It is funny how experiences early in your life continue to follow you throughout your days. The inspiration to focus on reptiles in my drawings came when I was ten years old. I spent a lot of time at my local pet store named, The Fishbowl. Eventually, the owner got tired of me coming in and coveting all the animals I couldn’t afford, so he offered me a job. He paid me $1.25 an hour to care for the animals after school and on weekends. There, I developed a real passion for the reptiles. They were my favorite creatures in the place, especially the lizards and geckos. When I began crafting my characters, these memories had a big influence on my concepts.
The Gekkards are my original lizard-like characters that began this journey. Their name is born from the words gecko and lizard. They are inquisitive creatures possessing anthropomorphic qualities. They like to think they are clever, but often, they are not. Their oversized eyes and somber expressions are meant to convey humor and emotion. They do not have specific names nor definitive personalities. They come in all different sizes and colors, just like people.
Bogus Froglouski is an over-sized bullfrog and a great friend of the Gekkards. He has a huge heart and an insatiable appetite. He is based on Joey’s real-life friend from high school, George Boguslawski. Big George, as he’s known, stands over 6’ 7” tall and inspired the surname, Froglouski. Bogus debuted in Joey’s first storybook, The Gekkleberry Tree, where he is suspected of consuming all the Gekkleberries.
As the Gekkards grew, we decided to add a few more reptilian characters to the tribe. Chopper is a youthful, energetic crocodile with extraordinary athletic skills. He enjoys a fearless attitude and is ready to devour any adventure. Everything in life is exciting to Chopper. However, he can be temperamental and prone to mood swings.
Slowpoke is a Tortoise. He is slow, of course, but he’s also a thoughtful, methodical and resilient creature. He is sort of a father figure to the Gekkards and brings sensibility to their group. He enjoys matching wits with Chopper in games of skill, since competing against the athletic crocodile in sports, is an act of futility.