Cherry and the Pirates. Artist: Larry Welz.


Medium: Comix
Published by: Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
First Appeared: 1982
Creator: Larry Welz
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Cherry Poptart is not, as one may guess from the name, one of Strawberry Shortcake's friends. She's a contemporary of Archie, Dunc & Loo, Aggie Mack etc., cute and bouncy, fully (but barely) of age, looks just like a member of the same genre, and possesses an adult libido such as Teena, Susie Q. Smith, Candy, The Jackson Twins, Patsy & Hedy etc. never dreamed. Or at least never gave in-print evidence of …

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… having dreamt. What Katy Ka-Boom is to one major aspect of teenage hormones, Cherry Poptart is to the other.

Despite all the on-panel cavorting she and her friends indulged in, there was never any mention of the Dark Side of sex. No sexually transmitted diseases, no unwanted pregnancies, no rape, no lives ruined, no dreary morality tales of any sort. Not unless they were funny. Anyone seeking a hard-hitting story about AIDS or a sober-faced public service announcement about remembering to use protection, was looking in the wrong adults-only comic book. Cherry was about having fun.

Not that cartoonist Larry Welz (Captain Guts), Cherry's creator, was unaware of the Dark Side. But as he put it, "We like to think that most of our readers can tell the difference between a black and white comic book and Reality."

Cherry wasn't the only one in the comic having fun. Her mom, Pepper Poptart, was surprisingly young for the mother of an 18-year-old (according to Welz, "She's just turned 18, she has always just turned 18, and she will always have just turned 18"), and active to boot. Her friends, such as Lola Palooza (no relation) had fun too. Even Cherry's younger sister, Cinnamon Poptart, was known to complain that she wasn't allowed to have that sort of fun because Welz wasn't doing child pornography.

To enhance the fun, Welz chose a drawing style reminiscent of Dan DeCarlo (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Jetta of the 21st Century) for Cherry. DeCarlo's artwork (which Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, credited with having confirmed his own heterosexuality) was also the basis of the Archie Comics house style. In a Cherry FAQ, Welz covered the question of whether or not that company had been unpleasant about it (expressing it in a normal but vulgar way, using a word which is not found on this site). He answered, simply, "Yes", then moved on to the next question.

The first issue of Cherry's comic book came out in 1982. The publisher was Last Gasp Eco-Funnies, also the publisher of Dr. Atomic and Mickey Rat. Last Gasp continued to publish it irregularly for years, over a dozen issues altogether. Cherry has since been published by Tundra Publications (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Kitchen Sink Press (Steve Canyon). Since the early 1990s, Welz has published it under the imprint "Cherry Comics", from his home in Roswell, New Mexico. There was once talk of a movie version, but not lately.

Only two issues of the comic book were actually titled Cherry Poptart. There's a persistent story going around that Kellog Cereal (Tony the Tiger) had moved to protect its trademark on the word "Poptart", but what actually happened is Wellz decided her first name alone had become a strong enough trademark to sell the comic, and the logo looked better as a single word, so Kellog apparently never thought it necessary to bring the issue up. Subsequent issues have been titled simply Cherry; or in the case of a few mid-'90s specials with guest creators like Chuck Austen (Phantom Lady) or Marv Wolfman (Night Force), Cherry's Jubilee.

But under whatever title, all of Welz's Cherry material is kept available, either as individual comic books or in graphic novel form — even today, when she's been in print longer than she is old.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Larry Welz.