Monday, September 12, 2011

Fan-Boy Icon #53: Larry Welz (@LarryWelz)

Cartoonist Larry Welz came out of the underground comics world of the late '60s with work in comics like Captain Guts, Bakersfield Kountry Komics, and American Flyer Funnies. His most successful work was with the Archie Comics inspired pornographic comic Cherry Poptart, later known simply as Cherry. It ran for twenty-two issues in the '80s and '90s. According to numerous mentions in the comic there was to be a live-action Cherry film, but to the best of my knowledge this never happened.

Initially, the comic took jabs at the Mom and Apple Pie version of American teens as portrayed in Archie. The characters in Cherry were promiscuous and no strangers to drug use. The comic became a bit more Sadean as it went along, attacking Christian mores more directly. Cherry was in my opinion a very Sadean libertine, sans the penchant for torture. She is a free spirit who rarely feels there is a moral line to cross, and promotes that idea in others. There is very little in the way of a story arc, though it will call back to previous issues from time to time. The stories are similar to Mad Magazine style parody, often mixing elements for dual parody (such as a Star Trek TNG meets Star Wars story). As the series developed the comics would typically have a theme connecting each story, or the entire book would be a single story.

I do enjoy Welz's work. It is at times very smart for what is essentially mere pornography. Cherry is less victim than is typical, and while Welz often calls her a bimbo she is given quite a bit of insight and not portrayed as stupid. As victim-hood goes, Cherry typically selects her sexual partners rather than them being thrust [ahem] upon her. My biggest concern is in the occasional treatment of black characters. There are not many, which is typical of the comics that Cherry is satirizing, but when they are it is rather offensive. Whether this is parody of American thought of the day or actual opinion is hard to determine from the comic. I would like to think it is the former, but there is some other awkward talk in the book, particularly concerning AIDS... however, growing up in the beginning of the AIDS crisis I do remember how poor information was and the numerous conspiracy theories. It was a difficult thing to deal with, and we still don't have all the answers.

I am not sure how active Welz is these days. Apparently he took a stab at Tumblr for a while, Twitter too, and has a Cherry Comix website where you can get a hold of the comics as well as original artwork. The comics are worth checking out, provided you are of the appropriate age.


Timothy S. Brannan said...

Awesome. Been years since I have seen Cherry Poptart!

Darius Whiteplume said...

Since this post I saw a mention of Welz doing an online version of "The Bird" but have not gotten a look at it yet.

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