A flyer by artist Shawn Kerri for the Circle Jerks from 1981
“I’ve never gotten the same thrill out of having one of my cartoons printed in a magazine as much as seeing one of my old fliers — something I did for a punk gig the week before — laying in the gutter. Seeing it all mashed and dirty thrilled me, because that was how I was living, too. It looked exactly like my life.”
—artist Shawn Kerri
Artist Shawn Kerri (Shawn Maureen Fitzgerald) spent most of her life growing up near San Diego before taking off to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Kerri was just nineteen when she showed up at the office of CARtoons magazine looking for work and quickly became one of the magazine’s only female illustrators for much of its entire run. A huge fan of hot automobiles herself, Kerri drove a badass 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air around LA hitting up shows and soaking in the city at every stop. Swept up in the furor of late 70s and early 80s southern California punk, Kerri’s artwork quickly became a favorite of bands like Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., the Germs and others which were used for show flyers, posters, and album art. Perhaps her most intrinsic contribution to the punk scene is the “Skank Kid,”(as originally drawn and named by Kerri), the high-stepping hardcore mascot of the Circle Jerks since the early 1980s. You know, this guy:
The Skank Kid skanking by Shawn Kerri in 1981.
Early on in her career, Kerri worked along with her then-boyfriend, another notable illustrator entrenched in the punk scene, Marc Rude, an artist some consider to be one of the fathers of underground punk art. They would collaborate on a zine called Rude Situation but would part ways. Kerri would go on to score work in tons of publications such as Cracked, adult magazines like Hustler, Chic, and Gentleman’s Companion—as well as underground comix and zines like Cocaine Comix, Commies from Mars and Flipside. During her active time as an artist, she was wildly prolific, though not as well known as her peers like Rude, Pushead and fellow SoCal legend Raymond Pettibon. Perhaps it was because Kerri didn’t care to engage in copyright disputes. Such a situation presented itself in 1986 when the agent and record label for one of Kerri’s favorite bands, Circle Jerks, took it upon themselves to claim ownership of the Skank Kid image. Instead of engaging in a long and expensive legal fight, she allegedly signed over the rights to her image to Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris.
Another compelling piece of Kerri’s story are the rumors concerning her death sometime in the 1990s—which have been disputed by many claiming to know otherwise. According to this article, Kerri died shortly before her 40th birthday after falling down the stairs at her mother’s home in San Diego. And this is where we swing back to Kerri’s former boyfriend Marc Rude for what is likely the correct version of what happened to her. According to an article via Maximum Rock N Roll, Carl Schneider, the filmmaker behind the 2014 documentary on Marc Rude, Mad Marc Rude: Blood, Ink & Needles, paid a visit to Kerri at her mother’s home sometime in 2004 and confirmed the artist was still very much alive but in rather poor health. For what it is worth, Kerri’s Wiki page does not note she has passed, listing only the year of her birth which is 1958. Whatever the case, it would be my hope the talented, passionate punk is loved and staying strong somewhere in sunny SoCal. I know Kerri’s dedicated fan-base would love to know more about her current status, as would I.
I’ve posted images of Kerri’s work below as well as a few images of her adult-oriented work published using the name Dee Lawdid. Some are NSFW. Skank or die!
The front cover of the 1980 album by Eddie and the Subtitles, ‘Fuck You Eddie!” by Shawn Kerri.
Kerri’s cover for Cocaine Comix.
“DO THE SLAM” featuring Kerri’s Skank Kid, 1980.
Kerri’s well-known illustration “Skull Hall Of Fame.”
A design for the Germs by Kerri.
A panel from the comic series “Cat and Mouse” published in Cocaine Comix.
An amusing illustration by Kerri for CARtoons magazine.
An illustration done by Kerri for adult publication Adam Magazine and a comic strip called “House of Pleasure.” Another of Kerri’s adult-oriented illustrations is pictured below.
Footage of Circle Jerks performing on ‘New Wave Theatre’ as seen on the USA Network’s show ‘Up All Night.’ A cloth backdrop featuring Kerri’s Skank Kid can be seen hanging behind the drum kit.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80’: Essential collection of prime U.K. punk paraphernalia
‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s
Can we just talk about how great The Dicks (the band) were?