A5, 156 pages, softcover, perfect bound, colour cover / b&w interior
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.