Two years in the making, and they’re finally done! We had our first three titles - Guidebook to Nanyang Diplomacy, Coalition of the Savoury Spare Parts, and Final Resting Place - launched during the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2017.
Fast forward to March 2018, the remaining four titles - Kungfu Dough, Terumbu, Unstable Foundations, and We’ll Eat When We’re Done - had their time at the #BuySingLit Festival last weekend, and this was what went down.
We were fortunate to be moderated by May Tan, Director of Literary Arts (Sector Development), National Arts Council. Starting the audience off with a little introduction with what COSH is about, we quickly moved to each of us speaking about our own books.
While the Tiger and I had to run right after the launch (the Tiger had a plane to catch), the event didn’t feel rushed or urgent. Our audience was incredibly supportive, and shared a few insightful questions. One question I loved in particular was from a lady named Helen, who wanted to know our preferred approaches to storytelling.
We probably didn’t have a lot of time to go on, but personally, my approach continues to stem from the want for entertainment and adventure. As Wena Poon said before, “Entertainment is not a frivolous goal.” And neither should reading for fun be seen as a frivolous act.
And that was how we went through with our (and my first) comic launch at the #BuySingLit Festival. Heartfelt thanks to the team behind the #BuySingLit Festival for having us, the National Heritage Board for helping us make this project happen, Kenny for stocking all our books at the festival, and major thanks to Nicholas Lee for the pictures! You can find out more about his works at https://nicklee.exposure.co/.
All seven COSH Studios titles are available in major bookstores across Singapore. You can find out more about COSH Studios and their comics here.
March is going to be an incredibly busy month for me - we’re going to Osaka, #BuySingLit is happening, and All In! Young Writers’ Festival is following after. Thus, there’s going to be quite a bit of prep on my side.
Regardless, I will be appearing during the following dates and events:
COSH Studios Launches in Kinokuniya - Kungfu Dough, Terumbu, Unstable Foundations, and We’ll Eat When We’re Done
The four remaining comics in the COSH Studios line gets their launch at The Arts House, during the #BuySingLit weekend. I’ll be speaking on the panel with fellow artists and writers - Don Low, Cheah SinAnn, Elvin Ching (my partner-in-crime for this book), Max Loh (my other partner-in-crime), and Dave Chua. The artists and writers from our other three books will be there as well, so do come down and share the stories and fun.
Date: 11 March 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 6PM to 7PM
Location: The Arts House
To find out more, click here.
All In! Young Writers’ Festival 2018 - Young Writing by Young Writers: The All In! Snack Fiction Anthology
Last year, Pulp Toast worked with Don Bosco and the Book Council to mentor 18 young writers into publication. It was a gruelling two weeks for all of us, but we made it out the other side stronger, and with more stories. I sit down with the featured authors Athena Tan, Melissa Lee, Bradley Santa Maria, and Taha Jailani to talk about their experience going through the process.
Date: 18 March 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 10AM to 11AM
Location: *SCAPE Level 5, Treetop B
For more information on the event, click here.
Do check out the other panels featuring the other core members and contributors of Pulp Toast as well:
See you all there!
They moved to MINES, then to PWTC, and now, Comic Fiesta is back to KLCC - where I experienced my first CF and my first time on the other side of the booth. One of my favourite experiences with CF was in 2014, where the Valkyries were there for the annual event, as well as Jerry and Ben, who now form the Rolling Ronins with the rest of us.
This time, we came back with a booth - our collaborative’s first.
Boothing, shopping, and hanging out with booth mates and friends aside, here are some of our most memorable moments this year:
Yeah, it was amazing.
However, I do feel that the organizers did a better job with crowd control than the last time CF was held at KLCC. Sure, there were long queues and constant crowds but to be very honest, as a participant, you’re not the only fan of a certain cosplayer or artist - And neither do you have the right to judge who a “real” or “fake” fan is - so good job to the volunteers, but perhaps queue lines can be better managed, especially around cosplayer and artist booths.
Personally, this year’s announcements brought on the most number of reactions, as far as I have experienced. Of course, there were many announcements for separated friends and kids to go to whoever they got split from at the Lost and Found or Information counter. But this year brought about announcements about prohibiting pets (and a wave of laughter through the halls), reports of upskirt photo-taking (curse you, pervert!), and constant reminders for people to keep a lookout of their own belongings (and their companions).
D.M. Jewelle and I ended up scripting a Night Vale fanfic excerpt thanks to the announcements:
The Night Vale Lost and Found, lose something you never knew you had, and find something you never knew you were supposed to find.
Like most conventions we headed to, nothing could make the event better than the presence of the geeks, fandom members, and booth customers. It was, again, great to speak to regulars, other booth owners, and people who were going to Comic Fiesta for the first time. Also, with Sarah Coldheart in the crowd, you know there’s bound to be something more than just transactional business happening. That being said...
Remember the “CF Make It Rain” gif of 2014? There’s now this:
Conventions cannot be conventions without convention food - but since the Ronins came together, our convention trips have been nothing but a barrage of food. Ben revealed his platinum pick of roast meat somewhere in Pudu, the Tiger finally brought my to Fluffed, and we tried Din (by Din Tai Fung), so that Sarah can have a taste of halal Xiaolongbao straight from the bamboo basket.
So even if we did umm… earn some cash, most of it was, you can say, returned to the economy via amazing food. LOL.
P/S - For those curious about the incident that happened at the closing of the event, I’m going to not say more than the fact that it happened after our friends and I left the hall before it happened. There have been loads of speculation but I’m going to wait for Comic Fiesta’s official statement instead.
Thank you all, once again, for all your support for our stories and art. For more information, check out our Facebook page here. You can also catch a video glimpse of how Comic Fiesta went for our friends via Sarah Coldheart's video here.
THE EVENT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!
(Pretty much. It’s like final exams for us or something.)
The Rolling Ronins will be at Comic Fiesta this year, featuring works like Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar, Charsiew Space, and works by Jerry Teo, Max Loh, Benjamin Chee, Wayne Ree, Annuendo, and Joelyn Alexandra.
Come say hi to us and look at what we have to offer, especially our first Ronins collaboration book, “Mr. Memphis”, and something all of us chipped in to produce.
If you’re in KL, Malaysia, do come down and enjoy the party! Here’s where:
Date: 16-17 December 2017
Time: 09.30AM to 07.00PM
Venue: KL Convention Centre
For more information, check Comic Fiesta out here.
Sometimes, I do feel that a lot of us plan our lives in November around two things - Nanowrimo, and the Singapore Writers’ Festival. This year’s theme was ARAM அறம், which talks about virtue and values, with Speculative Fiction and Sequential Art tracks. Needless to say, I was thrilled.
This year also boasted a good number of local and international writers coming, and to contain my excitement, I’m going to sum this event down to the 5 lessons I’ve learnt this year (In no particular order):
1. “You are the creative one, WORK AROUND IT.”
Growing up, I was idealistic (still am to some point) and thought that I still had a right to create whatever I wanted without consequences, since the state wanted us to create more anyway.
But a good number of years in the industry and speaking to veterans made me sure of one thing - if you take someone else’s money, you’re going to have to play to their tune, at least to a certain extent. And that’s where the struggle between the integrity of the work and agendas come to play.
This advice of “working around censorship requests” came from Aidli “Alin” Mosbit, during a panel about “true” artists and if they should seek state funding. And the more I listen to this phrase, the more it makes sense - you need your grant money, but you want to keep the integrity of your work.
No one knows how to balance and present your work better than you do - you are the creative after all.
2. Your friends and family are your supporters - appreciate them.
Need I say more? I was incredibly humbled and thankful to all our friends and readers who came to support us during the Pulp Toast and COSH Studios launches. It was also incredibly humbling to meet other writers who were just so authentically enthusiastic to meet readers, alike. If anything, the festival served as a channel for all of us to appreciate the writers, artists, and storytellers who brought our stories to us, and for us creators to be grateful for all the support we receive - regardless of how much.
P/S - Readers and supporters are not there for you to exploit either. If you consider a fan a “true fan” only after they offer you their soul and buy 5 copies of the same book, your complaints about how Singaporeans don’t support each other is moot (the accuracy of that complaint is another story).
3. People are interested, especially when you have a direction.
One of the more prominent questions we’ve been getting during our launches is the direction of our collectives, collaboratives, or just us as creators. And that drives another message home - as creators, artists, storytellers, we have a responsibility to work with the system if you want to get something out of it. The ‘general public’ may not be the best when it comes to knowing what’s “Art”, but they’re generally good at sniffing out interesting stories and authenticity when it comes to fictional accounts.
4. Have fun writing.
One of the greatest lessons I gleaned from the panel with Marie Lu was how much she enjoyed creating the characters and stories. And that was also when I got reminded about how I went into telling stories in the first place - it’s fun. Seeing Marie’s enthusiasm about her characters balanced out with interesting (but not convenient / fan-servicey) plot lines definitely fuelled me to write more that weekend.
5. There’s nothing wrong with being “just the reader”.
“I don’t have a problem with having ‘not-enough’ writers.” Junot Diaz, 2017.
In his lecture about Hope in a live Dystopia, Junot talked about how we were a society of many writers, but without enough readers. Or at least readers who do it because they loved to read and nothing else. And that point struck me quite a bit.
Reading as a reader, reading as a writer, an editor, or a researcher, changes your entire perspective and state of mind when you settle down with a book.
And that’s what I have for you this year - looking forward to next year’s line of activities, together with all the other stories and adventures that come with it. For more information about the Singapore Writers’ Festival, click here.
If anything, our launch started with quite a cliche. It had been raining like crazy over the last few days, and this evening was no exception. Despite the rain, and the rather odd timing, we managed to pull in quite a decent crowd at the Singapore Writers' Festival 2017.
But instead of reviewing the event, I’m going to talk about the most memorable moments during the launch itself.
We had an amazing Q&A session, answering questions about inserting our culture into our stories, and marketing independent publications to the public. With a rather close audience, the launch became more like a group discussion about the zines instead of an ‘official’ launch.
To tie into the theme of the issue, Wayne “backstabbed” his friend, Chris, to show everyone that he was the chosen one - the one who will be the vessel for any being that will come and save the world. That didn’t work, but it definitely garnered a few laughs throughout.
It was unfortunate that our guest artist, Ziqun A.K., was unable to join us during the launch. Regardless, his artwork brought this issue to the next level. We got a chance to show the artwork to the audience and I’m still glad the audience enjoyed them.
Thank you all, once again, for all your support for our stories and art. For more information, and to check out video snippets of the event, check out our Facebook page here, or website here. Photographs from Sarah Coldheart.
My first step to this launch started with a simple email from Cyril Wong. He had seen my story published on Junoesq, an online journal of women’s fiction, and wanted to include it in the third volume of Epigram’s Best New Singaporean Short Stories series.
So I said yes and everything unravelled.
Fast forward a couple of years. A publishing contract, and a proof check later, we all gathered at the main Kinokuniya Store to celebrate the launch of the collection.
Featuring Series Editor Jason Lundberg and Guest Editor Cyril Wong, both of them spoke about the challenges of compiling an anthology of existing works. This was before the event moved to the featured authors, Melissa de Silva, Nuraliah Norasid, and Clara Chow. Each of them spoke about the motivation behind their stories and gave us readings, but my favourite for the day had to be Clara’s story - “Want Less”.
A combination of short story and choose-your-own-adventure, read it to find out why it’s so compelling. (Also, I'm a fan of RPGs and Minimalism so... your mileage may vary. I still love it, though.)
For more information on the Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume 3, click here.
Imagine getting stuck out in the desert, with only you steed by your side and you’re utterly lost. Or imagine your twin, the one who shared a womb, a life before adulthood with you, going back on a promise you made as children of the Prophet.
Now imagine all of this happening in another universe - one where cities are plagued with tense relations and beasts beyond this world. Can you? JY Yang did.
In the depths of Singapore’s Main Kinokuniya, they* launched their first two novellas of the Tensorate series - The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Red Threads of Fortune. Both books are published by Tor.
Starting with a reading from “Black Tides of Heaven”, they threw us straight into the world where twins Mokoya and Akeha reside, chock full of mystical elements, settings that reminded me of a cross between the old Tiong Bahru and Jakku, and a random Hokkien expletive thrown in here and there. Moderator Kirsten Han was there to act as our other guide, raising questions as a reader, and to start discussion among the rest of us.
All in all, it was a cozy launch, as J shared their experience writing, editing, and coming up with the concept of the Tensorate series (together with a bit of their life before writing!). As concise as the launch was, I definitely enjoyed myself.
Now, please excuse me while I continue with the rest of the novellas.
*JY Yang identifies as non-binary and therefore, uses pronouns their, they, or them, and salutation, Mx. Find out more about their work at jyyang.com.
Cutting to the chase - here are a couple of launches that I'll be at in the coming weeks! My story, "Junk Mail", was chosen for Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume III, and speaks about a perspective from an ex-convict. And Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar #3 features stories about the non-chosen ones - the people who stand next to the superheroes.
Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar Issue #3: (Not) The Chosen One Launch at Singapore Writers Festival 2017
Date: 6 NOV 2017, MONDAY
Time: 7PM to 8PM
Venue: The Living Room, The Arts House
We spend our lives chasing, looking up to, and wanting to be the heroes or heroines of the world. The chosen ones, if you’d prefer. As a result, we don’t hear the stories from the sidelines, maybe even missing out on something more interesting and human. This issue of Pulp Toast looks past the faces on the posters.
Find out about the darker realities covered up by people we revere, or watch as someone’s hope of being the chosen one be snatched away every time he gets that much closer. What about the unsung heroes? Dive in and learn about their story – told through the eyes of the one they attempted to rescue, or through the eyes of those they hand their legacy over.
Regardless, we all agree that being unchosen may not be the worst thing in the universe. Especially if that means you’ll be the only one with a full stomach when everyone’s running for their lives before lunch.
Join us as our core team talks to the people society has put aside with guest authors Wayne Ree (Tales of a Tiny Room, Global Beards) and D. M. Jewelle (KL Noir: Yellow, Little Basket) and guest artist Ziqun A. K. (Wizard Garden). We hope you’ll enjoy these stories as we’ve enjoyed writing them.
And thank you for choosing us. Find out more about the event here.
Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume Three Launch @ Kinokuniya
Date: 28 OCT 2017, SATURDAY
Time: 2:30PM to 3:30PM
Venue: Kinokuniya @ Ngee Ann City
And the third volume is out! Join our Series Editor, Jason Erik Lundberg, and Guest Editor, Cyril Wong, as they speak about the collection and their processes for this volume. This launch will also feature readings by Clara Chow (This is a Website), Melissa De Silva ("Others" is not a Race), and Noraliah Norasid (The Gatekeeper).
See you there! You can find out more about the event here.
It struck me that it’s going to be couple of weeks before a slurry of Conventions and Festivals descend upon us. And while the Rolling Ronins won’t be participating in the coming Comic Art Festival, Kuala Lumpur (CAFKL), here are the first few events we’ll be plunging into soon:
PopCon Asia 2017 & Illustration Arts Festival 2017
The news about PopCon Asia came to us quite suddenly, but we decided to give it a try. Having hosted a total of 471 exhibitors and 89,210 visitors since their first foray in 2012, PopCon Asia was definitely a pop culture pit stop for the people of and travelling to Jakarta.
At the same time, following the success of their first attempt last year, the team behind the Illustration Arts Festival (mostly core members of the Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC)) will be bringing you round 2 in August.
The Rolling Ronins will have booths for both PopCon Asia and the Illustration Arts Festival. And before you decide to come down to say hi, here’s a glimpse at some of the works which will be on sale during both events:
PopCon Asia 2017 will be on 5th to 6th August 2017, at the Jakarta Convention Centre. To find out more, click here.
The Illustration Arts Festival will be on 12th to 13th August, 11AM to 5PM, at LASALLE College of the Arts. Click here to find out more.
Once again, we hope to see you there!