Hands Up Herbie

Hands Up, Herbie! follows artist Herb Perr from a mob-linked Jewish family in Brighton Beach of the 40s and 50s, through the studios of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, Reagan-era art activism, and a reckoning with the responsibilities of raising a family. In his debut graphic novel, Joey Perr tells his father’s story with sensitivity and warmth, bringing moments of deep struggle and bright comedy to life with equal panache.


“With deft stylistic economy, Joey Perr unfolds his father Herb’s escape from a childhood of poverty, crime, and brutality on the outermost fringe of Brooklyn, to become an artist, activist, and educator in Greenwich Village. The journey spans four generations, from the author back to his Eastern European–born great-grandfather, examining the multigenerational scars of immigration. The cultural distance Herbie travels from Brooklyn to Manhattan is as profound as that traversed by his old-world grandfather. A highly accessible and lively read, Hands Up, Herbie! is a reflection on the tension between our indelible heritage and our potential for self-determination.”

—  Sabrina Jones
Artist and Author of Our Lady of Birth Control: A Cartoonist’s Encounter with Margaret Sanger

Hands Up, Herbie! is a delightful, matter-of-fact graphic biography of artist and activist Herb Perr, in his words and his son Joey’s drawings. From Herb’s dysfunctional, petty- criminal family background, through intellectual awakening in the 1960s Lower East Side, personal struggles, art world involvement, to a professor’s life and founding member of PAD/D during the Reagan era, this is a powerful and moving story, imaged with empathy and without pathos.”

— Lucy Lippard
Author of Get The Message? A Decade of Art for Social Change

“Hands Up, Herbie! is a brilliant work of comic art. In his debut graphic novel, Joey Perr brings us close—maybe a bit too close—to his father, Herb. Herbie is a man at the crossroads, who journeys from a violent beginning in the Jewish, working-class New York of the 1950s, through the SOHO art world of the 1970s, to a reckoning with social responsibility and family life. The story is at times terrifying, at other times uplifting, but always told simply, humbly, and with perfect economy. If you care about comics, or if you don’t care about comics, but you care about human beings, you should read this book.”

— Seth Tobocman
Founding editor of World War 3 Illustrated and author of War In The Neighborhood

Hands Up, Herbie! was successfully funded through Kickstarter in the Spring of 2019, more than doubling its goal. See the original video pitch here or check out the Kickstarter page