Perpcover Print-QualityFamed cartooner Howard Cruse is launching a new local interest zine:

The North County Perp, a new magazine compiling essays and art by creative residents of northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts, will celebrate the publication of its premier issue with a launch party at MCLA Gallery 51 (51 Main Street) in North Adams from 6-8 PM on August 1.

The Perp, the 24-page, all-volunteer brainchild of cartoonist Howard Cruse, will be available for free at participating North Adams business until the supply of printed copies is exhausted. A PDF version of the magazine will be available for download at no cost from the Perp’s web site ( after August 1 for the convenience of interested readers who live too far from North Adams to find the printed version.

Celebrating its contributors as “perpetrators of irreverent art and commentary for Berkshire County and the world,” the Perp describes itself as “an experimental venue for humorous writing, home-grown cartoons, and essays on topics too off the beaten path to claim space in our local dailies and weeklies.”

Eleven writers and artists from northern Berkshire County have contributed essays and art to the Perp’s first issue, not counting Cruse himself and the pseudonymously-named “guru for our times” Ben-Ram, who has no fixed address. In his introductory editorial, “Perpetrator-in-Chief” Cruse writes that the Perp “offers itself in the spirit of the cheaply produced, frequently punkish amateur ‘zines that proliferated in the 1970s and ‘80s.” Like the ‘zines that inspired it, Cruse says future issues of the Perp will appear on an irregular schedule “as submissions warrant and as my workflow permits.”

Cruse, a cartooning professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, is the writer/illustrator of the international award-winning graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, published by Paradox Press in 1995, and was co-author with the late Jeanne E. Shaffer of The Swimmer With a Rope In His Teeth, a fable published in 2004 by Prometheus Books. Wende1 All Together, a compilation of the entire run of Cruse’s Wendel strips from the 1980s about a circle of gay friends, was published in 2004 by Olmstead Press and is still available from online retailers.

Cruse shares his personal account of the Perp’s origins in a recent entry of his blog:

Additional information may be found at the Perp’s own web site: