Throughout my life I’ve often been asked the same questions. Why are you so obsessed with comics? Where do you get your ideas? Why do you like monkeys so god damn much? And many more. In future columns I’ll be addressing these questions and others, but first off lets get the monkey thing sorted out.
I first realised that, indeed, everything really is more fun with monkeys, when I was a kid and witnessed the insanely wonderful TV show known as “Lancelot Link – Secret Chimp”. It was basically Get Smart (not surprising considering 2 of the shows creators had previously written for that series), but with chimps instead of humans. They wore human clothes, drove cars, carried guns, and many other human things. As a child this grabbed my imagination and never let go. Lancelot and his partner Mata Hairi were part of APE (Agency to Prevent Evil) and were always fighting Baron von Butcher, leader of CHUMP (Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan).
I’m honestly not making any of this up, it’s all very real.
A few years ago now the series was released on DVD and I actually squealed with delight when I found this out. Bare in mind that I’m a bearded thirty-something guy who often draws sinister images of a gas mask clad fighter bashing up zombies and dealing with the emotional impact of his own violence, so yeah, NOT the squealing type. Of course I went and grabbed the DVD set as soon as it hit the shelves, however, I was nervous. The things we remember enjoying from our youth don’t always age well, and sometimes they aren’t anywhere near as cool as we remember them to be.
Lancelot Link, however, is still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. And before anyone writes in to complain, yes, I know that dressing animals up as humans and making them act like this isn’t a common thing anymore, and is considered by many to be cruel. But I can’t change the past, and it’s not happening anymore, so shut up and let me enjoy this absolute gem of pure whacked out joy.
I challenge anyone to watch an episode of this series and not be left grinning like a fool. Even if the main story doesn’t grab you then the mid-show entertainment most definitely will. You see, in each episode they featured a musical number. But this wasn’t just any musical number, it was performed by an all-chimp band who went by the name of “The Evolution Revolution”.
Genius. Absolute fucking genius. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a tripped out psychedelic chimp band rock out with total abandon.
So does Lancelot Link – Secret Chimp hold up after all these years? Hell yes. And how could it not, especially when you look at some of the episode titles, like “Missile Beach Party”, “The Dreaded Hong Kong Sneeze”, and “The Temporary Thanksgiving Turkey Truce”.
This show, along with others like Sigmund And The Sea Monsters, The Banana Splits, Cool McCool, and more, were like crack to my childhood brain.
They filled me with energy and happiness and fuelled my imagination in some crazy long-term ways. They still do, and I can’t thank them enough for it.
Without them I probably wouldn’t have created half the things I have, be it with t-shirts, comics, or toys. There’s no doubt in my mind that when I first put a comic page together featuring a monkey flying through the air to kick some ass Lancelot Link was behind the scenes in my brain, guiding and encouraging me. And I’m sure he was there when I used that panel on a t-shirt, and changed the speech bubble to be “SUPER VIOLENT MONKEY TIME!”.
Thanks Lancelot and Mata Hairi, you’ll always be my favourite chimps.
Join me next time when I trace the origin of another creative obsession/fetish….MASKS!