SINGAPORE, 17 January 2024 – Singapore-based animation studio Robot Playground Media (RPM) has picked up rights to Work-Life Balance: Malevolent Managers and Folkloric Freelancers (WLB) by Wayne Rée and Benjamin Chee, published by Difference Engine (DE). The book, a genre-blending graphic novel that draws on Asian mythology while taking a wry look at corporate life, won Best Literary Work and the coveted Book of the Year at the 2023 Singapore Book Awards. It will now be developed into an animated comedy series for audiences across various platforms and territories.

RPM’s co-founder and showrunner Ervin Han will lead the development out of Singapore, together with the studio's creative teams in Indonesia and Malaysia. He previously created the award-winning local adult animation Downstairs that ran for three seasons on Netflix and meWATCH, and is producing A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, an adult horror animation that won Mediacorp’s Content Development Pitch in 2022. He is also currently in production directing The Violinist, a feature-length animation co-produced between Singapore and Spain with both countries providing funding support.

Rée and Chee’s book uses an intriguing juxtaposition of comics and prose to spin a fresh yet familiar tale about a multinational corporate run by demons called The Company whose mission is to end the world. With its new APAC office, folklore creatures like pontianaks, manananggals, raksasis, and ba jiao guis are assimilated into corporate life where they find new meaning in dead-end work and truly hellish bosses.

The team is aiming to put the series into production this year and will be looking to partner up with co-producers and platforms on what they see as a unique but universally appealing international project aimed at youths and working professionals that weaves a rich, colourful Asian cultural and mythological tapestry with a much-needed reflection on soul-draining work culture and bosses from hell.

“Wayne and Ben’s book is a little miracle. It combines our love of Asian mythologies and its folkloric ghouls with a satirical study of the soul-crushing pit that is corporate life,” said Han. “So many of our ideas gelled quickly when I sat down with both creators to discuss what we all envision for the show – a contemporary, genre-infused adult comedy about bosses from hell that also contemplates the things we give up in the name of making a living.”

"As fans of Downstairs and RPM’s animation, we're thrilled to be working with them," said Chee and Rée. "We already had faith that they would do the book justice – but after speaking with Ervin, we're absolutely certain that they'll elevate the world we've created. Work-Life Balance is a love letter to the stories we grew up with and the craft of storytelling. RPM gets that completely and are expanding on it in a way that plays to the strengths of animation."

"We are very excited to work with Robot Playground Media to adapt Work-Life Balance into an animated TV series,” said Felicia Low-Jimenez, Publisher at Difference Engine. “We've long admired the work they've done, and we can't wait to see Wayne and Ben's dream of a world full of overlong meetings and pesky press releases being liberated by magic and mayhem on the small screen!”

For enquiries, contact:

Tracy Tam (General Manager, Robot Playground Media)

Charlene Shepherdson (Business Development Manager, Difference Engine)

Robot Playground Media is an award-winning animation studio based in Singapore.  We produce original IP and provide a range of production services including 2D/3D animation, visual effects, and motion graphics.  We have produced original and adapted IP-to-series for Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount, and Mediacorp, among others. Robot Playground Media was founded in 2013 and is a subsidiary of Singapore and London-based 108 Media.

Difference Engine is an independent comics publisher based in Singapore. We are inspired by stories from Asia, and we are committed to publishing diverse, well-written, and beautifully illustrated comics of all genres and ages. We collaborate closely with Southeast Asian creators, both new and experienced, with genuine and thought-provoking ideas to share. Difference Engine was founded in 2018 and is part of the Potato Productions group of companies.

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