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Passings | Maine cartoonist Jeff Pert, best known for his cartoons and illustrations of lobsters and moose, died Friday on his way to the hospital with chest pains. He was 55. His cartoons adorned souvenir postcards and coffee cups, but he was also an active part of the local comics community in Brunswick, Maine, a regular at Casablanca Comics, and a participant in the Maine Comic Arts Festival. Pert created his first comic when he was in fifth grade and sold copies to local comic shops. “They probably gave us the money and then threw them in the garbage, but we were happy,” said his collaborator (and best friend) Jon Dumont. Pert was known for supporting other artists and even persuaded his local state representative, Maggie Daughtry, to start drawing her own comics: Daughtry knocked on Pert’s door when she was campaigning for office, and, she said, “Within an hour of meeting him, he literally changed my life.” When Daughtry told Pert that she had dreamed of being a cartoonist as a child, he encouraged her to start drawing again, which she did. [Portland Press Herald]
“There was a very fine line to walk, though. To create a book that Comic Book Guy could enjoy because wa-hey, boobies and gore … but that also as a female writer (and a feminist) I could be OK with. Most people won’t notice that the gaze in the book towards the female characters is not predatory — the women are complicit, and in fact usually in charge. It’s a gossamer thing, this manipulation of gaze, this slight change, this look awry — but it makes a huge difference to how the book feels when you read it. The book makes people really happy. And, you know, for the horror crowd, the little changes in having a woman write it so some of the invasive, penetrative horror happens to men — well, it makes for more effective and unexpected horror.”
— writer Alex de Campi, talking with ThinkProgress about her new series Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, a gleefully trashy exploitation comic the describes “straight-up tits and gore, the way nature (and Russ Meyer) intended.”
Nonetheless, De Campi, whose work ranges from the action thriller Ashes to the all-ages Kat and Mouse and My Little Pony, approaches her work in a thoughtful way. In the same interview, she discusses how changing the point of view of a rape scene radically alters it. De Campi’s work illustrates the point that bringing diversity into comics can greatly improve the stories, by introducing fresh and original perspectives — and even surprising the reader.
For a comic series that owes its inspiration to throwback grindhouse films, A.K.A. sure uses cutting-edge technology to get it done. The retro revenge story by Steven Walters and Rob Reilly is set to hit shelves this summer, but it’s already made its premiere digitally — and it wouldn’t have been finished at all if it weren’t for online fundraising. The story follows a mob bodyguard tasked to take down his boss’ rival after the target is found carousing with the boss’ daughter.
“A.K.A. is a 4 part,70’s grindhouse inspired, crime/action mini-series about what happens when you cross the wrong people,and those people who put a million dollar bounty on your head afterwards,” Walters explains.
A.K.A.‘s creators took full advantage of the modern tools of digital comics publishing to see their idea to fruition. In May 2011, Reilly and Walters used Kickstarter to fund the lettering and coloring of the four-part series, and now in February of this year they debuted the full series exclusive to digital on Graphic.ly. And now they’re taking the book to the next stage of its journey with a print edition available for pre-order in this month’s Previews.
Here’s a four-page preview of the first issue: