How many times have you looked at your dog and wondered what the heck is going on in that little mind? How many midnights on Christmas Eve have you spent waiting for that humble ‘meow’ to transform into ‘hey, Dave’? Well, those days are numbered.
Thanks to Jimmy Craig, we now know not only what our pets are thinking, but also what they say to one another. The artist has illustrated all of their communication subtleties for the eye-opening They Can Talk comic series. It turns out that these feline and canine conversations reveal as much about humans as they do about our four-legged friends.
Sit back, relax, and let’s find out the truth you’ve been craving for so many years. Plus, read Bored Panda’s interview with the artist himself on the challenges that come with creating these surreal animal conversations.
Bored Panda spoke to the artist himself, Jimmy Craig, in order to find out the source of his seemingly endless inspiration. “I recently got two cats, which explains why I’ve been writing a little more cat comics than usual.“ It turns out that inspirational flow is always in front of him: “When they’re being total psychopaths, the silver lining is that I’ll get a comic idea out of it.”
One of the hardest parts of making the comics has to do with animal expressions. “Sometimes it’s challenging to give the animals recognizable expressions without making them look too human.” Craig adds: “I still try to keep the comic somewhat grounded in reality.”
The artist believes that our thoughts are much more similar to our pets’ than we’d like to think. “I like to think that animals have similar thoughts as us, so whether I’m thinking about what animals might be saying to each other or imposing my own thoughts on them, there’s some truth in both.”
Jimmy Craig has been working on his They Can Talk project since 2015, but he believes that his drawing has improved over time. “I still keep the backgrounds simple (or non-existent), but I think there’s more consistency in the look and style of the animals.”
For all the They Can Talk fans out there, you’re likely to see more comic scenarios in the near future. “I’m satisfied as long as I’m doing something creative. Thankfully, exposure from the comic has led to other opportunities and I hope it continues to serve as a sort of portfolio for my writing and illustration.”
There are millions of species in the world, but only a few of them communicate with language. Usually, their conversations are based on much more basic means of expression—anything from body language to instinctive calls. Moreover, humans are known to have a brain template for acquiring language and it’s crucial in learning multiple languages.
The crucial question is whether these means of communication could be called accidental or intentional. According to Carl Safina, the author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, all species of free-living great apes use gestures to communicate. And these gestures aren’t random. They’re directed at specific individuals who understand them, and they’re used intentionally and flexibly. Meanwhile, he writes, “humans happen to be talkers. Think of the words wasted.”
When you think about it, humans could have been wrong altogether—fewer words don’t mean less communication, and quite on the contrary—too many words are just jabbering without a purpose.