Interview with Gorilla My Dreams Creator Tim Stiles
As fans, many of us would love to create comics of our own, but only a select few end up pursuing the dream. Austrailian writer Tim Stiles, co-creator of Gorilla My Dreams: Mime of my Life, is one of those people. Gorilla My Dreams is currently winding down its Kickstarter campaign, so Tim and I sat down to talk about the book, collaboration, depression and why a crime-fighting gorilla matters.
The Secret Origin of Knockaround-Guy
Can you talk a bit about how this Gorilla My Dreams: Mime of My Life came about?
A couple years ago, I was doing a screenwriting seminar. One of the exercises was to list 30 thoughts in 30 seconds. Once we’d done that, we picked two or three things from that list and make them into a story idea. Out of my list, I picked Gorilla Superhero, The Great Clown/Mime War, and Mime Suffocates in an Invisible Box.
After a few minutes playing with it, I came up with this superhero that is investigating the death of a street mime and finds himself in the middle of a gang war between gangs of clowns and mimes.
Of course, the story has evolved since then, but that was the birth of Gorilla my Dreams.
What was the inspiration for Knockaround-Guy? How did this street-level, crime-fighting intelligent gorilla come to be?
The inspiration for Knockaround-Guy? How did he as a character come to be? I honestly can’t remember. Years ago I used to play a crime-fighting gorilla on an MMORPG called City of Heroes. I don’t know where that idea came from.
Then when I was developing this story he came back to me and I gradually turned him from an avatar into a full-fledged character.
You’ve been publishing the story as a webcomic since back in January of this year. What has that been like and why did you choose to go this route before bringing the book to Kickstarter?
Why a webcomic? Honestly, Gorilla my Dreams is a webcomic because I’m poor. I can only afford to pay Ahmed for one page a fortnight. So then I thought, well instead of just sitting on these pages for a year until we have enough for a single issue, why not release them as a fortnightly webcomic and build my readership in the meantime?
Teamwork Makes Gorilla My Dreams Work
Ahmed Raafat’s art on the story just fantastic, borrowing, obviously, from noir, but also superhero stories. What was it about his style that made it the right fit for this book?
I honestly don’t think it’s Ahmed’s style that makes him perfect for Gorilla my Dreams. Don’t get me wrong, he delivers everything I ask for and every single page is a hundred times better than I imagine when I’m writing it. When I said I want it to look like an old black and white Humphry Bogart movie, he delivered. And he continues to deliver with every single page.
What makes Ahmed the perfect fit for Gorilla my Dreams is that he gets it. He gets it. He understands what I’m trying to do, and he’s keen to be a part of it. Sure, it was his artwork that brought me to pitch the idea to him initially, but it’s his enthusiasm that I love and trust.
What was the collaborative process like for you and Ahmed?
Ahmed is a dream to work with. I have these crazy ideas and he not only brings them to life, he makes them look way better than I ever imagined. Over the last year, I’ve learned to trust his instincts. He used to show me every step of the page progressions; rough layouts, then pencils, followed by inks and then greys. He still shows me a lot of the progressions but I seldom have to give him feedback anymore. I feel like I’m a fan getting sneaks peeks, instead of being the writer and having to approve the pages.
The Future and Why Knockaround-Guy Matters
Will Mime of My Life be the first of many Gorilla My Dreams stories, or will this be Knockaround-Guy’s sole adventure?
Gorilla my Dreams: Mime of my Life was only ever intended to be a one-shot. But once these pages started coming in, it inspired me and rejuvenated my love for this character and his world. So Gorilla my Dreams: Mime of my Life is but the first chapter in Knockaround-Guy’s story. I’ve begun writing the second and third chapters,”Gorilla Tails” and “The Sheep from the Ghost,” respectively. I have about five chapters mapped out for now, with ideas for two more story arcs which will range from three to five issues each.
And last but not least, why should readers check out Gorilla My Dreams: Mime of My Life? What makes this book special?
I think what people gravitate towards with Gorilla my Dreams is the protagonist, Knockaround-Guy. Knockaround-Guy is fuelled by my depression, self-doubt, and feelings of being alone on this planet. These human conditions are universal and I think people just lock onto them unconsciously when reading. You wouldn’t think that you can relate to a talking gorilla who puts on a super suit and patrols his city. But I think its these very real characteristics that people are drawn to.
Knockaround-Guy knows what impostor syndrome feels like. He knows what it’s like to strive to be an A-Lister, while at the same time doubting if he deserves to be. He knows what it’s like to feel alone.
Knockaround-Guy helps me on those days I feel like I can’t face the world. I know when it’s a battle to get out of bed in the morning, that Knockaround-Guy is going through the same thing. And if an insecure talking gorilla can get up and face the world, so can I.
He’s not perfect. He’s not awesome. But he’s just like me and you and if he can do it, you can too.
Frank Gogol is a comic book writer who dabbles in reviewing as a way to learn his craft. His approach to reviewing comics is equal parts critique and analysis. For more from Frank, follow him @frankgogol on Twitter.