The Mothership news site of Singapore interviewed artist Shane Davis and his wife Yanzi Lin, who’s a native of the country, about their new crowdfunded adventure Starlight Cats, which uses Singapore as a backdrop, and makes use of a Merlion in the tale, a common symbol locally:
The book is set in Singapore, and tells the story of Rebecca, a young Singaporean girl, and a street cat named Barnaby fighting against vicious rat-like aliens trying to conquer Earth.
Here’s why they made use of the location:
Why did you decide on Singapore as the setting for the book? What aspects of Singapore did you incorporate?
“We both felt that setting the story in Singapore is a great fit as Singapore is a cosmopolitan, multicultural modern city.
A lot of people in the U.S. have heard of Singapore, but there are very few representations of Singapore in American pop culture.
With Yanzi being a Singaporean, we felt we could tell a story about a Singaporean girl and the culture of the street cats with the proper attention to detail that such a story deserves.
Yanzi has been helping the local Cat Welfare Society feed the strays on her street, so her personal experience with the street cats of Singapore and her adopted street cat Barnaby definitely helped us flesh out the story.
The Merlion will be a key character to Starlight Cats, and he is definitely based on the Merlion of Singapore mythology, but now with our own added twist of him being a god-like creature to cats around the world.
And of course, being the foodies that we are, there will be a hawker centre scene included!”
They have a good idea of where to set this story, something which echoes my belief in what countries need more attention to boot, like Armenia, Cameroon, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Chile, Corsica, Luxembourg and even Catalonia. There are European comics telling stories set along the same continent, including one I’d spoken about earlier set in Belarus, but there need to be more, specifically written by and aimed at US audiences.
Who is your intended audience for the book? Are you hoping that it’s received by an American audience for them to learn more about Singapore?
“Starlight Cats is an all-ages book. It is definitely aimed at readers of all ages.
We always like to describe it as being similar in tone to ‘An American Tale’ and ‘Spirited Away’.
Shane believes that children are much more perceptive than we give them credit for, and he doesn’t want to insult their intelligence by drawing too simply, thus the decision to draw in his normal style that already has a strong adult fanbase.
While we have chosen to set the story in Singapore, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the book.
We’ve added visual elements to the comic that will show the reader that the story isn’t set in the typical U.S. city/town, and will have some Singapore landmarks as well, as seen on the cover for our first issue.”
I wish them well in sales, and I think this should serve as an example for creators and cartoonists in the US, to research and set tales in foreign countries like these, and not just maintain an extremely limited range of locations otherwise pertaining to the USA only. For now, I figure independent creations like these are the best way to go, and expect settings like Starlight Cats uses.
Check out the Indiegogo page here!
Originally published here.