An article in “The Bee,” a local Portland paper.
Foster-Powell cartoonist creates books for global readers
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
While pausing for inspiration, artist Barry Deutsch glances up, and looks out at Laurelhurst Park from inside his Foster-Powell Neighborhood studio.
An idea pops into his mind, and Deutsch goes back to work, as he stands, drawing on a Wacom Cintiq – a combination of a high-resolution computer monitor and digitizing tablet.
Although his work shows he’s a gifted artist, Deutsch says he doesn’t consider himself an artist, illustrator, or graphic designer. “I am a cartoonist,” he says.
He wanted to be a veterinarian in high school, Deutsch recalls. “But then, I took my first biology class when they had us dissect things. It turns out, the insides of a frog are really gross. Disgusting, in fact! That was pretty much the end of my becoming a veterinarian.”
However, he’s always been a big fan of comic books, he explains. “It was natural for me to switch over to creating comics.
“I started drawing at school, and also in my free time. My teachers were okay with it. In fact, I was very lucky, in that I had a good drawing instructor in high school. I learned a lot of basic principles of drawing. Even though I skipped a bunch of my other classes so I could go to drawing class more often, things worked out okay.”
For several years, Deutsch says he worked as a wedding coordinator and assistant manager at the Old Church, downtown. “It was a fun job, actually. There were very nice people there, and it helped pay the bills while I continued working on my drawings.
“I’ve been making a full-time living at this for the last five years or so, since my work on ‘Hereville’ began.”
Hereville is a series of two illustrated hardcover comic books, explains Deutsch. “I’ve had other things in print. But, two Hereville books are in print, and I’m currently working on the third book.”
The heroine in these books is Mirka, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, who wants to fight monsters.
“She came about because I wanted to do something that would make a fun adventure comic; something that I would like to read. I’m kind of sick of all these ‘action comics’ about muscular 30-year-old white guys in New York City who punch each other a lot.
“And, I’m Jewish. This is a topic that enabled me to do a lot of research about Judaism. It all came together in Hereville. I don’t think anyone in the world but me would have come up with the idea to make this comic book.”
It’s similar to Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, the creators of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, he says. “What made them special wasn’t the fact that they had what some considered to be a silly idea. They saw that they could actually tell appealing stories with these characters. Perhaps Hereville will never sell that well, but it is appealing to people.”
He’s both somewhat astonished, and pleased, Deutsch smiles, that a publisher actually picked it up, then a second book – and is now waiting to publish the third in the Hereville series.
What surprises him, he adds, is that Hereville, which started out as a web comic, appeals to all ages.
“It’s no secret that I write and draw for myself,” Deutsch muses, “It wasn’t until I got an agent that I found out I have been creating a kids’ book. So it could be that I’m brilliantly creative – or, that I’m very immature!”
And, to see much more of his work, visit his website:www.hereville.com