Jane Zei has never received any formal art training but her online comic series, The Pigeon Gazette, has over 200,000 followers on Instagram. Granted, she was always drawing as a kid to express herself and have fun, but it's still very impressive to see how far she has come.
However, I would even argue that the size of Jane's fan army isn't the determining factor when talking about the importance of her work. That's the result of her hard work. Rather, it's her honesty and bravery that separates the artist from the crowd.
Like we pointed out in our last article on The Pigeon Gazette, the series revolves around a nerdy girl who struggles with social situations, love interests, career, but always seems to get by. To grow from these experiences.
Jane admits that some of these stories come from within, and you can really tell. Whether it's a snippet from a conversation or a little detail in the background, each frame of The Pigeon Gazette is full of sincerity, full of life, and that's the beauty of it.
Jane said the idea to start The Pigeon Gazette came to her naturally. "It was that classic thing where everyone keeps telling you 'Oh, you should make comics' or 'post your art online' and I tried a few times," the artist told Bored Panda.
"I just don't think my artistic skill or comedic timing was where it needed to be because all those past efforts flopped."
"Then after a breakup (how cliche!), I had to throw myself into something and tried again. I think finally I was at the right point in my life and the internet/social media was where it had to be because The Pigeon Gazette just took off beyond all expectations."
Jane went into it thinking to herself it'd be fun and cute to have 10 or 20 people who liked her stuff. Related to it. How tight-knit they'd be. Little did she know.
The artist believes that The Pigeon Gazette wouldn't resonate the way they apparently do if its emotions and topics didn't come from a genuine place.
"Growing up as a first-generation Asian in American suburbia, just being born kinda awkward and spacy, I had a lot of self-consciousness and self-doubt and still do," Jane explained. "But I'm constantly trying to learn and grow and I hope that comes through in my comics as well."
"That a bombed date, a cringey person encounter, or a stressful social situation doesn't have to destroy you, that it's okay to lick your wounds, take a deep breath and step outside your comfort zone again.
It's a really big part of why The Pigeon Gazette is so appealing too. You, as a reader, can sense that the main character, her reactions to (extraordinary) everyday life situations aren't just static, formulaic drawings—she's changing together with Jane, making the series a continuous, ever-evolving story.
But there are some things Jane doesn't want to talk about in her comics. For the most part, they're political. "[It's] not because I don't have opinions or positions that I support, but I think comics and social media, in general, are too short and fast to promote nuanced, productive conversation," she said.
"Some people can do it well but most instances of political tweets/comics I've seen just have a lot of nasty fighting in the comments, everybody dropping their angry two cents without listening. If I can't make something productive out of it, then I'd rather not bring it up in the first place," the artist explained, adding that there's also a part of her that thinks deep down, most of us are exhausted by politics invading every conversation and form of media.
"It's important because ultimately it fosters the necessary societal changes, but people also get burnt out. They need places to rest, places where they can take their mind off things and maybe The Pigeon Gazette can be such a source of positivity."
Since The Pigeon Gazette reflects Jane's real-life struggles and experiences, its topics and voice naturally changes as she grows, so for those who have loyally followed the artist over the years, she hopes you all have grown as well. "Whether that eventually veers your tastes away from The Pigeon Gazette or not, thank you for reading, what a blessing. For those who are new to discover [the series], or check in on it only occasionally, same best wishes to you! Hope you got a good laugh!"