Thank you for taking the time to read my new graphic novel and pandemic labor of love, A- Okay. It would be true to say that this is a book that I needed when I was younger, but I don’t think I could’ve articulated what I needed back then. As a semi-autobiographical story about having severe acne, dealing with changing friendship, and understanding what it means to be ace, I have clarity from the present day and nearly twenty years since some of the events I drew upon. But while writing and drawing this book, I often wondered to myself how my life might have been different if I had talked more openly to my friends—friends who also had bad acne— about what it felt like to them. Instead, I mostly suffered in silence. How might I have been more confident in myself if I knew what “ace” meant at 13 versus 24, instead of feeling like a puzzle with a piece missing?
The beauty of this fictionalized approach to memoir is that I could address these experiences and the thoughts and feelings that go with them in a story that I think feels grounded and true. By taking parts of my life and identity that I never saw in characters in books growing up and making it myself, I hope that young readers who identify with the main character, Jay, see a piece of themselves reflected. And even if they don’t share any part of my experience, they can gain a better understanding of what their peers might be going through. I am extremely proud of this beautiful book that HarperAlley is helping me put out into the world.
All the best,
Jarad Greene is a cartoonist originally from Lutz, Florida, who now lives in the curious village of White River Junction, Vermont. In addition to his own comics, Jarad works on staff at the Center for Cartoon Studies and has helped color many graphic novels for younger readers. He is also the author and illustrator of the graphic novel Scullion: A Dishwasher’s Guide to Mistaken Identity.