nubia as she learns to embrace her true self in a world filled with racial inequality, school violence, and other timely issues affecting young people today. The book hits stores and online retailers on February 2, 2021, and today, DC revealed a first look at the story.
"What's funny is I didn't initially set out to pitch a Nubia graphic novel," said McKinney. "I was invited to pitch something else, but I made the decision when writing the pitch itself to add in Nubia. I've been a fan since pretty much birth, and I've watched her get moved around and appear in various iterations, none of them touching me the same way her original one had. I mean, this was Wonder Woman's twin sister, just as strong, just as fast, if not stronger and faster. And she was BLACK! So, I added her in to my pitch for the other project. I guess something about her stuck out to the team because they emailed me and essentially asked for a pitch about Nubia.
"Fast-forward and DC loved it. When the hunt for the artist began, I knew I wanted another Black woman on this project. DC was on board from the start and suggested Robyn, whose art I immediately fell in love with. Robyn has breathed life into this story and these characters, and it wouldn't be half as powerful without her. Everyone loves Nubia, we all want to do right by her, by the readers that have been searching for her the same as I have. I hope fans walk away from this story knowing that first and foremost."
"As an Afro-Caribbean artist, I've always strived to center the Black community in the comics I make, so being hired to illustrate Nubia was a dream," said Smith. "When I heard L. L. McKinney was the writer, I was even more excited. Working together has been great, especially since our artistic objectives seem to be the same: all Black everything. In Nubia, I wanted to focus my illustrations on creating something both light and emotionally resonant. Most of my work is heavily influenced by Harry Lucey's Archie, so finding a way to incorporate that charm and joyful feel into a story centered around more serious issues was important to me. I hope fans reading Nubia feel the same sort of excitement I felt illustrating the characters and their beautifully crafted stories."
Here's the solicitation:
Nubia: Real One
Written by L. L. McKinney
Illustrated by Robyn Smith
Colored by Brie Henderson
Cover Colors by Bex Glendining
Lettered by Ariana Maher
On sale February 2, 2021
Can you be a hero…if society doesn't see you as a person?
Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor's cat. But, despite Nubia's similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she's no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn't want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she's reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can't deny the fire within her, even if she's a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.
When Nubia's best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all––her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class––to become the hero society tells her she isn't.
From the witty and powerful voice behind A Blade So Black, L. L. McKinney, and with endearing and expressive art by Robyn Smith, comes a vital story for today about equality, identity, and kicking it with your squad.