shelter thumb 1

“Sheltering In Place(s)”

I keep hearing the my latest video is fun, playful, and positive (despite the subject). I also hear “The music has been in my head all day!” and “You two are Adorbs.” I also do pretty good Shaggy and Scooby Doo voices near the end.

Take a musical peek inside of our San Francisco lives during the Great Global Shutdown of Spring 2020.

I had the idea for this song within a day or two of our San Francisco Mayor’s “Shelter in Place” announcement. The first thing I noticed were all the families biking, skating, jogging, and having outdoor fun all over our Great SAN FRANCISCO. I also found that the busiest business parts of San Francisco (including by my old Google office on the embarcadero) were nearly deserted. Super Creepy!

I made this song and video happen just in time for the Global Re-opening. Best wishes to everyone who is ready to get their hopes and dreams moving again — fast!

Thank you all for watching, and please say hello in the comments! Stay safe and healthy, and remember to get out there and shelter in places every day!

See what i did there? I redefined “sheltering.” You will not forget the song.

“Sheltering in Places”
Original Song & Music Video
Composed, written, and performed by Joe Sparks
Featuring JJ Sparks (A.K.A. Jo Sparks) 
Shot by Joe & Jo Sparks in San Francisco in Spring of 2020, during the big honkin’ shut down.
Copyright (C) 2020 Joe Sparks
San Francisco California USA = ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Sheltering in Places” LYRICS
Sheltering in Places, Sheltering in in Places,
Sheltering in in Places with you.
(It’s all that I want to do)

Shut down, means we get around
to the places that make us smile
Lock down, means we hit the town
and see all the places we haven’t seen in a while
(that’s right, ha ha, sheltering in places)

Venturing out and sheltering in places with you
Venturing out and sheltering in COOL places with you

It’s like we all answered the call
to be extras on the set of a disaster movie
and we all, have a part to play in this masquerade

It’s like we all answered the call
to be actors on a dystopian sitcom
and we all, have a price to pay in this masquerade

Venturing out and sheltering in places with you
Venturing out and sheltering in COOL places with you

It’s all that I want to do!

Copyright (C) 2020 Joe Sparks, of
San Francisco California USA = ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

#sanfrancisco #originalmusic #workfromhome #inthistogether #youcan #covid19 #musicvideo #song #shelterinplace #coronavirus #wewinintheend

Devil Doll tosses AM/PM coffee to Radiskull

“Radiskull & Devil Doll Go Commercial” by Joe Sparks

AM/PM was the highest-paying sponsor of my Radiskull & Devil Doll show, back in its early days. I made a special commercial just for them as part of the deal. In this video you will see it “remastered” to 1080p and much higher quality sound (of course I made some punky music to go along with it). I include the original at the end for Q comparison.

And never seen/heard before: an alternate “#evil” script that I recorded at the same time. I wrote it quickly as kind of “joke” that nobody shared with AM/PM or any of my other sponsors! In this little skit, Devil Doll tries to convince #Radiskull that they should go into advertising “for big #corporations.” Little did I know at the time, that I would soon spend many years as a creative in advertising, at #agencies and at #Google. I talk about my transition into #advertising in “The Making of Dicky & Jackie

Part 1 of 3: AM/PM Commercial Remastered 2019
Part 2 of 3: Alternative Evil Script. Devil Doll sells Radiskull on Advertising
Part 3 of 3: The original AM/PM advertisement from 2001 (for comparison)

More Radiskull & Devil Doll Stuff

"Coffee with Friends" mugs
“Coffee with Friends” mugs

Return of Radiskull & Devil Doll Coffee mugs available here:

Radiskull & Devil Doll animation/song “Coffee with Friends”

I’m searching for those millions of Radiskull & Devil Doll fans from 2001. If you know one, please let them know about my YouTube channel. I really appreciate your help! I will need to bring that audience back in order to finish episode 9 and continue this work.

Radiskull & Devil Doll Live
A Dramatic Reading of Radiskull and Devil Doll Episodes

If you are interested in making animation and music video, please visit my tools page

Thank you so much for your likes, subscribes, and comments (I read every single one)!

Joe Sparks
2019 @joesparks on Twitter and Instagram

Please support my work as an artist: buy my recent song “Chief Disco Investigator” for your library, or simply stream it often (for your friends!) on any streaming music service you subscribe to. And THANK YOU!







For the first time ever, a song of mine is available on all major music streaming services and online music vendors. is a music publisher. URLs for streaming & downloading are posted below or simply search for “Chief Disco Investigator” on your favorite music services.

In this post, I write about my current music tools and remember the horns in my computer game hits “Spaceship Warlock Theme” and “You Are Dead.”

Chief Disco Investigator” sounds like disco 70’s, synthpop 80’s, and typical Joe Sparks.

Take a listen, and you’ll hear Radiskull & Devil Doll style beats & strings, and hints of my music from TOTAL DISTORTION and SPACESHIP WARLOCK.

“CDI” Golden Trombones & Studio One

I love the horns in my new music Put Your Headphones On. I thought “horns are pretty new for me” but then I remembered that sweet sax solo I played in the “You Are Dead” song in Total Distortion. I also used horns in my theme song for Spaceship Warlock. (more on that, below)

Presonus Studio One Professional is my DAW since 2017 (DAW = music recording software/UI where I make music), and I highly recommend it (Previously: Apple Logic Pro and many others). For the actual horns, I used the Presence XT brass instruments (bundled with S1): “Trumpet Full” and “Golden Trombone” instruments, unmodified. All the string instruments are also from Presence XT.

“Golden Trombone” Instrument bundled with Studio One Professional from Presonus

Read more of my musical tool notes after this:

Hear “Chief Disco” Everywhere Online

This is the first time I published a song to all commercial music streaming & downloaders. If this goes well, I will release my entire catalog (that I can find or recreate), from Radiskull to my Game Music, and all of my new songs. Click & Listen to my song on the links below and help make this experiment worthwhile:








Click & Listen Above! It’s an easy way to support my work. Buy for 99 cents, or simply stream it often (While you have Coffee with Friends!) on any streaming music service you subscribe to. And THANK YOU!

I made this streaming-services “album art” thumb using elements from my music video “Be My Barbie”

More Music Production notes for “CDI”

For my very punchy main synth BASS (easy to hear throughout) I used Studio One instrument Mojito. I started with the Gummi bass preset and modified it thusly:

Later in the song I bring in an Upright Bass, just like I used to do on Radiskull & Devil Doll. The drums are mostly played by me on my own custom drum machine (Built in Impact XT, including samples I recorded from the Alesis SR-16), and also, the “Natural Kit” on Presense XT. With some faint disco RX library loops recorded in the 70’s.

For my recent vocoder vocals (“Headphones,” “Tank,” “Barbie,” I’ve been using this masterpiece:
Izotope Vocalsynth 2

My favorite bunch of synths on the planet these days is: Arturia V-Series
I used the VOX organ and the CMI Fairlight Taped Pad.

I do some simple lines on the The VOX Continental-V and I love it
Most of my recent songs of have the CMI V Taped Pad playing somewhere in the mix

Total Distortion “U-R-DED” Saxophone

Melt into my “totally realistic” saxophone (video queued up to the sax solo) from “You Are Dead” song in Total Distortion:

I played the sax solo on my KORG M1 sax preset, which was astonishingly realistic to me at the time.

My main instruments on my Total Distortion music: Korg O1, Korg M1, Roland D110, Roland Juno 2, Yamaha DX11, G&L SC-1 Electric Guitar, Chorus, Distortion, & Octaver Pedals. Kent Carmical had another set of instruments) for his songs, but both of us had an O1!

Here’s a great Total Distortion walkthrough by Jerma985

Another great Total Distortion walkthrough by Vinesauce Joel on Vargskelethor Uncut: Full Joel Streams

Spaceship Warlock Theme Song with Horns

I also used horns in the theme song I made for my first game SPACESHIP WARLOCK. When someone talks about Spaceship Warlock, they often sing it: “AAAAH.. AAAHHH… SPAAAAAAACE SHIIIIIP… WARLOCK!.”

This video is queued up to the theme song. Horns played on the ~1988 Roland D110

I used my rack-mount Roland D110 synth for the theme song’s military horns & drums. Horns preset instrument). I used all 3 synths I bought in 1988 on Warlock music: the Roland D-110 and Juno 2 (I still have both instruments in my office) and the Yamaha DX11 (after 3rd key broke I gave it away). The DX was great for making robot noises for the game’s robot characters.

While looking around for Spaceship Warlock Theme Song mentions, I came across this music featuring a sample of the them song: NegaRen – Spaceship Warlock

Two young guys (including me) came up with this hugely-influential smash-hit Spaceship Warlock in just 9 months with 2 computers and not much money. I gave an interview about it in 2015 to Phil “Shadsy” Salvador at The Obscuritory:

Obscurity walkthrough of Spaceship Warlock

In glorious 8-bit 11k: The Spaceship Warlock theme song I recorded on a Tascam 4-track 1991

A word about Daft Punk

My recent “Computery” songs remind people of Daft Punk. It is a compliment – I love Daft Punk. Just remember, I’ve been using the same chord progressions since the 80’s and I did Vocoder voices (like hundreds of other musicians), long before the GREAT Daft Punk arrived.

still frame from video
Song video thumbnail I made with the still frame

Thanks for reading my article about my song “Chief Disco Investigator”

~Joe Sparks 2019

Devil Doll in France & Basque Country + Dad, Max, & Sam.

I recently returned to France and Basque Country for 2nd time this year. I brought my sons Max & Sam this time. I also took a little red friend named Devil Doll. He stayed hidden in my backpack for most of the trip, but he came out for a few photos along the way!


Notre Dame is getting repaired. Devil Doll smiles inappropriately.
What could go wrong with Radiskull & Devil Doll @ #NotreDame in #Paris #France

Watch out, Devil Doll! Archangel Michael is very dangerous! How do you think Radiskull LOST his baby skull-bat wings all those years ago? Devil Doll at Fontaine Saint-Michel #Paris #France



Bordeaux Intercontinental Hotel

Bordeaux France is a magical, beautiful city. People just live and have fun in this wonderful place. Very lively, historic, and incredible food, produce, wine, cheese, everywhere!

Checking in to our Bordeaux Apartment.
Très chic! Arty Place!
Holding Devil Doll over the streets of Bordeaux, like the reincarnation of Michael Jackson!
I really loved this perch above Saint Paul neighborhood of Bordeaux. I look forward to returning over and over again.

Gallery of Bordeaux Photos

Biarritz, France

The 2019 G7 meeting (of the most powerful people in the western world) was held here, just a couple weeks before we arrived. For about a week in Biarritz, France (officially in real Basque Country) I forgot to photo Devil Doll. I know! I gave him a good view though, so he was happy.

View from our apartment deck, Villa le Goéland peeking up over all the buildings.
3 of the best beaches in the world are just outside

Here’s about 10% of the photos I took in Biarritz, Bayonne, and Bidart France:

Donostia * San Sebastian * Cultural Capital Pays Basque

Devil Doll loves seeing himself on the big screen! This is from our apartment in San Sebastian.
Now you can see my reflection, as I take a photo with my amazing Google Pixel 3A (my only camera on this trip).
On our outdoor deck in San Sebastian, you can see the tower on the highest nearby peak: Torreon Monte Igeldo!
Here’s the view from the top of that tower, looking back on our place in San Sebastian!

On top of Monte Igeldo is an amusement park build in 1912. Read more. It has a roller coaster and this amazing tower. Here’s some of my photos from there:

Gare Hendaye: to Catch a Train back to Paris!

The high-speed train awaits. We’ll be back in Paris before we know it!

A Few More Days in Paris

Our lovely perch above Rue Guisarde and Rue Princess, one of the GREAT party spots of all Paris!
On the weekend nights, this whole street is packed with hard-partying Parisiens drinking/smoking until 6AM

Thanks for looking at my travel photos!

Please join me on YouTube and subscribe to my channel (totally free of course):

you can also simply remember:


I worked all NEW YEAR’S EVE on this music and video. This is the fastest I have ever worked on a complete music video (including the song!) Does this mean I am getting faster?

I’m in a band with myselves

This video also features JJ Sparks, go see her on Instagram @j.j.sparks

Wish your friends HAPPY NEW YEAR with “New Year’s Toast,” a Retro Holiday Song by Joe Sparks.

I think this animation is 90% ready, but I had to wrap it up to make New Year’s Day!

newyearseve #nye #nye2018 #happynewyear #newmusic #health #wealth #happiness #love #toast #joesparks #original #happynewyears


16 years after I announced it, I PUBLISHED DICKY & JACKIE

Dicky & Jackie Pilot Episode Thumbnail

See it on YouTube: “Dicky & Jackie Pilot Episode

MEET Dicky, a psi-pilot for the US Space Command! SEE veggies that WANT to be eaten! CRINGE at an over-eager Robot! FEAR an alien plot to conquer Earth!

Dicky working on his pet Robot creation “Bleebot”

A fascinating musical cartoon from Joe Sparks (creator of Radiskull & Devil Doll, Total Distortion, and more). Art, story voices, animation, music by Joe Sparks

Pinned YouTube comment: AA writes “Yo Joe It’s me again, I gotta say I’ve never seen my son more engaged into an animation like this one! We are both eagerly awaiting episode 2, and I just know he’ll love R & DD just like his Dad! Haha big ups thanks for the quality animations & Original content!!”

Jackie at work on a painting

There’s a long long history behind this cartoon I covered in “The Making of Dicky & Jackie”) I made a very rough flash version of this in 2002 and 2004 but I never published it.

In 2018, I began work on a professional, modern production of Dicky and Jackie. I spent most of September and October reworking all of the animation and sound, upgrading everything, fixing things. I recorded some parts over again. It is done, I posted it:

Thank you for viewing Dicky & Jackie. If you do enjoy it, I hope you will leave me a comment on YouTube.

Happy New Year!

Joe Sparks

#joesparks #dickyandjackie #cartoon #song #motiongraphics #adobe #motiondesign #aftereffects #flash #animatecc #studioone #animation #documentary #artist #songwriter #blender3d #songwriter #youtuber #animator #independent #artist #radiskull #devildoll

Dicky & Jackie characters, animation, photography, music, and lyrics COPYRIGHT 2018 by Joe Sparks of JOESPARKS.COM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Return of Radiskull & Devil Doll Coffee mugs available here:

Written, designed, animated, voiced, composed, performed, edited, and entirely owned by Joe Sparks

“Performing Radiskull & Devil Doll Live” new vid posted

Recorded live at LeapFrog headquarters in Emeryville California. I was an game developer/designer there. I was enlisted (by rad-friendly fans) to perform at the LeapFrog Talent Show + Bring your Kids to Work Day. (!!!) Thank you so much for your likes, subscribes and comments!

RDD Live

Radiskull & Devil Doll Live Video Thumbnail

A Dramatic Reading of Selected Radiskull and Devil Doll Episodes! I wrapped up with some modern commentary and remastered music. I hope you enjoy it! Read the comments: people seem into it!

Joe Sparks performs live

Joe Sparks performs Radiskull and Devil Doll live at LeapFrog.

While working on a new studio tour video, I started cleaning, organizing, opening old boxes. I came across many old artifacts in the past week or two. I turned this one into a new video on my YouTube channel:

Where are you, Millions of Radiskull & Devil Doll fans?

I’m searching for those millions of Radiskull & Devil Doll fans from 2001. (I used to get more than a million unique visitors a month, years before YouTube existed!) If you know some, please let them know that I am BACK AT IT? I really appreciate your help to bring that audience back. An audience will make it possible for me to finish R&DD episode 9 (BIG PLANS!!).

amazing Radiskull Devil Doll fan art at tattoos

Tiny sample of the amazing Radiskull Devil Doll fan art and tattoos out there!

See more amazing art by search Google Images:

Special Thanks to Gabriel Turk for giving me the CD-ROM with his edited version of my performance video. Otherwise, I would not be able to share this with you!

Joe Sparks at LeapFrog

From way back: Standing over my work space at LeapFrog in Emeryville California

Just for fun, I’ve included some post-it note art I made at LeapFrog and posted in my cubicle, from back in those days. I was developing my “Dicky & Jackie” enhanced-stick-figure style back in that time zone shortly after collapsed in the great crash.

Return of Radiskull & Devil Doll Coffee mugs available here:

"Coffee with Friends" mugs

“Coffee with Friends” mugs

NEW: 2018 Radiskull & Devil Doll cameo in the animated music video “Coffee with Friends”

If you are interested in making animation and music video, please visit my tools page:

Joe Sparks’ Creative Tools 2018

I will be adding many more tools to that page soon, to accompany my studio tour video.

Thank you so much for your likes, subscribes and comments!

Joe Sparks

I worked on games that shipped with LeapFrog’s first Leapster device (like a game boy). I made the dancing robot game. I pushed really hard to create new characters for LeapFrog, but they explained it was much safer to invest in their Disney Licenses. What could have been?

P.S. #2
While I am best known for Total Distortion and Spaceship Warlock, I also worked on many other games for more companies (stories for another day!)

P.S. #3
I used to do this R&DD act at poetry slams, it always worked live! I killed!

“Coffee with Friends” featuring Radiskull and Devil Doll by Joe Sparks

Radiskull & Devil Doll are together again for the FIRST TIME in 17 YEARS! I’m proud to announce my latest all-original, all-independent, animated music video! Radiskull and Devil Doll make a hard-rockin’ cameo  in the middle of Coffee with Friends

Coffee with Friends

“Coffee with Friends” featuring Radiskull and Devil Doll created by Joe Sparks

This is the first time I have animated and voiced these two since the year 2001. I really hope you will enjoy this, and encourage me to continue with your likes and subscribes!

Look how GOOD they LOOK in 2018:

When I started Radiskull and Devil Doll, everyone was on dial-up modems! I had to be very careful to compress everything, keep window sizes small, frames rates way down, limit the quality of audio and everything else. Today in our Sci-Fi reality, high-definition audio and video flow through the world like a raging river! Now I can really let loose with fog, smoke, lights, shadows, camera work and more. And best of all, the audio is pristine. I hope you view on a nice big monitor, and listen on good speakers!

To commemorate the 2018 return of Radiskull & Devil Doll in “Coffee with Friends,” this:

"Coffee with Friends" mugs

“Coffee with Friends” mugs

Return of Radiskull & Devil Doll Coffee mugs available here:

For most of my life, I’ve been told coffee was bad for me. I never believed it. Not for a minute! Turns out I was right, and we now know coffee is one of the healthiest things you can drink. It is rich in antioxidants. It is delicious.

It makes friends more friendly. You should have some coffee with friends every day!


Sun Moon Coffee

Cosmic Coffee break in “Coffee with Friends”

I started drinking coffee when I was 4 years old. My next-door neighbor made it for me, and we would sit on her front lawn in lawn chairs and sip coffee. I loved it. I also loved coffee candy and coffee ice cream as a kid.

I encourage you to give your children coffee as early as possible and as much as they can drink. And maybe, just maybe, your kids might turn out like (see video for more info)

After the music video plays I engage in a little bit of story-telling and horseplay:Some parts I create with Adobe Animate CC (formally known as Flash). I export layers of high-resolution vector animation as alpha-channel video, and bring it in into Adobe After Effects. After Effects has a beautiful 3D camera system. I’ve been animating the camera to the beat of the music and it brings the scenes to life in a unique way.

Coffee with Friends Title v3c

Coffee with Friends Title v3c


I will do a follow-up article on the tools and techniques. Meanwhile: my TOOLS PAGE

Radiskull and Devil Doll inside After Effects

Radiskull and Devil Doll inside After Effects

I hope you will subscribe to my YouTube channel and revisit

Thanks again for watching, sharing, subscribing, and leaving comments. Thank you for being here. With you in the audience I will be able make more music videos. I want to create musical art that stands the test of time.

Thanks again, and “be excellent to each other!”

Joe Sparks
August 2018


“Coffee with Friends” featuring Radiskull and Devil created by Joe Sparks
All characters, animation, photography, music, and lyrics COPYRIGHT 2018 by Joe Sparks of JOESPARKS.COM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
“Radiskull & Devil Doll” are the trademarks and intellectual property of Joe Sparks