Work / Illustration

Exploring the visual world of comic books with Wai Wai Pang’s latest edition, Ripples

Wai Wai Pang’s recent endeavour, Ripples, is a 150-page dive into comics published by Peow Studio. The story is straightforward: “Ripples follows an investigation into the case of a missing boy from a sleepy suburb. It explores the comic format and visual storytelling methods like maps, diagrams and cross sections to unravel the case and to show the detective’s thinking,” she says.

Since we last featured her in 2015, Wai Wai has revolutionised her method of practice with one key factor. “The realisation is painfully simple, but one which I have to always remind myself of when I’ve inevitably wound myself up into a stress ball. This realisation is that I should always be actively trying to enjoy myself and have fun!”

“My trip to Japan in 2015 is a good example of putting that to action. I chucked my slim savings from a day job on a plane ticket and train pass for two weeks — just as the cherry blossoms were falling. It was such a magical and beautiful trip,” Wai Wai tells It’s Nice That. ”When I got back I used my notes and rushed drawings to make a zine inspired by the meticulous planning of our rail journeys, island bike rides and temple adventures. Itinerary [the zine created from this trip] would eventually find itself in my editor’s hands and lead on to my book Ripples.”

Most comfortable with a blue Beryl pen and sketchbook in hand, Wai Wai challenges herself to look forward with new and exciting mediums. Alongside this, her way of converting ideas into illustrations regularly involve a certain instinct, rather than a physical object. “It sounds a bit lame, but I always start with a feeling. Whether it’s joy, anger or silliness, I will try to channel it into the line of a drawing or choose a medium which seems to lend itself to that emotion,” she says. “If I want the work to be more spontaneous and free I might work faster, bigger and looser. Or I might work slower, rendering a colour pencil piece for something dreamy and fantastical.”

After steering an interest in her final year at Brighton University in 2013, Wai Wai was enthralled by the ability to “bring more ideas” into her work through comics. “I felt like I was just making pretty pictures, and I wanted to say more,” she explains.

“What draws me to comics is the ability to grow a visual world and explain ideas that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to communicate. It’s something that I want to improve at, and I really value the motivation to (hopefully) get better.”