Making Silent Animations Speak Loudly: A Q&A With Sticky Monster Lab

<p>Sticky Monster Lab spills the story on their latest animation <i>The Loner.</i></p>

Earlier this week we caught the premiere of the much anticipated animation The Loner from one of our most animated Creators Sticky Monster Lab. Today, we share a few words with one half of Sticky Monster Lab, the director, writer, and animator FLA on The Loner and beyond.

The Creators Project: The Loner follows the serendipitous relationship between two monsters, Loner and Ke. Where does this story come from? What were your inspirations and motivations for this animation?
Loner is a hikikomori type of monster that has yet to really adapt to society and so as a hermit he’s severed from the outside. Also, with an otaku type of personality he collects all sorts of materials that never really satisfy his void inside. Loner is based on the hermits we tend to meet every now and then. Even more, you could say his personality is actually quite similar to ours.

Ke makes his entrance during his earliest stage of development as a spherical monster. Because he has yet to fully mature he’s a rather naive monster, full of curiosity. A long time ago my mom adopted an abandoned dog that I didn’t feel attached to at first but later grew affection for. Ke’s personality was created from that memory.

Your animations, being silent, allow you to reach a wide audience. Is there a particular reason you tend to keep your animations silent?
Animation is a media that delivers visuals, sound and a story. The more there is to show the less room there is for thought. With no spoken dialogue each viewer can freely interpret the actions of the character. We’re not trying to promote certain virtues or reprove any vices, most of the videos from our monster series are contemplative and can be understood simply as “the various episodes that occur in Monster World.”

So with no spoken dialogue, you also have more creative space for the soundtrack. What are some of your favorite musicians you’ve collaborated with?
We’ve enjoyed collaborating with every musician so much that it’s impossible to just pick one. Also, because their genres are so different it’s that much more difficult to choose. While most of our works are about four minutes long, the longest video that runs for 10 minutes is The Monsters. DJ Soulscape did the music for that which makes us want to say he’s definitely a musician that has invested a lot of effort.

The soundtrack for The Loner was made exclusively by The Freaks. What was the creative process like with the band?
The Freaks is comprised of four members who are very close friends. When you watch these guys work together, bickering while making music and singing, it’s kind of like watching a coming-of-age teen drama. In terms of the music, we’re super happy how you can feel such a variety—from loneliness to that feeling of aimlessly wandering with no volition, to purity, and more.

As each one of your characters have their own, let’s say “handicaps,” your narratives are quite dark yet packaged in subtle comedy. Can you explain this incentive for mixing tragedy and comedy?
Tragedy and comedy coexist together. It’s because even when the present is difficult, there is always hope. The characters that BOO and I create unavoidably carry traits that are influenced by our own personalities. We wanted to make things that are neither too heavy nor too light.

The various scenes Loner walks through look like pockets of American urbanity. From the stop lights to window adverts, even the Beat Records store. Can you name any specific places or experiences that inspired you?
The Beat Records store is a nod to Beatball Records since we collaborated with them for our compilation album. The setting is actually supposed to look more like Europe than the States. Maybe we didn’t express that very well, heh. In actuality, rather than saying Monster World is motivated by one place, it’s a place where all sorts of complex experiences are mashed up together. From the photos we’ve taken on our travels or business trips and the feelings we’ve felt from actual experiences we’ve had in Korea, and even the images we saw when we were younger from foreign dramas, are all mixed and manifested in Monster World.

If you could venture to another country through your animations, where would you go? Why?
I really don’t want to pick just one place. There’s so many places I haven’t been to, I want to go everywhere. It’s true.