Chris Grady's 'Lunar Baboon' Comic Spreads Positivity While Depicting Mental Health Struggles
Chris Grady, a teacher from Toronto and the artist behind the Instagram account “Lunar Baboon,” wants to bring small moments of happiness to people’s days with his creative family-centered comics.
Each comic follows a father and his wife and children, based on Grady and his own family, through their daily adventures, often offering a glimpse into the introspective, relatable monologue of Grady’s father character. While the comics are often sweet and lighthearted, they’re also powerful and honest in depicting a character’s struggle with mental illness.
When asked what inspired the account, Grady told The Mighty:
After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there.
Since Lunar Baboon launched, its Instagram account has garnered more than 219,000 followers, and you can often see Grady’s illustrations making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Each comic contains a moment of wholesome humor, sweetness, a lesson for kids or heartrending, relatable honesty about mental health. Grady manages to capture all these complexities in a few short panels through simple, iconic illustrations.
He says inspiration for his comics also comes from having been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). “I didn’t really know anything about it,” he said. “To me it was always being afraid of germs but it so much more than that. It’s getting caught on ideas and it bothers you so you’ll think about it over and over again.”
He applies this to his comics: “Whatever I’m obsessing about that day or week, I’ll say, ‘This is really bothering me, how can I turn this into something positive or funny?’”
Some of Grady’s most recognizable pieces feature his character and his son interacting in adorable moments that prove poignant and relatable. One of personal favorites is entitled “Powers.” The comic shows Grady and his son at a bus stop watching a superhero fight a monster. When the son wishes he had powers, Grady compliments a nearby man on his hat. When the man smiles, Grady explains to his son that in this way everyone has powers.
“You may not have the amazing superpower to fight the monster,” Grady says, “but you do have the power to change someone’s day, and I try to be a good person as much as I can and be nice to everyone I meet.”
With feedback being hugely positive, Grady feels a sense of connectedness with his followers. He gets messages on a daily basis from people who truly relate. “The best thing that comes out of it,” he says, “is that you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.” Grady likes that Lunar Baboon has become a way for people to connect and share ideas. “While it wasn’t the original purpose, it’s great that something I created in a notebook is something that helps people positively,” he told The Mighty.
The Lunar Baboon comics, while short, are memorable. When people see it Grady hopes “for a brief moment it makes them happy or makes them think. Maybe they’re reading it and it’s improving their day. I want them to look and enjoy and to share it and for it to mean something.”
Grady is often asked how he has the time to balance a full-time job, spending time with family, a web comic and more. “I made the choice a few years ago that if I wanted to feel better, I couldn’t just sit around and watch TV,” he told The Mighty. His advice to anyone looking for ways of catharsis or creative expression is “you just have to do it, you have to try.” Grady says he often has to work on comics late at night and push himself to finish them. “If you want to do something, do it,” he says. “Don’t say you don’t have time, there’s always time.”