LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — He’s kind of cute, a little damp, smells fishy, seems to be tied up at times, and wears cement loafers. Say hello to “Blake Mead,” one of the unfortunate characters to come from the mind of digital illustrator Michael Barnard.

“Blake Mead” artwork — drawn and published with permission by Michael Barnard.

Barnard’s “Blake Mead” drawing is, of course, poking dark humor at the drought situation surrounding Lake Mead. The lake’s water level has dropped more than 180 feet since it was full and is now 27% full by volume. Since May, people have discovered human remains five times, exposed due to the receding waterline. Other relics of the past are also coming to light, including old boats and, recently, a handgun.

“From reading some of the headlines, there’s a lot of interesting stuff that’s showing up,” Barnard told 8 News Now. “Boats are showing up. I’ve got a gun in there. I initially had like a boot and some other stuff. But I only had so much room to try and keep it in proportion to the classic cards.”

Michael Barnard, Digital Illustrator (Image: Michael Barnard)

By tapping into current headlines, Barnard has drawn-up several Garbage Pail Kid likenesses over the years. Barnard did work with Tops, the company that makes the real Garbage Pail Kids, and knows the style well.

“I’m a kid of the 80s, and I grew up obsessed with Garbage Pail Kids,” Barnard said. “A lot of people that are my age that grew up with these cards, they enjoy seeing a new take on something that will show up in the headlines or in the news.”

Garbage Pail Kids were so popular in the mid-80s that CBS Evening News even devoted a whole segment to the controversy surrounding kids and the card’s disgusting themes.

“Blake Mead” isn’t the first drawing Barnard has made involving news headlines. He created “Crazy Kyle” for the Storm Area 51 event in 2019. More recently drew up “Mona Lith” because of the strange monoliths being found around the country in 2020.

Barnard has also created several Las Vegas-themed illustrations. He came up with “Raulette,” a clear tribute to Las Vegas and gambling, and a disc golf Las Vegas-themed design for Disc Con.

Barnard runs his own illustration company, Sunburn Designs, out of his California home. Having once lived in Kingman, AZ, Barnard said he knows the Lake Mead area well.

As for his future, he said he’s working on a large project he’s not allowed to say anything about, along with designing discs. “I’m very nostalgic to my childhood. So I do a lot of stuff with Back to the Future and The Goonies, and the Gremlins, all that good stuff.