Those late afternoon kids' TV specials of the 80s and 90s about Really Important Stuff left their mark on comics artist Dave Kiersh. So much so, that his new book, Kiersh's first full-length graphic novella, is titled Afterschool Special.
Growing up on Long Island, Kiersh found the topic-driven shows on subjects such as safe sex, abstinence and date rape - common denominator: sex? -- pretty darn riveting.
One that he recalls in great detail is the 1988 CBS Schoolbreak Special "No Means No." It's a story about date rape told in voice-over narration by the main characters, one played by Chad Lowe.
In Kiersh's book, Jed and Lisa, virtually the only characters, tell alternate parts of their story -- a page-over, if you will. And it's totally afterschool: the story is about everything that happens to and between Jed and Lisa outside of school.
Kiersh is also a true fan of quality Young Adult literature, noting The Pigman by Paul Zindel and Is Kissing a Girl Who Smokes Like Licking an Ashtray? by Randy Powell as particular favorites. It's a double professional interest: not only does YA lit influence his cartooning, he's a Youth Services librarian at Scottsdale Public Library.
Afterschool Special has had a long, hard road to print. Despite having published several books, including one funded by a Xeric Grant, Kiersh was ready to give up on making comics. There are no Xeric Grants any more, and Afterschool Special had been seen by several publishers, most of whom liked it, but none would commit.
Enter Kickstarter. Kiersh was reluctant to hit up his fellow comics creators, most as broke as he, who might fund his project. But he also really wanted to see Afterschool Special in full-color print. So, he put the project on the crowd-funding website in a very modest way, with few of the jazzy incentives like original sketches, etc. that other artists offer. Kiersh looked at Kickstarter mainly as a way for folks to pre-order his book.
His approach worked.Afterschool Special
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was funded over 100 percent in February and any day now, US Customs will release the printed-overseas books so Kiersh can start filling orders.
Head over to Dave Kiersh's website to order Afterschool Special and the Xeric Award-winning Dirtbags, Mallchicks and Motorbikes.