I really enjoyed reading Jen Wang’s first offering to comics via publisher First Second. It’s a beautiful and quite large edition that is, despite its high page count (it clocks in at 304 pages), a surprisingly light and quick read.
Wang’s art is simply stunning. The book is clearly the work of an animator that’s gone off the reservation, and it’s much to the benefit of comic readers everywhere. Wang will likely be a powerhouse in comics one day with the skill set she’s already bringing to the table. She strangely reminds me a young Skottie Young, even though her style is entirely different It has that same freewheeling risky abandon that I always feel in Young’s work. That complete commitment to the heart and soul of whatever is being drawn, to the exclusion of all else, the result is beautiful interesting stuff. The characters are sublimely designed and have great fluidity and movement. The colors, a kind of monochromatic sepia watercolor wash with subtle pops of blue and green are rich and well fit Wang’s loose not quite sketchy penciling style. One of the best things about Wang’s book are the aforementioned character designs – which veer creatively quite far away from “typical” comic book characters. She’s not afraid to give her characters distinctive non-traditional looks and it’s a welcome change from just seeing pretty people that all look the same. Yet another of Wang’s strengths here are the facial expressions, which are exceptional throughout, full of life both beautiful and not.