I’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend

On March 1, 2013 · Comments Off

I’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend, sharing a table with autobio cartoonist Becky Hawkins and her shoulder angel. We’ll be at table R-06 in Artist’s Alley; if you’re in Seattle, please come and say hi.

Under Appearances

Barry interviewed on KBOO radio today!

On January 10, 2013 · Comments Off


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.

Publisher’s Weekly on Hereville: “one of the most original and comically endearing heroines to come down the pike in a long time.”

On December 22, 2012 · Comments Off

Publisher’s Weekly has posted their starred review of Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite. (Note: some spoilers ahead, although not more than you’d get from reading the back cover.)

Eleven-year-old Mirka Herschberg is as disheveled, prickly, competitive, and impulsive as ever in this companion to Deutsch’s Hereville (2010). She’s both a fish out of water (she dreams of being a sword-wielding dragon slayer) and committed to her Orthodox Jewish faith, family, and community. All of this makes her one of the most original and comically endearing heroines to come down the pike in a long time.

The meteorite in the title is actually an alien life form—dubbed “Metty”—that becomes Mirka’s reverse doppelganger: a too-good-to-be true twin who’s not only neater, defter at dispatching bullies, and better at basketball than Mirka, but also determined to permanently displace her. With unexpectedly effective help from Mirka’s family (who are savvier and more accepting than Mirka realizes), her messy personality triumphs over perfection.

The drably handsome olive and peach palette provides visual cohesion—an anchor that allows Deutsch’s extravagantly chronicled emotions to fly high—while simultaneously making the story’s extraterrestrial elements and scenes (colored in bold yellows and blues) all the more magical and alien by contrast.

Information about buying Hereville books can be found here.

Dramatic reading of Tony Harris’ misogynistic rant

On December 10, 2012 · Comments Off

Made me giggle.


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

On December 6, 2012 · Comments Off

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 · Comments Off

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
Hereville.”

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.

Now Selling Signed Copies of Hereville!

On November 26, 2012 · Comments Off

Hey, folks. What with Chanukah and that other holiday coming up soon, I wanted to let you know that I’m selling copies of Hereville. Go here for all the details, or if you’d rather not see the details, you can go directly to my Big Cartel page.

Of course, you can also buy unsigned copies from all the usual booksellers. :-)

Three comments on the Tony Harris kerfuffle

On November 14, 2012 · 7 Comments

(Warning: This post contains some content raged “PG,” and maybe even “PG-13,” including mentioning b**bs and a couple of uses of the F word. Also, in case any readers don’t know this word, “cosplay” means, basically, going to a convention dressed up as a character, usually a character from genre fiction. “Cosplayers” are those who “cosplay.”)

1) You’re embarrassing us, Tony.

Just for the record, as a professional comic book creator, a lifelong comics fan, and someone who attends comic book conventions, I am happy to be sharing a subculture with cosplayers. Cosplayers don’t have to prove they are “true nerds.” They don’t need admission to the club, because they’re already in it.

I’m also not embarrassed to be sharing my subculture with what Tony Harris calls “a LOT of average Comic Book Fans who either RARELY speak to, or NEVER speak to girls. Some Virgins, ALL unconfident when it comes to girls…” I don’t agree they’re the norm, but yeah, there are some guys like that at cons. They’ve got problems to overcome, but who doesn’t? Many of them are really nice, albeit socially clumsy.1

But do you know who I AM embarrassed to share my subculture with? Tony Harris. Because he wrote this.

Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”.

It is humiliating for me to read that and realize that I’m sharing a profession and a nerd culture with the author.

And unfortunately, Tony Harris doesn’t stand alone.

2) Which comic book culture do you want to be part of?

There’s the comic book culture in which women (and especially female cosplayers) are objects of suspicion.2 “What the hell are you doing here? Are you a real nerd or just pretending? Here, let me quiz you on Star Trek.” There’s the comic book culture in which a major artist posts in his public Facebook area that he finds most female cosplayers to be “quasi-Pretty-NOT-hot” and to have less than “great” “boobies,” and makes it clear that as a “rule” he considers most female cosplayers to be intruders in his space.

Or there’s the comic book culture in which we react to someone of either sex dressing up by saying “wow! You look really neat!” A culture that welcomes new people and assumes they belong there.

We can hang up a sign that says “Private, boys only, keep out!3 A culture in which only the hardiest women will show their faces, because being treated like a suspicious outsider simply isn’t fun.

Or we can hang up a sign that says “We love our toys, and maybe you will too! Come in and share them!” A culture in which cosplayers keep on attending cons and making them more colorful and interesting for everyone. A culture in which everyone who loves nerd culture – even if they don’t love it in the exact way Tony Harris believes is the One Correct Way – can feel welcome.

Why would any thinking person want to live in the former culture, when the latter culture is an option?

3) A bit of fisking.

In a follow up comment, Tony Harris wrote:

So I am a Misogynist? Why?

Oh, has this not been made clear? Well, then, let me explain.

I’m not going to say you’re a misogynist, because I don’t know you, and I’m sure there are sides to you other than the ugly side you showed us yesterday. But I will say that your rant was very misogynistic.

Your rant was misogynistic because of the over-the-top display of bitter fury towards women you disapprove of; because of the sneering at women’s bodies and breasts that you deem insufficiently “GREAT” for your refined tastes; and because it was yet another attempt by a male nerd to play gatekeeper and declare which women are and aren’t True Nerds.

Because I frown upon Posers who are sad, needy fakers who use up all my air at Cons?

They’re not “sad, needy fakes.” They’re people having a good time while at a comic book convention, and for some reason that makes you furious.

And the air? Not yours. Everyone gets a share. (Jesus Christ, Tony, get a fucking grip.)

Sorry, while you Cos”Play” Im actually at work. Thats my office. Fuck you.

Hey, Tony, that’s my office too. So, speaking as an officemate, can I beg you to knock it the fuck off? Those people you’re sneering at are customers. Without them, neither of us will make a living.

Sure, most of the cosplayers aren’t there to buy my comics (or yours). But most of everyone at a con isn’t there to buy my comic (or yours). There are approximately a billion zillion comics available to buy at a con, and most fans aren’t going to buy more than a handful. We set up “office” for the chance to sift through thousands of fans to find the tiny percent who are looking for our stuff.4

By the way, cosplay is one of the very few things at comic book cons that little kids can enjoy. That’s my future customer base, officemate, so please don’t dis something that’s actually making comic book conventions fun for them.

I actually dont hate women, I dont fear them either. Nor do I mistrust them. I do not portray or Objectify half naked women in my work. I never have. I have always been VERY vocal about my dislike of that practice, and that my view is and has been that T&A in comics is a Pox.

I don’t think I agree that T&A is a pox, but I think the way that T&A predominates in comics is a pox.5 So we’re not far apart on that.

More importantly, it’s great that you’re working to avoid misogyny in your comics. Really, it is. (I work at the same thing in my comics). I also think it’s great that you love and respect your mom, your wife, and your daughters, as I saw you mention in another Facebook comment. However, you seem to think that these things are inoculations – that because you’ve created some non-misogynistic comics, and you love the women in your life, that means that you’re immune from ever saying anything misogynistic, and anyone criticizing your words for sexism must be wrong.

That’s not how it works, dude.

If you write a post saying that five times five is ten, then that’s wrong. And if a dozen people point out to you that “5×5=10″ is wrong, it makes no sense to defend it by saying “but look at all these other times when I’ve done the math correctly!” Yes, it’s great that you did the math correctly all those other times. But that doesn’t magically mean that you didn’t mess up this time.

It would be better if you worked on understanding why everyone’s saying you screwed up, and learning not to screw up that way again, rather than just going on and on about how it’s completely unfair of us to say that “5×5=10″ is wrong, don’t we even remember that time you said four times six is twenty-four?

UPDATE:

Just saw this comic drawn by sailorswayze on tumblr, and couldn’t resist including it here:

UPDATE 2: John Scalzi has an explanation for this bizarre phenomenon.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. I don’t deny, by the way, that there are some guys at cons who are really shy and socially clumsy, and who are also mean, misogynistic, and rude. But the problem there isn’t the shyness or clumsiness, it’s the other stuff. []
  2. Cartoonist Colleen Doran tweeted, “Those kitty cat ears may be the end of comic book culture as we know it. Please keep wearing them. Thank you.” []
  3. As comics writer Gail Simone tweeted, “Remember, kids, it’s very important that we do everything possible to make sure new people don’t try to become part our medium/hobby.” []
  4. But what about cosplayers who just don’t buy comics at all? Well, so what? Some action figure collectors go to cons for the action figures, and don’t have much interest in comics. Oddly, no one questions their interest in comics, or their right to share the air. Because they’re mostly men. []
  5. By the way, why are there so many T&A posters featuring zombies at comic cons? I know a lot of artists like drawing both boobs, and rotting corpses, and apparently they figure that drawing both at once will be twice the fun. But, speaking as a con-goer, it’s just gross. []
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