Kwame Mbalia is the New York Times bestselling author of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson, which was awarded a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and CABA award. Along with two Tristan sequels, he is the co-author of The Last Gate of the Emperor and the editor of Black Boy Joy, a recently published middle grade anthology of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.
Kwame is a graduate of Howard University and currently lives in North Carolina with his family.
Eric Wilkerson is an illustrator who has worked in film, commercials, video games, and the publishing industry, including with Kwame Mbalia on his Tristan series. A graduate of The School of Visual Arts, he has taught in the illustration department at Syracuse University and has guest lectured at Syracuse University’s Visual Communication Symposium, Fashion Institute of Technology, and for classes at the School of Visual Arts NYC. Eric has worked with companies such as Activision, Disney Publishing, Scholastic, Random House, Upper Deck, and Weta Workshop during his nearly twenty years as a professional illustrator. He is passionate about creating work centering people of color in science fiction illustration, and continues to work to keep representation of African Americans at the core of his work.
SIMRAN JEET SINGH
Simran’s childhood as a Sikh in South Texas informs his work of empathy-building as an approach for personal development and social change. He is particularly passionate about creating more cohesion, equity, and joy for all stakeholders.
MARIAHADESSA EKERE TALLIE
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of the Ezra Jack Keats Honor book Layla’s Happiness, as well as several works for adults. She is also the subject of the short film I Leave My Colors Everywhere.
Mariahadessa grew up in New York but currently lives in Rhode Island as a Ph.D. student at Brown University. She creates cinepoems with her husband and self-care posters with her daughters. She also publishes a personal blog, The Sage Honey.