What He Does: People have been telling me for years that I needed to check out Tentacle Kitty, but I honestly just never had any idea what it was. Was it a web comic or something, or a series of paintings? It seemed really hard to quantify John Merritt's adorable but bizarre creation.
After having finally got some time to speak with him while at Comicpalooza Tentacle Kitty has become one of my favorite things. He drew the original cartoon as a present for his wife as he waited for her to get out of work, and now it's expanded into a webcomic, posters, T-shirts, and even an animated series that is currently in the works.
Who is Tentacle Kitty? She's a kitten with tentacles that has come to Earth in search of hugs. Her best friend is Ninja Kitty, who fell in love with her when she came to Earth. Also, beware the rat-tailed unicorns that eat your hair and poke holes in valuable things for fun. In the dark they reveal their scary eyes.
See? I told you it was bizarre and adorable.
Why He Likes It: "Creating is my favorite part. Taking nothing but an idea and turning it into something tangible. I take a moment sometimes and still get shocked to see something I sketched out for my wife turned into what it is now."
What Inspires Him: Most of Merritt's best ideas come through his wife. It was her love of kittens and tentacles that launched Tentacle Kitty in the first place, and her likes and tastes serve as Merritt's muse. Her personal hero, however, is his power plant engineer father, and the work ethic that he instilled in his son.
If Not This, Then What: "I originally wanted to become a geneticist. Same reason why I enjoy being an artist, to create... Course the whole 'you're not allowed to make kitties with tentacles, it's immoral!' thing is kind of a deterrent for that career path."
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If Not Here, Then Where: Merritt and his wife recently visited Bend, Oregon and feels like that could be the sort of place he could be really happy. No traffic or crowds, and a wide open space. He tries to bring that mind set back to Houston with him whenever he can.
What's Next: "Our biggest stuff right now is the products that will be coming out from Mighty Fine! We have some amazing items coming your way from them! Be on the look out for more T-shirts, dresses, leggings, more plushes, and amazing PVC figurines!"
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer