Creator interview #2: Joe King

JK_Personal_PicHello everyone,

I pray all is well. On deck today we have cartoonist Joe King. Here’s a bio taken from one of his products:

In the early ’80s Joe parlayed his position as one of the original Blue Sky Rangers, [Mattel Electronics video game designers] into a Department of Defense [D.O.D.] software engineer, enjoying a TOP SECRET security clearance at Lockheed’s fabled Rye Canyon facility [Skunk Works], original nest for the SR-71 Blackbird fleet.


Today he suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous mis-fortune – frequently at the hands of other cartoonists!

The 2004 Pulitzer Prize Nominee most recently served as Artist-in-Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and is currently in production of several self-syndicated comic strips distributed world-wide under the banner of his publishing forge: FUNNY PAPERZ.

FUNNY PAPERZ is a whimsical fusion of fine art, popular culture and humorous illustrations. Joe King, a native Californian – born in the shadow of The Lone Ranger Rock – is making the world a funnier place one cartoon at a time. Explore more of his creative universe at Toon Guy.

And now, onto the interview…

When did you first get into comics as a reader/fan? As a writer/artist/creator?

I think we all started the same way – with some loved one reading the Sunday funnies to us – those first experiences led to me naming my business the FUNNY PAPERZ. It wasn’t until I was thirty and working as a Licensing Art Director for Mattel that I began to write background material on character trademarks. I got really fired up. My corporate keepers encouraged me to do one or the other (i.e., manage or create), so I gave up my reserved parking space to follow my muse. I entered the annual Easy Reader “Best Of” contest in 1985 and won the category for cartoons with a Koala Pad creation “Anomalies”, sold my first strip “Rust & Wrinkles” to an international car magazine in 1991 as a monthly feature, optioned my graphic novel “MEN FROM EARTH” to Paramount Pictures in 1996, and landed my daily editorial with the Santa Monica Daily Press in 2002.

Why comics? What do you like most about this medium?

Ha! We must have imprinted! (pun intended).
All I know for sure is that somehow I wanted to work for Walt Disney (who made my favorite cartoons), Stan Lee (who wrote my favorite comic books) or Mattel (who made my favorite toys). I guess 3 out of 3 isn’t bad!

Say a little about the project(s) you have worked on in the past (if any), and what they were about?

While at Mattel I created the trademark licensing bibles for Barbie, Hot Wheels, He-Man & Masters of the Universe, Captain Power, Wheeled Warriors & Mad Scientist.
As a freelancer I helped design and illustrate packaging for Barnyard Commandos, Dick Tracy, The Addams Family, Star Trek Next Generation, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders, Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, The New Adventures of Speed Racer, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Flintstones, Loony Tunes and The Peanuts Gang.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Today I have put my drawing shoulder-to-the-plow behind the good works of Creation-Evolution Science Ministries
to offer A.D.:The Cure for the Common Era.

JK_SIGNATURE-POSTERWhat format(s) do you prefer for telling your stories (e.g., on-going series, mini-series, one-shot, graphic novel, etc.) and why?

Do you remember the old ’70s Kung-Fu TV series with David Carradine? During his tour of the temple where he would receive his training, the young pupil witnesses all forms of Kung-Fu, each taught my a different teacher, each requiring a life-time of discipline. He asks his mentor which style he teaches. The old man answers, “I teach them all.”
If you take the time to go thru my library, my answer would be I prefer them all!

What sources of information and inspiration have helped you along the way?

I would have to say it has been those celebrity creators that were kind enough to treat me as a colleague and fellow publisher rather than a typical fan boy (which we are of course!)

Say a little about how you’ve been able to communicate your faith through your project(s)? What has that process been like? How has it evolved over the years?

Ha! I guess this is where I have permission to quote a bit of scripture? I’ve always been curious about where some people obtain their “life scripture verses,” but this seems appropriate to your question: Philippians 4:8, King James Version (KJV) reads,

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

If there has been any type of arc or path in my career it has been this:

My first works in the super-hero vein were based on truth and justice, even my newspaper editorials harped on these virtues. My children’s stories have focused on what is pure, my greeting cards on what is lovely. Today my strip “ANNO DOMINI” stresses the praise of Creation.

JK_Inspiration-SCHULZWhat advice would you give to other Christians who are considering making comics?

Charles Schulz is quoted as saying “It’s better to be a good cartoonist than a bad preacher.” I happen to worship at his old drawing board – and have to agree. I would say master your craft first before attempting any ministry. It is far too easy to dismiss the message if there is any fault found with the medium.



Are there any future projects you are working on, or would like to work on?

I still have a dozen chapter installments left to complete on my Jimmy Jet series!

What is your take on the current state of Christian or Christian-themed comics? What, if anything, would you like to see more of in the future? What, if anything, would you like to see done differently?

That’s a tough call, and one I won’t make. I have had so many obstacles to overcome with my own work and carve out my own niche – and the greatest obstacles came in the form of so-called Christians. I believe there is enough room in the true Body of Christ to accommodate a wide array of art. I do worry about those who use scripture as a thin veneer to dabble in very dark things. I am troubled by the current fad and fascination with vampires and zombies (see my earlier comment on Philippians). On my last visit to the San Diego ComiCon I was asked by a volunteer at the registration table, “If I had anything that was safe for her daughter to see.” That broke my heart. That the medium we fell in love with in our innocence has been given over to darkness.

JK_Jimmy_JetWhat is the best way for people to contact you, and to read/purchase your work?

Voicemail: 480-478-4457
Portal: Toon Guy

Battlestrip Gallactica

Link to purchase A.D.: The Cure for the Common Era


Any last thoughts?

“Let joy & innocence prevail!”

So here you have it, interview #2 in the bag. Until next time, take care and God bless!

© Justin Martin and, 2011. All rights reserved.

About R-Squared Comicz

I'm a Christian, husband, student, & comic writer. I like comics, hip-hop, basketball, & learning, and at the end of the day, I pray that my life meant something.