April 14, 2024
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Cartoonist Chari Pere Releases Latest Comic

Chari Pere, accomplished cartoonist, is bringing her “cartoon powers” to her latest literary venture. “Shabbos Tales,” the new imprint published by Maggid Comics, a division of Source Point Press through Ox Eye Media, intends to offer children, and adults alike, humorous takes on Shabbos and the Jewish holidays. In the comic, anthropomorphized pieces of Judaica encounter an Erev Shabbos dilemma … and chaos ensues! The first sampler was released just in time for Chanukah 2022.

A few years ago, filmmaker and award-winning author Arnon Shorr approached Pere regarding adapting his short film about Jewish pirates into a graphic novel. She offered insights, and he then published “José and the Pirate Captain Toledano” through Kar-Ben Publishing.

As editor of Maggid Comics and author of an upcoming adventure book series under said division, Shorr’s intention is to create a Jewish Orthodox imprint with high-quality art and stories targeting this audience. Ultimately, Pere’s cover pitch for “Shabbos Tales” turned into a full sampler imprint.

From the time she could hold a pencil, Pere began drawing, foreshadowing a lifelong pursuit in cartooning. As she continued with art lessons at age 6, her parents supported her dreams, and she eventually received a BFA in cartooning with valedictorian honors from the School of Visual Arts New York City.

“I knew from the moment that I read my first Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that I wanted to be a cartoonist—not just an artist. [Its creator] Bill Watterson is the ultimate for me,” said Pere. This was something she and voiceover actor and writer Eli Schiff (now her husband) first bonded over; the comic strip was also his favorite.

“The difference between an illustrator and a cartoonist,” Pere clarified, “is that a cartoonist writes and illustrates. I like doing both!” Since 2007, she has held a variety of positions including cartoonist for all Red Bull advertising campaigns for three years, creative director at a mobile gaming app agency (whose clients included FIFA and Disney), intern at MAD Magazine, and storyboard artist for Comedy Central shorts and Purina and Bud Light commercials.

From a coloring book for kids with diabetes to “Super-Dren,” a graphic novel about bully prevention, to “Diary of a Corona Mama Gone Mad,” a comic and accompanying coloring book to help people get through COVID, her eclectic creative endeavors are testaments to her goal: “I try to use my cartoon powers for good,” Pere said.

The “Corona Mama” series, a collaboration with Schiff as editor, intended to “make people smile, and send a message to people that they’re not alone.” Pere’s husband also edited her “Parsha Coloring Pages Laugh and Learn.” “Shabbos Tales” is their “first opportunity to create a comic together,” noted Schiff.

During the pandemic, Pere also had fun working on an inspirational journal. Inspired by Kristin A. Sherry’s book series, “Maximize 365,” Pere illustrated coloring pages based on Sherry’s writing.

Pere doesn’t shy away from tackling important issues in her work. A poignant piece in her cartooning career is “Miscarried, The Comic” (2017), inspired by personal experience. The piece brought her to England, through Limmud, where she was approached by a fan who shared how the story helped her get through her own miscarriage. Pere still receives emails from others who identify with the piece. “I wanted to create material that I wished was there when I had my miscarriage,” she explained.

Both the parenting website Kveller and actress and author Mayim Bialik caught wind, and shared the comic. Schiff pointed out that men also have stories to tell. “It’s a different kind of suffering, because you’re not dealing with the physical aspects—you feel the mental and emotional aspects, and also want to support your spouse who is going through this experience,” he said. And, when a fan reached out to Pere to share her husband’s story, Pere turned it into the comic “Michael’s Miscarriage.”

“The more we talk about things, the less scary they become,” she writes.

Pere’s friend Noah Bleich, co-founder of “The TeaBook,” a line of whimsically titled teas, recently recruited her to create some catchy tea names. Among 10 humorous titles and cartoons she designed are “Albert EinsTEAn,” “Agatha ChrisTea” and “ShakeSpearmint.”

Pere and Schiff’s children are in on the pun fun. Seeing their cow cartoon in his lunchbox that read “Happy Moo Year,” their son, Jakey, replied with his own note: “This comic is very MOO-ving.”

“I like being able to use my comics in a positive and nondenominational way to reach as many people as possible through humor and a universal style. I like to create art for people’s sake—not just art for art’s sake,” said Pere. The accolades and readership response to her candid and honest work certainly prove her mission to be a success.

By Chaya Glaser

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