While plenty of comic books are dedicated to dealing with the surreal and supernatural, it has always been a staple of the medium to discuss current issues our world faces. THE 4TH MONKEY is a bold and powerful anthology Kickstarter comic series which seeks to enlighten its readers on certain problems in modern society.

ComicsVerse’s Aaron Young recently got the chance to talk to THE 4TH MONKEY co-creator and comic writer Daniel Farrand about this inspirational work and about how comics can be a tool for the betterment of the world.

ComicsVerse (CV): Let’s start with the obvious one. What inspired you and James to gather all this amazing comic book talent, both writers, and artists, to write an “Anthology For Awareness”? What prompted your decision to create THE 4TH MONKEY?

THE 4TH MONKEY co-creator and contributing writer Daniel Farrand (DF):  In all honesty, I just wanted to use comics to do good. The comics community is full of some of the most amazing people I have ever met, wonderful kind caring people. Without the support of the Indie community, I could never have run two successful Kickstarters prior to THE 4TH MONKEY.

It is mine, and James [Roche]’s, way of giving something back to those who have helped us in our own Indie comics journeys.

CV: Why do you think THE 4TH MONKEY is an important anthology story now? Why do we as a people have to hear what it’s saying at this time?

DF: We feel that there is a real gap in the industry for an anthology like THE 4TH MONKEY. You tend to see both ends of the spectrum; either highly entertaining stories with no real moral message or stories that have a great message but lack the entertainment aspect.

It was paramount that when we invited the writers that we chose people who would tell an amazing story AND educate on their issue subtly, not simply shove it in your face.

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CV: Ignoring the fact that you yourself write comics, why do you think that the comic book medium is right for the stories in THE 4TH MONKEY? What do you think it allows its readers that other forms of media don’t?

DF: Comics is, arguably, the last true uncensored media form, especially when using Kickstarter as a funding tool.

As a creative team, we have no one to answer to other than our fans. We are able to tackle sensitive issues, without the fear of a publisher trying to force it more “mainstream.”

We have true freedom in our craft and, in my opinion, that’s when people produce their best work.

CV: THE 4TH MONKEY deals with eight different stories that touch on issues which very relevant in our modern society. Did you know which subjects you wanted the series to touch upon? Or did you allow the writers/artists decide for themselves?

DF: We allowed creators to chose their own personal subjects. We want to create an honest book, something that comes from each creators heart, and we felt the way to achieve that was to let them tackle what they felt strongly about.

For example, Brian Hawkins’ story “No going back” which tackles Suicide. Both him and Kris Harris, artwork, have had very personal experiences with the issue, and that emotion is certainly present in the story.

CV: You touched on this a little on your Kickstarter Page, but what does the idea of “The 4th Monkey” mean to you? It’s such an interesting and thought-provoking image. I’m curious how you guys came up with this powerful symbol.

DF: The 4th Monkey is a play on the ancient proverb “See no evil, Hear no evil and Speak no evil. Something most people have heard or at least millions of us use the monkey emojis daily!! The 4th Monkey to us is different; he is aware and outspoken.

In an age of social media and unlimited knowledge, it seems that we as a species are turning a blind eye more often than ever. With THE 4TH MONKEY: AN ANTHOLOGY FOR AWARENESS we challenge our readers to take a look inside and “become the 4th”. To not simply see issues, great and small, daily and turn a blind eye, not listen or not speak out.

To me, personally, The 4th Monkey symbolizes us all. We all have the 4th inside; we just need sometimes to stop, think and be compassionate to those who truly need our help.

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CV: As you are one of the writers for THE 4TH MONKEY (covering the story “Painted Prey” alongside artists Chris and Shawna Madd), I would just like to know what it was like to write this story for this series. Was it rewarding to write about this issue?Was there any difficulty in dealing with such a sensitive topic? Give us insight into how the writers handle talking about these sensitive matters.

DF: I had actually written “Painted Prey,” which follows a small pack of African Hunting Dogs, prior to the creation of THE 4TH MONKEY

Poaching, and animal welfare, in general, is something that I feel extremely passionate about. It has always been something that has made me ashamed to be human, the fact that we can allow other species to fall into extinction and usually just for our own self-greed. So I wrote the story in the hope of finding a place for it, one day.

I think all of us, both writers and artists, have a job to tackle such sensitive issues with the respect that they deserve. Which again is why we chose the people we did to be involved. Myself and James were prior fans of their work and knew that they would all do a fantastic job.

As for rewarding, not YET. I didn’t write Painted Prey or co-create THE 4TH MONKEY for personal reward. Both myself and James see big things in the future for the anthology series. And we hope to promote real change amongst people.

CV: Finally, what is one thing you want readers to take away from reading THE 4TH MONKEY?

DF: If we can simply make our readers take a few minutes to evaluate how they act on a daily basis, whether it’s helping tackle world issues or small personal ones, then we will have done our job.

Please Support THE 4TH MONKEY on Kickstarter Here! 

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