My Niece Makes Tin Foil People

On May 1, 2013 · 0 Comments


When kids read my rather depressing and angst-ridden short comic “How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil,” they pretty much all react the same way: They make little tin foil people, just as my character Joel did in the comic! Which I think is kind of awesome.

This photo is of my wonderful niece Jemma Andersen. 🙂 And here are her tin foil superheroes:


Stumptown 2013 con report

On April 29, 2013 · 0 Comments

So I decided that for once, I wouldn’t spend the whole con at my table, instead wandering around and looking at other folks comics and even attending panels now and then. It was neat. The best line I can recall from any panel is Dylan Meconis, in her spotlight panel, suggesting that “the Hero’s Journey” is the french fries of story structure.

Here I am at my table, in a photo taken by Joshin Yamada:


Yes, that is one of my favorite shirts. My one regret about this photo is that it doesn’t show my new sneakers, which are bright bright red.

(Edited to add: And actually, I wish I had put my left hand on my chin, so my pose would more closely echo the post of the character on the cover of “How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil.” Oh, well, next time.)

More Joshin pictures from Stumptown: Jake Richmond (colorist of Hereville, creator of Modest Medusa, looking as if he’s doing algebra in his head), Becky Hawkins (rockin’ the lace), Ben Hsu (giving the ever-reliable thumbs up. You can’t go wrong giving a thumbs up!), Jaymz Bernard (sporting a t-shirt that matches her arm tattoo), Diana Nock (I don’t have a snarky comment for Diana), and Taran Manley Lee (flanked by Taran’s frequent sidekicks Jenn Lee and Kip Manley).

I was sharing my table with Becky and with Diane Riffe, who was their with her very first mini-comic, an adorable all-ages tribute to Diane’s dog Luna. Alas, Diane didn’t happen to be there when Joshin came by, so as far as I know she escaped unphotographed.

Under Appearances, CTA

More comments that make my day (Tumblr edition)

On April 26, 2013 · 0 Comments

First, This Is Not Jewish wrote, about “Hereville”:

This is a real thing, guys…and a graphic novel to boot.


EDIT: Be still my heart, it has a sequel too! And he’s working on a third! *squee*

Then B’rakha replied:




And finally, 3gee – perhaps trying to counterbalance B’rakha’s all-caps by dispensing with caps altogether – wrote:

what i can’t get over is the fact that barry deutsch, the author, is a white liberal goy living in portland oregon, but he not only did his research, he fucking nailed what it means to observe shabbat in all its glory and frustration, and how you shape your life around prayer and halacha but that’s no big deal, that’s just what you do

her conflicts are with her parents, not her religion



I’m not a “goy” by standard American definitions – I’m not observant, but I am Jewish – but whatever, it’s still a great compliment!

Email of the day – Author Visit via Skype in a Georgia ELL classroom

On March 28, 2013 · 0 Comments

I got this email last week (posted with permission, of course):

I am an ELL [English Language Learners] teacher at Freedom Middle School in DeKalb County, Georgia. My students are all refugees who just arrived this year. Most of them are from Nepal or Burma, but I also have students from Thailand, Russia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Eritrea. The languages spoken in my classroom include Tiringia, Amarhaic, Arabic, Karen, Thai, Russian, and Burmese. Depending on their home country and situation, their educational background varies greatly.

We are reading Hereville and they LOVE it! Since they are learning English for the first time, we spent the first part of the year reading children’s books. When we began reading your graphic novel, which is accessible and age appropriate, they were so excited. They whine and complain every day when we finish our lesson.

I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with my students for a Q&A session. They would prepare questions ahead of time to ask you, and then each of the 15 students would ask their questions. I think the students would really enjoy meeting the author of the book they are enjoying so much.

I am not able to pay you for the session as my school does not have extra funding, and our county is struggling as well this year. But I could send you my lessons that I’ve used to teach Hereville. You could include those on your website, and perhaps that would help encourage other teachers to use the books in their classroom.

Thank you!

Sara Lawson
ELL Teacher, Intensive English Program
Freedom Middle School
Stone Mountain, Georgia

Needless to say, I said yes (I always say yes to Skype visits for schools that don’t have funding for author visits). The visit is scheduled to take place tomorrow; I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m looking forward to posting Sara’s Hereville lesson plans sometime in the future.

Email From A “How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil” Reader

On March 20, 2013 · 0 Comments

After Emerald City Comic-Con, I received this email from Kelley, who bought both Hereville and How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil from me at ECCC. This is the kind of email that really makes a cartoonist’s day, and Kelley gave me permission to post it online.


This morning I made a couple of purchases from your ECCC booth. You might remember me, I was wearing a yellow Star Trek dress and you took my picture!

I am sending you this email because while I enjoyed Hereville and plan on purchasing the sequel, it was your short work How To Make a Man Out of Tin Foil that really connected with me. I loved it! As you correctly guessed during our short conversation, I am a big fan of “slice-of-life” style comics. My husband prefers more action-oriented comics such as G.I. Joe, Star Wars, etc. We share a lot of interests but this was the first time I felt he might get more emotional resonance than me out of one of these kinds of comics. I was right and he really appreciated reading about experiences he could relate to directly, but to my knowledge are not often addressed in media.

The point of this email to to express my deep and sincere appreciation for the “Tin Foil” comic and to encourage you to give it another look some day in the future, to perhaps expand on it or find similar stories to tell. Obviously I like that your current professional interest contains a female protagonist, and maybe at some point in time you could use your excellent storytelling abilities to alternate between the two. Thank you so much for flagging me down with your effective sales pitch; you have one more loyal customer.

Thanks again,

Thanks, Kelley! I really loved getting this email.

“Tin Foil” was created for an upcoming anthology of feminist short comics (called “The Big Feminist But”). I wanted to do a feminist story about boyhood – about the expectations that boys will be suitably masculine, and some of the ways that boys who can’t live up to that are punished and damaged. It’s a story that’s special to me, and I’m really glad it touched you and your husband.

I really do want to play more with the themes of “Tin Foil” someday, but I’m not sure when I’ll have the time. Certainly not until after the third Hereville graphic novel.

If you’re interested, you can read How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil for free on Bitch Magazine’s website. Info about buying copies of Hereville is here.

Barry interviewed on KBOO radio today!

On January 10, 2013 · 0 Comments

barry deutsch and jenn manley-lee!

[Updated: Time is 11:30am, not 11am. I’ll update the post with a link to the archive once I’ve got it.]

Me and cartoonist Jenn Manley Lee will be interviewed on KBOO at 11:30am pacific time today. We’ll be talking about our respective comics (Jenn is best-known for her amazing science fiction comic Dicebox). You can listen live at KBOO’s website.

Jenn is a longtime pal of mine as well as a great cartoonist, so I expect this interview to be fun.

Thanks to S.W. Conser of the show Words and Pictures for making this happen!

Under Interviews

Christmas email to my niece

On December 25, 2012 · 3 Comments

My nephew and niece reading Hereville on Christmas morning

(My niece got a copy of my new book for Christmas, and emailed me saying that she enjoyed the book and asking me if I’ll sign it. I don’t think Jemma will mind if I share the email I sent back to her.)

Hi Jemma!

I’m so glad you liked my new book. 🙂 I would be thrilled to sign your books when I visit Ithaca (which I’ll be doing in just five months). Also, I’ll be visiting Ithaca twice this year – once in May, once in August – so you’ll be seeing twice as much of me as usual.

Actually the oddest thing happened to me last night. I was up late drawing, as I often am, and snacking on some cookies and milk, and I heard a strange noise, a sort of muffled scrapery sound, coming from our living room. I walked into the living room, thinking that there were thieves, blackguards, thugs, pirates, grumpikins, or capitalists sneaking into my house to do — what horrible thing would they do? Watch my netflix? Track mud all over my nice clean floors? Read my comics and keep their places by folding the corner of the page, what is WRONG with those people USE A BOOKMARK FOR PETE’S SAKE THOSE BOOKS ARE PRECIOUS!

Ahem. My point is, who can say what horrible thing they would do? — but there was no one there. I shrugged and said “only a breeze and nothing more” and resolved to worry nevermore.

But then I heard the noise again – it was coming from the chimney! I snuck close to the fireplace and peered in when suddenly a pair of big black boots – containing feet, I have no doubt of it, none whatsoever! – dropped down into the fireplace! I was peering in so closely that the boots clipped my nose, which fell off into the fireplace ashes. The feet were soon followed by legs and a big belly and shoulders and a bearded hatted and squinty head as the invader crept into my home. I realized that this was a lowlife of some sort come to rob me of my precious collection of fat action figures, so grabbed up a fireplace poker and swung at the thug’s beard for all I was worth!

But the vagrant must have had kung foo training, because he blocked my blow handily, laughing evilly – “hooo hoo hoo!” As you can imagine, I was terrified. The last thing I remember is his huge red fist flying at my face like a runaway train!

When I woke up, he was gone. After retrieving my fortunately undamaged nose from the ashes and sticking it back in place with some chewing gum I found on the bottom of a chair, I staggered back into my study and sat down at my drawing board again. Then I noticed that my milk and cookies were gone! GONE! I wept bitter, bitter tears, let me tell you.

Anyway, that was my last night. It was wonderful to hear from you, and have a Merry Christmas.

Love, Uncle Barry

P.S. After carefully examining all the evidence, I have deduced that my attacker was Superman.

“How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil” now online!

On December 6, 2012 · 0 Comments

My short story “How To Make A Man Out of Tin Foil” is online! This angsty story about boyhood and masculinity at a Jewish summer camp is now available on Bitch Magazine’s website.

I did this story for the upcoming feminist comics anthology The Big Feminist BUT, an anthology of feminist comics by both women and men. The list of contributors is, frankly, AMAZING — Hope Larson! Jeffrey Brown! Sarah Oleksyk! Jen Wang! Shaenon Garrity! Tom Neely! — and I can’t wait to read my copy. If you’re interested, please kick in a few bucks to the Big Feminist BUT’s kickstarter campaign.

Jewish Telegram article about Hereville

On December 2, 2012 · 0 Comments

In the November 9 issue of the UK newspaper The Jewish Telegram, they had a nice article about me and my work. You can see it as it appeared on the page in pdf form here, or read the text of the article below. Many thanks to writer Mike Cohen!

11-year-old Mirka is a big draw for cartoonist Barry

BATMAN, Superman, Spider-Man move over, there’s a new superhero in town — an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl!

Portland-based author Barry Deutsch has created Mirka who has starred in two Hereville comic books.

Barry introduced the world to Mirka in How Mirka Got Her Sword and has followed it with second book, How Mirka Met a Meteorite.

But he revealed that his hero originally began life as a male character.

“Mirka started with the idea of a medieval fairytale hero, who was having trouble with his dragon fighting because, in his country, Jews weren’t allowed to carry swords,” the 44-year-old explained.

“As usually happens to ideas, time produces radical changes, and by the time the girl-friendly comics site Girlamatic asked me to submit something, the idea of an 11-year-old Orthodox girl’s quest for a sword was right there.”

But why did Barry make his heroine Orthodox?

“I’ve always enjoyed comics that use culturally specific settings — Usagi Yojimno and Love and Rockets are two of my favourites,” he said.

“I think comics are an especially good medium for that, because instead of having to explain, comics can simply embed the reader in a new culture.

“It’s not a lecture, it’s not ‘educational’, it’s just there, inseparable from the characters’ lives.

“So I was eager to try that out, and setting Hereville in an Orthodox Jewish community gave me a reason to research my own Jewish heritage.”

Barry describes the Orthodoxy as a “little important to the storyline” adding that “it is mainly important to the setting and to the main character. It’s an irremovable part of who Mirka is”.

And the Hereville books are aimed at a unique audience — Barry.

“I write and draw the comics that I want to read,” he laughed.

“But I certainly intend Hereville to be read by a general readership. Anyone who enjoys a good adventure story with an unusual protagonist can enjoy

Barry is unmarried, but lives in a semi-communal house, which he co-owns with his partners Sarah and Charles, who he has lived with since the late 1980s.

“There are nine of us altogether, including two lovely smart girls, aged seven and nine, who are two of my best friends.

“We watch Doctor Who together and discuss escape plans should the Weeping Angels suddenly attack.

“They have definitely been an influence on Mirka.”

Barry is working on the third Mirka book and has at least another two planned after that.

He said: “I love the character and the setting, and as long as I have stories that seem fresh and worth telling, and as long as the market keeps on irrationally supporting me rather than making me acquire a real job, there will be more Hereville books.”

Barry didn’t have high hopes for the Hereville series.

“Weird concept, weird colour scheme, unknown creator — I was expecting it to flop like a fish, frankly,” he told me.

Barry describes himself as “Jewish and secular”, adding:

“My parents raised me a reform Jew; we went to synagogue only on big holidays, and I barely attended at all after my barmitzvah.

“My parents became much more religious after I had moved out. I’m still extremely secular in my life, and I identify as a Jewish atheist.

“One of the benefits of working on Hereville is that it gives me a way to connect to Judaism in my everyday life that I’d probably lack otherwise.”

Barry became a comic book fans before he could actually read.

He said: “My parents had the original art to a Sunday page of Walt Kelly’s ‘Pogo’ on their wall, and I’d stare at this one page, rereading it hundreds of times.

“Professionally, I had been doing political cartoons for many years without making much money at it.

“I did Hereville as a webcomic for fun and, when I had about 60 pages done, I self-published a booklet of it and sold it at a local convention in Portland, Oregon.

“Next to me at the convention was Scott McCloud, who is a pretty famous cartoonist. His agent came by his table and picked up a copy of Hereville.

“A week later I had an agent and three months after that, a book deal. It was head-spinning.”

Barry, who cites Faith Erin Hicks’ Superhero Girl as one of his recent favourites, says his home town is “great for Jews”. He said: “It’s not like the northeast of America, where you can’t go anywhere without bumping into a bunch of other Jews, but there are a group of us here and there are thriving synagogues and schools.

“I haven’t encountered any open antisemitism here at all.”

Barry had never planned on making a career out of comic books. He said he was “committed to becoming a vet until age 12 or so, when I took my first
biology class that asked me to dissect something.

“It turns out that being an animal doctor is actually fairly disgusting — which you think I would have picked up from reading James Herriot.

“Ever since that traumatic event I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist.”

Barry is working on the third Hereville story — which, he revealed, involves a magic fish.

He has also contributed a short story to an anthology of feminist comics. Barry’s story in The Big Feminist But is called How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil and is set in a Jewish summer camp.

You can read previews of both Hereville books here, and buy copies here.

Jewish Journal: Hereville is a “perfect Chanukah gift”!

On November 27, 2012 · 2 Comments

From the Jewish Journal’s article on “Books that make perfect Chanukah gifts“:

Those looking for a gift for kids who like comics and adventure stories can’t go wrong with “Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite” (Amulet) by author/illustrator Barry Deutsch. This highly anticipated sequel to the 2010 Sydney Taylor Award-winning graphic novel has nothing to do with the holiday of Chanukah, but it would certainly make a fabulous gift. […]

Kids will love the zany plot and the brilliance of the art that proves superior at conveying typical childhood emotions with great empathy. What a treat to have Mirka back! Parents and relatives of 9- to 12-year-olds of any denomination who like comics, reading or action surely won’t go wrong by picking up the first two volumes of this witty and popular new series for middle-grade readers.

Thank you, Lisa Silverman!

Although I always find it a bit odd that Hereville is said to be for “9- to 12-year-olds,” since I’m trying to create an adventure comic book that I’d enjoy were I the reader. Apparently I’m very immature for someone in his forties. (Not exactly news).

You can find information about buying both Hereville books here.

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