JOHNSONA RATINGS

Over the years, John and John have accumulated all sorts of caricatures and avatars (and Avatars). I love the styles and sources and looks, and so here I have collected an incomplete list (15, currently).

It would be impossible to rank them properly, so I'm rating them in no particular order by 3 qualities: Resemblance, Adorability, and Grotesquerie. I would like to note that none of these three qualities is valued over the others. It's all a matter of taste.


Pink Album
by Rodney Greenblat

Resemblance: 4/10

Adorability: 6/10

Grotesquerie: 4/10

The very beginning. The first of many artists baffled by JL's hair, Greenblat is going absolutely wild with those colors & textures. (I wish Linnell dressed like that in real life.) They exude personality.


Stop-Motion Puppets
by Hine Mizushima

Resemblance: 2/10

Adorability: 12/10

Grotesquerie: 0

Simplistic little men with the classic hairstyles. Lovably vacant faces. Do they know they're perfect? Probably not—their wide, empty eyes make me suspect they aren't capable of sentient thought. (Ana Ng reshoot) (With the Dark) (as scientists) (with camera) (tootsie hats)


Here Comes Science
by David Cowles

Resemblance: 7/10

Adorability: 9/10

Grotesquerie: 4/10

Friendly. Geometric. Color-coded. Stylized to a point of abstraction, yet still functionally recognizable. Spiffily dressed for Science-ing. First, they should investigate how JL's hair manages to defy physics. ("Lesser Known Husbandos" post) (WDTSRS?) (HCS intro vid) (Science is Real design)


(She Was A) Hotel Detective
by Joey Ahlbum

Resemblance: 3/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 0

Doesn't score particularly high in any regard. I guess they're rather safe, nonspecific cartoonifications, more interesting when seen motion. I feel like artists and photographers put Them in formalwear more than they actually wear 'em. (music video)


Pixel Johns
by David Cowles

Resemblance: 3/10

Adorability: 6/10

Grotesquerie: 0

For designs that are simplistic and stiff by nature, the Put it to the Test video makes them fantastically expressive. The stylized text in this gif is a cool additional way to capture each of their personalities. (Thinking Machine)



Robot Santas
by probably David Cowles

Resemblance: 2/10

Adorability: 4/10

Grotesquerie: 1/10

Disconcertingly specific. Trapped in hellish loops of passionless execution of holiday cheer. They may be soulless metal husks, but look at those funny little red noses. (fireplace gif)


Podcast Puppets
by Robin Goldwasser

Resemblance: 4/10

Adorability: 6/10

Grotesquerie: 5/10

She's talented with textiles, but even Robin can't quite make the cylindrical heads, black button eyes and gaping black mouths not look weird and amorphous. Still, given breath by the Johns' voices, their floppy bodies and odd faces suddenly make jokes aimed at children comedy gold. (D is for Drums)


Clay Puppets
by Brooke Keesling

Resemblance: 7/10

Adorability: 5/10

Grotesquerie: 8/10

I'm going to stop pretending to be impartial for a minute: I absolutely LOVE these guys. Crazed colors/textures reminiscent of the Pink album unfold into 3 warped clay-and-wire dimensions. Creepy? Sure, but wildly creative and the first of these to get JL's hair true to life. (As far as I know, their only appearance was on a now out-of-circulation t-shirt in 2003).


Hayseed tee
by Mark Marek

Resemblance: 6/10

Adorability: 4/10

Grotesquerie: 6/10

Expressive linework. Adds to JF's standard glasses/weight caricature with interesting riffs on his nose/face shape. But freckles?? Cool detail: the tag on the guitar, a recurring Chessmaster-related gag from the live show. I just wonder why they look so morose. (JF calls this his favorite!)


Workers tee
by Mark Marek

Resemblance: 5/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 5/10

I almost lumped them with the Hayseed Johns, but these working-class heroes are their own thing, less exaggerated. They look pretty scruffy and worn down. Long day at the melody factory, I guess.



O Tannenbaum
by Amy Sillman

Resemblance: 6/10

Adorability: 4/10

Grotesquerie: 1/10

Simple yet effective. Zoom in for full appreciation of those tiny inkblot faces. Is JL wearing glasses? Is JF not? Unclear. They ALSO look morose. Come on, open your presents and maybe you'll cheer up, guys.


Pittsburgh
by Pascal Campion

Resemblance: 1/10

Adorability: 8/10

Grotesquerie: 1/10

At least these guys are happier. I...think. They're cute at least, and seem pretty unbothered by the biblical plague of flies overcoming the land. The "featureless cylinders" look that was a weakness of the puppets is a strength here. (music video)


Istanbul Faces
by J. Otto Seibold

Resemblance: 3/10

Adorability: 9/10

Grotesquerie: 1/10

I like that the smoke coming out of the ironic pipe is a little man. I'm a fan of Seibold's super-simplistic line drawings and I can't really think of any good objective comments to make so let's just look at the DAS logo he made:


Istanbul Double-sided Puppet
by Mark Marek

Resemblance: 5/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 6/10

Whoa! I drew something like this two-faced Janus Johnster once before ever seeing this video, and I think it's a cool idea executed better here than I ever managed it. Limitations of the medium add cool angularity, but other than that these seem pretty standard as caricatures go. I do wonder about the low-cut... purple.... garment thing the Johnster is wearing though.


Tiny Toonifications
by (Warner Bros?)

Resemblance: 0

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 1/10

Our last Istanbul-video Johnifications. I'll leave it at JF's words on the commentary: "There's something about being animated as a pig that keeps you coming back for less." (Though JL suggests that the violin means the pig is Mark Feldman instead.)



Adventure Quest
by (Adventure Quest?)

Resemblance: 7/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 3/10

If they gave JL the physique of an action hero, JF got that of a pro wrestler. Those anime toddler faces don't sit well with me either. Ignore the weird style elements, though, and it's a pretty spot-on representation of 2010-era They. (Oh, but wait until you hear their voices.) (cutscene 1) (2 & 3) (final)


Doppelgangers of They
by (Adventure Quest?)

Resemblance: 1/10

Adorability: 0

Grotesquerie: 10/10

*HORRIFIED SCREAM* Something has gone HORRIBLY wrong! For one, that's a concertina. John Linnell can't play concertina, unless these Rat Fink-lookin' fellows have picked up some skills our Johns haven't. At least they have their truly angelic voices going for them.


NO! Linnell
by The Chopping Block

Resemblance: 2/10

Adorability: 1/10

Grotesquerie: 6/10

Why is he so lumpy. Don't like those eyes. Don't like this. No.


Higglytown Heroes
by (Higglytown Heroes?)

Resemblance: 2/10

Adorability: 6/10

Grotesquerie: 3/10

We're really down the rabbit hole now. John L emerges from a lion, John F emerges from John L, then has a concertina (concertina, again!) pulled from his chest. I feel as tripped out as They look. If they'd only given them both the same sort of eyes. (video)


2040 Tour
by Tony Millionaire

Resemblance: 6/10

Adorability: 1/10

Grotesquerie: 8/10

Commissioned back in the 90s, this existential prediction is now truer to life than ever. But hey, catch me in 2040 screaming along in the front row. In the words of Bibliophilia, "I can hear the liquid gurgle of their fascia melting away right now!" What fun! (JF reflects on this mortality-aware shirt back in 1997)



Cutout Caricatures
by David Cowles

Resemblance: 8/10

Adorability: 2/10

Grotesquerie: 6/10

David Cowles?? This guy AGAIN? Indeed! And hitting it out of the park, as usual. A crazy-good grasp of shape and form with brightly imaginitive colors. I honestly don't know what context this image was made in originally, but it rocks. (The accordion is backwards, though.)


Icky
by David Cowles, again!

Resemblance: 10/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 7/10

Yes, this counts, because I say it does. More formalwear! I've seen photo-cutout style illustrations like this before, but never in motion. Interesting, and unnerving, but intentionally so. (video)


Lake Monsters
by Hine Mizushima

Resemblance: 1/10

Adorability: 6/10

Grotesquerie: 0/10

Hine returns with some cool monsters and some very tiny Johns. Note that Linnell's on keyboard, a more modern touch. The blockiness is reminiscent of the pixel Johns, even if they're much simpler; it even represents JL's hair with an absurd column atop his head. Alas, the stitched Johns do not survive 10 seconds before their death at the hands (pincers?) of a Lakemon. (video)


The Paleontologists
by Sean McBride

Resemblance: 10/10

Adorability: 3/10

Grotesquerie: 3/10

Hello Danny! This is kind of the same concept as the Icky video, but with animated bodies. Whether that makes it more or less weird is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but I like it. Plus, the whole band gets an appearance, which is a notable first here! (video)


Giant Ants shirt cameo
by Stephen Blickenstaff

Resemblance: ???/10

Adorability: ???/10

Grotesquerie: ???/10

My absolute FAVORITE TMBG t-shirt has this tiny cameo! Very subtle silhouettes, you could almost miss the accordion. I have no idea why Linnell is wearing a hat. (TMBG t-shirt blog post)


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