Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Shawn Kerri: Comix, Cars and Punk 1979-1988

I've been a fan of Kerri's work since I first came across it in the early 1980's in the pages of CARtoons. I've never been a car person, especially as a young man in middle school (and as a middle-aged man in the school of hard knocks, HA!), but I always loved cartoons and comic art. The subject matter really didn't matter, as long as the art was strong and the stories entertained me. Along with the regular DC and Marvel comics, I bought an issue of Mad every now and then, Cracked Magazine and CARtoons when I could find them. I grew up in a small town, so my purchases (outside of local gas stations and drug stores) were dependent on my parents driving me to the rare comic stores that popped up in a larger town about 15 miles away. So my regular buying habits pre-drivers license were limited.

CARtoons was a magazine devoted to car lovers and aficionados that was published from 1959-1991 (A brief history found here). Throughout the years the magazine published an impressive array of talented artists, one of those being Shawn Kerri (born Shawn Maureen Fitzgerald) who was one of the few female cartoonists to draw for the magazine. I'm not sure how long she worked on the title, I read here that she worked for the magazine from 1975 until it's demise in 1991, but I can't verify it. The samples I have posted below range from 1980 through 1988. I have posted them in the order in which they were published to get a sense of her growth as an artist. A bonus short interview her from the magazine is posted below as well.

I was attracted to her art from the get go at the time. While I recognized most of the artists were tight and professional, she had a raw energy that sprang to life on the page. Kerri was a mutation between Jack Davis and Tex Avery. Her art wasn't anchored and lifeless, it grabbed you by the eyeballs and took you for a visual ride. You get the sense that she didn't have much (if any) formal training, and that may have been one of the reasons her style was such a success. I'm sure the excitement and energy of the late 70's punk scene, in which she was a part of, helped fuel her art as well. 

Kerri also contributed to a couple of underground comics titles, Cocaine Comix and Commies from Mars. Undergrounds were at the end of their life in the late 70's and 80's, but her few contributions are hilarious. I absolutely love the cover to Cocaine Comix #4. Everywhere I read about her, it states she was a contributor to Cracked Magazine as if she had a long stint with them, but I've only been able to find one story she drew for them. The G.I. Joe spoof posted below, which I remember reading when it came out. 

Along with comics, Kerri was also a major artist in the early Los Angeles hardcore punk scene. She drew numerous posters and flyers for many of the groups around at the time who have since become legendary bands such as the Germs, Circle Jerks, and Adolescents. In fact, Skanking Kid, known for being associated with the Circle Jerks was created by Kerri. More about that and other aspects of Kerri's career can be found here and here.

Is Shawn Kerri alive? I don't know. Following the link above doesn't answer any questions, it just creates more questions. I hope she's still kicking around somewhere and in good health. I hope she's still drawing, if only for herself. And can someone get their act together and put out a great compilation of her art? Sheesh.

(Please click the links provided in the text above. They will provide more information about the life of this great forgotten artist).

UPDATE: I came across this blog that has more info. The comments are interesting until they dissolve into an impressive amount of spam.  

Shawn Kerri


Germs Gig Flyer 1980


Circle Jerks with Skank Kid flyer 1985


Circle Jerks Advertisement 1981


Flyer for a Show 1982


The Adolescents Gig Flyer


Cocaine Comix #3 1981



Cocaine Comix #4 1982


Commies From Mars #2 1979


Commies From Mars #3 1981


Commies From Mars #4 1982






Commies From Mars #5 1986





Commies From Mars #6 1987


CARtoons 1980 February










CARtoons 1980 July-August






CARtoons 1981 May-June










CARtoons 1982 Nov-Dec





CARtoons 1984 July-Aug








CARtoons 1988 December




Cracked Magazine #225 1987






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