Jarvis “JRoc” Howard isn’t just doodling around. Inspired by cartoons from the 1990s, the University of Memphis student from Tunica has published a coloring book depicting “African American” versions of many cartoon favorites. (Courtesy photo)

Jarvis Howard, also known as JRoc, is reimagining characters from classic cartoon shows as African-American – and the swag is unreal.

JRoc, a 24-year-old Tunica, Miss., native, began putting spins on classic cartoons when he drew Spongebob Squarepants and put all of the SpongeBob characters from the show inside of Spongebob’s body.

“I decided to do multiple characters like that and my friend mentioned to me a coloring book could be a good idea. Although I prolonged this project for an entire year, I’ve finally published the ‘90s Baby Coloring Book.’”

The coloring book consists of 13 pages and 13 puzzles of cartoon characters from the 90s, with a black and white cover that can be colored as well.

“I was inspired to create a 90s theme coloring book because 90s cartoons were a big part of my upbringing. I honestly believe it was the best cartoon era — leading into the early 2000s,” he said. “However, no matter your favorite cartoon era, you can enjoy the coloring book.”

The University of Memphis senior graphic design student regularly posts his artwork – everything from African-American supernatural anime creatures to sexually-charged illustrations – on his Instagram. His desire to reminisce on the days of dope cartoons by depicting them as black animated characters is what has attracted thousands of double-tapping fingers to his work.

He released the “90s Baby Coloring Book” on Labor Day and has since shipped his coloring books to all 50 states.

Some of the cartoons in his coloring book include Recess, Doug, Rocket Power and Arthur, allowing his audience to see blackness in cartoon styles that are not traditionally diverse.

To celebrate the coloring book release, JRoc is hosting a coloring book contest where he will award the winner with a painting by him.

“I like making people happy. I love community service and giving back to the kids and our elders, and my coloring book is just one method for me to reciprocate that feeling,” he said.

JRoc enjoys reminding his audience of the earlier cartoon days, especially those that helped black children understand their culture, such as The Proud Family and The Boondocks.

Aside from his coloring book, JRoc has created artwork pieces for many celebrities, such as actress Meagan Good, artists K. Michelle, Bloc Boy JB, Rich Homie Quan and David Banner just to name a few. You can also see his work around the city of Memphis in places such as Oak Court Mall – where JRoc has a painting of what Memphis represents.

“Memphis has really embraced me since moving here in 2009… and you know Memphis doesn’t embrace everybody,” he said jokingly. “I came here not knowing anybody, now everyone supports me. Memphis is my second home, I consider myself a ‘Memphissippian.’”

“I also have gotten very involved with protesting for injustice and social issues since moving to Memphis. It’s something I’m very passionate about,” he said. “Memphis has such an enriched history of social justice or the lack thereof.

“Last year I did artwork in honor of Darrius Stewart – the 19-year-old unarmed African-American man killed by a police officer in 2015 in Memphis,” he reminisced. “I love when I can mix my passions to create a visual.”

That visual passion led the University of Memphis chapter of the NAACP to award JRoc with the Freedom Award for Artistic Expression in 2017.

“Overall, I’m stunned, humble and thankful. I’m just a young man from Tunica with a dream. I want to inspire my peers to be great, and art just so happened to be that avenue for me.”

To purchase a coloring book or to view JRoc’s artwork, visit @jrocjarvis on Instagram. JRoc welcomes questions at [email protected]