Then a squeak. Then some twig-throwing. Swiftly followed by a golden shower from the safety of a tree branch several metres above my head…
In an ideal world, this is how a human-ape interaction would play out. But for the most part, many orangutans (and other primates) live in captivity, in zoos and parks around the world, far from their native home.
They will never know freedom. They will never know waking up high in the canopy to the warmth of an Indonesian dawn.
So we decided to set them free within the pages of a comic book and shine a little light on their troubled lives.
The spark that ignited the dawning of the comic came from the artist, Matt Rooke. He was keen to get back into proper art (you know, the kind where you don’t get paid very much and writers ask you to bring their idea to life “for the love of your vocation”. Yeah. Beats me too…) I was keen to explore the possibility of writing, and writing about something in which I had already been deeply immersed for 5 years – Orangutan Conservation.
Orangutans are quite beautiful animals. Possessing a serenity and calm about them polarised by the utter complexity of the ecosystem they inhabit. Rainforests are diverse, deceptive and downright dangerous. Underneath the calm surface teems all manner of life; flora and fauna that we haven’t even discovered yet. Things that could save lives and change our perception of life.
They are intelligent and gentle, an echo of something humanity once was, but being closer to chimps on the evolutionary scale makes us more intelligent and deadly than intelligent and humane – many of us are an undefined combination of the two sides, constantly at war with each other. It is what makes us such an interesting species, capable of thinking far beyond the confines of our immediate and physical limits.
In essence, Orangutans really are part of who we are. So they are a part of the world we share. Well, that’s what I believe anyway. Creating the world of Apes ‘n’ Capes where primates – hairy and naked – co-exist and battle with everyday demons is simply a way to exorcise my own.