Saturday, August 29, 2015

STGCC 2015: Creative Strokes From Global Beards (Gene Whitlock/ Wayne Rée) at Artist Alley

Beards have made a come back. They are getting a lot more attention lately. They even get themselves into all kinds of hairy situations - like travelling around the world, fostering international geek-lationships and even publishing books!

Two sets of Red Dot Island-based beards will be making a combined appearance at the coming STGCC 2015 at Marina Bay Sands next month. Under the banner of GLOBAL BEARDS, they are very eager to show off their dark and handsome hirsuteness by peddling their books, artwork.. and other stuff at Artist Alley Booth AA98.

Showing great restraint from stroking these hardworking beards, Red Dot Diva spoke to the two dudes - Gene Whitlock and Wayne Rée - whose faces the beards call home for several years.

Last year, the beards of both Gene Whitlock and Wayne Rée were part of a cohort of writers based at Book Actually's The Comic Strip. Gene-beard had produced a mischievous noir-style detective story called "The Unsavoury Alphabet", and Wayne-beard had written "Tales From A Tiny Room", an absorbing anthology of unique stories.

It will be most interesting to see what kind of the crazy creative synergy the pair will come up with in this year's STGCC!

Want to find out what's in store at GLOBAL BEARDS? Here are some details to tickle your curiousity!

Red Dot Diva: What led to the decision to start up your own booth together this year?
Our beards had grown so long that it seemed only right that we combined their might. Like Voltron, only hairier. (I just realised that "hairier" looks funny when you type it out.) Also, we enjoyed working together last year and during 24 Hour Comic Day in the last two years AND generally annoying people on Facebook every day, so we figured, let's have more fun and make more noise this year!
Red Dot Diva: Note to self - must remember to bring my super-beard-brush!
Gene: He forgot to talk about Goldilocks! Initially, we tried to get into everyone else's booths, but they all shouted, "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" And that made us pretty sad, mostly 'cause that wasn't Goldilocks. Then we realised we could have our OWN chinny-chin-chins! So, we built a booth out of ideas and... stuff, and now we're comin' atcha, straight outta kampong! I'm also looking forward to the bit where we make noise!
Wayne: Speak for yourself. I'm comin' straight outta Hougang! 'Cause I'm an Hougangsta!

Red Dot Diva: Why the name GLOBAL BEARDS?
Wayne: We thought it'd be ironic 'cause we're actually both hairless now. Hah! I kid! We never use irony. Ironic isn't even my favourite Alanis Morrissette song. (I'm lying. I love that song.)
Gene: Also, Alanis won't be appearing at the booth, 'cause we're not a Lost Empire.

Diva's grabbing these at Global Beards. Are you?

Red Dot Diva: Gene, what is the story behind the creation of "The Yellow Princess"?
Gene: "The Yellow Princess" started as a bedtime story based on some characters Riddle talked about when she was about three and a half. I started building on those characters and developing a 'world' around them, and the bedtime stories and character designs expanded. I showed the whole thing to Wayne and invited him to collaborate. He said yes and we spent the last 18 months working on characters and concepts, and roughed out the first five Yellow Princess books, with lots of vetting and input from both my kids.

It's been very clear from the outset they want stories that are exciting, a little scary, and a bit naughty. We're trying our best to keep that outlook in mind as we craft the adventures of Yellow Princess and her friends!
Red Dot Diva: A little naughty sounds good to me!
Wayne: I'd just like to add that Riddle is the toughest editor I've ever had to work with. She won't just read what we've written – we have to act it all out for her! And when she doesn't like something, we have to go sit in the corner and think about what we've done wrong.
Riddle: OY!
Gene and Wayne: SORRY, RIDDLE!
Red Dot Diva: Oops! Riddle's HERE?!? Must censor a bit, liao....

Red Dot Diva: What do you hope hope readers will get from reading "The Yellow Princess"?
Wayne: I'll put on my serious hat now (Red Dot Diva frowns -- there is such a hat, meh? She has been trying to find one that fits!) and say that, if there's just one thing anyone gets out of Yellow Princess, I hope that it's a good time. Gene, Riddle and myself had a blast making it and we'd like to believe that all that fun carried over to the book itself. 
Gene: What he said! This is a book we would have liked as kids, and we're hoping kids today read this and imagine a bigger, more crowded universe out there!

Red Dot Diva: Wayne, what is your new anthology book called, and what is it about?
Wayne: It's called "Prompt", a collaboration with my friend Anna AB. We wanted to see what happened when two very different writers created stories that started from the same place, so we came up with seven prompts (see how we got our super clever title?), then each wrote our own short stories based on them. In the end, we had this great mix of fourteen stories that range from western and horror to sci-fi and even wrestling! We'll only have 55 signed and numbered copies for sale at STGCC, so come by the booth early!
Gene: Hey! I have a new book too!
Wayne: Um... yes, you do, Gene! Tell us about your book of illustrations.
Gene: Well, it's a book of illustrations and it's called "Pitchers". It's fun and each picture has a little story, just a few words – because words don't come easy. To me.
Wayne: How can I fiiiiiiiind a way... to make you see... I love you...
Gene: Wait. Sorry, Diva. We forgot who was asking the questions here.
Red Dot Diva: It's OK. Your beards were very distracting...

Red Dot Diva: What were the challenges you faced while working on it compared to your first books "The Unsavoury Alphabet" and "Tales From A Tiny Room"? 
Wayne: We flew solo this year and self-published. Math Paper Press were such a massive help when we launched "The Unsavoury Alphabet" and "Tales From A Tiny Room", so this time, the onus was on us to get our ducks in order. Which isn't easy 'cause ducks are total jerks. But ducks aside, printing and arranging the stuff for the booth and all that took A LOT of time. 
Gene: Heh heh. When he wrote 'ducks,' I imagined a pre-autocorrect version of that sentence, and I giggled, because it's true! We really did have to get our ducks lined up! How else to attempt a low-earth orbit trajectory and then slingshot around the sun?! Science! Huh!

Red Dot Diva: This is the 2nd time putting out your own creative works as well as exhibiting at STGCC. What are you doing differently this time versus the last time?
Wayne: I want to actually sit down more. Last year, I was riding high on happiness from getting my book out, and meeting all the wonderful people who came by and supported us, that I actually forgot to rest and eat, until my friends shoved food in front of my face and went, "Nah."  
Red Dot Diva: People reading this. PSA -- Remember to FEED THE BEARDS!
Gene: We haven't changed much this time, except we're going a bit smaller so that we can go bigger! It's like Doc Hudson said, "Turn left to go right!"
Wayne: I believe it was "Macho Man" Randy Savage who said, "Elizabeth, go left! I'll go right!" (Or was it the other way around?)
Gene: Shout out to our friends in the Singapore Pro Wrestling federation!

Those beards are lookin' at you for strokes!

Red Dot Diva: Other than the books, what other cool stuff will you be hawking at your booth? 
Wayne: The chance to stroke our beards! (Red Dot Diva punches fist in air. YES!!!) But only if you ask nicely. Also, I'll have a fun little one-page comic/print that I worked on with Max Loh (Liquid City) and Jerry Teo (Rex Regrets), based on a bizarre bunch of out-of-copyright characters. And, if you're one of the first ten people to pick up Prompt, I'll do a super short, one-of-a-kind story for you, based on a prompt of your choosing.
Gene: We're working on badges (which may or may not happen), and some posters and I'll have a bunch of original drawings in various scales for various wallet sizes! (I mean, so you can pay varying amounts. I don't mean art that goes into your wallet!)

Red Dot Diva: Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
Wayne: Yellow Princess' robot best friend FR1END. FR1END's got a smart mouth, but a big heart. Also, I've had a soft spot for robots since Terminator 2.
Red Dot Diva: Awww.. me like robots with smart mouths too.
Gene: General Eleanor. And if I say anything more, it'll be spoilers!

Red Dot Diva: 3 quickie questions: Godzilla or King Kong? Chris Nolan or Ridley Scott? Snoopy or Garfield? 
Wayne:  OJIRAAAAAAAAAAA! Ridley Scott, but only for Gladiator and everything that came before.
Garfield's appetite, but Snoopy's dance moves.
Gene: SHOGUN WARRIORS GODZILLA! Because, LAUNCHING FISTS! Pass on the movie directors, 'cause I'd say Sam Fuller or even Glen Ford. Blacksadd!

Red Dot Diva, noticing that Gene, Wayne and their rowdy beards are getting hyped-up and yelling all kinds of geek-speak, covers her ears and slowly slips away.

If you're attending STGCC and want to meet a pair of fun and noisy beards, do stop by GLOBAL BEARDS, Artist Alley AA98, and pick up "The Yellow Princess" or "Prompt" (only 55 copies available), and other arty stuff like "Pitchers"! Also, Red Dot Diva is pretty sure their creative offerings will *ahem* grow on you.


Follow GLOBAL BEARDS on Facebook:, as well as:

Gene Whitlock on Facebook
Wayne Rée on Twitter
and The Yellow Princess herself on Tumblr!

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