Sally Jane Thompson first realised the expressive power of comics during her BFA at the University of British Columbia (2007) where she created a comic-format essay that looked at the history of Steveston, a Vancouver fishing port. Thompson discovered that comics’ visual/ text interplay was the most natural way for her to express a sense of place, an idea that is the bedrock of her work which features heavily in locational exploration. She built on this during a comics residency in Tallinn (2014), researching national folk tales and framing them against the conflictingly modern aspects of the city. Born in South Africa, and having lived in the Seychelles and Canada before the UK, that sense of place is inseparable from questions of self and identity, and runs throughout Thompson’s work.
Expressive portrayals of characters are another central component of Thompson’s work. She has explored representations of female heroes through the ‘magical girl’ genre with all-ages graphic novel Conspiracy of Ravens (with writers Leah Moore and John Reppion, Dark Horse Books, 2018), and her solo illustration exhibition, Blood and Roses (Orbital Comics, London, 2015), and her work featured in both volumes of Fresh Romance, a female-led project aiming to resurrect the romance comics genre (Rosy Press, Oni Press and Emet Comics, 2016-17).
Thompson is influenced by comic creators such as Kaoru Mori, Golden Age illustrators like Kaye Nielsen, and Japanese woodblock artists like Hiroshi Yoshida, as well as the sense of moment and negative space in poetry.