How Did This Happen?
After a divorce in 2017, Rose Estrada found herself directionless. She moved back to North Carolina and went back into teaching but that was not enough to sustain her emotionally. Even her usual stand-by of creating music failed to motivate her in any real way. Life had lost it's spark.
Then she came across the book My Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.
The story, which we very highly recommend, is an auto-biographical independently developed look at the life of an artist as they cope with their depression, sexual identity, and the tribulations of adulthood.
It was obvious from the beginning that it was made by a single person. It felt low budget, with a simplistic art-style and layout. The storytelling was very raw. and to Rose Estrada, it seemed perfect.
She had never seen anything like it before and was immediately captivated by the idea of non-fiction "indie" manga. The possibilities played around in her head long after she had finished reading it. Much like in video games there was an indie boom, Rose saw it as a very real possibility that this book might start a movement of independently made manga by small production groups or even independent artists. She wanted to be a part of it.
For many years, friends and acquaintances had told Rose that she needed to write her story. She is an atheist transgender immigrant who had been married to rabbinical student and who had worked both in education and retail, and therefore she had a rather unique life experience to share with the world. However, she had never really found the drive to do so until now. During that summer she began writing out the story and doing a few thumbnails of what pages might look like to pitch the idea to artists, as she realized this was a project she could not undertake alone.
The story, she decided, would be focused on her experience at discovering, accepting, and then embracing her transgender identity. It would be titled Becoming Myself (A Picture Book).
The Production Group:
Originally the idea was to find one artists and to create the manga with just the two of them. Finding an artist proved difficult however, and Rose had to begin looking for ways to better promote the idea and to think of the logistics of compensation and production. This gave her time to think.
It soon became obvious that the potential of this project was more far-reaching than the creation of a single manga. While looking for potential artists, she thought for a long time on those amongst her friends to recruit and saw not only their artistic potential, but their stories. People with depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia came to mind, as did people of different cultures and religion. Rose saw their struggles and interpreted them as stories worth telling.
Then she began questioning the medium. Stories could be told through print, yes, but they could also be told through short films and videos. They could be told through audio books. They could be told through interactive visual novels and video games.
It became apparent that creating a small group to create a manga would not do. She had to create a group that had the infrastructure to keep creating after this project was done and that could freely experiment with various mediums in order to tell as many stories as possible.
In order to keep this focus in mind she created StoryBook Productions and it was with this that she went back to looking for group members that could not only help her tell her story, but could help her tell many after that.