Ah, Jane Mai, she who I am a little bit in love with. I think a lot of people were a little surprised by Mai’s first book release, Sunday In The Park With Boys, from Koyama Press late last year: finding the subject matter of mental quicksand, psychological cages and depression was largely at odds with the work she had produced til date. Yes, her comics can be cute and culturally referential, but that’s Mai’s forte: she can go from whimsy and rainbows to stuff that’s atmospheric and unsettling, often mixing the two for acerbic and biting commentary.
And she doesn’t do it through writing alone -compare the images above and below for example, and observe how the change in art style contributes to the feel and emotion of the narrative at hand. So yes, Mai is pretty damn talented, and while I’ll check out anything she makes, I particularly hope she produces more long form comics that continue to explore her interests and capabilities in as fruitful a manner as her current output.
Aside: I love how Mai draws on coloured backgrounds (the choice of colour usually reflects the tone of the piece)- I’m sure other artists do this too, but I associate it only with her and it’s very fitting somehow.