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Exclusive Cover Reveal: Queer, YA Love Story SLIP by Eisner-award winner Marika McCoola & Aatmaja Pandya

Blurred out copy of the comic as the background. Authors Profile photos of Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandaya flanking an image with a question mark. (Image: Algonquin Young Readers, Marika McCoola, and Aatmaja Pandaya.)

Artist Aatmaja Pandya and writer Marika McCoola teamed up for their first graphic novel, SLIP. The coming-of-age story is about Jade following her dreams as an artist at a summer intensive, but also feeling the weight of her friend Phoebe’s recent attempted suicide. At camp, Jade is pushed and pulled in every direction. These directions include her art, a fellow classmate she is developing feelings for, and the creatures she accidentally brings to life while working in the kiln (oven for ceramics).

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While McCoola wrote the story, both she and Pandya are visual artists. “Between my junior and senior year of college, I spent a month living on a farm-turned-arts center doing a student residency,” explained writer McCoola. “I worked on ceramics in a barn, built and fired a small kiln, cooked in an outdoor kitchen, lived in my dad’s old Ford Falcon van, and ate a lot of ice cream. It was idyllic, a little lonely, and very productive.”

Pandya said, “I really enjoyed working on a story that talks so honestly about the artistic process. I think artists are always trying to grasp an image or ideal that’s just beyond their reach. The work you make is so heavily influenced by who’s around you and how you identify. And I think the driving urge to create is the need to understand the world, and understand yourself. I think Marika articulated all this beautifully and it’s a huge reason why I was so excited to draw this book.”

They’ve offered The Mary Sue readers an exclusive first look at the gorgeous cover and several pages of their compelling graphic novel.

oung adult with pottery materials. (Image: Algonquin Young Readers.)

When I first learned about the book, despite taking two ceramic classes, it didn’t click that “slip” was not the action but the noun. Slip is this liquid-like state of clay before it is dried a bit. You can use it to connect two pieces (say a cup and a handle) and in this story’s case, I feel it may be both. And who better to tell this moving tale than two artists who’ve previously gone through the process and are currently living out their lives as artist of different media.

Living in the small town she grew up in, Eisner Award-winning writer McCoola felt isolated. “The few good friends I’d had growing up were out of reach and untreated mental illness had ended a romantic relationship.” She turned back to the clay creatures she made in college and processed her emotions through art.

“In so many young adult novels, relationships (both romantic and otherwise) are often framed as the relationships that will burn with intensity forever. My own experiences didn’t reflect this and I wanted to craft a book that dealt with both evolving relationships and my love of ceramics. In many ways, SLIP is the art I had to create to move on to the next chapter of my life. In it you’ll find my love of ceramics, the hard reality of changing relationships, and the delightful insanity of being an art student.”

Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandaya. (Image: Marika McCoola (right) and Aatmaja Pandaya (left))

(Image: Marika McCoola (left) and Aatmaja Pandaya (right))

Pandya also shared a sense of loss and getting through it via the artistic process. Like McCoola and like the main character of the SLIP story.

“When I first started working on SLIP, I was in my mid-twenties and blissfully naive of most of the experiences reflected in the book. Since then, eerily, I’ve gone through much of what the main character in the book has – in particular, an emotional coming-of-age rooted in loss. Drawing this book became part of my catharsis. Similarly to how Marika needed to tell this story to move into the next chapter of her life, I feel like I needed to draw it to move forward.”

McCoola and Pandya’s team provided TMS with an exclusive look not just at the cover, but some of the pages of the graphic novel.

Slip pages. (Image: Algonquin Young Readers.)

Slip pages. (Image: Algonquin Young Readers.)

Slip pages. (Image: Algonquin Young Readers.)

The official description:

Right before Jade is about to leave for a summer art intensive, her best friend, Phoebe, attempts suicide. How is Jade supposed to focus on herself right now?

But at the Art Farm, Jade has artistic opportunities she’s been waiting for her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade pours herself into making ceramic monsters that vent her stress and insecurities, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens: they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her, including the scariest of them all—if Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she leaving Phoebe behind?

SLIP releases June 07, 2022 and both the paperback and hardcover are available for preorder.

(Image: Algonquin Young Readers, Marika McCoola, and Aatmaja Pandaya.)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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