S'pore history told in comics

CLASSIC LEGEND: Praveen Kumar Radhakrishnan, also known as Radkris, produced a graphic novel based on Singapore's history. The Hunt For The Lion: The Two Kings borrows story elements from the tale of Sang Nila Utama.


    Sep 26, 2013

    S'pore history told in comics

    HE HAILS from Chennai, India, some 3,000km from Singapore's sunny shores, but this has not stopped Praveen Kumar Radhakrishnan from producing a graphic novel based on the country's history.

    The28-year-old research-and- development engineer, who goes by the pen name Radkris, is the author of a new graphic-novel series, The Hunt For The Lion.

    The first volume, The Hunt For The Lion: The Two Kings, borrows story elements from the tale of Sang Nila Utama, a prince who legendarily founded the kingdom of Singapura in 1299.

    "I want people to feel that the prince can be anyone, that anyone can discover, and that people are always pushed by the purpose they have in life," he said.

    In the comic, the prince is on a quest to expand his kingdom when he finds himself shipwrecked on an island in the South China Sea.

    The tale then tells of the intense battles that unfold, including betrayals and a relentless haze.

    The graphic novel was originally meant to be a documentary. About three years ago, Radkris was a student in an Italian-language class in Milan, where he is now based. A Russian classmate asked for his help in making a documentary about Singapore.

    Even though the project fell through, he picked up the pieces and eventually decided on a graphic novel which provides an "optimal balance between visual and literary elements", said Radkris.

    But a lot of research had to be done, which meant many hours spent at the National Library, the results of which the author hopes will show in his upcoming graphic novels.

    Radkris aims to finish the six-part graphic-novel series in the next three years. Each volume is expected to be 200 pages long.

    The first two issues of volume one - each 30 pages long - are available online at US$1.99 (S$2.50) per issue. Subsequent issues will be published monthly.

    He revealed that the second volume will centre on colonial Singapore and the third on World War II.

    Radkris' works are the latest in a growing number of graphic novels on Singapore, which include Scenegapore and Ten Sticks And One Rice, both released last November by Epigram Books.

    The authors of Ten Sticks And One Rice, Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng, said that, while they "did not set out to tell any Singapore history per se", they found the tales that they heard as kids from their parents and parents' friends became more "fascinating as (they grew) older and more mature".

    Childhood memories seem to have had a similar effect on Radkris.

    Although he is not a Singaporean, he has spent most of his summers here since 1992. The author continues to feel a connection to the country and is impressed by its development.

    "Coming from India, I can see that Singapore has achieved much more, although it gained independence later.

    "There are pluses and minuses, but India can learn a few lessons," he said.

    The first issue of The Hunt For The Lion: The Two Kings can be downloaded at www.smash