February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


” Characters are like people, but they are drawings, and as drawings they live in the real world. You find them in books and papers, on TV screens, in the digital world. But above all they live in the world of the imagination. They are like letters from a universal alphabet. They are part of a language that is used by people from all over the world to communicate with each other.”


Characters have always been my life blood. From the moment I could draw they filled my pages and gave me ways for a shy young kid to say things I could’nt say otherwise.

They are the actors when I could’nt get on stage. Spoke their mind when I felt too timid. They have always been my voice.

As the kids who grew up with Rocko come of age and enter the real world, I’m finding more and more of them expressing their appreciation for the characters that shared their childhood. It’s strange. But the world I created became their world. We all shared it. I didn’t create it for them. In that sense I was extremely selfish. And yet, maybe for that reason, these characters resonated.

Sometimes I feel they are merely nostalgia. But I think it goes deeper than that. And the sense that they are not mainstream, gives us a group and a nod to each other for a shared joke , or a moment when the world seemed to glide smoothly for all of us.

They are definitely not my characters.


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9 Responses to February 14, 2012

  1. Stuart Collett says:

    Wow, this really stood out to me Joe,
    thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Pieter says:

    Joe, thank you for this honest blog. Your posts trickle into my rss reader at the mot unexpected moments. They often inspire me or just spark me in some way. Thank you for that 🙂

  3. Daniel says:

    When I think of characters of my childhood, one of the first that comes to mind is Rocko.

    Being born in ’92 and only getting to experience the latter years of Rocko while all the other newer cartoons started to dominate the tv schedule, it makes me wonder why a series that was only mildly prevalent within my childhood has made such a resonance within my memory.

    The style was definitive. Colourful, zany, and filled with charm. Although there were shows that shared these qualities, Rocko just had that “oomph” to it. I’m not sure what it was, but I loved it to bits.

    Funny enough, I probably had only seen 1 or 2 seasons worth of episodes. I’m super excited that the series is finally being released on DVD so that I can see the rest of Rocko’s misadventures.

    And also, something that I never picked up as a kid, there’s so much social commentary! And all of it is executed so wonderfully. It only makes me appreciate the series more now as an adult.

    You really created a world that’s inspiring to me, Joe. And I’m sure it has the same sort of resonance with a lot of other people growing up. 🙂

  4. Sam says:

    Hey Joe, do you think you’ll ever do that replacement Season 1 cover art for Rocko? I just love that Season 2 cover art you did and can’t wait for Season 3!

  5. Maria says:

    I think everyone is selfish when they create characters. I’m not a cartoonist or any sort of drawer, but as a writer I think I’m very selfish when I create characters. In the beginning they’re very much for me and definitely not for anyone else. However, that being said I think successful characters grow to become further and further away from their creators or authors. In a strange way I think they’re successful when they’re not yours anymore.

  6. Voltz says:

    It’s kind of the opposite for me. The characters I create are ones that I not only draw for myself, but want to share with others. One of my characters reflects who I am and the challenges of life that I struggle with, and I know others go through the same struggles I do. Alot of the people I meet want to know about me rather than my characters though, so I can’t really consider it selfish unless I was showing off. And I don’t, because i’m more of the person that (like I said before) would like to share my ideas with others going through the same young-adult problems that I feel most of us go through or have gone through, with the help of my characters 🙂

  7. If you were anything like me, also a shy, timid child, you were not only constantly drawing, but while you were drawing, you were constantly studying the world of people whirling around you. Quiet, timid children usually have a better than average understanding of human nature. Having an understanding of different personalities and how the ‘ games’ are played is like having a map to navigate a world that feels very overwhelming and scary. Your characters always feel completely developed in their humanity, whether they are animals or planets, and that is probably why they will continue to resonate with generations of fans. Well, that and your well developed funny bone! We all benefit from the fact that you were shy child.

  8. Jesse says:

    Amen. your characters were my haven as a kid , your not selfish you shared them with the world and gave kid’s all around the globe a subconscious message; speak your voice. It’s amazing now watching it as an adult and reliving memories but also having such a higher appreciation, where we have grown now and realize the message underlying these hilarious dorky characters. The over bearing boss who gives you hell every minute of your lovely day, the anal neighbor who has to have the perfect lawn and is always bitching about something you did wrong, your bum friend who still lives at home with his family. i watch now and love every second of this humor and god bless america for us to be able to still make fun of the ridiculous yet awesome nation we are to allow us to do so thanks Joe your the man.

  9. Jesse says:

    I also just want to say episode 9 Season 4 heffer in a handbasket i love the character depicted as death. great. I just watched it today on netflix and i’ve been going through all my favorite episodes, I love right from the gecko how brightly your sarcasm shows in episode 2 season 1 with the suck O matic and how the television’s infomercial repeats exactly what rocko says ‘ i’m tired of living in a pile of filth” and how he must buy this machine and then it arrives and has the “as seen on T.V” sticker and all great irony on how it turns evil in the end

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