North St. Paul Catholic draws laughs with newspaper comics

| June 13, 2017 | 1 Comment

Mike Wilke, the cartoonist behind “Watermelon Bones,” draws in his home studio. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Mike Wilke has been cartooning most of his life, and at 61, he is nowhere near stopping.

He began while a student at North St. Paul High School, and his art teacher encouraged him to continue. With aspirations to become a full-time professional cartoonist, he contacted various national newspapers to see if they would hire him. Not seeing success, he worked in other fields, but never lost his dream.

On a whim, a 20-something Wilke grabbed some of his work and walked into the New Brighton Bulletin to talk to the editor about using his cartoons.

“Can you do political cartoons?” the editor asked. “Yes,” he answered — even though he had never done any — and set himself to learning the trade.

A cartoon from Wilke’s newly published cartoon collection, “Watermelon Bones: Adam and Eve in the Garden.” A parishioner of St. Peter in North St. Paul, Wilke posts a religious cartoon to Facebook every Sunday. Courtesy Mike Wilke

The result has been more than 40 years of cartooning. Along with the Forest Lake Times, Wilke’s quirky cartoons appear in the Isanti County News and Woodbury Bulletin. He also is listed with Comx Box, where his work is syndicated across the country.

A volunteer catechist at his parish, St. Peter in North St. Paul, Wilke said his faith plays a pivotal role in his work.

“There are a lot of crude artists out there and a lot of crud in the world. I want to bring something different” he said.

He aims to take the higher road and still make people laugh.

He has been devoted to the craft full time for the past 15 years after a work accident left him with mobility problems.

He started publishing books of his cartoons in 1989 under the name “Watermelon Bones.” With the encouragement of one of his parish’s priests, Father Matthew Northenscold, Wilke just finished his seventh book, “Watermelon Bones: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,” which takes a lighthearted look at biblical stories and faith.

Wilke has no plans retire and is producing his eighth book, “Watermelon Bones: The Final Load.”  To see more of his work — including sneak peaks at his new book — follow him on Facebook, or find Watermelon Bones at

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Category: From Age to Age