“For the life of me, I can’t remember this kid’s name but he had the best voice ever,” says Breena Nuñez.
The educator and cartoonist was recalling a student they taught during a summer program at E. R. Taylor Elementary in San Francisco. Nuñez remembered the boy spoke like a man trapped in a second grader's body and often shared wisdom beyond his years. “This child is just amazing!” she says.
Nuñez channels this memory and Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” to voice Oby in “The Lanehas and House,'' an animated series created by Nuñez’ life partner and fellow cartoonist Lawrence Lindell. In the series, Oby is an all-powerful know-it-all who sets Breena and Lawrence (the Lanehas) on an interplanetary obstacle course for the best coffee in the galaxy. Their sidekick and mode of transportation is House, a magical sentient being that flies through space with them living safely inside. It’s a funny and engaging story that’s a welcome palate cleanser to the reality of today’s new normal.
Prior to the pandemic, the Lanehas regularly reconnected with their comics community by touring zine fests across the country. “Oby is the person we know from the shows that’s kind of pretentious,” says Lindell.
At each tour stop, they made time to check out a city’s cafe culture. Whether abroad or at home in the Bay area, coffee is as central to them as making art.
“It’s really just our life if you strip away the fantastic stuff, the weirdness,” says Lindell. He and Nuñez hope to reclaim both pastimes in 2022.
The pilot and episode 1 dropped on September 1 as part of Laneha House, a family-run small press they launched in 2020. “Laneha” is the married surname of Nuñez and Lindell, one they created from the last names of their respective maternal lines. As with their catalog of physical comic books, “The Lanehas and House” is developed and created from their home.
Lindell operates the company while Nuñez teaches a Race & Comics course at the California College of the Arts. Besides developing each part of the animated series from concept to score, Lindell also produces all of the comics published by Laneha House, curating from each of their archived sketch books and past zines, then running ideas by Nuñez before finalizing their products.
"You really know how to find the voice in each page and each story and you’re able to see that there’s a theme that connects both of us in our work," Nuñez says to Lindell.
"Not being biased, but I think my wife is one of the best cartoonists in the world," says Lindell. "She’s very, very talented."
By the end of 2021, Laneha House will have released nine comic books, a comics anthology magazine called The BAYlies, the animated show, and digital comic strips.
“This is my self care if you will,” says Lindell, who routinely creates as a way of managing his bipolar disorder. Their comics, like Nuñez’, also appear in The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts. “It’s what I enjoy. These are my passion projects that just happen to also be my work.”
But he's also leaving space for Nuñez to do more than voice acting for the animated series. “Right now, I feel like I’m overshadowing some of the things I feel she talks about and I’m like, ‘That should be an episode,” Lindell says. “I really want her to write.”
“I think I trick myself into thinking I can’t write a script for multiple characters because I’m so much more of a memoir person," says Nuñez, whose body of comics work is grounded in their experience as an Afro-Central American person born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and has roots in Guatemala and El Salvador. "But I forget that I do have that ability. When we share stories with our friends, I’ll do a reenactment of someone else in my life.”
"The Lanehas and House" also serves as a way to nurture their younger selves. For Nunez, voice acting reaches back to a time when she once thought of pursuing a career in acting. For Lindell, the animated series helps him reclaim a passion that turned traumatizing during the 2000s.
“I’m 33. You know how much of a blessing it is to make it to 33? I didn’t think I’d be here past 17,” says Lindell. “I don’t have time for ‘I’m not good enough.’ It is what it is. I’m here right now."
The work is medicine and they produce it in a space they gave themselves permission to make. Each piece they publish, whether in print or digitally, affirms their range as artists and offers what was absent in the media culture they grew up with.
“I feel like both of our childhoods were so involved in cartoons and in animation and it’s so nice we get to live through our younger selves because now we have the means to do it as adults,” says Nuñez. “The process just makes me feel validated as an artist.”
The pilot episode and Episode 1 of “The Lanehas and House” are available to view from LanehaHouse.Com and the Laneha House YouTube channel. Follow @lanehahouse on Instagram and Twitter for new releases of their animated series, print comics, and digital comics.