Hire This Woman: Cartoonist Jane Mai
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
ComicsAlliance: Which is your preferred form of creative output?
Jane Mai: I like painting. Technically it’s just inking but I like doing dry brush with ink.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
JM: Staples has these cheap cardstock in packs of, like, 500 sheets and they come in pastel colors and neon colors and plain white and I have a whole bunch of them that I draw on, because I like the texture. I feel like ink brushstrokes are hard to capture in photoshop brushes and look really inorganic. But I like to color in photoshop because I can usually never make up my mind about anything and it’s easy to switch things around.
CA: What’s your background/training?
JM: I went to Pratt Institute and got a BFA in Illustration.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
JM: Sunday in the Park with Boys was my first book with Koyama Press, and recently Peow! published Pond Smelt. I’ve been told both are really sad.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to create a 20-page issue?
JM: It really depends on what materials I’m using and how I’m coloring it, if at all, and prepping it for print.
CA: What is your dream project?
JM: A really, really, really hefty book. About anything. Just something really substantial to hold in your hand.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
JM: I think the most apparent inspiration is David Heatley. You can really tell in my older comics. Lately I’ve been really into Jason’s stuff, work with really clean line work. Michael DeForge has really nice line work. I also really like Shintaro Kago because he’s ridiculous. I think knowing a lot of people that draw comics helps a lot, seeing them producing and working all the time makes me want to not be lazy. I have a full list of people on my Tumblr.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
JM: I’ve read a lot of Amazing Spider-Man and Batman and Superman when they were still kinda goofy dudes and it kind of gave me this bearing on pacing action and dialogue, since so much stuff happens in every page. Then I started to buy random back issues of superhero comics when they were on sale, like five for a dollar, and read them all in an hour and just toss them in a corner. I can’t really get into it now. I really liked Tintin, though. The lettering is really nice. But I think mostly I’m inspired by David Heatley, who draws these really toilet humor things, and guro manga, which on the other hand is really horrible but beautiful.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
JM: A cabin in the woods hundreds of miles away from everybody. I would live there with a bunch of cats and just draw comics and put them on the internet.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
JM: Not all of it is sad! But also not all of it is gross.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
If there is a woman you’d like to recommend or if you’d like to be included in a future installment of this feature, drop us a line at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with “Hire This Woman” in the subject line.