Two vegan creatives have teamed up to create a cookbook with a difference.
Lovely's is an English language comic book/graphic novel - comprising recipes for food and drink that intertwine with the narrative. The book, by Valentine Gallardo (story and illustration) and Jonathan Beaton (story and recipes) features recipes which are all vegan, and a cast of characters who mostly are.
According to the creators, the book 'deals with topics relating to veganism such as ethical entrepreneurship, as well as more universal themes like friendship and love'.
"Lovely's is both a comicbook and a cookbook," they explain. "The book contains around 150 pages exploring ‘friendship, food, fantasy, fraud and f***ing capitalism’, peppered with recipes for the dishes that feature in the story. In this way the recipes add a dash of culinary fun to this bittersweet story."
The story follows a group of old friends who have become estranged since graduating art school. They used to exhibit work together as 'The Brush Monkeys' but, for most of them, life has since come in between them and their ambitions.
They are reunited after they each receive a letter from the mysterious philanthropist Bingo Lovelett, who invites them to visit his remote country residence for 'a dinner party to remember'. Bingo is the founder of the Lovely's Heavenly Burgers vegan restaurant empire.The heroes used to hang out at one of his many restaurants, but why would he want to meet them? And why now, after all these years?
Over the course of the story the mystery unravels and we get to know the characters and the dynamic between them as they plumb the past, trying to make sense of it all.
Co-author Jonathan Beaton told Plant Based News: "Originally the idea was to make a straight-forward cookbook together, with me doing the recipes and Valentine providing illustrations.
"But, knowing her work, I started to think it would be a waste of her visual storytelling abilities to have her just drawing vegetables, no matter how good the drawings were. So we came up with the idea of combining a comic book with a cookbook."
Describing Valentine as 'keenly observant', he added: "Wherever she goes, she collects cultural quirks, human moments and funny one-liners, which she later incorporates into her work. She is also deeply engaged in some of the most current socio-political topics of today (gender, sexuality, women's rights, animal rights), weaving them into her stories without becoming didactic or pious.
"Her work is highly personal yet highly relatable and is often rooted in her genuine fascination for people and human behaviour."
Gallardo and Beaton are currently looking for a publisher in the UK and/or US who would like to publish the book in these regions - though the book is available online now and they have already secured a distributor for Belgium and the Netherlands.
You can find out more about Lovely's - including how to buy it -here