Bianca Xunise Makes ’60s-Inspired Comics For Modern Times

Photo courtesy of Bianca Xunise

The power of pen + paper

Up until recently, I was unfamiliar with the work of Bianca Xunise. But then, as fate in the digital age would have it, I randomly scrolled upon one of her drawings in my Twitter feed (see below). The comic strip showed several generations of black women in America and explained their role in shaping the country. I saw it after the presidential election when a lot was consuming my mind, but I mostly felt numb. It wasn't until I saw this illustration that I finally felt a sense of empowerment again.

"When I was drawing that comic, I was thinking about some of the anger that I had throughout this election. I was really inspired by my grandmother who only finished third or fourth grade and went on to work in the factories," says Xunise. "One day, they laid off all the women who were working in the factory. She started her own business, and she was like the neighborhood seamstress and she baked pies."

Xunise is based in Chicago, where she was born and bred. The 29-year-old was raised in an artistic household as the descendant of generations of creatives. She acknowledges that coming from this type of background is a privilege, and never takes it for granted.

Xunise's family also has Creole roots, which she nods to in her "merde" beret design. (Xunise confesses that, for her, there will always be a push and pull with her French side, because of the knowledge of the imperialism that comes with that sense of pride.) "We are artists all the way through," she says. "It's kind of all just how we talk." 

Xunise was never really aware of the concept of being an artist. It was merely an extension of how she communicated to the people around her. She adds, "It was just part of who I am, in the same terms of nobody really needed to tell me that I am black and I knew that I was. In the same way, nobody needed to tell me I was an artist, I kind of knew that I was. So it was a way of how I expressed myself, and it helped with how I expressed my feelings."

Growing up, Xunise was shy to the point where she would get anxiety from trying to talk to people. "My throat would tighten up and I couldn't speak," she says. So instead of talking, she would draw to get things off her chest.

Xunise came back to her home base as a transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she studied graphic design; she liked being back in Chicago, but it bothered her that there was only one other black student in her graduating class. She'd reached a point where she was exhausted being in environments where the only other person of color she saw was herself.

Despite all this, Xunise managed to grow into her own identity. She recalls how she didn't start wearing her hair natural until she entered college. It was also in college that Xunise "really started to care about being more actively black." Her wardrobe became influenced by Solange Knowles with bright suits and chiffon button-down shirts, and she pushed her looks into more of a genderless category. Most importantly, though, college is where Xunise learned about intersectionality and how it applies to feminism.

"College is so important in terms of figuring out who you are," she says. 

Xunise draws every single day, spending anywhere from four to 10 hours honing her craft. She believes it's important to actively give herself time to draw so that she always remembers why she loves doing it; this also helps her break away from shortcuts and habits that can develop when artists stop challenging themselves.

Her drawing style stems from 1960s cartoons that featured simplistic circles, squares, and triangles. Xunise's vision comes from a place of creating things that instill a sense of calmness; she explains that "calmness in cuteness" relates to our obsession with memes of babies, cats, and dogs.

"It's cute, so it kind of calms you down," she says. "It's almost like my way of being non-threatening because it's cute, but I'm going to tell you something. It looks cute, but you're going to read this and be like, 'Wait a minute.'"

Xunise is also influenced by graphic artists like Tove Johansson, Ludwig Bemelmans, and Naoko Takeuchi. As a result, her work also has a touch of sweetness. But with everything Xunise draws, there is always a theme of duality—the cute can be political too. 

Aside from all the drawings and doodles that fill up her Instagram page, you'll also see Xunise's impeccable sense of style. She describes it as ever-evolving with a "boringly eclectic" vibe, driven by a keen interest in vintage clothing. Xunise says she's tried to be minimalist, but then she winds up putting more things on. Considering that her mother is a fashion designer, this is clearly in the artist's genes.

On the side, Xunise has an Etsy shop where she sells her drawings in the form of prints, posters, and pins. She funds her shop through the extra money she earns from her work but refuses to depend on it as an income. One of the best pieces of advice that Xunise's mother told her was: "Once your art loses its art and it just becomes money, it loses who you are."

She points out how women were the real pioneers of the pin movement with enamels, citing Robin Eisenberg, Sara Lyons, and her friend Tuesday Bassen as some of the modern-day leaders.

"Women are working so hard to just have our voices heard in the art community," she says. "It's so strange to see that it's difficult."

Xunise recently designed an "unapologetically hood" pin that represents "hot chip fingertips." She adds, "I am from Chicago, I am from the South Side. Like, here is my hand covered in Cheeto dust that is now glitter, enjoy it." 

And as far as the election is concerned, Xunise has one word of advice for everyone: "Stop apologizing for your blackness and stop apologizing for not being represented or being marginalized." Xunise won't be consumed by the burden of black guilt—and we know that if she ever is, a cute but cheeky drawing will probably come out of it.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.