koyama press

Debuting at TCAF 2017 - SO PRETTY / VERY ROTTEN by Jane Mai and An Nguyen

Published by Koyama Press

ISBN: 978-1-927668-43-6
5 x 7”, 300 pages, b&w, trade paper
May 2017

A short story and essay collection exploring the Japanese fashion subculture, Lolita, by two cartoonists who go beyond the clothes.

In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten.

AN NGUYEN is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Ottawa, ON best known for her romantic comic series Open Spaces and Closed Places. She has drawn comics for Spera: Ascension of the Starless, Electric Ant zine, and various Love Love Hill anthologies. In addition to So Pretty / Very Rotten, she and Jane Mai also released a zine titled Don’t Talk to Me or I’ll Set Myself on Fire.

JANE MAI is a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and self-published zines. Koyama Press published her first book, Sunday in the Park with Boys, which was followed by the zine Sorry I Can’t Come in on Monday I’m Really Really Sick, and See You Next Tuesday.

NOVALA TAKEMOTO is a Japanese author, fashion designer and prominent promoter of the Lolita lifestyle. Soleinuit (Kokushokankai), his first collection of essays, was published in 1998. He debuted as a novelist in 2000 with Missin’ (Shogakukan). He achieved wide recognition when his 2002 novel Shimotsuma Monogatari (Shogakukan) was adapted into the movie, Kamikaze Girls, in 2004. His most recent work is Rakkusei (Cyzo, Inc.).

“Expertly mixing comics and essays, An Nguyen and Jane Mai take us on an excursion into the fascinating culture of Lolita fashion. These beautifully realized stories, which range from humorous to haunting, involve young people looking for context and place, searching for a balance between materialism and identity within their chosen social reality. Nguyen’s and Mai’s work blends together seamlessly, each approaching the theme with their own unique vision and aesthetic. So Pretty / Very Rotten reveals universal experiences within a distinct and subversive style of self-expression.” — Jesse Jacobs, author of Safari Honeymoon and By This Shall You Know Him


CONFETTI art book by ME - Ginette Lapalme - is finally available in my etsy shop …. 

Words from my publisher Koyama Press:

“Confetti, like its namesake, is a fun and explosive mix of color from the fertile mind of multidisciplinary artist Ginette Lapalme. In comics, paintings, prints, sculpture, and jewelry, Lapalme uses cartoons and junk culture as raw material to make "cute” subversive and “pretty” punk. 

: o ) 


SIDE NOTE: Black Rat is less than five bucks (down from fifteen) on Amazon right now. If you’ve been on the fence about it, or if you already read it and want one fer yer mama—NOW’S THE TIME! Tell yer friends! Call the cops!

Hey, fellers. Here’s my first-ever process post:

I’m an advocate for hand-lettering. I think some comics suffer when the text doesn’t come from the same hand as the line art. That inconsistency can be jarring—and usually ruins my immersion in a story. I letter everything in my books, from the dialogue to the page numbers and front matter. I generally use my own handwriting or imitate old alphabets (like in that first picture), but when I was workin’ on Bow White for my last book, Black Rat, I wanted the lettering to look like the story had been translated from another language. I wanted it more mechanical. I wanted Leroy lettering—the lettering system seen in EC comics and various Golden Age comics where a proper letterer may not have been efficient, affordable, or available. There are a few computer fonts that make use of the Leroy letter forms, but I couldn’t use any of them, due to the number of passages where I repeat the same words over and over again (like “NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW…”). I needed every N, O, or W to be just a little different from the one that came before it.

Long story still long, I jumped on Ebay and grabbed me a lettering set from 1950, broke out my Rapidographs, and set to work. A 34-page story wouldn’t usually take too much time to letter, but (because I had no idea what I was doin’) it took me over 40 hours to letter Bow White with the set. I made plenty of mistakes and spilled plenty of ink, but I’m happy with it—and I never woulda been happy with a font. I got what I wanted—mechanical letters done in th’ same hand that did th’ line art.


Another process post! (EDIT: The only line art in the book drawn digitally was for the two pages of the intro, the two pages of the outro, and the author photo.)

For the intro to Black Rat, I wanted to pay homage to one o’ th’ primary visual inspirations for much of the book—Suihō Tagawa—by directly parodying a sequence from Norakuro in which the titular character appears in a series of adventure vignettes across 12 slender panels with my own titular character traversing seasons and landscapes in pursuit of immortality.

All o’ th’ drawings for Little Tommy Lost had been penciled with graphite and inked with Joseph Gillott or Nikko G nibs (and brush), but I wanted to play around a little more with Black Rat. Among other things, I used graphite, ink, collage, watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and (for the first time ever) digital drawing tools. I’d had a copy of Manga Studio EX 5 for a year or so, but hadn’t had a chance to play with it—and this intro seemed like a good place to give it a shot, since I wanted the line work to feel loose, bouncy, and a little awkward. Manga Studio is a dream to work with. I prefer Photoshop for color work, but Manga Studio’s default brushes simulate pens on paper better than anything else I’ve tried digitally. I can’t recommend it enough.

While I’m still partial to physical media, I’ve been playin’ with Manga Studio more and more when it seems appropriate. I even finished my first completely digital story the other day. I might post it soon. xoxo


“Keiler Roberts’ autobiographical graphic memoir captures the feeling of being a parent as well as an artist and writer better than any book I’ve ever read. There are no cliffhangers or life lessons. It’s more about the texture of being alive: the melancholy, the unexpected small delights, and its unavoidable sense of aloneness. This book is written with insight, intelligence, and a deadpan sense of humor. I loved it.” — Roz Chast

Keiler Roberts’ Sunburning coming this May.