A gang of cartoon characters landed these students in trouble

Slide show: Meet the Slang Gang

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Have you seen those YouTubes of twin babies talking to each other, and it doesn't make any sense but they're communicating?" Corey Knapper asks. He and his brother, Jesse, are like that. At 24, they still have a secret language of gasps and glances, as well as a secret gang of cartoon friends.

They're inseparable. They make art together, work together and live together in southwest Denver. In their downtime, they play disc golf together, and they're thinking of signing up for a tournament: They think they'd make a killer doubles team.

The Knapper twins are identical. Most people can't tell them apart by looks, personality or speech. Rooms are "raging," and folks at Phish shows are "faded"; "It's all good" is one of their favorite phrases. Both dress in baggy graphic tees and loose-fitting jeans. But the Lakewood Police Department was able to find distinguishing characteristics: According to investigators, Corey has a "casual" appearance, while Jesse has a "sloppy" one. Their hair and facial hair are always changing, too. That's Corey with the heavy mustache in the Wheat Ridge mug shots.

*****

Being teenagers in Phoenix was so boring that the Knappers made their own fun by skateboarding off rooftops and videotaping the antics. Then they decided to collect some cash by designing T-shirts that they'd sell at parties. "You'd wake up in the morning with your pockets stuffed with cash and say, 'I hope I didn't fuck up last night, because I don't have any shirts left!'" Corey remembers.

Their parents told them they needed to get serious. While this admonition would put many nineteen-year-olds on the nine-to-five treadmill, the elder Knappers were okay with their sons going to art school. So after a couple of years at an Arizona community college, Corey and Jesse packed up their 1994 Infiniti and headed to Colorado, where they enrolled at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2008. While Jesse studied communications and design, which he shorthands to "graphic design," Corey majored in fine arts; both maintained near-4.0 GPAs.

During winter break in Arizona last year, the twins decided to create a gang of cartoon characters. Playing off "It's all good," they wondered what kind of character Saul Gud might be. For a while, a drug-addicted but chipper homeless man Corey had met on East Colfax was the top contender. But when the pair decided that Saul sounded biblical, it clicked instantly. Jesse Google-imaged "religious Jewish man," then vectorized one of the images that came up. Saul Gud, a Hasidic Jewish man with a strong nose, a snazzy hat and an impressive beard, was the first member of the Slang Gang.

Slide show: Meet the "Slang Gang"

Other characters soon followed: Pho Reel, a smiling, bearded Asian man; Ray Jin, a gym-rat juicehead with bleached tips and a snarl; Fay Did, a girl who's enjoying the effects of MMJ to the fullest; Buzz Kill, a domineering cop who does not look amused; Saight, a seeing-eye dog; Kay Pasha, a seductive Latina girl; Das Kuhl, a beefy German man; and Klee Che, a spoof of the iconic Che Guevara image that the twins were so tired of after three years in art school.

Accompanied by the Slang Gang, they returned to school with new energy. Corey had signed up for a street-art class taught by associate professor Sandra Ceas, the former interim chair of art education at RMCAD. Ceas saw that street art had turned away from gang-related messages to become a free and public medium for the purposes of beautification, awareness and humor. So in November 2010, she proposed a street-art class to RMCAD administrators. They approved it right away, she remembers, "which was kind of surprising, since it was quite cutting-edge."

By then, the school had received a lot of student requests for such a class. "Street art is an important part of the art world, and increasingly so," notes Karen Wachtel, RMCAD's director of communications.

Still, there's plenty of confusion over the role of street art.

"A lot of students did take the class thinking it'd be a graffiti class, and right away I said, 'It's not about graffiti. It's not about vandalism. It's about having a public voice,'" Ceas recalls. "And right away, the students responded in tune with that."

The legality of street art — or lack thereof — was often a point of discussion in class. Laws pertaining to graffiti, vandalism and other related activities in Jefferson County and the city of Denver were posted on the class's Digication portal, a website that students could access that included a syllabus, homework assignments, readings and other course-related materials. Although Ceas never required students to break laws for the sake of the class, she didn't discourage it, either. "Even though if you were to technically say, 'You are making art on something you do not own, you are vandalizing,' the students who are artists and want to work in this genre are saying that we should have equal rights to a voice in public," Ceas says. And so she asked her students questions like: What's the responsibility that goes with doing this sort of work? And, even, am I willing to get arrested for it?

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20 comments
Jeanne Hines
Jeanne Hines

Aha! I finally figured something out. Its against the law to leave your car running on your own property. Its called puffing and the cops don't want to be chasing car thieves so the onus is on me to make their job easier. Instead of the car thieves being the criminal and my insurance company the heavy if they don't insure me for doing something so stupid all of a sudden I am the lawbreaker for leaving my car running on my driveway. (Which I don't do but its a stupid ordinance just the same...)

Now I understand it is so they can spend the time and resources chasing down cartoonists and manhandling the dangerous hoodlums.

I feel so safe and ahem... (this is hard to write) free now.

Keep it real
Keep it real

So these guys and the art they were posting is deemed worthy of that kind of investigation, but the people that like to smoke crack, piss and shit, and pass out wasted in my alley are just part of the neighborhood? Great priorities.

Ti
Ti

It is so interesting that two entirely different drug task force could only do enough undercover research to catch two twin artists!!! Because you can't catch 'em if you can't call on the phone and get 'em to come to you---rite? ...and they have to look alike because if they aren't twins ----hell that's more work!

Damn 4 Real??? Finally a job for High school dropouts!!!!

...And I bet none of them were smarter than a fifth grader!

We should all feel protected and served!

Lewislafever
Lewislafever

I started reading this and when I saw the words "Wheat Ridge Police" I had to laugh The Pigs that rome the Mean streets of that bustling metropolitan have nothing else better to do. You have to remember this is the same city where the DA tyred to prosecute an 80 year old man for protecting his property from to illegal immigrants. In the police departments defence though art comes in many different flavors. Chocolate, Jelly Filled, Glazed and the ultimate Bear Claw. There interpretation of an art gallery comes in the form of Winchell's, Krispy Kream, and Dunkin Donuts. Wow you sure showed these Artest whoes boss. There are worse things these guy's could be doing.

s.girl
s.girl

They should HIRE these talented artists because Denver and Tucson could both use a bit more art in their lives....

And I laughed my ass off at the names of their characters. These young men have an amazing future ahead of them and I truly hope they become rich from their art.

And, fuck the "gang task force" who wasted the taxpayers' money on this witch hunt. Just shows how completely out-of-touch authorities are with what's REALLY going on around them.

Knappers5
Knappers5

The Gang is Ray Jin. If you get twisted by this you are a Buzz Kill. What was done was not malicious, it was done in fun and Saul Gud.

Cslynchrn
Cslynchrn

Thank you for Saul .Ray,Fay, and Pho I take them to work with me everyday.After 39 yrs working in an acute care setting in a hospital, these characters help me do my job

..........
..........

I hate cops!!!! Why don't you do some real police work, you wannabe detectives!!!

What a fucking joke.

And to RMCADstudent: You're just as much of a douche bag as those cops!

Keep following your dreams Jesse & Corey!!! I like your work.

artgurl
artgurl

I can't believe that so much time was wasted by the police over this. I loved seeing these posters around town, they made me laugh every time. I'm glad that Corey and Jesse are just rolling with the punches and that this didn't discourage them from pursuing their dreams. I'm also happy to see the school being mentioned, I'll be graduating from RMCAD in the spring, it's a great place to be.

RMCADstudent
RMCADstudent

Great job, assclowns. Youve succesfully made our school look EVEN worse, for putting up your shitty posters all over town and getting caught too. I still see the remains of the posters daily, they do not biodegrade nearly as fast as you said. I know a few other people that should have almost positively gone down with you asshats too, but whatever.

dood
dood

So, how's about a pic or two of the art posters in question? Or a link? I can barely see the tiny pic, and can make out barely half of the one behind the pic of the two of them...wtf?

full time crime
full time crime

Nobody likes you. You can't draw for shit. You're mad jealous because you're an obscure nobody. And you just used BOTH the words assclown and asshat. Who's the fucking clown now you corny bitchmade whiteboy.

And don't forget, you're a pretentious art student. Nobody gives a fuck what you think kid.

stanley cheeba
stanley cheeba

I think they make the school look good, and you just look like a douche for whining and bitching. Therealtrickjames said it best: Jealous much?

kivalu
kivalu

First of all, the only people that make our school look bad are the spoiled and lazy students who show up on a free meal ticket, boasting of talent that’s yet to be seen all the while expecting their world and degree to be served to them on a fucking golden platter. These are the assclowns that continually produce the idiosyncrasy that make our school look bad. What have you done lately to represent RMCAD?

Therealtrickjames
Therealtrickjames

Jealous much? Your not known all over the city and your mediocre "art" will never be known. Don't hate fool.

 
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