I don't have kids. And while I can understand what parents go through when raising their children (I think), I can't really relate to them. Unless I'm reading Chris Grady's comics.
For years, Grady has been drawing his experiences as a dad-of-two and sharing them through a project called Lunarbaboon. He started this endeavor to combat anxiety and depression, focusing on life-affirming aspects of everyday life. So it doesn't matter if a particular strip revolves around a not-so-pesky spider or teaching your son to respect women, Grady tries his best to infuse it with love and empathy. And it works.
Of course, a lot of inspiration comes from his family members too. For example, he said he's very lucky to be married to a smart, strong, and opinionated person who is constantly fighting against injustice, so a lot of what they talk about on a daily basis makes it into the comics as well.
But don't get the wrong idea, Grady keeps Lunarbaboon far, far away from toxic positivity, preserving genuine human emotions. I believe this sincerity is precisely what allows even childless folks like me to connect to the series.
"The comic is my outlet and the place I go to express how I am feeling," the artist told Bored Panda. "It’s not really a cure for anxiety and depression. There is none that I know of at this point in time, but it definitely helps channel some of that energy. Instead of letting my mind cycle over and over on negative thoughts I try and let it cycle on comic ideas."
After posting his comics on social media for a few months, Grady began getting messages from many people about how they connected to his stories and it gave him hope and strength as they went through their own dark times.
As Lunarbaboon's follower count began to grow, Grady decided to continue to spread positive messages on social justice, gender issues, xenophobia, and other important topics.
The artist thinks it is impossible not to be influenced by the world around you and says there is a lot of bad things happening in the world. But there is also a lot of good. So he tries to focus on the latter.
When developing his comics, Grady believes the best ideas are the ones that connect to something more universal. "Usually, I try to simplify something that happens to me by elongating language and try to tell it with as few words as possible. If I can do that and it makes sense then usually it will make for a good comic."
While Grady made a few comics about the pandemic, it looks like it hasn't become an important topic in your comics. However, the artist said this wasn't a conscious choice. "I have a bunch of comics that deal with the isolation we are all feeling, but I try to make them less specific to the moment we are living in and more general to the feelings we are feeling in this moment," he said.
According to Grady, the main character of the series is different from you and me in a few distinct ways. "Lunarbaboon has too many pubes. His body hair count is outrageous," Grady writes on his website. "When he eats he never really feels full. He poops 4 to 5 times a day and rarely smells his fingers after."
"Lunarbaboon is very fast, enjoys foods wrapped inside a taco shell, and never drinks with a straw (even when a straw is required). He is hardly ever satisfied with anything. He pretends to be nice and like human people, but generally, he does not like most people. This makes Lunarbaboon feel bad about himself."
If we are talking about making comics, or creating art, the biggest influence on Grady was his mom. "She is an art teacher and has always been incredibly supportive when it comes to me doing something with my (minimal) talent," the humble artist said in an interview."
But if we are talking about how Grady lives his day-to-day life, the biggest influence on the man is his wife Danielle. "I consider myself a very weak and feeble-minded person, she is the opposite. She helps me be a more well-rounded human being."