Lunarbaboon describes himself as “a half-man/half-moon monkey trying to make sense of it all” – and K!K set out to find out more about the person and the process behind it all.
Behind the alias of Lunarbaboon is the creator Chris Grady, a family man and a teacher based in Toronto. His heartwarming comics could best be described as humane – some will make you laugh, some could make you cry, while others will amaze you with Lunarbaboon’s wild and vivid imagination. He is capable of brilliantly portraying all the fine emotions of life, while showing the most ordinary everyday moments as well as when depicting the existential topics of death, memory and growing up.
Lunarbaboon’s universe talks about the family life of a “half-man/half-moon monkey” and all the little things that make it – which include joys and hardships of parenting, human insecurities, eating chips and battling monsters. Sometimes painfully realistic, sometimes funny and absurd – you will surely be amazed by the range of his imagination and the intellectual depth of his comics.
The reader is often drawn into the world of imagination of him and his son, which is inhabited by colorful creatures and where almost anything is possible. Here, a pterodactyl babysitting or battles with monsters under the bed are not at all uncommon. Also, some of the recurring characters in his webcomic are superheroes like Batman or Aquaman, and the characters of the Star Wars saga.
However, instead of drowning you in information, we give you the chance to see comics and read what Lunarbaboon himself has to say about his life and creating.
Kultur!Kokoška: Let’s begin with the technical stuff: how did you start practicing art, did you have any prior experience before you took up drawing comics?
Lunarbaboon: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Growing up I loved copying the cartoon characters I saw on TV and in the comic section of the newspaper. I was lucky enough to have an art teacher as a mom. Like any good pusher, she made sure my stash of art supplies was always plentiful. Not being a great student (or that bright) I was able to use my skill at drawing to turn all my mediocre writings and projects into A+ work. I took this as a sign that drawing is what I should be doing. I studied Studio Art in University and now I use the skill on a daily basis while teaching elementary school. Drawing comics didn’t really come along until I was in my early 30’s.
K!K: And what’s the creative process behind your work?
L: 90 percent of comic creation takes place in my head. I have a type of OCD that causes the same thought to cycle endlessly in my brain. This can pretty terrible when the thoughts are not good or stress inducing. A few years ago I learned that if I focus on something creative, like a comic or story, I could cycle it through brain hundreds of times until I got it to a place I really liked. Normally when I am taking public transit, sitting in meetings, or doing anything where my mind isn’t occupied I try to play with different comic ideas. When I have something I like I scribble it in a notebook or text it to myself and then move on to the next idea. It has been paramount in overcoming my anxiety caused by my OCD.
K!K: When you first started creating, did you ever expect to end up world-known? How does it feel now?
L: Definitely not. My first 50 to 100 Lunarbaboon comics were done in a small moleskin notebook. I never had any intention of sharing them with anyone except my wife. Then one day I created a comic I thought was pretty funny so I shared it on my Facebook page and I got a good response from my family and friends. So I kept posting. It feels a bit surreal now getting emails everyday from people who love and connect to the comic in a really personal way. It makes my life easier knowing that my experiences, feelings, and struggles are universal. It is like having a gigantic support group.
K!K: Your first book funded through Kickstarter was a complete success – when can we expect the second one, and are you planning to use Kickstarter again?
L: I am hoping to get to work on the 2nd volume during summer 2015. I will definitely use Kickstarter again.
K!K: Now, we would like to know what’s it like being a half-man, half-moon monkey and asides from drawing, what does one Lunarbaboon do in his spare time?
L: A Lunarbaboon spends most of his time trying to escape the confines of his head. He would prefer to be mindful and really enjoy what his physical body is doing, such as playing with his kid, sitting with his wife, and walking the streets of Toronto, but most of the time he is lost in obsessive thoughts. If he had his way though he would be travelling, drinking, watching movies, and eating delicious foods with his family.
K!K: In your work, there are many references to world of fantasy and science fiction – what drives you? Would you share with us your favorite movies, book authors, comics or painters – that might have inspired or affected you?
L: I love new thoughts and ideas. Sci-fi and fantasy seem to be great breeding grounds for these things, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly obsessed with these genres. I am not picky when it comes my media. I’ll watch or read anything in the hopes of being surprised, moved, or humoured. I really love Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin movies. Other movies I love… Annie Hall, Shawshank Redemption, Empire Strikes Back, The Squid and the Whale, Duck Soup, 2001: A Space Oddysey, The Third Man, Indiana Jones…The list goes on forever. My favourite book has always been A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
K!K: Some of your comics deal with darker, sadder sides of life in a brilliant yet not too overwhelming ways, and we have read that you started drawing comics to battle with anxiety and depression. Also, it is a well-known fact that many comedians have dealt with some type of depression, so what is your experience in this matter: do comedy and creative expression help with coping with the hardships of life? Do you think this part of your work is being a bit overlooked in favor of the more pleasant parts of life, and how do you feel about that?
L: It is really hard to get a grip on the good things in life because they are constantly changing and disappearing. Having a kid really shines a light on this. One second you have a beautiful baby, then it’s gone and turned into a young child, then into a adult, and so on and so on. I often try to capture these fleeting moments in my comic because otherwise most of them would just get pushed into the wherever ideas and memories go. I find it all a bit overwhelming and sad to think about, but expressing it through my comic does help my brain move on to other things. People take my comics in all sorts of ways. Sometimes I make something that came from a dark place and people see sweetness. Sometimes I make something I think is simple and cute, and people find something profound. It is not really worth it to me to try and figure out how people will react to my comics. If my comics can get people to feel anything, including rage, then that’s pretty cool.
K!K: Do you have any advice on life to share with our readers, maybe some that only a Lunarbaboon living in strange conditions surrounded by humans could have?
L: We are all lucky to have the days we do. Don’t spend them complaining about dumb things. Love the people around you while they are here, laugh a lot, and eat a ton of delicious food.
K!K: Final question: since our magazine is called Kultur!Kokoska which, literally translated, means Culture!Chicken, we feel obliged to ask if you are you planning to do a comic including chickens anytime in the future?
L: I don’t know if I have any chicken based comics cycling through my brain, but I will do my best.