May 14, 2020

THE THREE MONKS

The Three Monks by Shaobai Li and Juxiang Tao tells the tale of three monks prone to infighting who decide to travel the world together.


Old Monk, Young Monk, and Mini Monk spend all of their time together, and most of that time is spent fighting about everything under the sun. So when Mini Monk suggests they leave the temple and try to get some fresh air, every agrees: maybe they won't fight anymore because they're having so much fun traveling together! But it's only a matter of time before things quickly devolve back into fighting, and despite the compromises each one makes they all find themselves on a wacky follow-the-leader-style journey based on jealousy and pettiness. Can they set aside their differences and work with what they have?


The muted illustrations are whimsical and humorous. Tao created them with a mixture of subdued fabrics collaged amongst paper, with pencil, charcoal, and crayon drawings added in for additional texture and shadow. Tao molds each object and person from multiple media, carefully layering them to build dynamic and energetic scenes that feel cohesive and full of movement. The three monks look lopsided as they balance on the bridge together, and it's hard not to picture them teeter-tottering as they try no to fall in. The sun almost literally radiates heat as they dry their clothes, deliberately blurred and enlarged so that it gives off that "wavy heat" feel. It's this attention to detail that makes each spread feel like a singular scene in a 32-page long comedy movie, full of action and movement.


The Three Monks publishes next week on May 22, 2020 from Reycraft Books.



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