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

October 28, 2013

To celebrate the 20th anniversary return of Gwee Li Sui’s Myth of the StoneGweek Culture presents 10 more fun facts you probably didn’t know about this historic graphic novel. The new edition will get a Singapore Writers Festival launch on 2 November 2013 at 2.30pm.

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11. For a long time, Myth of the Stone was filed under “Scenes of Singapore” in the National Library of Singapore. Now, it is filed under “Caricatures and Cartoons from Singapore”.

12. Myth of the Stone was denied a Straits Times review back in 1993. Somebody in Section 2 (as the culture pages were called then) didn’t think that it was a noteworthy Singaporean publication.

13. Gwee actually drew the first graphic novel he owned. Back then, he only owned a handful of comic issues because graphic novels were beyond his student budget. The first graphic novels he bought were bought with the money he made from Myth of the Stone.

14. Myth of the Stone got its first academic mention 19 years after it was published. In an article “Merlionicity: The 21st Century Elaboration of a Singaporean Symbol” (2012) from the Journal of Marine and Island Cultures, Professor Philip Hayward claims that the graphic novel obliquely reproduces PAP propaganda.

15. The new story “Rendezvous”, published for the first time in the new edition, is dedicated to Boswell. Boswell was the collie of Gwee’s landlord when he lived in London around the turn of the millennium. Boswell passed away in 2012, and the story’s dog is modelled after him. Also, Gwee gave his friend Ridzal Abdul Hamid a mee goreng stall in the opening panel.

16. Myth of the Stone has been listed among “10 Gloriously Cheesy Merlion Artworks”. This was the title of an article by writer Ng Yi-Sheng in the now-defunct National Art Gallery blog, The Canvas, and it was written in honour of Singapore Biennale 2011.

17. The book was inked consistently with the same materials. The original and recent inking of the graphic novel as well as the writing of the new stories were all done with Pilot drawing pens and Zebra laundry markers. Pilot drawing pens used to cost S$1.10 each. Now, they cost around S$2 each.

18. There is a conscious attempt to distribute the number of left- and right-handers in the book. For example, Li-Hsu, the Dodo, and Aklin are right-handers. Tyeron, Keagga, and Füveroth are left-handers. Maudus Rex is ambidextrous.

19. The bad guys laugh “Haw! Haw! Haw!” because of Gwee’s early religious influences. This is how demons laugh in the dark world of Chick Publications. Chick’s controversial tracts have since been banned in Singapore.

20. Gwee drew inspiration from the landscape paintings of 20th-century Surrealist artist Max Ernst for Aphylia. This territory is the so-called “land of the gryphons”.

Click to read an earlier post: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Myth of the Stone.

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