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Dan Matutina’s “The Joke & The Bat” is part of his Versus/Hearts series on Tumblr. Image via

LOS ANGELES — Spy vs. Spy. Darth Vader and Obi Wan. The green pig and the red bird. These are mortal enemies known the world over. But maybe they can learn to love each other too.

Mario and Bowser learn to love each other.

I’ve been following artist/designer Dan Matutina’s Versus/Hearts tumblelog for a while now. He launched them on Valentine’s Day 2012, and the most popular one — featuring Joker and Batman in loving embrace — started bouncing around Tumblr. Since then, he’s created a number of other hearts, all around the basic theme of “rivals.”

The project in fact started with a ninja-pirate desktop background tile years ago, and he revived the idea for 2012. “Two of my favorite mangas are One Piece (pirates) and Naruto (ninjas),” he told me in an email, “so yea I definitely like them both. I revisited the idea again more than a month ago and thought it would be cool to have Rivals inside the heart. The idea being that rivals can’t exist without each other even if they hate one another, sort of like the yin yang.”

The best part is that he takes suggestions and slowly but surely they’re all coming to life. There’s a certain truth to the concept behind Matutina’s work, namely, that “Rivals hate each other, but deep inside they know they couldn’t exist without the other.”

Eventually, Matutina tells me that the versus/hearts might come to life as stickers or prints, and he did a test run recently in Manila. But for now they exist only online. The work speaks to me of world peace, loving our enemies, and … well, they’re also darn fun.

“I’ve gotten a lot of requests and I’m so thankful for that,” Matutina told me. “Some of my favorites are: Goku & Vegeta, Megatron and Optimus Prime, Harry Potter & Voldemort, Red Riding Hood & The Wolf, and Dexter & Mandark. ”

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