The month of June we’ve gone bananas for Chris Simonite’s “Gorilla in the Midst”, but let’s take some time and meet the creator himself. We here at the Alliance like to throw our 10 Questions for the Pick of the Month at our artists just like Gus likes to throw his poo, and see what we can get out of them. This will give you, the reader a chance to get to know the artist a little better and feel a bit more connected. So without further ado let’s get to know Chris.
1. First comic you read as a child?
Peanuts Featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown.
2. Who is your greatest influence(s) as an artist/creator?
Well, I do a lot of creating. I have a bit of a contemporary art career that features a musical/comedy/performance art alter ego named Stan Dickie that you can see at standickie.com. This is relevant because Stan has appeared in the comic. 😉 Anyway, having said this I’ll answer with regards to cartooning, since that’s what this is about! So the answer is Berke Breathed. But if I may, I must mention Watterson, Larson and Trudeau, oh and of course, Schultz.
3. Required drawing equipment or writing necessities?
For cartooning, I work old school on paper with pencils and ink and stuff. I usually ink the strip with a Windsor and Newton series 7 #2 brush. It makes me feel like a cartoonist. Plus I’m getting increasingly happy with my line the more I use it. And just a note about inking: a lot of cartoonists are so good at it that their line almost looks mechanical. It’s so perfect that it literally looks like it was drawn by some kind of machine. I don’t want my line ever to get like that. That’s not a criticism of other cartoonists it’s just an aesthetic choice. As for ink, I usually use speedball super black India ink. I wouldn’t mind trying other kinds of ink, but my local art store doesn’t have a great variety. I also use a medium Pitt artist pen for regular lettering and a Sakura Pigma Sensei number 06 for bold lettering. It’s taken me a long time to settle on those for lettering. Oh and I do sometimes use Pitt Artist Pens for things like noses and hands and eyes, but more and more I’m doing the whole strip with the brush. It’s the most fun part of doing a comic.
4. Where did you go to school and what was your major?
I did a Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Then, later on, I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a double major in Drawing and Video also at the U of Manitoba. After that I relocated to Ottawa, Ontario to do my Master of Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa. Initially I went back to school to become a better cartoonist, but I barely worked on cartooning at all while I was there. I did some interesting stuff though.
5. Three adjectives to describe yourself that has NOTHING to do with comics?
Bald – hmmm, no actually I have a full head of hair. Hmmmm… Short – no actually, I’m average height for a feller. Hmmmm. Oh, I know! Snotty, Snarky and Snide. Okay, well hopefully not, but I like the sound of that alliteration. Then again, I am a bit of a curmudgeon, so those probably fit. L
6. What is your favorite environment in which to create in? (Quiet, Music/movie in the background, etc.)
When I’m writing it must be quiet. If I’m drawing I’ll often put on a podcast. My faves are: The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Point of Inquiry, Penn’s Sunday School, Star Talk Radio with Neil Degrasse Tyson, and others of that ilk. I rarely listen to music, even though I play it sometimes. Occasionally I’ll have TV shows in the background. I Listened to and partly watched most of the Office that way. Both the British and American versions. I haven’t seen much of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so that might be next, though my wife thinks I’d love The West Wing. We shall see.
7. Embarrassing childhood memory you wish to reveal? (or Most exciting if you don’t want to reveal embarrassing)
Okay, so this is an embarrassing story that I’ve never ever told anyone. Not even my wife. It also didn’t happen! That’s right, it’s an embarrassing story that DIDN’T EVEN HAPPEN. Yet the fact that it almost happened really stuck with me because it would have been humiliating if it had actually occurred. It was a French class in grade 7. The teacher was going around the class asking students this question: “who do you go out with?” In my 12-year-old mind, this question meant “who do you walk out of the room with after class.” So, when the teacher got to me I was going to answer “mon ami Bob.” (Name changed to protect the innocent). We always sat together, so naturally we left the room usually talking about whatever 12 year olds talk about. Anway, I was lucky because the teacher never got to me, so I didn’t have to answer the question. Ah Junior high, the most homophobic time of a young man’s life…
8. Who would you pick to play you in a movie about your life?
The British actor Geoffrey Palmer. Google him if you don’t know who that is. He has the perfect face for a curmudgeon. Plus he’s 86. Seems appropriate. Either that or Woody Allen. Okay, I’m not really THAT old.
9. What other information would you like share about your comic? Books? Kickstarter?
Unfortunately, I have no books or Kickstarters planned for the immediate future. But please feel free to send me dough! I mean, I beg of you, pleeeeeeez send me MONEY!!
10. What is the meaning of life?
Do I even have to answer that? This is a comic website, so obviously everyone reading this already knows that it is – (dramatic pause) – 42. But if you can’t accept the answer that the late great Douglas Adams supplied us with, well, the answer is that the meaning of life is to create your own meaning. Make something you’re proud of, or do things you like to do. Laugh a lot and read great books and watch great movies and shit. Actually, that’s it! The meaning of life is do lots o’ shit!
There you have it folks, now go check out Gorilla in the Midst by Chris Simonite and check out his alter ego “Stan Dickie“. Also if you haven’t already and want to get a quick familiarity with the comic you can go check out or original POTM write up here.