10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about “Myth of the Stone”

October 19, 2013

Gweek Culture celebrates the 20th anniversary return of Gwee Li Sui’s forgotten classic, Myth of the Stone! Here are 10 fun facts you probably didn’t know about this quirky graphic novel from Singapore. Not knowing the book in the first place doesn’t count as one… The new edition was launched officially at Kinokuniya Bookshop (Ngee Ann City) on 26 October 2013 at 4pm.

MOTS Cover

1. Myth of the Stone was Singapore’s first full-length graphic novel in English when it appeared in 1993.
By “graphic novel” here, we do mean a novel and not a collection of stories! Gwee himself did not know this back then. He drew a graphic novel only because it was way cheaper than actually buying one.

2. The book crosses many genres. If you classify it as a children’s book, it may be considered the first children’s fantasy novel in Singapore. It was certainly among the earliest fantasy, war, and religious fiction titles published on the island! 

3. Myth was completed in 1992 but sat in Gwee’s drawer for nearly a year before seeing publication. This explains why all the original pages were dated 1992. Gwee drew the book during his first year break as an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore. Year breaks then were generously 2 months long.

4. Contrary to some unverified claims, the book was not self-published. This was highly unusual for such a book with its genre and subject matter during its time. The title was published by the now-defunct East Asia Book Services, which also published collections by The Sunday Times cartoonist, Lee Chee Chew.

5. The graphic novel was drawn entirely without rulers! This was done for simple practical reasons: rulers tend to cause ink to streak and create uneven pressure on the page. Gwee’s tools were just a mechanical pencil, an eraser, drawing pens, and correction fluid.

6. None of the species of strange creatures in Myth was created by Gwee. They were all drawn from the mythologies and histories of places from around the world. The intention was to see how a multicultural imaginative world would look like.

7. Gwee likes to draw in black and white for most parts because he is partially colourblind. The new cover of the 20th anniversary edition of Myth remains one of the few existing artworks by Gwee in colour!

8. Myth features the first appearance of not just a merlion but merlions as fictional characters. In his presentation, Gwee answered the age-old rhetorical question of how merlions could have survived on land and sea even if they existed. He gave them legs.

9. The book received only 1 book review for many years… and it wasn’t in The Straits Times. It was in the NUS students’ newspaper The Ridge, when, in 1994, it was learnt that a by-then Honours student had written this book.

10. The original edition of Myth is now a much-sought-after collector’s item. It is last known to command a figure many times its initial retail price of just S$8.

Click to read further: 10 More Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Myth of the Stone!

4 Responses to “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about “Myth of the Stone””

  1. […] 10 interesting facts about the book over at Gwee’s blog.  You will learn, for instance, that the artist draws mostly in black and white because he is […]

  2. Ansar Says:

    Hi Dr Gwee, just leaving a message to let you know I have used part of this article, specifically that “it may be considered the first children’s fantasy novel in Singapore”, for my school essay. Thank you.

  3. […] இவரது ‘மித் ஆஃப் தி ஸ்டோன்’ (Myth of the Stone) சிங்கப்பூரின் முதல் முழுநீள ஆங்கில […]

  4. […] Gwee Li Sui is a comic artist, poet, literary critic, and former academic. His Myth of the Stone, published in 1993, is touted to be Singapore’s first long-form graphic novel in English. He is […]

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