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Homonyms Can be Murder: A Story about Cereal Killer Trading Cards

Jul. 18, 2011
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Think you have a firm grasp on homonyms?  Some are tricky.  Two," "to," and "too" are simple enough, but a botched translation of "serial" and "cereal" in conversation could have you sounding like a jack-ass. Graphic artist Joe Simko is most certainly not marketing a line of Serial Killer Trading Cards; rather, he is marketing a line of Cereal Killer Trading Cards.  There is an immense difference between Jeffrey Dahmer and Children of the Corn Flakes.  Simko's drawings are gruesomely goofy, delightfully deranged—and it is also worth noting that you've got to be pretty lame and wasteful of time and energy to muster up moral objections to the likes of Halloweeties and The Exorcrisp. You can check the cards out at www.wax-eye.com.

In addition to Cereal Killer Trading Cards,
you have lent your artistic talents to the current Garbage Pail Kids.  What appeals to you about comical but somewhat demented illustrations?

It's stuff that I grew up with, that inspired me in my childhood:  Mad Magazine, watching cartoons and horror films at an early age and collecting Garbage Pail Kids. It all stuck with me as I got older and went to art school and took some more serious art classes, which were great training.  But I've always just wanted to doodle crazy monsters and popping eyeballs.

Why do you think it's so much fun to draw from subject matter that's essentially wholesome and warp it into something twisted?

Again, it has to be that inherent feeling of youth, childhood. You grew up loving these things that you watched or collected as a kid.  Then as you get older and you get more influences, as you take in more of life and think back on all the things you grew up with, there was an innocence to it.  Combining it with all the stuff you know now gives it a new feeling. Combining nostalgia with something current makes it fresh— not like an old repeat. I think that's the appeal.

What advice would you give to aspiring cartoonists and graphic novelists?

I'd say to simply keep active in doing your own thing. Don't worry too much about having the most realistic-looking piece of art; just think about having an original idea. To me, the ideas are more important than how realistic a piece of artwork looks.

Which artists have inspired you the most?

I'm an '80s kid so, at a young age, I watched stuff like Transformers and He-Man. As I got into college, Vaughn Bode really stood out. He was a super-cartoony artist from the '70s, but he combined his work with a sense of raciness. It was such a simple style, but it was so vivid and I loved the fact that he was meshing these innocent-looking characters with subject matter that was very adult.


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