Robert Trujillo is an illustrator from Oakland who started Come Bien Books on Myspace in 2007. Back then, he and only a couple others comprised the core of what has become a multi-faceted media collaboration among writers and illustrators looking to create art in every way possible for other people of color. Today, there are at least 18 contributors to the Come Bien Books website and zine. It’s a growing community focused on providing art and reading materials—as well as role models—to young adults and children who don’t often see themselves reflected in mainstream media.
Tres, as he signs his works, now lives in New York, where he contributes to a number of projects around the city and online while he finishes a degree at the New School. Offline, some of the Come Bien team have joined together in the Trust Your Struggle Collective, where muralists, painters, and community organizations combine their efforts in the form of mural tours, workshops, and gallery installations.
Come Bien artists collaborate on projects ranging from posters to comic strips to graphic novels. Some of their most recent posts have focused on writers that have caught the contributors’ attention. Junot Diaz (written by Trujillo, illustrated by Jasmine Deras, layout by Joy Gloria Liu) focuses on the award-winning author and the effect his work has had on members of the community. With Costa Rica (written by Raina J. Leon, illustrated by Fatch Chapeyama) and Ethiopia (written by Ananda Khan, illustrated by Tiffany Eng), the benefits of expanding one’s experiences are highlighted through prose and illustration. One of our favorite elements of the products of Come Bien is the ability of the contributors to emphasize harshness and beauty simultaneously.
The site is also a great resource for information about writing and illustration contests, scholarships, and grants. In addition, Trujillo often links to like-minded zines and blogs, as he is constantly expanding and connecting the networks of artists he is a part of. Up next is a series on health issues that will not be sports-specific, as work targeted to people of color often is, but instead will touch on cooking and exercise in everyday life. Also forthcoming is a new installment to the “In the Wind” travel series, by way of an illustrated account from a woman recently returned from Senegal, and a new website. It’s sure to be one to bookmark, as Trujillo and co. continue their efforts to, “…stop talking and self-publish.”