Bai Yi

Comic artist

Bai Yi is a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art.


[Comic] Against the blazing sun

"People from northeastern China are like African Americans or Osakans. We have a history of wandering, irrational optimism and a sense of righteous clannishness. In our veins runs comic talent, along with being governed and discriminated against. Under all the snow and ice lie warm poems and folk songs, while the wild fires, steel and concrete encase a helpless rebelliousness. We understand everything, we know everything, but we choose to be kind. We are forced to leave our homes to seek a place that will accept us. We will say nothing. Our leather coats and dark glasses will never come off. We will tell you: 'This is nothing to us.'" - Bai Yi, comic artist
"There's no way out."

[Comic] Even if the red sun still rises tomorrow: A Chinese youth's reflection on China's Covid fight

Under the rays of the sun, we spoke of the future and what lay ahead, of democracy and science, human rights and freedom. We mourned those who died due to man-made disasters, not wanting them to die with a grievance. We held up blank papers and shouted that this was our duty. But how are we to make sense of this ridiculous chaotic world? Do we know where we are going?
"Doctors scour mountains and the sea to exterminate every single virus."

[Comic] Dystopia or 'a beautiful new world'?

Comic artist Bai Yi's artwork gives a glimpse into a dystopian world where individual lives are considered insignificant before the all-powerful and all-important state machine, and where herculean efforts are needed to uphold the dignity of human lives.
“Studying became a moral duty."

[Comic] Study hard, get out and never come back

US-based young comic artist Bei Yi reflects on China's gaokao (university entrance exams), which took place in early June. Every year, Chinese students cross this narrow log bridge of national exams, hoping to find a clearing on the other side. Students from regions across China, rich and poor, see this as a possible ticket to a better life and maybe even a passport to the West. When the stakes are so high, studying becomes a moral obligation to one's family. Some make it out, but on that journey, many things are left behind.
"The Chinese are fighting over vegetables!"

[Comic] When Shanghai residents fight over vegetables

Ever since the Omicron variant started wreaking havoc in Shanghai, a city once hailed as the beacon of a modernised China has descended into a state of chaos. All sorts of horror stories have flooded international media and social media platforms. US-based young Chinese comic artist Bai Yi looks at Shanghai from afar, saddened and frustrated by the absurdity of the news being circulated.
"The string is broken."

[Comic] Poverty alleviation in China: Mama, where are you going?

Poverty alleviation has been a hot topic in China in recent years. A documentary about the Daliang Mountains where some poor communities live made young Chinese comic artist Bai Yi reflect on the suffering and helplessness of poverty. While China’s poverty alleviation programme has helped ease the situation, how many children in the mountain areas fail to get adequate help for various reasons, and generations continue to suffer the same fate? A kite with a broken string is difficult to retrieve; one can only pray that some kind soul will pick it up.
"Sometimes through the cracks, I watch people go by."

[Comic] We live in the crevices of life

Chinese comic artist Bai Yi observes that most of us, the masses, are but tiny pawns fighting to survive in this immense and turbulent world. Lives are spent living in obscurity and dullness, often voiceless and unnoticed, coming and going in the crevices of life and society. No one really wants to live such a life forever, but before the crevices are exposed under the light, can we contemplate our lives in the safety of the shadows?
"The rabbit kept wishing."

My name was Red

Change takes awakening, courage and love. And it is painful. The sacrifices of the nameless will not be missed by those around them, and may even seem foolish. In the end, the nameless fall silent. But others will step up in their turn.
You turn around and look at me.

[Comic] We were all frogs in the well

"Studying abroad for many years, for a long time I never came into contact with 'real' young Chinese, so I was shocked and stunned when I did. Education and the system can really change a person. We have gradually drifted apart. Recently, a friend who was originally from China and now has Singaporean citizenship confided in me that she was always bothered by the issue of national identity. To Singaporeans, it seemed she was still that good student from China, but to the Chinese, she was no longer a Chinese. My friend asked: 'So who are we?' I teased her: 'We might be products of a mixed culture.' A traditional Chinese upbringing, an elite Singaporean education, plus the influence of other cultures thrown in. We can no longer define ourselves by nationality. A Western education would tell us to be ourselves, but the contradiction is that we need national identity to give us a sense of belonging and identity. Sadly, we often identify with other cultures, and when I meet young Chinese of today, that sense of unfamiliarity proves that we are no longer the same type of people. I don't have to pity you, nor you me. And we come back to the question: what are we?" - Bai Yi