Do you want to see a Unicorn clubbing baby seals? How about trying to peek at a breastfeeding woman’s nipples? Or destroying a sandcastle? Or judging his daughter’s black boyfriend? If sights like this tickle your humor, then you’ll surely enjoy C.W. Moss’ Unicorn Being a Jerk illustrations. The absolutely hilarious cartoon series follows the exploits of a Unicorn who goes around life doing some things that no other mythical creature of goodness would be caught dead doing. But is he really a jerk, or just misunderstood? The young artist behind the Unicorn Being a Jerk illustrations ponders if perhaps Unicorn isn’t so much of a jerk, but just a misunderstood Everyman. Regardless, the series is straight up laugh out loud funny. If you’re at all curious as to how Unicorn developed his sociopathy, why he’s misunderstood, and where he’s going next in his enchanted existence, the read our Q&A / interview with C.W. Moss below, and find out all you’ve ever wanted to know about our magically misunderstood one-horned friends…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background C.W.
I was raised in Missouri and currently live in Los Angeles, where I go to school at Otis College. I am 22 and dividing my time between design and illustration. I enjoy chocolate and eat, at least, 5 boxes of macaroni and cheese a week.
Mac N’ Cheese: the official staple of the student diet. So how the hell did you come up with the idea of a jerk Unicorn?
Unicorn had been festering in my brain for a bit. Like any average fool, I experience things on a day-to-day basis that rub me the wrong way. Unicorn was just a way for me to explore things I wanted to talk about. After the first Unicorn book, Unicorn Having Fun, it was something that felt like a natural step in the series. I had been developing the book, on and off, for a couple years before I was really able to fully devote myself to the project.
The genius of the piece is that the unicorn is supposed to be a creature of good, of mythic goodness even. And yet this one’s a total bad apple. How did he get this way?
I think like everyone, they become what they are by experience. He had a few cookies crumble the wrong way, never learned the way the ball bounces, and heard a whole bunch of other terrible analogies.
To be honest, Unicorn really isn’t as bad as he gets painted to be. He is more of an everyman, who is flawed in the same way I think a lot of people are. He has his good days and bad days, but Unicorn Being a Jerk is just a selection of the bad, or what some might consider bad.
I feel like everyone gets brainwashed every once in a while. Whether by wonderful marketing or captivating speeches, I feel like Unicorn just ends up being susceptible to new ideas. He is just searching for his own truth, even if that happens to feeding pigs bacon.
Hit the Jump to continue reading our interview with C.W. Moss, plus more pics and a live action video of Unicorn Being Attacked by Zombies…
Unicorn bringing a guitar to a party…
“I’m starting to get to a place where I know more about what Unicorn wouldn’t do, than what he would. Just like my own moral compass, I’m not always completely sure what is correct or right — so I’m searching, and, in turn, Unicorn is as well…”
Do you have a fully developed personality for the Unicorn? Like it seems you know exactly who this Unicorn is; the illustrations are very detail oriented. I’m talking about the cover of the book, with him chugging booze in one photo, and then doing “look at me” cartwheels in another. Nevermind that his hallway is covered with photos of only himself.
Unicorn’s personality has really emerged over the last year or so as I’ve been working on other books and projects for him. The next book is almost completely written, but not illustrated, and I’m lightly chopping at the two that should follow that. I feel like more than anything, I’m starting to get to a place where I know more about what Unicorn wouldn’t do, than what he would. Just like my own moral compass, I’m not always completely sure what is correct or right — so I’m searching, and, in turn, Unicorn is as well.
Do you ever feel bad crushing the pristine image of Unicorns to millions of tween girls across the globe?
I do wonder about the affect Unicorn will have Lisa Frank folder sales.
Where’d you get the idea of him bringing a guitar to a party as a dick move? I thought that was particularly hilarious, because everyone knows someone who does shit like that. Is it taken from personal experience?
Absolutely, it has happened to me. I feel like I’ve been pretty fortunate to have friends who have worked quite hard to have formal skills on the guitar. There have been nights where my ears bled, but that is exactly why fresh air was invented.
Another details I like is him obviously placing the watermelon on the sidewalk as bait for the ants so he can burn them. He really is a devious bastard.
My favorite thing about that image is that it announces how devious Unicorn can really be. It shows he has taken the time to purchase watermelon at the store, cut a slice, and place it on the ground to pull the ants from their humble abode.
Unicorn burning ants with a magnifying glass…
Exactly! It’s premeditated dickishness, it’s not like he just stumbled across the ants and figured, ‘What the hell, let’s burn some ants.’ He actually planned it out. Also fiddling with his phone during eating — I hate it when people do that at the table. It’s one thing if you get a text or a call, but to just randomly pick up the phone and start fiddling with it is such a jerk move. It’s like announcing to everyone you’re dining with that you’re bored with their company.
Ah, yeah – that drives me insane. I think everyone has friends who do that. We are at a very odd point in our culture where we aren’t completely sure what is kosher in social situations with technology. I’m still not sure at what point it becomes okay to play with the phone, how many people need to be around, how long of a period the people must know each other, what time of day it is, et cetera. Either way, it isn’t for me.
Unicorn fiddling with his cell phone while out with others…
So how did it develop from what was a series of funny illustrations into a book?
It was always destined to be a book; I like working under an umbrella, because it tends to make it easier to develop things. In Unicorn Having Fun, when coming up with ideas, I had a large amount of overflow ideas that seemed important, but didn’t fit under that guise. I started looking at the ideas piling up, and there seemed to be a theme of being rude. It was just the most natural place to grow, and it was something I thought could be interesting to discuss, with myself and others.
Was it hard to find a publisher that had the sense of humor to get it?
It has been a challenge. I’ve met a whole gang of cool cats in the publishing industry that really believed in Unicorn. It was great, but something would always derail the end result. There were lots of things that were really important to me, but the main thing I was interested in was trust and enthusiasm for Unicorn, as a book and as a series.
Recently, when Unicorn Being a Jerk really started getting noticed online, it gave me an opportunity to speak with a few publishers who were interested in Unicorn. I listened to what all of them had to say, and took some time to consider what each of them were interested in doing. After a lot of thought, I chose ‘It Books’, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I am really happy about this decision.
We spent a lot of time talking about thoughts and plans for Unicorn, and we had very similar ideas. I feel incredibly fortunate to be wanted by them. I could really feel enthusiasm for the project
Let’s talk about that Billy Joel illustration for a second — how long did it take you to do? Was it easy, because Billy did all the thinking for you, or was it a challenge?
It has been a few years, but it seems like I spent around 90 hours on that illustration. It was a huge undertaking, but it was just nice working for Jeff Ng/Staple. He has been someone I looked up to for a while.
On the execution, it was simple as a concept, but a really large undertaking for someone who didn’t have the background to understand the references completely. Doing the research was the best part of it though. Usually, illustrations projects don’t get that deep for one singular entity.
I still hope Billy Joel sees it and wants to produce it for his concerts.
Unicorn hoping his son isn’t gay…
What’s next for you, any new projects?
After participating in a programme called M|M Summit earlier this summer, I’ve been spending a lot of time developing a program called Graham. In its current state, it is a publication and website that interviews anyone over the age of 80 for their advice on life – having children, marriage, how to relax, finding humor, et cetera.
The primary goal is to show people the value of our elders and, hopefully, get them involved with them in any way. Whether that is through a non-profit or just hanging out with their grandparents, Graham just wants people to be involved with their elders.
In the long term, I’m working to start a non-profit outreach in Los Angeles. It would be as simple as working to build friendships over lunches and movies. No one deserves to live their life alone, and hopefully Graham can help out with that.
Nice man. Old people need love too! Ok one more question: if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you?
I would definitely be found on the pasta aisle – fumbling through the boxes of macaroni and cheese. Speaking of, Kraft recently changed the density and size of their ‘spiral’ box and I am not fond of the new spiral. If anyone knows anyone at Kraft, please tell them that an experienced veteran doesn’t appreciate the way the new noodle responds a good boiling, and would appreciate it if they would return to the old size.
Live action video of Unicorn Being Attacked by Zombies…
Unicorn writing a Wikipedia page about himself…
Peep the gallery below for more dickishness from Unicorn, such as hating an illustrated book, destroying a sandcastle, sacrificing his one and only son to a higher power, peeing in the pool, judging his daughter’s black boyfriend, closing the elevator door, clubbing seals, walking his child on a leash, abusing his wife, talking fashion in a sports bar, pushing his religion and feeding bacon to pigs…