From writer Jamila Rowser and artist Robyn Smith comes a captivating graphic novel love letter to the beauty and endurance of Black women, their friendships, and their hair.
Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends—Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie—through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx.
The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters' everyday lives and how they care for each other.
Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice of life mini comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser's own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full color version of this original comic—which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx—as the book's first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.
In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.
At times touching, quiet, triumphant, and laugh out loud funny, the stories of Wash Day Diaries pay a loving tribute to Black joy and the resilience of Black women.
With spare dialogue and lush renditions of self-care rituals, Rowser and Smith paint a loving and intimate portrait of city life for a group of young Black women. The ensemble includes Kimana, a singer who is avoiding a scarily persistent suitor, Malik; Nisha, a photographer torn between two guys and the freedom of her "hoe phase"; Davene, who is drawn in blue-and-purple hued panels to reflect a bout of depression; and Cookie, whose Dominican grandmother attempts to make amends for her past homophobia as her granddaughter does her hair. Each story centers a different friend in their clique and is painted in a different rich color palette. Smith's lithe character design and eye for detail pair nicely with Rowser's economic storytelling, and Rowser expertly utilizes the group text as a sort of Greek chorus. The arc culminates at Kimana's performance, where the women band together to stave off both an aggressive Malik and Davene's looming blues, their colorful personalities coming together in a rainbow. The motif of wash day as the women wash their own hair and others', go to the salon, and get braids invites the reader into the rhythm of their lives, with welcome inclusivity of queer romance, as well as non romantic story lines. This subtle but heartwarming homage to friendship, feminism, and reconciliation sings.