Of Skank Kids, Germs and Circle Jerks: The influential punk art & comics of Shawn Kerri

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.


More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
10:57 am
Listen to the Psychedelic Folk Music of The Deep Six: The whole album from 1966

The Deep Six were a 6-piece (5m 1f) psychedelic folk band from San Diego, who achieved minor success in the mid-sixties with one single and their first and last, eponymous album:

Between late 1965 and early 1966 Deep Six were riding the crest of a wave and when their first single came out, “Rising Sun”, it was a huge hit - but it was a hit in Southern California and almost nowhere else. They toured relentlessly and got lots of good press and good crowds. But when their first (and only) album came out, it failed to show up anywhere on the charts and The Deep Six, badly bruised by the lack of enthusiasm, soldiered on a bit more before calling it a day and splintering into different careers.

Such is the fickle nature of pop, but listening to the album today, there are a few fab jewels tucked away in this album and some interesting things going on here, from the arrangements (some by David Gates), to the stellar list of session musicians (Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Mike Deasy, Al Casey, Larry Knechtel, Ray Pohlman, and Barney Kessel) that makes The Deep Six an album well worth re-visiting.

Opening with an amazing cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”, which sets a standard the album tries to maintain. While songs such as “When Morning Breaks”, and covers of “A Groovy Kind of Love” and “Solitary Man” make the mark, there are others, including the single “Rising Sun” - which isn’t as good as one would expect - and the cheesy “Somewhere My Love” (aka “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago) that hint at why The Deep Six didn’t make it beyond 1967. A shame, for the potential was certainly there.

Here is the whole album as it was originally relased, upload EarpJohn, who has a damn fine channel on YouTube.

01.  “Paint it Black”  2:42
More from The Deep Six, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:50 pm