(Photo by Poskod.my)

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been awarded a grant by the Krishen Jit ASTRO Fund for ‘In The Land That Never Was Dry’, my comics journalism project about water issues in Malaysia. This is the second time I’ve received the grant – the first was for ‘Sensors: Banned Books and Other Monsters‘ in 2007.

Beginning January 2015, I will travel Peninsula and East Malaysia researching and sourcing stories that explore our relationship to water. I will interview experts and non-experts, and visit rivers, reservoirs, villages, dams, water treatment plants and the offices of bureaucrats.

I will illustrate these stories, turning them into comics, diagrams, and activities. The format comes from the iconic educational magazines of my school days: Kuntum, Dewan Siswa and the discontinued 儿童乐园  (Er Tong Le Yuan). Familiar to all Malaysians, these colourful monthly magazines were both educational and fun.

This is an attempt to combine serious journalism with a visual format that is generative, interactive and engaging. Industrialists and academics alike have called water the ‘oil of the 21st century’. The objective of this project is not to dumb down one of the most urgent issues of our time, but to present it in a way that invites deep and constructive responses from people of all ages.

The stories will be published digitally in collaboration with Poskod.my mid-June 2015. I’m also planning to produce a print edition.

Congratulations to my fellow awardees!