Launched in 1997, Joe Cartoon is the brainchild of Joseph Shields. Originally a t-shirt designer based in Michigan, Joe started playing on the web with a couple of shirt designs, none of which were very popular.
Once he discovered Flash, he became one of the first to draw adorable, yet foul-mouthed animated characters that early Flash users could then decimate with a BB Gun, blender, and other forms of violent destruction. Some of the more popular shorts became instant internet classics and built up enough of a cult following to inspire a DVD compilation and a variety of plush dolls. If you’re a fan of animation sites like Goonland, you’ll love Joe Cartoon.
Joe Cartoon has a rotating cast of gross-out characters that, thanks to their irreverent bodily humor, are oddly reminiscent of the Garbage Pail Kids. It’s in that same comedic vein that Joe created a series of interactive Flash cartoons named “Press & ‘Splode” so viewers could gradually increase the speed of a crudely drawn blender, leading to the death of a trash-talking frog; or help Joemamma, a depraved man-child, pump his BB gun and shoot a helpless gerbil, another recurring character.
Among the random animations, there are a few regular characters with their own series, including Thuh Greenfields, and Superfly. This sort of comedy obviously isn’t for everybody, especially those who wouldn’t describe the torture of small animals as their cup of tea. But once you’ve gotten past the inevitable cartoonish innards and blood, you’ll see a few reassuring trends.
For example, political personalities on both the left and the right are mocked with equal disdain in the aforementioned BB gun episode. The gerbil ready for slaughter is always a sarcastic, irritating gerbil and the cruelest character almost always gets what’s coming to him, which makes for a strangely rewarding viewing experience, despite the bloodshed.
If I was 12 again, I would probably be obsessed with Superfly. It’s not very political, it’s not very intellectual, nor is it very entertaining. It’s just so absurdly juvenile that you can’t help but appreciate how ridiculous it is for a perpetually intoxicated fly to yell “Yo, yo, yo. I’m so wasted!” (it’s his catchphrase) and then fly through someone’s head and kill them.