So where did all this start? Where did the idea for Chimpman Zee come from, anyway?
Well, I was in Oberon, a little mountain town with nothing much to recommend it beyond the worst Art Deco facade I’ve ever seen and a MDF factory. I had a bad case of the trots. It was freezing. And I was stuck in a caravan feeling sorry for myself and watching it sleet through the windows. This was supposed to be a holiday. It wasn’t working out. I was tired, shitty with the world and altogether unpleasant.
So how did I get from wallowing in misery and leaking nasty fluids in a chilly mountain town in Australia to the sunny climes of Southern California? How did I get from the inside of a caravan to a character like the Chimpman? To a graphic novel? Delirium? Possible.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do the best option seemed to be to sleep, a lot. So I went to sleep. I do all my best work lying down. And it came to me. A thunderclap, a cry of angels, a…OK no, it didn’t. It came to me like all my good ideas do, when I was half-asleep, and a little horny. When you’re in that place, in the dark, in the warm, half-dreamy space where ideas like to live you need to relax and let them come. You can’t startle them. You can’t jump up and write down the idea. You’ve got to let it mellow. To follow the idea, almost like a play. Best not disturb the actors. I just have to lie there and watch. I don’t try and direct. Go with the flow. Lazy, warm, half-asleep. Let it come. And there he was. The Chimpman. Like some fantastic half-monkey Humphrey Bogart. A freak. A danger to himself and others. And his mother, and the Professor and Jane, and Johnny. They were all there.
But why did the Chimpman walk out of my half-sleep and on to the page? I had no more idea of writing a graphic novel than I did of becoming a zebra. And drawing one? Forget it. I did live in Southern California for the best part of a decade. I had just read a stack of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane novels. I do have a chimpanzee fixation. I had been reading about Dr Ivanov and his weird cross-species breeding experiments in Africa and the Soviet Union. Maybe it just all came together and my waking mind was just too dumb to see it. I had to let it stew in the dreamspace, until all the flavours mixed together just right.
So here we are. I’m writing graphic novels. Matt is drawing them. And if it all holds together we figure the Hollywood movie will be coming out around June 2014.
You’re welcome to come along for the ride.