Three years ago, I sat with a group of other writer friends and we talked about creating something fun together – that was when Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar was born. Three years on, we’re on our third issue, with a solid core team and amazing guests.
Now that this issue is going through a final round of checks, here’s a sneak peek:
Unwanted Utopia III: Legacy
“Your sentence in solitary will be indefinite,” I explained to my inmate. I arrived at Area 82’s Confinement half a year ago, as part of the new batch of Area 80 Enforcers brought in to aid their influx of confinement inmates.
“You will only be allowed an hour out of your cell with official personnel,” I continued, “You are to only engage in approved therapy, counselling, or physical activity to maintain your health. Your rations will only be served to you twice a day, at the appointed hours. If you require anything, or medical attention, you will only be attended to on a case-by-case basis.”
My assigned inmate was a lean man, slightly worse for wear after processing. His salt-and-pepper hair layering just the top of his undercut was tied back in a bun and his uniform had no more than a slight crease around his joints.
“Do you have any questions, Professor Kyung?” I finished.
His brown eyes were clear, almost distracting from his smile.
That smile though.
“Just one,” he said, “How may I address you?”
Thus, the reason behind this assignment.
“You will address me as ‘Sir’, according to inmate protocol,” I said as I motioned him into his cell, “Anything else will be met with either a warning or a punishment to be decided on a later date.”
The gates clanged. I stormed out.
Professor Shin Kyung
Brotherhood Year 40, July 14
If you’re reading this, congratulations on being one of Area 65’s Artisan Apprentices. If you managed to get this letter from someone else instead of through the mail, it means that the execution went through.
On that note, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Professor Shin Kyung. I’m writing this on the blank pages from the back of the Brotherhood’s Guide to Life manuals they keep stocked in every inmate’s solitary confinement cell. I was just assigned to solitary confinement cell 42, Area 82’s Confinement.
You may not remember me, but we first met in Area 65, in the Contagion Research Labs. You were nine then, but Deputy Area Commander Rodriguez already had his eye on you. What you possibly didn’t know from then was that they were already lining you up for Artisanship – your ability to take orders, while producing the most aesthetically-pleasing, yet functional pieces was something the Brotherhood was looking out for.
I was placed there to monitor your mental growth and ensure that you were growing the way the Brotherhood intended you to. A few months into your check-ups, I couldn’t go through with it. So I slipped you something to help you with your final field tests.
When I heard that you managed to escape your final tests, I was elated. I also packed my bags and quickly left the organization. Despite the Brotherhood’s control over the entire world, I knew it wouldn’t be easy for them to find me if I went off the grid.
The problem with the system now, my dear, is that even with an alias, creative outlets will get you noticed. I was able to travel and give lectures on Area Societies with an alias. But it only took one unauthorized, faulty music box playing in the middle of the night before I was discovered.
They already took my family and close comrades, there was nothing else left to come for except for me.
What they won’t know is that I’m not the end of all this.
You’ll have to read the rest of it when Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar #3 is out. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing and putting Pulp Toast together.
For more information on our collection, click here.
“You’re only half alone.”
As CAFKL4 nears, I've been looking at previous comics I've gotten in the previous festivals. This was one of them.
Sometimes, the pictures we see of other people’s lives seem to be rosier as compared to our own. This collection of comics takes a glimpse into certain windows – windows of different people, together with the joys, the worries, the fears, and the surprises of their own lives – and how things behind those windows happen. So, before going into the details of this book, how was your day?
More often than not, the simple joys in life either make our entire conversations, or fail to appear at all. Kuzu’s “A Dessert Diary” is a funny, light-hearted diary comic of a personal project, portraying the importance of her close-knit friends and the supportive environment she appreciates and derives encouragement from. And Sapphire’s “An Unexpected Visitor” shows the simple joy of letting be, especially after an action-packed round of getting through with life.
Self-Pity and Realisation
The line between self-pity and self-realisation are both fine and blurred. At the same time, it requires the balance of focussing on and appreciating a single tree in a forest, but not missing the forest for the trees – something gathered after reading Wrat’s “On Drawing”. Fenix’s “Of Sparrows” reflects a common issue faced by many creators – and talks about the importance of realising yourself, being comfortable with yourself, and the appreciation of peers in a similar setting. Lastly, Max’s “The Ballad of Self Pity” speaks of the almost unnoticeable difference between self-pity and realisation – the journey of crossing the darkest hour before the glimmer of a sunrise.
Individual vs. the World
Finally, individual significance and the want to be significant in the grand scheme of things are issues put down in a few of the stories as well. Reimena’s “Rat Race” acts as a mirror to humanity, personified as a character who is fighting to maintain her identity and authenticity in a world that does its best to drown it out. Choo’s “Nine Thirty A.M.” presents a similarly reflective piece through the eyes of an observer of happenings in a monotonous setting.
However, all hope is not lost in Hwei’s “Only Half Alone”, which shows that even the people who perceive themselves as the most solitary people in the world, are needed or wanted sincerely, somewhere.
Style & Structure
This collection of comics had a good mix of emotions and insights, the stories lined up similar to a full-course meal – starting with a short, but intriguing piece, then flowing into a few light-hearted tales before the full-bodied courses arrive, and ending with something simple, but substantial enough to tie up the entire mood. Almost representative of a full conversation, the anthology’s structure helped in easing the reader into the minds of the storyteller.
“How Was Your Day” is a collection of comics by eight different artists, you can find out more about them here:
To find out more about the collection itself, click here.
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.