The seamless, imaginative cartoon mashups by Tristan Cruz—who goes by the artist handle T. Crux—are hilarious in their cheeky nature and creative in how random they can go. There’s Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers combined with Spinelli from Recess, Hans Moleman from The Simpsons morphed into Chucky Finster from Rugrats, Fry from Futurama mixed with Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and so forth. Cruz is nearing the notoriety of modern-day mashup pioneers such as Ermsy, Hanksy, Wizard Skull and Thumbs. The former graphic designer and member of local producer collective GRN+GLD fell into making his quirky art three years ago with the debut of his enamel pin, Ned Flounders (a concoction of Ned Flanders and Flounder, Ariel’s fish friend from The Little Mermaid). He cites foreign bootlegs of American cartoons as one of his earliest introductions into the culture.
“This whole mashup thing was really unintentional,” says the Costa Mesa native. “My style as far as art goes is a lot different.” He’s adept at illustration, following the fluid technique of automatism, in which an artist’s actions flow without conscious thought. Cruz’s own line-art drawings are cartoony and detailed. “If you ever look at it there’s a lot of stuff within the lines; that’s helped me do more of my mashups. . . . It’s almost like putting a puzzle together and seeing the best way it would fit.”
The clean lines and line weight of each cartoon help inform the end product, but Cruz’s mashups are mostly based on puns, what sells the best (currently Rick and Morty) and what show he’s watching at the moment. To nab your favorite T. Crux creation, order online (www.cruxworldwide.com), and follow him on Instagram (@t_crux). You can also spot him at the monthly downtown SanTana art walk selling prints, pins, zines and other goodies that will likely make you chuckle. “One of the best things I enjoy are customer reactions,” Cruz says. “I love that people really take joy from these mashups.”