By now you’ve met the Gorilla with no name. He’s a favorite of mine for many reasons. Not only is he the catalyst for a lot of the weirdness about to happen, but I just love monkeys. Hey, who doesn’t? Nobody I’d want to meet, I tells ya!

To delve into the origin and inspiration of GWNN (Gorilla With No Name), we must travel way back in time to the beginning of the development of VBK. I was a fresh faced pup with hair sprouting in strange and exciting places and Nicky was just out of diapers and speaking his first dirty words. I was a bundle of unrestrained energy, coming up with different situations and random gags for Avery and Irving and was eagerly ready to commit these half defined ideas to paper. Nicky asked me to pause for a moment and calmly stated “Who are these characters?”

It threw me for a loop. He was right. They were personality-lite. Merely an avenue for weird stuff to happen. So I trudged back to my cave, watched some TV, took out the trash and started to think deeper about character. Truth be told, I watched A LOT more TV before the deep thinking. To help support the idea and keep an actual personality in place, I like to connect the characters to real life people. It helps remind me they are not just a vessel. They need to have personality traits, morals (or lack thereof) to motivate their behavior and they need to feel like actual people. The GWNN is rooted to two specific people. Firstly it has shades of Nicky. The pork pie hat and striped jacket are NB staples. Shades of the ‘wise under the guise of bursts of randomness’ are NB. However he’s only half of this primate love child, the other DNA is legendary musician Tom Waits.

Music goes hand in hand with art for me. I’m always listening to music while drawing. It’s a creative life blood. As much as I have art heroes, I have music heroes as well. For those of you who don’t know the musical styling of Mr. Waits, I feel a little sorry for you. True, it’s an acquired taste since he has a voice like a cat dragged thru a wood chipper and resurrected as a bottle of vodka drunk by a cigarette addicted chimp. Sure, It scares my kids, but it’s unique and has a ton of character. He has created a little musical niche that cannot be described as anything in modern music categories. It’s inspirational, abrasive, inviting and very rewarding. In short, it’s art.

In one of his songs the only instrumentation is Tom slamming desk drawers in a hotel room to a rhythmic beat. Does it sound better than a bored 3 year old in pre-school could do? You betcha! Truth be told, I silently hope I could play an IKEA Birkeland as well as Tom could. Also it’s super fun to play Tom loud in the car and alienate all the people driving next to me. Take that, old lady!

I also find great inspiration from his lyrics. For instance here’s a lyric from Tom’s ‘Hoist That Rag’ about jingoism. “God used me like a hammer boy, to beat his weary drum today.” The songs hits me with memorable and powerful images about politicians using religion as a tool for war. Let’s compare to the wisdom of current music sensation Mr. Justin Bieber’s greatest lyric, “And I was like, baby,baby,baby ohh. Like baby, baby, ohh.” That makes me feel like a..baby? Ooh Ooh? Somebody get Bieber his Pulitzer as soon as possible, please?

Tom is also a real hoot, as well. His live shows usually consist of random rambling often hilarious stories/anecdotes. Similiar to a certain Gorilla in this comic. Coincidence? Loving tribute? Obsession with gorillas?

All of the above, baby.

Steve