Meet Anuj, Meet The Cover

Pre-orders, Donations, Excitement, Q&A Between Anuj Shreshta and Bix Gabriel

Dear Forward Friends and Forward Family and Forward Fans,

Our cover art is by Anuj Shreshta. Anuj Shrestha is a cartoonist and illustrator. His comics have been listed in several editions of The Best American Comics anthology. His illustration work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Playboy and Wired, among others. He currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Beyond being immensely talented, one of the things that makes Anuj such a great fit for this edition of Forward is his work is deeply imaginative. He can simultaneously see the grotesqueness in being a person, as well as the play and fun that can come from being in a body.

Forward: 21st Century Flash Fiction is being published by Aforementioned Productions. Edited by Megan Giddings with series oversight by Carissa Halston. The cover’s design is by Jon Cameron and the interior is being designed by Paul Kwan Asta. Outreach and community efforts by Bix Gabriel.

Stories and Essays in this collection are by George Abraham, Reem Abu-Baker, María Isabel Álvarez, Patriz Biliran, Anna Cabe, Tyrese Coleman, Allison Conner, Desiree Cooper, Erica Frederick, Amina Gautier, Marcos Gonsalez, Chris Gonzalez, Marlin Jenkins, Ruth Joffre, Yalie Kamara, W. Todd Kaneko, Gene Kwak, Thirii Myint, Monterica Sade Neil, Dennis Norris II, Kristine Ong Muslim, Alvin Park, Madhvi Ramani, Alicita Rodriguez, SJ Sindu, Maggie Su, Eshani Surya, Ursula Villareal-Moura, Yun Wei, and Pam Zhang.

And it can be pre-ordered here. And if you or a friend is excited (and looking to do some cool tax-deductible giving, you can donate to Aforementioned and earmark the funds to Forward. You’ll receive a copy of the anthology, as well as be thanked in the book). Donations will help us build a fund so we can do future editions of the anthology that continue to pay the writers and artists involved.

WE’RE SO EXCITED! And if you’re someone (and you probably are) that has helped us get to this point so far, thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re great.

So! You’ve already been introduced to Anuj’s art, and now we want you to know a little more about him. Below is an interview between him and Bix Gabriel.

Bix: Tell us a little bit about how this image came about.

Anuj: Playing around with different approaches to drawing portraits, I removed certain facial features to see how the image was affected. At a certain point I removed the head entirely, save for the hair element, and the result is funny and disturbing. It also works as a metaphor for the general cynicism of the electorate and the capacity of voting to affect change within corrupt institutions.

Bix: You often draw images of people, but like in this piece, face-less, or with faces made up of other elements/materials like rocks and plants. Why?

Anuj: Beyond an illustration of specific identity it’s interesting to use the face as a platform for expressing concepts, whether metaphorical or literal. Thus rubble speaks of refugee experiences or fungal growth can illustrate alienation, corruption, or general metaphysical dissonance.

Bix: In writing, most of us tend to have to make several revisions. What about in your artwork?

Anuj: I’m loath to constantly rework a drawing, so I typically create a loose outline in pencil and use the inking stage to finalize and often explore the final illustration.

Bix: What are some challenges and/or delights you’ve encountered as an illustrator of color?

Anuj: Though much of my work contains personal and political themes, I often find it a challenge to create compelling images that are thought provoking without being pedantic. There is definitely a power and urgency to overtly political and even propagandistic works, but in my own illustrations, I try to create some space for ambiguity. And it’s always a thrill to interact with other illustrators of color and see how they grapple with social issues in their own art.

Bix: What advice would you give an emerging illustrator who is a person of color? What should they know about the art industry?

It always depends which area of illustration the artist wants to pursue, whether it’s comics, self-published zines, children’s books, or an editorial platform. I would encourage young illustrators to always consume other work and allow it to affect their sensibilities. It will inform the work they ultimately create on their own. Also they should always be cautious of sinister schemes such as work “on spec”, dubious pitch ideas, or projects that cannot pay anything up front.

Thanks for reading!

Megan