Malaysian graphic novelist's book tapped as an animated feature in the US

Yee hopes the 'Seance Tea Party' animation feature created by LA-based OddBot will introduce a new audience to her graphic novel released in 2020. Photo: Reimena Yee

Melbourne-based Malaysian comics creator Reimena Yee’s middle-grade graphic novel Seance Tea Party is being optioned for an animated special by the Los Angeles-based animation studio OddBot.

The coming-of-age graphic novel about a 12-year-old Lora who fears growing up will be adapted into an animated feature.

“I just think it's cool to be given an opportunity to get involved in another medium. I am a fan of animation and have many friends and peers in the industry. It's been fun to witness the process of getting an animation greenlit,” says Yee in an email.

Seance Tea Party is the KL-born Yee’s debut children’s graphic novel published by Penguin Random House in 2020. Last December, the team from OddBot expressed its interest to develop the graphic novel into an animation project.

“We had a call, and I really appreciated Chris Hamilton’s (OddBot CEO) personal attachment to Seance Tea Party and both his and his young daughter's understanding of the book's themes and visuals,” adds Yee, who will be working as a consultant with OddBot for the animation special.

Reimena Yee's 'Seance Tea Party' will be developed into an animation special. Photo: Reimena YeeReimena Yee's 'Seance Tea Party' will be developed into an animation special. Photo: Reimena Yee

In 2018, the psychology graduate turned graphic novelist received a nomination for Best Digital Comic at the Eisner Awards (the comic industry’s equivalent of the Oscars) for her webcomic The Carpet Merchant Of Konstantiniyya.

Yee, who is the author-illustrator of the gothic webcomic The World in Deeper Inspection, was also a 2019 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics finalist for the same webcomic, which was then published as a two-volume hardcover edition.

Besides Seance Tea Party, OddBot is also optioning American cartoonists Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom and Emma Steinkellner's The Okay Witch to be adapted into a series.

OddBot is the animation company behind Disney Junior’s Muppet Babies and Netflix’s Action Pack.

Welcome to the party

The main character Lora, a lonely 12-year-old who dreads becoming an adult, is at the centre of Yee's Seance Tea Party.

At a make-believe tea party one day, Lora meets a ghost named Alexa who, unlike her, will never grow old. An unlikely friendship develops but will their friendship survive when it’s Lora’s time to grow up?

Seance Tea Party is catering to a market for high-concept coming-of-age stories for older children and preteens. Turning it into animation will introduce it to a wider audience who will resonate with its story. Hopefully it'll also get them to pick up the book,” says Yee, who is the comics editor and assistant manager for Hiveworks Comics, a creator-owned comics and graphic novel publisher focused on free-to-read webcomics.

It doesn’t look like Yee will be slowing down in 2022. Her new middle-grade graphic novel, My Aunt Is A Monster, will be published in September. She is also busy with her new webcomic, Alexander, The Servant And The Water Of Life, which can be found on the Hiveworks Comics platform.

Yee is also a co-founder of a grassroots collective called Unnamed, which is currently on a hiatus.

More info here.

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