Comic made as city illustrator, published in Het Parool on 30 November 2019.

Maia Matches is a Canadian comic artist, illustrator, sculptor and printmaker, who has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1999. She is a prominent artist in Amsterdam's alternative comic scene. Her comics deal with autobiographical experiences, sometimes personified through fictional heroines like Ruby Riveter and Bitch. Her work is notable for its frank portrayal of sexuality, which comes from an uncompromising female perspective. She has also discussed topics like gender politics, immigration and squatters' rights in her work. Matches initiated several free comics newspapers aimed at specific districts of Amsterdam, including Orient X Press, Wat Wil West and Oeverloos. Maia Matches is a deserving recipient of the title City Illustrator of Amsterdam, honored by the Amsterdam City Archives for the duration of 2019.

Early life and education
Born in 1980 in Toronto, Canada, Maia Machèn is the daughter of immigrants, a South African mother and a Dutch father. Among her early graphic influences are Mad Magazine and Sunday Funnies like 'The Great Marlys' by Lynda Barry and Bill Watterson's 'Calvin & Hobbes'. When she turned 17, her father offered her a Dutch passport. Driven by adventure, Matches immigrated to the Netherlands and stayed for the first 9 months with a host family in the small town Drunen in the province North Brabant. She studied Sculpture and Mixed Media at the Academy of Art & Design in Den Bosch, while immersing herself in the squatters' subculture and publishing her first fanzine called Crap* throughout the early 2000s.

Early comics
Matches completed her first, self-proclaimed graphic novel in 2006, 'Torontonia'. The publication was created with the help of a grant by the NBKS (The New Brabants Art Society) in Breda. The autobiographical story is a personal journey in which the protagonist tries to get herself back on track after a broken relationship by making an imaginary journey to the fantasy island Torontonia. Around this period Matches took her inspiration from 1990s female autobiographic comic artists, namely Julie Doucet and Dori Seda. She was also introduced to the works of Anton Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes, who wrote and drew the comic book 'Bitterkomix'. Other comic artists she admires are Chester Brown, Aline KominskyUlli Lust, Joe Matt, Joe SaccoSeth and Basil Wolverton.

Part of Maia's 2008 "24 Hour Comic".

Move to Amsterdam
Matches graduated in 2003 and although she was keen to move to the capital as soon as possible, she remained in Den Bosch until 2006. Once settled in Amsterdam, she became a regular visitor to comics store Lambiek, especially during the 24 Hour Comic Day. On this global event, initiated by American cartoonist Scott McCloud, artists gather at a specific location and are challenged to complete a comic story of 24 pages over a span of 24 hours. Matches not only participated, but also organised a couple editions herself.

Amsterdam newspapers
Since her move to Amsterdam, the city and its people have played an important role in many of Matches' comic projects. Matches was the initiator and driving force behind the Amsterdam Comic Newspapers Orient X Press (2012), Wat Wil West (2014) and Oeverloos (2016). They featured artwork by herself and other Amsterdam comic artists, including Jan Cleijne, Wasco, Remco Polman, Merel Barends, Floor de Goede, Rogier Klomp, Aart Taminiau, Tommy A, Lae Schäfer and Maaike Hartjes. Each paper was distributed in a specific neighborhood of the city, available for free to all its inhabitants.

De kraker, de agent, de jurist en de stad by Maia Matches
'De Kraker, De Agent, De Jurist en De Stad'.

De Kraker, De Agent, De Jurist en De Stad
A notable project was Matches' participation in the journalism graphic novel 'De Kraker, de Agent, de Jurist en de Stad' ("The Squatter, the Police, the Lawyer and the City"), published in 2014 by Oog&Blik/De Bezige Bij. The book was inspired by a 2010 Dutch law which prohibits squatting. The comic book debates housing issues and vacancy from three different perspectives. Each perspective has its own color scheme. Matches drew the "red" segment about the squatters, written by the initiator of the project, journalist Moira van Dijk. The "blue" chapter about the police and the city council was created by Jasmijn Snoijink (text) and Aart Taminiau (art), while the "green" viewpoint of the pro-squatting lawyers was handled by Marieke Aafjes (text) and Sjoerd "SproetS" Kaandorp (art). The project was sponsored by the Creative Industry Fund, the Foundation of Democracy and Media, the Culture Foundation of Prince Bernhard, the Amsterdam Art Foundation and the Stichting Mediaridders.

Nekromaniak by Maia Matches
'Bitch' - 'Nekromaniak'. The 'Undertaker' is a caricature of wrestling manager Paul Bearer, who was the official manager of wrestler Mark William Calaway, A.K.A. 'The Undertaker'. 

A recurring character in Matches' personal work is Bitch. Like her name implies, she is a tough, big-breasted demonic action anti-hero who loves S&M and doesn't tolerate anything patriarchal. In an interview by Nicholas Burman for, Matches explained that she wants to intensify the representation of the female gaze, since most comics about assertive big-breasted women are written and drawn by men. After contributing to several small press and underground magazines, such as Kutlul and Skullfukked by Ghouls, Matches eventually had enough material to print a risograph collection of short stories, titled 'Bitch Knows Best' (2018). In her second Bitch publication, 'Incelocalypse' (2018), Bitch attacks InCels ("involuntarily celibate men") in a style which mimics Jack Chick's "scare 'em straight" propaganda comics.

'Fear of Missing Out'.

Fear of Missing Out
In her webcomic 'Fear of Missing Out' (often shortened to 'FOMO', 2017), Matches introduced another character: Ruby Riveter. Ruby is a bespectacled single woman. She tries online dating, but is confronted with unpleasant and disappointing experiences, such as "dick pics" and men with low self-esteem. The comic sections are combined with handwritten intermezzos describing statistics about online dating and sexual harassment. Matches added this information because 'Fear of Missing Out' was eventually published on the online graphic journalism platform Drawing the Times. She therefore wanted to combine her comic with reliable research. In short, she stated the comic is about "how online dating statistically sucks".

From: Fear of Missing Out'.

Flyers, posters, sculptures, album covers
Matches has supported the underground scene in the Netherlands by producing flyers and posters for bands and festivals. She drew posters and logos for the groups La Banda Fantástica and Conjunto Papa Upa, while designing the 'Mission to Earth' board game found inside the sleeve of the album 'Intergalactic Sex Tourists' (2016) by The Sex Organs. In 2022 she designed the album cover of 'Songs In The Key of GDVRDGDVR' (2020) for the band GDVRDGDVR. Matches has additionally graphically promoted the Sounds of the Underground (SOTU) festival (2014-2019) through flyers and posters. Her hand-painted signs can be seen in several venues and businesses in Amsterdam. During the Haarlem comic festivals, Matches constructed larger-than-life sculptures honoring the work of Peter Pontiac (2016), as well as her inspiration from Frankenstein's Monster (2018). 

Posters by Maia Matches, designed for Stripclub Amsterdam (28 September) and Sounds Of The Underground (SOTU) Festival (12-16 April 2017). 

City Illustrator of Amsterdam
On 25 January 2019, Matches succeeded Joanna Quispel as City Illustrator of Amsterdam ("Stadstekenaar van Amsterdam") at the instigation of the Amsterdam City Archives. Over the course of a year, Matches made four comics about current events in the Dutch capital. They were printed in the weekend editions of national newspaper Het Parool. Her first comic, 'The Audacity', was published on 26 January. It highlighted the eviction of the ADM squatted terrain, originally a thriving community with a flourishing ecosystem. Her second comic, 'Scum of the Earth', was published on 27 April and brought attention to the refugee crisis, especially how the city debates which migrants are eligible for support from the government. On 31 July, she published 'Regretfully Trans', which discusses the transgender law debate, especially the fact that so many transgender people struggle with bureaucracy before being allowed to access the appropriate medication and/or operations. On 30 November, Matches released her final comic as City Illustrator, 'Whoredom', which focuses on a new law proposal which forces sex workers in the Netherlands to have a registration license, meanwhile, the city council of Amsterdam simultaneously debated the future of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. In 2020, Matches passed the torch of City Illustrator to Tom Heerschop.

Bitch Cums by Maia Matches
'Bitch Cums'.

Series and books by Maia Matches you can order today:


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