Creatures of Near Kingdoms is an illustrated bestiary of 75 animals and plants native to Southeast Asia. The debut novel of writer Zedeck Siew, created in collaboration by visual artist Sharon Chin, it is the latest title in the Maplé Comics stable.
Conceived by Siew, each creature is described in short, single-page prose pieces, reminiscent of naturalist’s entries or notes in kitabs of animal lore. Illustrated by Chin, the book’s animals are depicted in linocut-print illustrations; while its plants are rendered in fabric pattern designs.
The book aims to present a world, natural and supernatural, parallel to our own where:
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.
Creatures of Near Kingdoms is informed by local folklore, scientific fact about indigenous species, and imaginative fancy inspired by life in Malaysia. Its art draws from Southeast Asian forms: traditional (batik, wayang, printmaking) and modern (national logos, sundry packaging) alike.
Creatures of Near Kingdoms will be officially launched at Books Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC at 3pm, on Nov 8. Review copies available upon request at the launch. The book is on sale now at RM20 and is currently available at:
406-408 & 429-430, Suria KLCC, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
P-01-11 Tropicana Avenue, 12, Persiaran Tropicana, 47410 Petaling Jaya
Menara Ilham, 8 Jln Binjai, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
And will be arriving at other good bookstores soon.
UPDATE: Photos from the event below.