An artist scarred by sci-fi

Sometimes an image can lodge itself in a child's head forever, right next to the lessons "knock before entering a room", and "knock before entering the family minivan". Scarred by stumbling onto his parents' hardcore...sci-fi: J.R. Barker.

An illustrator whose obsession with the fantastic began when he became entranced by the cover of his father's copy of the 1994 Jenny McCarthy Playmate of the Year issue Asimov's Foundation's Edge, Barker's an Art Institute of Dallas-educated graphic designer who recently switched to full-time illustrator simply because he's "happy to paint monsters and robots all day". Designs available as prints, posters, and shirts include Tiny Terror (a bloody-toothed cross between a Koopa Troopa and Pokemon), a faux-NES game cover featuring recurring character Nyan Cat (his body is a Pop-Tart!) and his nemesis Waffle Cat, and a rifle-wielding soldier surrounded by doves and carrying a McDonald's banner, not at all ironically reading "I'm Lovin' It". His blog is updated regularly with process shots detailing the development of creations such as the predatory reptiles of the Hungry Creature series, back-storied monsters like Koschei the Undying (an enrobed demon under the sway of Rasputin), and femme fatales including a cleavage-blessed Asian assassin rocking a gigantic cursed gauntlet, so no matter how much food she eats her life force is always running out.

Not to forget images that might actually freak the hell out of another child, Barker's also got a series of raving-mad drug addicts called Alley Pals, also the game your parents said they were playing when they parked the Chrysler Town & Country out back.