Monsters, Miracles & Mayonnaise by Drewscape (aka Andrew Tan) is part of Epigram Books‘ first wave of their graphic novel line, together with Miel‘s Scenegapore, and Ten Sticks And One Rice, a collaboration between Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng (Gone Case). Given its title and cover – you might not be sure what to expect, but rest assured, Monsters, miracles and mayonnaise is what you get in spades (except for the mayonnaise).
An anthology of short stories, MMM contains a mixture of fictional and autobiographical stories, but each with their own sense of whimsy. It starts of with the tale of The Amazing Kelim (seen in the preview provided by Epigram back in September), weaves through more tales of the fantastic – mystic animals and giggling fish – before heading back to ground with short one-page tales based on Drewscape’s life. It steps back into longer tales, mixing the stories up and even returning to giggling fish, before ending on a high with a story many of us will have some resonance with – trying to pass a driving test. If all this sounds confusing, it isn’t – Drewscape has managed the art of pacing his tales, and thanks in part to it being short stories, none of it ever feels like a drag.
What helps keep things moving is also how Drewscape uses different styles for each story. Whether it’s the story of Kelim or a story about him and his water bottle, the choice of medium strengthens the tale, lending each its own weight, whether it’s whimsical or edgy. A nice touch is how Drewscape lists his various tools at the end of the book, which gives a nice insight into the the way Drew works, and the amount of thought he puts into the illustration of each tale.
The attraction of Monsters, Miracles & Mayonnaise is how Drewscape’s grounded fantasy with realism (except for the purely oddball moments), and drawn magic into the mundane. It all makes for great, quick reading, that isn’t disposable pop – it has lots of heart, leaving you thinking about some of the tales long after you’re done reading, while with enough finality so you don’t feel that there’s something untold. An added bonus for me was how I could relate to some of his stories, especially an extremely creepy one (not the supernatural kind). MMM being part of Epigram’s first wave of graphic novels bodes well for the brand, and I’m looking forward to what else there is in store.
And if you love mayonnaise … You won’t be disappointed.