Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jeff Pert, in Passing

   In lieu of my weekly panel, I'm reposting a remix of thoughts + comments left across other threads in regards to the death of artist Jeff Pert, who put his pens down on Friday, April 4th. Awful news, and a tremendous loss to the cartoon community and and to Maine. Mike Lynch has more here, the Kennebec Journal has a great writeup here, and more of Jeff's work can be viewed at his websites here, here and here.

   Jeff had a signature style, and tapped into a regional flavor of humor that made his work as indelible a product of his environment + culture as anything else found in that neck of the woods. He was a tremendous inspiration, not just his gags but also in his one-man marketing efforts that left a successful presence in print, on-line in merchandise all across New England. One of the reasons I very rarely say no anyone expressing any interest whatsoever in the medium of cartooning is that, like virtually every other practitioner of the craft, Jeff was so open with sharing his time, experience and opinions and advice. When I had migrated to Bar Harbor for an extended hiatus, he was welcoming and gracious to another single-panel gag cartoonist effectively set up shop in his (surf and) turf: it was with no small sense of trepidation when we met that he was more than an established local personality, he was "the lobster cartoonist" - yet he literally went out of his way to support and encourage me.

   Our paths first crossed at MECAF 2011, and we had stayed in touch even after returning to Alaska, corresponding a lot last year about his making a more concerted effort at moving into the classroom as a visiting artist + artist-in-residencies, and it was so exciting to and gratifying to read of the tremendous success of his book that was published in 2012.

In good company...

   After the awful news I raised a private bottle of Cap'n Eli's (which one of the supermarkets here in town actually carries by the individual bottle for two bucks a pop) in his honor, and chowed down on a solo lobster roll. Actually since I couldn't afford the real thing, it was imitation lobster - which seeing as how it's actually made from Alaska pollock, I though he'd appreciate the irony. (Update: believe it or not, as it turned out none was to be found anywhere (lotsa fake crab though, go figure), so I had to shell out (sorry) eight bucks for one little tail. And it was created as a white-trash special, so culinary purists out there can, well...

   Just this past February Jeff had made a poignant, if not prophetic comment "Why is it that everyone who dies was suddenly the best person in the world? Really? No faults, never pissed anyone off? When _I_ go, I want it to be like the State of the Union speech - someone says a bunch of stuff, but then my detractors add their two cents. Only seems fair." Well, the problem is that pissing people off isn't necessarily a "fault," and being one of the best people (or wost for that matter) in the world never happens "suddenly" - you have to put in the requisite time and earn it. And Jeff definitely earned respect and friendship from many folks all over the planet:
In the end, Dumont said, Pert’s family and large circle of friends were proud of his success, with his artwork forming the basis of Maine’s identity for thousands of visitors to the state. “He got to live on his terms,” Dumont said. “He lived the life of an artist and he worked on his art every day.” - Portland Press Herald
   I’ve always been one to miss the jesters instead of the kings, and there are certain people who you will mourn and remember better with a sad smile and a bitter laugh (some of those are the best). There’s an empty space on the funny page, a noticeable absence on some comment threads, and the email in-box, but one very small consolation is in how Jeff did better than many in training someone to fill those places. Aside from eating a disgusting commemorative sammich, the very best thing to do in memory of his talents would be to get back to the drawing table, to keep teaching, and to mention his legacy and contributions to the profession.
   My condolences to his many friends and family and peers in New England cartooning: Jeff was (and still is) funny as hell, and he will be missed.

Personal fave from the New Year's post


  1. A great remembrance, Jamie. Jeff is missed. He was (and remains) an inspiration.

  2. Definitely one of the high points of the convention was the connections made: all you guys were (and remain) a real kick in the funny pants.