With hands outstretched, a blindfolded woman traipses through total darkness. She’s desperate to find something to grab onto but the only thing she finds is a thorn-covered animal. It means her no harm, but she’s forced to find a different route. And it’s there where she runs into a man, who like her, has also been blindfolded. They seem surprised to have found one another, but it’s a brief encounter. He reaches out, feeling up and down her face before walking away—she isn’t the one he’s looking for. Alone again, the woman walks onwards. She’s just one of the many people and creatures wandering through this pitch-black void. They’re all blindly in search of something, but whatever it is, they haven’t quite found it yet.
This is “San Bu” (meaning “walk”), a comic exploring our collective need for connection and belonging. Though it only consists of a few simple frames, it evokes a poignancy that weighs on the mind. It’s one of the 43 stories featured in You Xi (meaning “games”), the debut graphic novel of Chinese artist Wo Shi Bai.
在漆黑一片的空间里，蒙着双眼的女孩伸出双手，摸索前行。她近乎绝望地想要抓住什么，但只抓到浑身肉刺的动物。虽然这只动物不是有意伤害她，但女孩不得不换个方向继续前行。就这样，她遇到了一个男孩。这个同样蒙上双眼的男孩对她产生了好感。这次相遇让他们都感到了一丝惊喜，但这却是一次短暂的邂逅。他伸出手，上下摸了摸她的脸，然后离开了 —— 女孩不是他要找的人。女孩再次孤身一人，继续摸索着前行。黑暗的空间里，除了她，还有许多人都在徘徊游荡。所有人盲目地四处摸索，像是在寻找什么，但一直未能找到。
这篇名为《散步》的漫画，探讨了人们心中对人际关系和归属感的需求。虽然只是简单的几格漫画，却唤起了压在每个人心中的酸楚。这篇漫画与另外 42 个故事共同组成了合集《游戏》，漫画的作者是中国艺术家 “我是白”。
Wo Shi Bai has been a working illustrator in China for the better part of a decade (even releasing multiple collaborative prints with Neocha in 2012). But his foray into comics wasn’t until 2017 when Gummi Comics approached him to create weekly comics around different keywords. He found the challenge to be creatively invigorating, so much so that even after the project concluded, he continued making comics on his own. To him, making a comic is like a game for his imagination, and You Xi is the culmination of these play sessions.
“我是白” 创作插画已经有近十年时间（曾在 2012 年与 Neocha 有过多次合作）。但直到 2017 年，他才开始画漫画。当时接受了 “软糖漫画” 的邀请，每周围绕不同的关键字创作一幅漫画作品。这个项目大大激发了他的创意，以至于在项目结束后，他继续做漫画。对他来说，画漫画的过程就像是让自己的想象力玩“游戏”，而《游戏》就是这些想象力游戏的最好证明。
You Xi is a collection of standalone comics that uses whimsy as a vehicle for exploring deeper subject matters. For example, in “Sheng Zi” (meaning “rope”) a simple game of cat’s cradle is used to represent self-worth, the search for external validation, and how seemingly insignificant actions can bring about positive changes; in “Fang Xiang” (meaning “direction”), a magnet and snow globe are visual metaphors that ask if our decisions are truly our own or if they’re influenced by unseen forces; while in “Xiao Tou” (meaning “thief”), the story of a house burglar who only steals book pages is a meditation on the fine line between inspiration and plagiarism.
Despite this fondness for allegories, Wo Shi Bai isn’t an artist who takes himself too seriously. In fact, many of the comics in You Xi are simply meant to be enjoyed at face value; they’re fragmented daydreams that revel in their own silliness, featuring over-the-top characters such as sentient clouds, a bottle with arms and legs, and a narcissistic bigfoot.
This effortless back-and-forth between the absurd and the conceptual is an impressive demonstration of Wo Shi Bai’s abilities as an artist and storyteller. It’s also this range that makes his snappy comics in You Xi so bingeable—readers never know what they’ll get next, but they’re kept wanting more.