For many, the often enigmatic "mad creator" known as Gris Grimly has quickly become the most talked about rising independent artist since Tim Burton. The similarities, however, don't end there as Grimly has risen from the underground scene not only a popular children's book illustrator, but a talented director as well. It was in fact his first feature, Cannibal Flesh Riot! through which I was initiated into the macabre malevolence of the "grim one."Thank you for taking some time out of your schedule to be here with us, Grim. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
As twisted tales of nocturnal madness, the films and stories of Grisly are sinisterly woven in the same moral fiber as any given episode of The Twilight Zone or Universal Horror. Not content with resting on his worm-infested laurels, there is indeed a method to Grisly's madness as he continuously tackles new projects and opportunities both inside the hallowed hills of Hollywood and beyond. He was recently generous enough to offer up a few minutes for a chat in the clubhouse; dishing out some decadent details on everything from his daily routine of devouring dead squirrels to his appreciation for a good vinyl record (that's something we had before MP3s for you younger readers).
My name is Gris Grimly. I do many things but I am primarily an illustrator, usually focusing on monsters and horror related material.
Where did the name Gris Grimly first originate?
My father's three tongues.
These days you've been just as busy behind the camera as you are in front of the drawing board. What inspired you to take the leap from illustrator to filmmaker? Did you see an opportunity to make a statement in the genre?
I found that some stories I wanted to tell would be better done in the moving picture media. Some stories can be told as a still image on canvas or typed words accompanied by watercolor illustrations in a book. But then others transcend in a format that includes sound, music and movement. When I came up with the idea for my first film Cannibal Flesh Riot!, I just jumped in and did it.
Just two ghouls looking for a good time.
At what point in your career did you find it necessary to hire an agent?
Immediately. The industry works better that way. No body wants you if you don't have experience. But you can't get experience if no body wants you. It's a catch 22. An agent can alleviate this problem.
Do you ever feel that with social media tools like Blogger, Twitter and YouTube that your audience demands more from you in terms of content?
I'm not sure. Sometimes it feels like I get a better reaction when I post personal information then when I'm just posting what project I'm working on. But I have to do what feels comfortable to me. I'm on networks to reach out to an audience and be somewhat accessible to them.
Having cited Stephen Gammell, Ralph Steadman and Edward Gorey as influences do you see an inherent beauty or aesthetic in the grotesque and if so how does that inform your work?
Sure. I have a dark sense of humor. So often I find an attraction to dark subject matter.
Here there be monsters.
What sort of music are you into? Does vinyl take precedence over MP3s?
I listen to everything and I'm a big promotor of vinyl. MP3s have created a lazy and unappreciated music society. It's easy and quick access breeds apathy in it's listeners and it's killing the music aficionados. I find that people who purchase music on vinyl have a greater appreciation for the music. It is also the best way to support the arts because the vinyl format is not only the best way to appreciate true analog sound, but also the album artwork. But that's just my opinion.
What's a typical day like in the life of Gris Grimly household?
I am a pretty scheduled person and enjoy structure in my life. I wake up around 9 in the morning. I used to work late at night and sleep past noon, but not anymore. I start the day off with a cup of coffee, spinning records and shooting squirrels in the back yard with a pellet gun. After I've drank my black coffee down to the soggy grounds and killed my dinner I go to work. I like to make this transition from morning coffee to illustrating children's books with inspirational films. I find Italian cannibal and asian snuff films the best candidates for the job.
Once I start into work, I usually need to step away every hour or two for a coffee break or food. This carries on until around 6pm when I go out to water the garden. My garden consists of your typical Martha Stuart Fauna like wolfsbane, deadly nightshade, venus fly traps, snakeroot and poison ivy. Then I go back to work until 8:30 when I break for dinner. This is when the freshly shot squirrel comes in to play. After dinner, I will either work more or watch horror movies until my bedtime between 1 and 2 am. Pretty average.
Nice rubber ducky.
What is your single most favorite piece of fanboy memorabilia?
I had someone give me a sculpture of one of the cats in Wicked Nursery Rhymes 2. It is one of my favorites and I keep it on my desk next to the computer.
You're currently working on your second film, Wounded Embark of the Lovesick Mind in addition to a fully illustrated Frankenstein book. What can you tell us about these projects?
Lovesick Mind is another 30 minute short film that I shot last year. It is a labor of love, so it is taking a long time to complete. But when it is completed, it will be quite the psychological mind trip. It is more of a realistic thriller in comparison to my first film Cannibal Flesh Riot!. Frankenstein is a 150 plus page/fully illustrated book of the original tale by Mary Shelley. But this version will be unlike any other telling of Frankenstein out there. I am keeping a blog so that people can follow the process. You can catch all the latest updates and artwork here.
"I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed..." —Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
What's your idea of hell like?
Probably what most people's idea of heaven is like.
What's the strangest thing you can remember doing as a kid?
Trying to fly.
Want to see more of Gris Grimly's work? Visit him online at Mad Creator Productions. Be sure to tell him Strange Kid sent ya.