By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 07, 2009 at 11:41 AM

You might never have seen his face, but you've seen his work. The delightful drawings of Dwellephant permeate Milwaukee's artistic landscape in many media, forms and contexts, and now he's got one more to add to the pile: he's illustrated a book.

"Missing the Boat," as it's called, is a creative collaboration between Dwellephant and authors Wayne Chinsang and Justin Shady, who previously penned the rather dark comic "The Roberts."

But this book, released in early February, takes a different approach to storytelling. While tackling a weighed topic -- essentially, it's a fresh take on the biblical tale of Noah's ark -- it's a light enough to be a children's book, yet interesting enough to keep adults entertained.

"The book is about a species of animal rushing to make it on to Noah's ark, and over the course of their journey run into characters and obstacles that force them to reflect on their lives and living habits," explains Dwellephant.

The species in reference is the churamane, a rather lazy but loveable animal that no longer exists. Two churamanes, happy couple George and Gladys, are invited onto Noah's boat for a "free cruise," alongside pairs of hundreds of other animal species.

Unfortunately, there is little the churamane loves more than a good rest and when their nap-loving nature gets the better of them, it turns into a race against the clock for survival. Try as they might to make up for lost time, George and Gladys are ultimately faced with the reality that they have literally missed the boat.

But that's not where the book ends. Shady and Dwellphant invite us along for the cleverly written and brilliantly illustrated 80-page churamane adventure that is full of adorable surprises and depth. There's a lesson or two to be learned in there somewhere, but it's far from overstated.

And that's the beauty of this book -- it's for the both the young and the old, the secular and the non-secular to enjoy, harmoniously.

"Missing the Boat" is $18.95 and is available at Milwaukee's independent bookstores.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”