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Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for new graphic novel 'Turtle Bread'

Comic Books

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for new graphic novel ‘Turtle Bread’

Kim-Joy is a celebrity baker, cookbook author, mental health advocate, and Great British Baking Show star, and now with artist Alti Firmansyah (Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde), a graphic novel writer with Turtle Bread. Out now via Comixology, Turtle Bread is a touching story about community, healing, finding yourself, and–of course–baking!

AIPT has an exclusive piece written by Kim-Joy to give you insight into the inspiration behind Turtle Bread. More specifically, a movie, a book, and a TV show. Can you guess which?

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Check out the list below in Kim-Joy’s own words, and keep scrolling for a preview of Turtle Bread!

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread'

Mary and Max

Find it on Amazon.

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread'

This is my absolute favourite film and so inspirational! It’s a dark comedy about an unlikely pen-pal friendship between a 44-year-old morbidly obese American man who is a proud Aspie, and a lonely 8-year-old girl who grows up as the film progresses. I love this film because it’s beautifully animated (it’s a claymation film) and you will laugh, learn, and cry along with the characters. It’s deep and meaningful and very sad. Which is totally the kind of film I love. Most people might assume I like happy films, when in fact the opposite is true; I love stories that are dark, meaningful, and sad.

I love the fact that the main stars of the film (particularly Max) are the kinds of people that most of society isn’t interested in; the kinds of people who wouldn’t commonly be the main characters of a film. And they’re real and complex characters who aren’t just stereotypes.

Bea as a character is inspired by Max; albeit with a very different personality! And Yan has similarities to Mary. And similarly, it is an intergenerational friendship between two very different people who are each lonely in their own ways, and through being vulnerable they grow and learn a lot from each other. I absolutely love unconventional and pure friendships like this.

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread'

Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Manga Of Tidying Up

Find it on Amazon.

I love the art style in this – and it’s a reference I sent to Alti when I said I wanted the characters to be just as expressive (which of course, Alti is a pro at anyway!). I also prefer manga style books without colour – which is odd I guess because generally I prefer colour and the more the better (in my clothes, my house, etc!). But in a story, I find I can relate to the characters and read easier when there is no colour.

I also just generally love Marie Kondo and her attitude to life. Her whole vibe is just keep what sparks joy, and she is all about you doing what’s best for you. She doesn’t judge people, and she’s totally refreshing. I just feel a lot in common with her, and so I hope that through the baking/recipe sections (which are inspired by Marie’s sections on how to fold!) the message of sparking joy is also conveyed.

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread'

The Great British Bake Off

Bake Off fans might recognize that the main character (Yan) actually shares the same name as my Bake Off friend Yan Tsou! However, their personalities are completely different, as Yan in the book is largely based on myself. I told Bake Off Yan that I’d given my main character her name, and it’s a bit weird, but the name just stuck cause I have such positive associations with it; and she said, ‘I’m so touched you thought my name fitted the character! Also, if it wasn’t weird, it wouldn’t be Kim-Joy. Stay weird!’

The Bake Off is also full of inspiring people and interesting characters. So, some personality traits of characters in Turtle Bread are inspired by personalities in the show. No one is based wholly on a specific contestant – but I’ve been inspired by various things people have said, peoples’ different approaches to baking, and just peoples’ mannerisms and vibes.

And most of all, my inspirations have been from my life and the people around me. A lot of Yan’s experiences are based on some of mine – but of course, tweaked and changed to fit in the story (e.g., I never worked in a bakery or professionally with food). Having grown up with severe social anxiety and selective mutism, I’ve struggled a lot with my own self-esteem and trying to be more ‘me’. Like Yan, I struggled a lot with interviews. I could get an interview on paper, but I’d be so nervous in the interview that I wouldn’t get the job. I have had interviews knowing that the interviewers had lost patience with me and in fact were kind of annoyed with me, but not knowing exactly how to fix that in the moment. It’s an awful feeling walking away from an interview and just knowing you’ve messed up. And it’s so hard to get out of the rut when rejection becomes very real. The only job I could get in the summer holidays was one where I went door to door trying to persuade people to agree to get a quote for new windows. I never succeeded, and the job was commission only – so I didn’t even get paid for it.  I ended up doing a bunch of different voluntary work (in charity shops, working with children, working with people with learning disabilities) to try to build my confidence so that I could eventually get a paid job. So Yan’s feelings of isolation and struggle to get a job and have purpose are very much parallel with my experiences. The Baking Club is her opportunity to step into vulnerability and create change in her life, and the Bake Off was the same for me.

Check out a preview of Turtle Bread below!

Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread' Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread' Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread' Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread' Kim-Joy’s 3 inspirations for 'Turtle Bread'

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