Party with Perps

Hey, if you live in or near North Adams or feel like hitchhiking to Massachusetts, you can come to next Wednesday’s party for the Perp!

Click the image above for party details.

The North County Perp is a small-scale, low-rent, shoestring ‘zine that I seem to have propelled into existence by sheer force of will and a willingness to spend my own money printing it even though I’m giving copies away for free.

This kind of thing is why no one ever makes the mistake of calling me a good businessman!

It all started several years ago, back when Eddie and I were North Adams newbies, when I noticed (a) that none of the locally published newspapers had any discernible interest in publishing locally drawn cartoons; and (b) that there weren’t even that many places around here that were looking to publish written humor, satire, or essays that risked stepping on toes.

It’s not that nobody in these parts is funny. Seth Brown, a friend of mine, writes cool humor columns regularly for the North Adams Transcript. Bill Shein, who doesn’t know me from Adam, spoons up nice helpings of wit in the op-ed columns he contributes twice a week to the Berkshire Eagle.

But even Seth, despite his own foothold in the local media, agreed with the bitching and moaning I threw at him during our conversation at a Williamstown party a couple of years ago when we had just met. Venues for folks like us are rare around here, he ruefully allowed. But on the whole, guys like Seth are exceptions in these parts. That seriousness has the upper hand among Berkshire commentators is undeniable. Seriousness plus a disorienting degree of courtesy.

Courtesy: bane of satirists everywhere! New Englanders don’t like to hurt each other’s feelings even if, in their hearts, they think they are surrounded by idiots. It ain’t like it was back in New York City; sharp elbows in the rib are not appreciated among small town folks who cross paths with each other regularly. I might as well be back in the rural South again!

Or maybe a shortage of humor isn’t the core problem. I’m not all that funny myself; in fact, I can be a major depressive if my supply of Zoloft runs out. There’s a shortage of quirkiness, whether couched in sobriety or glee. Weirdness is out. (I’m not talking about people in the real world, understand; there’s plenty of refreshing weirdness there. I’m talking about a shortage of weirdness in the words and pictures that get applied to paper.)

I’m not typical, I admit. If I ruled the world every city would have at least one old-fashioned underground newspaper that celebrated sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. But then, I’m a traditionalist.

Anyway, you’d have to be totally off your beam to think that a genuinely underground newspaper of the San Francisco Oracle or East Village Other sort could possibly take root here in the Berkshire mountains this century. Hell, you can’t even find eyeball-candy rags like that in ‘Frisco or the Big Apple anymore. But it did feel like one segment of the creative people in the north county were being unfairly deprived of a place where they could be at least a little out of the ordinary in print.

So last year I decided to see if I could make something happen myself. My role model wasn’t the Oracle, actually, but rather the cheap little photocopied handout some friends and I put out while we were at Birmingham-Southern College in 1967. Nothing momentous; just something to jack up the energy level of a sleepy campus and allow us student smartasses to let off steam. We called our college "underground" paper Granny Takes a Trip.

(Sound familiar? Back in April of 2006 I wrote a blog entry about one of the pieces I wrote for it.)

But back to the present: I decided to name my new venture the North County Perp, subtitled: "Perpetrators of irreverent art and commentary for Berkshire County and the world." To get the ball rolling, I put a stack of fliers on the counter of a North Adams bookstore and asked a local writers’ group to distribute copies to its members. Hoping word would spread, I waited to see if interest would be generated.

Lo and behold, some submissions did materialize and the Perp was soon taking form—only to get temporarily derailed by Mark the Art Guy, the 14-episode commercial webcomic gig that was unexpectedly commissioned by Adobe Systems Inc. just as the Perp was beginning to take flight. As a non-income-producing indulgence in publishing hobbyism, the Perp of necessity conceded the field to Mark, which consumed most of my waking hours during much of the last year. Thanks to Mark the Art Guy and some other welcome freelance assignments that have showed up unexpectedly, it’s been life-on-the-back-burner time for my little gaggle of art perpetrators.

Fortunately, the Perp has been blessed by a set of preternaturally patient contributors who have waited out the long lull uncomplainingly. Along the way, some additional local writers and cartoonists have added their work to the mix. And now, with my Adobe work completed, the Perp‘s early momentum has been restored. The printing is done and preparations for the aforementioned launch party are underway.

Come if you can.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
This entry was posted in Life & Art, Me, Me, Me!, Yesterday & Today. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Party with Perps

  1. Rachel says:

    Sorry I missed the launch party; I’ve downloaded the .pdf to read at my leisure. I’m so glad this is out there!

    (Want to write something about it for the Grossly Biased Guide to the Berkshires?)

  2. How wonderful! I’m marking it on my calendar right now. Coincidentally, I was just thinking recently about trying to revive the free comics flyer I used to do. I’ll bring some along – they’re not necessarily the most amazing thing every given away, but they sure were free!