Teny Issakhanian, granddaughter of Armenian poet and philanthropist Arpenik Chamras Aghakhanian, is the illustrator of “Wingbearer,” a newly published, bestselling graphic novel. The book was written by New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Liu and published through Harper Collins Publishing Company.
“Wingbearer” was published March 1, and has since received many accolades, including Barnes & Noble’s Young Reader Pick of the Month (March)—becoming the first graphic novel to do so—as well as landing on several bestseller lists. A month after its release, the novel hit #1 on the Indie Bestsellers list for Early & Middle Grade Readers.
The positive reception comes as no surprise. The story is a heartwarming, beautifully illustrated epic tale about a girl named Zuli, who must journey far to stop a threat to her magical home. Raised by mystical bird spirits in the branches of the Great Tree, she’s never ventured beyond this safe haven. She’s never had to, until now.
When a sinister force threatens the life-giving magic of the tree, Zuli, along with her guardian owl, Frowly, must get to the root of it. So begins an adventure bigger than anything Zuli could’ve ever imagined—one that will bring her, along with some newfound friends, face-to-face with an ancient dragon, the so-called Witch-Queen, and most surprisingly of all: her true identity.
Issakhanian dedicated the book to her grandmother, Arpenik, who instilled in her a love for humanity and a love for their Armenian people, culture, and spirit. Arpenik’s long life was a reflection of this. Her generosity, philanthropy and love for her people had no bounds.
Over the years, she showed support for the Armenian church, was an active member of the Armenian Writer’s Association, financially supported Armenian student’s pursuing education in the United States, volunteered her time to teach Armenian woman how to read, and so much more, all while writing and publishing books of her Armenian poetry. She left a legacy of love — one that Teny carries and honors in the art that she creates today.
Teny Issakhanian is currently a story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and has worked across the animation industry at studios including: DreamWorks Animation Television, Disney TV Animation, and the Jim Henson Company. While “Wingbearer” is her first graphic novel, she hopes to continue her personal illustrations and graphic novels, and to bring more aspects of Armenian culture into the world through her art.