A Cartoonized & Photoonized New York City

The world of comic books is a world of extravagance. Gallant, brave heroes and heroines swoop in to save the day in fantastical ways, showing the differences
between them and the average person, who can only hope to be a little like them. They offer something unattainable to the average person while simultaneously trying to make it seem as though they could be a part of a “world of heroes.” What is described in comic book stories is not necessarily true, but there are grains of truth, nuggets of possibilities and seeds of dreams. Peter G Pereira with his collection of innovative comics, allows the regular person to become the hero.

Cartoon strip of a man talking about New York being an urban jungle
by Peter Pereira

Pereira’s journey into the art world started at a very young age when he discovered a love for colors and finger painting in elementary school. He continued to expand his art repertoire into as many fields as he could; drawing, oil painting, sculpture, comics and so much more. While oil painting would be what he came to enjoy the most, it is his unique comics that captured our attention.

During his youth, Marvel and DC comics began their rise to fame. A golden age of comics when the great creators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were bringing us adventures that would captivate young and old minds alike with terrific stories of great heroes battling evil. They tried to tackle real world issues using fantasy, but these comics did not depict the real-world struggles of the average person.

Pereira wanted to mix his love of comic books with his love of all art and so created comic strips about regular people who live in New York. His unique comics combine photographs of real people along with comic style drawings and dialogue to create a one-of-a-kind genre of the real world in comic book form. In his own words he “cartoonizes and photoonizes” in his books New York IN TOON TOO: An Original Tapestry woven from the fabric of New York Day in the Life Stories and Our Town Cartoons and Photoons: NYC Comic Book Reality Narratives, Art Illustrations and Photograph Photoons.

2 cartoons. The top is a photo of a book store with a cat on the counter saying "Nick?' and man in the store scrtaching his neck, wearing a fleece jacket saying "Boo"?
Below a image of a drawn Hulk in front of some mountains asking "Jack Kirby I presume?"

His creations exist not just to tell the stories of the people he meets, but also as a way of interacting with them and the world they inhabit. He brings his imagination to bear on their lives as well as intertwining his own story with theirs, telling stories that may not have been told otherwise. Not stories that are grandiose like regular comic books, but subtle stories of everyday events and people. Not great deeds of otherworldly proportions but great deeds of regular person-to-person interaction.

Pereira’s work can sometimes be a puzzle waiting to be solved. What is the message in these works? He says that he does not necessarily have a message for people, rather just a request to keep looking. “Take from the art what you can, keep looking and keep your mind working to come to your own conclusions about what it all means.”

While Pereira deals with the daily life in bustling New York City, he also makes references to history, philosophy, art, literature, politics, news and popular culture and much more. For instance he acknowledges other comic book artists. In his AprilToons 2021, the first image depicts a bookstore with only two words said by a cat and a man: “Nick?” “Boo?” These are names of two famous comic book artists, Nick Spencer (who turned the usually perfect Captain America into an evil, Hydra sleeper-agent) and Boo Cook, the British Cover Artist. The second image is of the ‘Hulk ‘ saying “Jack Kirby I presume” and the response is “Ditko?” Jack Kirby was the artist and writer who invented the character of the ‘Hulk’ but the original strip only lasted 6 issues. When the ‘Hulk’ was revived, Steve Ditko took over the drawings for a while until Kirby retook the helm again. In this way Pereira details the changing of the guard in the comic world.

For Pereira art is not just making something for others to see but a way of life. It helps him interact with those around him, meet new people, tell new stories, and get new perspectives. That along with having new eyes look at his stories, telling him how it makes them feel, what they take away from it, and what it changes for them, if anything, is what continues to drive him to create. He is a driven man who loves art in all its forms and do not expect his creative juices to stop flowing anytime soon. I am very sure Peter Pereira will be creating for the rest of his life, so please take the time and have a little peek at his work.

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