At TCAF, in the Wowee Zonk room (I think) I ran into a new cartoonist whose work I had never seen but I was immediately struck by its beauty: supple figures in a lyrical ink line over a wash of pale earth tones. I bought one of their comics, but, when I came home, this wonderful creator had committed the greatest sin of all: they did not put their name on their mini comics!
I’ll save the rant for that for another day, but luckily, by chance I ran into one of Lee Lai’s comics online and made the connection!
Lai is from Australia but lives in Montreal these days, making comics and illustrations. Her website contains several comics, but they’re mostly excerpts from longer works, such as Bush and First Year. Lai’s narratives are mostly conversational, glimpses of moments of tension or revelation in relationships (mostly queer men), all in a sumptuous art style. Lai often deal’s with sex and the emotions surrounding sex, but in a gentle, groundlevel way.
Lai also contributes to Advice Comics (NSFW) as Baby W. (Not outing her as she links the comics from her website and tumblr.) The advice here is pretty basic stuff – talk to a friend, try to take care of yourself – but I’m still completely bewitched by Lai’s art. There’s an interview with her at Liminal where she talks about her Australian roots and much more.
You can buy her work here. Her comics are Risographed, hand bound and stand up as art objects..
Lai’s body of comics work is slim thus far; her work does tend perhaps a bit more to the illustration side, but I’d love to see her on a longer narrative at some point.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.