An article in “The Bee,” a local Portland paper.
Foster-Powell cartoonist creates books for global readers
By DAVID F. ASHTON
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!”
The modestly-priced books make a great gift for a birthday, Hanukkah, or Christmas, Deutsch suggests. They’re available at many local booksellers, or online at Amazon.com.
And, to see much more of his work, visit his website:www.hereville.com
Under Blog and News
This is by no means a comprehensive list – I haven’t read everything out there! And there are plenty I’ve read that I’m probably forgetting at the moment. But librarians ask me often enough for graphic novel recommendations that it seemed worthwhile to compile a list.
These are all graphic novels that I’ve personally read and enjoyed. They all have genuinely top-notch cartooning, and I’m confident kids will enjoy them. I’ve tried to make a list that includes both “obvious” graphic novels, and lesser-known works that are nonetheless excellent and entertaining.
Some graphic novels for all ages.
Superhero Graphic Novels. Gotta have a few of ’em, I guess. Other than Superhero Girl and Supergirl, these are for older kids rather than all-ages.
Graphic Novels For Older Kids – books with death, tougher themes, etc..
Some All-Age Classics
And hey, while you’re at it, please consider picking up a copy of Hereville. :-p
It’s a free event! And I’m doing a presentation of my own at 3pm. Please come say hi if you’re in the area.
Layele is one of Mirka’s sisters, and is about 6 years old. She really didn’t appear much in books 1 or 2, but is a major character in book 3.
One thing I’m trying to do is make a different sibling the “primary sidekick” in each Hereville book. So in book 1 the “primary” sibling character was Zindel, although Gittel and Rochel got some nice screen time too. In book 2 the “primary” sidekick was Rochel, and Zindel was present as well, but poor Gittel barely appeared. In book three, Layele will be the primary sidekick. I have an idea for a plotline in which Gittel is the primary sidekick – which would be interesting, since Gittel is older than Mirka and would try to assert authority over her – but that would be for a future book.
My newest sketchbook page, “Starface.”
I saw the “field of faces background” in another cartoonist’s drawing on Facebook and thought “I am definitely swiping that idea,” but now I can’t find the other cartoonist to credit her. Sorry, whoever you are.
Here’s a scene that I ended up 90% rewriting, between a very small Mirka, years ago, and her Mom. I like this scene, but what I replaced it with fits better into the larger story.
These are what I call my “stick figure layouts,” where I don’t do any actual drawing, but I figure out the final script and the layout.