A collaboration between writer Zedeck Siew and visual artist, Sharon Chin is the recent publication from Maple Comics entitled Creatures of Near Kingdoms that elaborates on the bestiary and plant-life in South East Asia from a reverie perspective.
A varied lore divided into the categories of ‘Flora’ and ‘Fauna’ with a more dignified and illustrious spectacle on the subject matter that ranges from chapters on White Crocodile and Javanese Batik Fern, Creatures of Near Kingdoms has almost a rough and barbed narration especially through the art by the illustrator.
Sharon Chin described in the book that she used linoprints to create the series by sketching the design and then scanning them to be printed on tracing paper. It’s quite explanatory that Sharon spent three years finishing the accompanying drawings for the book since she had to transfer the printed illustrations on lino blocks by placing them face down and rubbing the reverse while the ink was still wet before carving them.
Even though this is Zedeck Siew‘s debut novel, the writer is known for his short story, The White Mask published in Fixi Novo‘s Cyberpunk: Malaysia anthology about the death of a graffiti artist in a techno-oriented dystopian Kuala Lumpur in which art forms have a degree of intelligence. The fiction went on to inspire an art exhibition based on its premise at the White Box, Publika last year which explains how effortless the correlation made between Zedeck Siew’s writing to visual art.
Similar to a dictionary or a guide, each creature in the novel is enlisted in a short, single-page prose pieces with resemblance to how naturalists describe wild beasts in encyclopedias. From the very line; “Trees with the souls of birds, that long to take flight; Moral-police mites that live in our eyelids, and give us styes; Worms in your phone, posting ill-advised social-media updates on your behalf”, the book seeks to draw a mirror to our present world linking to the more natural and supernatural dimension.
Featured Image source: Maple Comics.