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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chanukah : A Time for Superheroes

from :

Hanukkah: A Time for Superheroes takes off with the Hanukkah legend of the Maccabees, the ancient Hebrew band of brothers, literally, who fought against the religious repression of the Syrian-Greeks over 2000 years ago. The legendary courage of the Maccabees has also been a source of inspiration for comic book writers since POW, ZAP, and BAM appeared in full color on the DC and Marvel pages. The myth of the weak overcoming the powerful is the age-old message of this holiday of lights.

A Time for Superheroes delves into the background of the artists and writers behind the scenes at Marvel and DC comics, their humble origins and the backdrop of their Jewish experience that inspired Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and of course, Wonder Woman. The program features interviews with the bold and colorful creators of comic book superheroes like Stan Lee (father of all superheroes) and Alan Oirich (Menorah Man)and examines their debuts on the silverscreen.

A Time for Superheroes also introduces the Golem -- the Jewish mystical legend that inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.... and also inspired the cutting edge klezmer group, Golem. Frank London entertains with the Klezmatics new Woody Guthrie CD and some special Hannukah greetings from some surprise contemporary superstars....

Archival radio shows, Hollywood movies and readings will bring
listeners to the edge of their seats. And host Arye Gross, noted actor and director, narrates the compelling tale of how the holiday evolved from a story of military victory to one of light and inspiration.

Also on the program : Trina Robbins, Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, Joe Kubert and Jerry Robinson.

There are dramatizations of the "Revisionist History" story from Marvel Holiday Special (Jan. 1993), as well as of the origin story for Dreidel Maidel.

You may listen to the program by going to
(Realplayer file).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Prehistory of the Jewish Graphic Novel - lecture on Nov. 21st

From Parchment to Comic Book: The Prehistory of the “Jewish Graphic Novel”

The graphic novel – the place where art and literature meet – has become a forum for self discovery and the playing out of Jewish identities and politics. This stratum of Jewish self expression has a pre-history. Join popular lecturer Marc Epstein for a trip into Jewish art history.

Tuesday November 21st at 7:30pm
Temple Beth-El
118 Grand Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603-3097

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Miriam Engelberg in Lilith magazine

The Fall 2006 issue of Lilith magazine has a 1-page reprint of a page from Miriam Engelberg's autobiographical graphic novel Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person. Miriam z"l passed away last month due to complications from the cancer. She was 48.

Super-Mensch: The Story of Jews and Comic Books - course at Jewish Study Centre

The Jewish Study Center in Washington, DC is offering the course Super-Mensch: The Story of Jews and Comic Books, as part of its Fall 2006 session.

The first session (of 5) was last week, but the second is tomorrow.

Here's the course description from the website :

Super-Mensch: The Story of Jews and Comic Books
Oct. 30 - Nov. 27 ,
(5 sessions)
7:00 - 8:15 PM
Members: $55, non-members: $65

Since the inception of the comic book industry, Jews have been involved as writers, artists, and visionaries. In fact, many heroes and villains have been based on the Jewish-American experience. We will look at how the relationship between Jews and comic books began, how it has grown, and what we can expect for the future.

Richard "Kap" Kaplowitz is a lifelong comic book collector and student of the industry. His son sells comics for "Kap's Komics" online and at comic book shows.

Superman Was a Jew - Beit Midrash class in Spring 2007

Jacksonville Jewish Federation is offering a course called "Superman was a Jew" in Spring 2007 as part of its Beit Midrash offerings.

This class looks at how Jews transformed the comic book industry from 1938—present. The creators of some of our favorite comic book stars — Superman, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Batman and the X-men - were Jewish. Students will learn about how these creators designed characters and personas to reflect Jewish values and ideals, and will have the opportunity to design their very own story board in this exciting class.
Instructor: Mrs. Karen Morse

Joann Sfar in NY to promote Klezmer - Nov. 6th

Klezmer is the latest translated-into-English Jewish graphic novel by the Eisner award-winning author-illustrator of The Rabbi's Cat, Joann Sfar.

According to Blog@Newsarama, Joann will be at McNally Robinson Booksellers (52 Prince Street between Lafayette and Mulberry) at 8 PM to promote Klezmer Book One : Tales of the Wild East. Call the store at 212.274.1160 for more information.

You may view scans of untranslated pages from Book 2 by going to the First Second blog.

Here are links to 6 sites that discuss &/or review Klezmer Book 1 :

Comics Should Be Good!, Mad Ink Beard, Fuse #8, Jog - the Blog, Jewschool and Klezmer Shack.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

San Diego Comic-Con International Report #3 : Programming Day One

In this 3rd San Diego Comicon report, I will talk about the programming that I attended on Thursday. As I suggested in my previous 2 posts, being a newbie, I wasn't quite as aware as I now am, of how easily one can lose track of time in the exhibit hall, trying to score swag, autographs and sketches. Next time out, I'll probably try to get to more sessions. Still, it was a worthwhile first outing for me.

My wife and I arrived at the Convention Center too late to get to the session that had the unveiling of the DC superhero stamps, but she bought me a book about them, as well as sets of the stamps.

I did get to the "Comic Arts Conference Session #2: The Great Leap: Adapting Comics into Film", which was quite well done. Personally, I enjoyed Richard A. Becker's presentation the most, out of all the panelists. He discussed more examples than others and hit all the right points about them (points people in the audience may never have stated so well, but have thought for themselves). I think the biggest laugh came when he said something like "and let's not even bring up the Catwoman movie".

I then went to the first part of the Sony Animation session to learn about how the idea for Open Season came about (a syndicated comic strip artists's concept) and watched some clips.

Leaving midway through it to go to the exhibit hall, I didn't get back to programming until 5:00, when I got to hear Brain Fies talk about his artistic history and specifically his webcomic-to-printed-book sensation Mom's Cancer. The funniest bit had to be when he showed a graphic of a mock Mom's Cancer cover with simply the words "Mom's Cancer" superimposed over a reproduction of the classic Action Comics #1 scene where Superman smashes a car into a hillside.

I had wanted to follow that with the webcomics panel, but my wife and I got advised that if we wanted to make sure we'd get into the Star Wars Fan Film Awards show, we'd better get in line early (a line had already been formed by then. While in line a documentary film-maker interviewed us (& others) and we were handed an "I Brake for Wookies" bumper sticker by promoters of the Haynes Film movie Fanboys. An unexpected surprise - they screened the trailer for Fanboys at the awards show.

The awards on the stage were guarded by guys dressed up like Stormtroopers (kind of like this guy, but their uniforms were shinier and cleaner).


We also saw a fine selection of short films (10 minutes or less), including 3 of the the crowd-pleasing Pink Five films. What was really cool was that we were the first audience to get a sneak peak at volume 2 of Return of Pink Five.

My favorite two films were the ones which one for Best Commercial Parody (Blue Milk) and the one which won both the George Lucas Selects award and the Audience Choice award (Pitching Lucas). To watch the award-winning shows, go to Atom Films.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

San Diego Comic-Con International Report #2 : Comics Purchased and Received

In this second SDCCI report, I'll list the Jewish comics that I bought or was given, as well as the non-Jewish freebies I received.

In addition to the comics swag (slang for freebies), there was plenty of other swag available, though it was near-impossible to gather it all up, given the vast expanse of the exhibition floor and the limited time (especially if you wanted to do something more than picking up swag, like, y'know, actually buying comics or attending the sessions).

My vote for the best (& most practical) swag of the con (which I, unfortunately, did not score for myself) : a Final Destination 3 promotional handheld mini electric fan. Everywhere you went in the Convention Center (moreso in the lines outside of it), as well as on the crowded trolleys, it was as hot as the flames covering Ghost Rider.

Other cool non-comics swag that I recall getting : a blue "The Tick" spoon (aka Spooooooooooooon!") ; a bookmark illustrated by Donna Barr ; a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman face-on-a-stick (for the auction, I guess) ; a gummi candy (I think it was a "gummi brain" ; it gave me a necessary sugar-rush) ; bags, bags, bags (alas neither the HUGE black "Star Wars" bag nor the yellow Dark Horse bag survived the trip, though they lasted quite a long time and held a lot) ; a large reproduction of a page from Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers (on thick cardboard, I think) ; a Wowio t-shirt ; a pink sticker-thing of an octopus holding up a torah scroll that has the word "Chimney" written on it (with Hebrew letters) which I later stuck onto a black display board ; a booklet of bizarre Adult Swim postcards ; "The Making of Free Enterprise" booklet ; exclusive author-read excerpt and Q&A for Eldest (book two in the Inheritance trilogy) ; SW [Star Wars] Action News podcast CD (38 recent episodes) ; ConNotations v.16, #3 June/July 2006 ; Comic-Con International 2006 Souvernir Book

Free Books

The Best of BenBella Books' Smart Pop Series Volume 2

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist (special excerpt)

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (special preview)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (special excerpt)

Lost Calling by Evelyn Vaughn

Nocturne by Caridad Pineiro (sneak preview)

Rhiana by Michael Hauf

Free Magazines

Animation Magazine Aug. 2006

Bubblemag #1 (2006)

Cinemafantastique special 2006 preview issue

MAD Kids #4 (Aug. 2006)

Previews July 2006

TV Guide for July 24-30 (which just happened to have Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock on the cover)

Write Now! Magazine #13 (Aug. 2006) given to me by Danny Fingeroth after chatting with him prior to the start of the Eisner Awards

non-Jewish comics

Age of Conan : Hyborian Adventures

B.A.B.E. Force : Back to School #1

B.A.B.E. Force : Jurassic Trailer Park #1

Classic Cardinal #2

Codename Ghost (1-page promo)

Conan : The Legend #0


Dark Horse : 20 Years (a collection of pinups)

Flare #1 Nov. 2004

The Guradian Line preview issue

Hellgate London #0

Innies and Outies (1-page promo)

Iron Star

The Legend of Isis #2

Liberty Girl #1

Monster House (signed)

Netcomics Manhwa Sampler

The Night Driver teaser edition (signed)

Pakkins' Land #4

R. H. Stavis' Demons of Mercy #0

Red-E & the Lynnx #1

Renaissance (looks like a comic, but actually just tells about the people involved in the film)

Rush City #0

Shark-Man #1

Sherree's Secret #1

Ted Dekker's Saint : A Graphic Introduction

Visionary Comics Studio Previews 2006

Virgin Comics #0

Woah Mini Comics #1 & #2 (given out to those of us standing in line outside the convention center, waiting to get into the Ghost Rider / Spider-Man 3 session)

Yin Yang Yo! #1

Jewish Comics

I bought Jobnik #1, written by a Jewish American-Israeli-Canadian woman. I suppose I could have asked to pay for it in Canadian dollars, but didn't think of asking, at the time. I might have passed right by the booth, if I hadn't spotted the Hebrew t-shirts ("bikesh shalom ve-rodfehu", which means "seek peace and chase after it"). The comics are autobiographical and mainly show Miriam Libicki's life during her stint in the Israeli army. You can read about Miriam and her comics (and view preview pages) by going to I paid cover price, but forgot to ask her to autograph it for me. I was also given a 4-page reproduction called "jobnik manifesto".
Libicki, Miriam. [Hamas] Jobnik #1 Feb. 2004 (Vancouver : Real Gone Girls).

I bought The Lone & Level Sands graphic novels (i.e. both the color hardcover and the black-&-white paperback). I've been told that the hardcover looks superior to the paperback edition. I forget the total price, but I paid less than the cover price for the 2 combined would have been. mpMann signed both of them for me
Lewis, David A. The Lone and Level Sands (Fort Lee, NJ : ASP Comics, 2005).
Lewis, David A. The Lone and Level Sands (Arlington, VA : Caption Box, 2005).

I bought The Nine Lives of El Gato Crime Mangler at cover price, after author-illustrator Michael Aushenker told me it had a story with Holy Cow Holstein in it, whom he described as Jewish. He signed it for me, as well as a promotional poster for Monsters 4 Justice (a superhero-team comic series). Included in the team's roster is Urban Golem, who is Jewish.
Aushenker, Michael. The Nine Lives of El Gato (LA : El Gato Comics, 2003).

Jalila #1 was given to me for free, as I was heading out of the exhibit hall on Sunday afternoon --- at least 15 minutes after the hall was "officially" closed. I haven't read it yet, but there's a rabbi on the cover (alongside an imam and a priest).
Kandeel, Ayman. "The 6th Terrorist" Jalila #1 March 2006 (Giza, Egypt : AK Comics).

I was given a copy of Smoke & Mirror vol. 1 and Of Bitter Souls vol. 1, while waiting for my plane to board on Tuesday (i.e. 2 days after the convention ended). I was meant to fly back to Toronto via Detroit, but the Detroit flight was cancelled. If it weren't cancelled I might never have met Chuck Satterlee. Chuck realized that I was at the convention when he noticed that I was wearing a Wowio t-shirt (one of the freebies). When I told him about the panel I moderated, he told me that one of the characters in Smoke & Mirror is Jewish and that his adoptive parents were Jewish.
Satterlee, Chuck. Of Bitter Souls Volume 1 : Saints & Sinners (UK : Markosia, 2006).
Satterlee, Chuck. Smoke & Mirror Volume 1 : Time & Time Again (UK : Markosia, 2006).

I was given a copy of the minicomic The Bleeding Tree by its illustrator-adapter Diana Marsh.

I bought The Librarian : Return to King Solomon's Mines 5-page exclusive preview for $1.00. No Jewish content in it at all, but there is an illustration of a book with a Star od David on it on the cover and it's hard for me to pass up any comic that has "Librarian" in the title.

I made a photocopy (for 10 cents, I think) of a cartoon from a Doonesbury digest book that I had picked up during the Toronto Bookcrossing Convention. In the cartoon, Mark Slackmeyer tells his black friend that it will be interesting trying to get him into his father's club since normally you can't get in unless you're descended from one of the guys who came over on the Mayflower. His freind asks how he got in since Mark is Jewish. Mark replies that "We [the Jews} owned the Mayflower."
Trudeau, G.B. The President is a Lot Smarter than You Think (Popular, 1973).

I also made a copy of a one-panel Bizarro cartoon in which a pig is walking into a doorway of a house with another pig. A Hasidic Jew is sitting in a chair and one pig says to the other "It's okay, Ralph. We'll be safe in here."
Piraro, Dan. Bizarro. (San Francisco : Chronicle, 1986), p. 9

In the bookcrossing spirit, I gave away both cartoon books at a room where a panel on the subject of comic strips was to take place.

I bought a copy of Crickets #1 at the D&Q table for the Candian cover price (luckily I still had Canadian cash with me) and got Sammy Harkham to sign it for me.
Harkham, Sammy. "Black Death" Crickets #1 Jan. 2006 (Montreal : Drawn and Quarterly).

I bought The Prophecy #2 for just $1.50 (i.e. 50% off the cover price). That's the kind of bargain one can expect when you wait until 15 minutes after the lady on the loudspeaker yells "The convention is now over. Leave the exhibit hall NOW!"
Kubert, Joe. "The Prophecy Part Two" Sgt. Rock : The Prophecy #2 Apr. 2006 (NY : DC).

I bought a copy of David : The Shepherd's Song and David's Mighty Men at cover price, as I didn't feel sure I would have another chance to buy them. I didn't realize, at the time, that the Mighty Men book contained the story from Mighty Men #1 (which I already owned).
Lepp, Royden. David : The Shepherd's Song Volume 1 (La Mesa, CA : Cross Culture, 2005).
Saltares, Javier. David's Mighty Men : Goliath Sized Edition (La Mesa, CA : Alias, 2005).

I bought one of the last remaining unsold copies of Arsenic Lullaby #12 at the cover price for one reason and ONLY one reason : to be able to read the story with the Pilsbury Doughboy at Auschwitz. When I got home and scanned it, I realized that it was simply a 1-page illustration, not a story. There are stories in the comic, though.
Paszkiewicz, Douglas. "1943 : The Pilsbury Doughboy at Auschwitz" Arseic Lullaby #12 Jan./Feb. 2000 (s.l. : A Silent Comics).

I vaguely recall getting a bargain on the copy of Families of Altered Wars #109 that I bought. I had to sift through a box of the issues of the series in the vendor's longbox to find it, but the cover was hard not to notice once I saw it. It has an illustration of an Israeli jet fighter and a Star of David air force emblem in the background, as well as the storyline title "Wings of David" and a "Save Israel Rebuild Iraq" slogan.
Nomura, Ted. "Raumkrieg Part Five" Families of Altered Wars #109, 1st story June 2003 (San Antonio : Antarctic).


San Diego Comic-Con International Report #1 : Signatures & Sketches

It's been over a month since I returned from SDCCI and I have yet to post any commentary --- until now.

In this first report, I'll just give a quick rundown of the FREE sketches and signatures I picked up. These don't include signatures of stuff I bought at the con (which will be covered in another post).

* Rabbi Simcha Weinstein signed my copy of Up Up and Oy Vey : How Jewish History Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.

* J.T. Waldman signed my copy of Megillat Esther.

* George Perez, who had already signed my copies of my non-Jewish Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 & #7, signed my copy of Wonder Woman #37.

* Marv Wolfman signed the aforementioned copies of Crisis ... #1 & #7, as well as The Tomb of Dracula #27 and The New Teen Titans #24.

* Peter David signed my copies of The Incredible Hulk #373, #386 & #387.

* Joe Rubinstein signed the aforementioned Hulks (386-387), as well as my copies of issues 1-3 of Mendy and the Golem. He also sketched me a rabbi based on the cover of M&tG #3.

* Judd Winnick signed my copies of Caper (issues 1-4), and sketched a "Happy Rabbi in SD!" for me.

* Brad Meltzer signed a Justice league mini-poster that was being given away at the DC booth

* Douglas Rushkoff sketched an "Adam and Eve in Eden" scene --- even though he's (by his own admission) a much better writer than he is an artist. I wanted him to sign a copy of an issue of Testament, but couldn't find a dealer who had copies to sell.

* Paul Levitz signed my prinout of his 1-page 9/11 story "Tradition"

* Sergio Aragones signed my copies of Testament (he drew the Jonah adaptation) and Fanny Hillman : Memoirs of a Jewish Madam (which led him to remark to nearby Scott Shaw! that he'd wished that Scott never mentioned the book in his "Oddball Comics" column). He also sketched me a rabbi holding a hot dog (kosher, of course).

* Eisner-award-winner Andy Runton signed my copy of the Free Comic Book Day edition of Owly : Breakin' the Ice - a non-Jewish comic, but one of my favorites

* Matt Groening signed my copy of a April 30-May 5, 2006 issue of the Toronto Star Starweek TV Guide which had a cover celebrating the airing of the 350th epdisode of his TV show hit The Simpsons, as well as a copy of Love is Hell (ironically signed to myself and my wife). Matt also sketched a Bart Simpson head for me. For those who have never been to CCI, I should point out that one must be prepared to get in line for a "lottery" for "Bart Bucks" in order to be allowed to get in the (later) line for autographs & sketches from the Simpsons crew.

* David Hedgecock sketched a rabbi for me.

* David Silverman sketched a Krusty the Clown for me (he politely declined to sketch me his rabbi-father Rabbi Krustofsky, though).

Bat-family (TV show): Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman

Friday, August 25, 2006

Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed! launch party

Arie Kaplan's book Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed! (Chicago Review Press) comes out in September. Recently, he interviewed some of the most legendary comic book creators in the world -- nay, the universe -- and wrote a book chronicling their lives and careers.

...And now it's time to celebrate. Arie's having a launch party on Monday August 28th, 2006, at 6:15PM at MoCCA (the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) in Manhattan. The address is: MoCCA Gallery, 594 Broadway, Suite 401 (between Houston & Prince).

At the launch party, there'll be a panel discussion on comics featuring Kaplan as well as comics luminaries Jerry Robinson (Batman), Rob Sikoryak (RAW Magazine), and Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man). The panel will be moderated by entertainment journalist Eddy Friedfeld. A reception will follow, and this event is free and open to the public.

Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed! is a book profiling some of the most influential comics creators in history, including Stan Lee (X-Men), Will Eisner (The Spirit), Art Spiegelman (Maus), Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn), Trina Robbins (GoGirl!), Jerry Robinson (Batman), Ho Che Anderson (KING), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), and Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock). Amazing stories of how these artists and writers fell in love with the comics medium and built up their careers are coupled with never-before-disclosed anecdotes and previously unpublished self-portraits that will surprise even the most knowledgeable fans.

The book's wonderful cover art is by MAD contributor Ray Alma. And the back cover is adorned with some really nice blurbs from cartoonists Al Jaffee (MAD) and Peter Kuper (World War Three Illustrated), and comedian Patton Oswalt (TV's "King of Queens").

And feel free to check out a brief blurb about the launch party at the following link to MoCCA's website, and scroll down to "August 28th":

Additional information on thr book, plus a link to the book's page on, can be found at the following link:

Also, here's a page from the 2006 Chicago Review Press catalogue (PAGE 30) devoted to "Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!":

Monday, August 21, 2006

"Jews and the Graphic Novel" by David Gantz

Not only is this autobiographical-historical overview well-written, it's presented in the comic book format --- most appropriate, since it is about comic books and graphic novels.

The pages may be viewed at

Among the specific comics creators whose work is mentioned are : Joe Kubert, Neil Kleid, J.T. Waldman (author-illustrator of Megillat Esther), Will Eisner, Joann Sfar, Al Jaffee and David Gantz hiself.


A special thank you goes to Rabbi Joe Kanofsky of Toronto's Latner Centre for Jewish Knowledge and Heritage for pointing this article out to me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Jewish graphic novel authors at Harbourfront (Toronto)


Want to meet some interesting author-illustrators in Toronto during the Labour Day Weekend?

There are 3 presentations on Jewish graphic novels at Harbourfront (2 panels, 1 slide-show lecture) as part of Ashkenaz --- and 2 of them are FREE!

Sept. 3 @1pm : The Story of the Jews with Stan Mack
Marilyn Brewer Community Space
cost : Free

Veteran cartoonist and writer Stan Mack has never used his documentary style of graphic design to better effect than in his stunning Story of the Jews. Through projection of graphics onto a screen accompanied by his lively narration, the book is transformed into a historical drama.

Sept. 3 @5pm : Graphic Lives: Ben Katchor & Bernice Eisenstein
Studio Theatre
Cost : $10.00

Artists and writers Ben Katchor and Bernice Eisenstein both employ graphics in their storytelling. Using multi-media techniques, they will screen illustrations and dramatically evoke the real and imagined events in such acclaimed books as Katchor's The Jew of New York and Eisenstein's I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors.

Sept. 4 @2pm : Illustration, Passion and Memory: Jews and the Graphic Novel with Ben Katchor, Bernice Eisenstein and Stan Mack
Marilyn Brewer Community Space
Cost : Free

A new literary genre is emerging. Called the graphic novel, it haphazardly incorporates memoir and fiction, documentary and fantasy. Though clearly not always a novel, the form always uses illustrations and text, and is intended for adults to enjoy. Pioneered by Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman, the graphic novel has roots -- though not solely -- in Ashkenaz culture. Three of the finest exemplars of this new genre, Ben Katchor, Bernice Eisenstein and Stan Mack, will discuss their contentious relationships to this new, highly visible, form. Is it literature? Art? How will it develop? Join them for a lively discussion.

Truth Justice & the Canadian Way, eh?

If I were a superhero, that would be my motto. I'd fight for truth, justice and the Canadian way.

I have no superpowers or colorful costume, though. I'm not tough enough to stand a chance in a physical fight with the bad guys.

What I can do, though, is point out injustice when I see it. Not just in the literal "violation of criminal statutes" way, but in the broader sense of warning people about wrongdoers and speaking out against the actions of tyrants.

This blog isn't about the larger injustices of the world, though --- things like poverty, war, terrorism. It's a blog about a specific commodity, namely comic books. As far as I've seen, there hasn't really been any wrongdoing in the Canadian comics industry. Technically, the selling of "crime comics" is still illegal, but that's an old law that doesn't get enforced.

The wrongdoing I'd like to address is being committed by a company called Hobbystar Marketing (or, at least, by Aman Gupta who represents Hobbystar).

According to Daryl Collison of 3rd Quadrant Comics, Aman called him to inform Daryl that anyone who exhibited at the Super Fan Comic Book Show would not be allowed to also have a table at the Fan Expo Canada show.

Since the circulation of Daryl's open letter, others in the Toronto comics scene have spoken out against Hobbystar and have asked others to boycott the upcoming Fan Expo show. There's even a blog dedicated to discussion of the topic (allowing both pro- and con- statements, though most of the comments seem to be in favor of the boycott).

If you're in the Toronto area on Labour Day weekend and would like to meet comics celebrities, I would reccommend attending one or more of the graphic novel programs at the Ashkenaz Festival, instead of attending Expo. More details about Ashkenaz in my next post.

Balm in Gilead (Mahrwood Press)

Tampa, Florida, August 13, 2006

Top names in comics & SF join forces to aid Israeli children

Prestige anthology from Mahrwood Press directly benefits children affected
by bombing in northern Israel.

American-Israeli Publisher Mahrwood Press Ltd. has announced a special project to benefit children suffering disruption and more due to the situation in northern

Balm in Gilead will be a prestige anthology featuring the top names in
comics and genre literature. All proceeds go directly toward feeding,
clothing and housing children.

Balm in Gilead combines the efforts of Neal Adams, Jon Bogdanove, Dave Cockrum, Jack Dann, Peter David, Colleen Doran, Harvey Jacobs, Jeffrey Jones, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, William Messner-Loebs, Robin Riggs, Joe Rubinstein, Robert Silverberg and Len Wein. Additional creators will be announced in weeks to come. The anthology will be edited by Clifford Meth.

"We wanted to do something for the kids to give them some joy in a difficult
time," stated Eric Mahr, Publisher and President of Mahrwood Press. "We are
pleased and proud that some of the most respected people in comics and
literature have stepped forward to join this project. Balm in Gilead will
provide desperately needed help to children in northern Israel and the book
itself will be something that Jews, Muslims, Christians will enjoy."


About Mahrwood Press

Mahrwood Press Ltd. founded in 2004, is a privately held company with
offices in Jerusalem, Israel and Tampa, Florida. The company publishes
visual publications and prose literature for the English, Hebrew, Spanish
and French languages. For more information please visit
Marhwood Press' website. Or email

Thursday, July 13, 2006

18 Reasons to Attend Comic-Con International (San Diego)

18 Reasons to Attend Comic-Con International (San Diego)

For info on the con, please go to http://www.comic-con/cci/

(1) Sunday afternoon panel on "The Jewish Side of Comics"
(a) JT Waldman (Megillat Esther)
(b) Rabbi Simcha Weinstein (Up Up and Oy Vey : How
Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic
Book Superhero
(c) Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews,
Comics and the Creation of the Superhero
(d) Marv Wolfman (Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel)
(e) Steven M. Bergson (, moderator

(2) The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar is nominated for 3 Eisner awards (Friday night)

Guests will include :

(3) J. Michael Straczynski (Rising Stars #16 -
synopsis at ;
Spider-Man #502 - character sketch of Leo Zelinsky at

(4) Sergio Aragones (adaptation of "Jonah" in
Testament ; illustrator of Fanny Hillman : Memoirs of
a Jewish Madam

(5) Peter David (who infamously used the names of
seder plate items for aliens in a Star Trek novel and
wrote the stories for The Incredible Hulk #386-387 ;

(6) Ernie Colon (illustrator of Mendy and the Golem)

(7) Ben Raab (The Lost Tribe graphic novel, debuting
at the Comicon ; info with art at

(8) Judd Winnick (Caper miniseries - see

(9) Jimmy Palmiotti (writer on the series Monolith -

(10) Douglas Rushkoff (Testament - see

(11) Mark Evanier (wrote a "Crossfire" story involving a Holocaust survivor who tries to kill a suspected Nazi war criminal)

(12) Neal Adams (illustrator of "The Adventures of
Zimmerman" and "Son O' God", which appeared in the
pages of National Lampoon)

(13) Len Wein (writer of the golem story in Strange
#174 - see

(14) Paul Levitz (author of the 1-page 9/11 story
"Tradition" in DC Comics' 9-11 September 11th 2001 - see

Friday, June 30, 2006

Pilgrimage : Two Weeks in G-d's Country, a mini-comic by Neil Kleid

Since I don't have a copy yet (having only just noticed it at the bottom of Neil's Rant Comics website), all I can present you with is the website description :

PILGRIMAGE, an illustrated travel journal, documents thoughts and musings upon the author's return to his homeland of Israel after seven years. In the spirit of Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage and Josh Neufeld's A Few Perfect Hours, Pilgrimage arms readers with sketchbooks,and anticipation as they walk G-d's Country alongside one of its long-missed sons

Migdal David sample pages

Brownsville and "Shomer Negiah" author Neil Kleid has released the first 12 (13?) pages of Migdal David online at the Seraphic Secret website. Personally, I predict it will be one of 2007's shining stars of Jewish graphic storytelling.

Criminal Macabre: Feat of Clay (golem comic)

from The Comic Brief (CBR News) :

by Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer
Posted: March 29, 2006
Official Press Release

He’s ba-aaaack! Cal McDonald—the hair-triggered, smart ass, tough guy, private dick- monster hunter comes back to Dark Horse this month, and he’s brought his strangest nemesis with him.

Horror maestro Steve Niles collaborated with fantastic artist Kyle Hotz (Marvel’s Manthing, Dark Horse’s Billy the Kid ) to bring to vivid, spooky life Cal’s first-ever encounter with a real-deal golem. From the folklore of Jewish mysticism, the earthy homunculus is given shape and purpose by a grief-stricken father, out to exact vengeance on the man who attacked his daughter. In a bizarre twist of fate, the golem is loosed on the world with no master and only one known purpose—to kill! Cal’s gotta do whatever it takes to stop this marauding hunk of clay from a pointless killing spree or . . . or, there’s gonna be a pointless killing spree!

Criminal Macabre: Feat of Clay features story by Steve Niles with art by Kyle Hotz. This special one-shot arrives on sale May 31 with a retail price of $2.99.

review of Brownsville

One of the books reviewed by Greg at Comics Should Be Good on 9th was Neil Kleid's Brownsville :

The high concept of Brownsville is "Jewish gangsters of the 1930s." We tend to think of gangsters as Italian, but in Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan in the 1930s the Jews ran things, and Kleid and Allen do a great job of bringing this forgotten world to life. They focus mainly on Albert Tannenbaum, who begins like a lot of youngsters, in awe of the riches and power of the local gangsters and is looking for a way to rebel against his father. He starts small, as usual, but eventually gets in tight with the gangsters and the bosses, including Louis Buchalter. The book is about his rise and fall, but also the rise and fall of organized crime in New York, as it spans the decade of the 1930s and shows the violence these men were willing to commit and the consequences of their actions.

It's not the most original idea, but it is interesting to see it from a Jewish perspective. The book is full of historical figures and what I can only assume is factual data, and Kleid keeps everything humming along, showing what these men do and how they eventually sell each other out. There is no honor here, only looking out for themselves, which is an interesting counterpoint to the myth of the Mob. Allie, especially, is a fascinating character, as he never quite seems to fit in with the gang, even when he's committing murder. He's very much a man who yearns for his father's approval, even after he rejects everything his father stands for. In the last act of the book, when he has been arrested and must choose whether to testify against his former employers, it is his family and the reminder that you can be someone in this world even if you're not rich and powerful that pushes him to his choice. It's an interesting arc for the character.

The art is stark and powerful. Each character looks vaguely the same, but Allen still manages to give them each a distinctive look. The cast is very big, and only once or twice did I have trouble keeping track of who was who based on what they looked like. After some initial confusion, it was easy to identify each person even though they were all dressed alike and were drawn in similar fashion. Allen evokes the time period very nicely, and the book (in black and white) is a pleasure to look at.

One of the few complaints I had about the book is its lack of Jewishness, for want of a better word. Very rarely does Kleid show how these gangsters were so different from Italians. It would have been interesting to see more of a contrast between the Catholic Mob and the Jewish one. He delves into it late in the book, and it made the characters even more interesting, so it was disappointing he didn't do it sooner. After all, we think of gangsters as good Catholics, getting their babies christened while their underlings gun down competitors, and although I wouldn't have wanted Kleid to dip into those sorts of clich├ęs, it would have been nice to see the religious aspect of these men (if it existed) fleshed out a little more.

Behind the spandex: secrets of the superheroes by David Levy

The following article about A. David Lewis and his graphic novel The Lone and Level Sands appeared in The Jewish Advocate (Oct. 20, 2005)

It’s a bird … It’s a plane … No, it’s comic book writer A. David Lewis

BOSTON – When over 8,000 people gathered at the Bayside Expo Center at the start of the month for Boston’s first WizardWorld comics and pop-culture convention, there was the expected smattering of fans dressed like their favorite superheroes waiting in long lines to snag an autograph from the likes of Margot Kidder (Lois Lane in the “Superman” films) and Lou Ferrigno (TV’s ‘Incredible Hulk”). But tucked away in the back corner of the convention hall was a room devoted to a program called Wizard School, a series of classes offering aspiring writers and artists the chance to learn from industry professionals.

Most of the Wizard School classes centered on practical skills and technique. But Saturday night, the room was packed with fans for different kind of class. The session was entitled “Ever-Ending Battle: Superheroes and Mortality.” The brainchild of Allston resident A. David Lewis, the program brought together comic book pros to look at superheroes through the lens of thanatology, the study of death. Thanatology is still a relatively young area of inquiry, but two of its products have already permeated the culture: hospice care, and the stages of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Lewis is quick to note that “it’s not a bad thing to be concerned about death.” However, he came to the project through comics first. “Over the last few years, I was finding it curious that all these characters were getting killed and brought back. I don’t have any agenda other than discussing it.”

While his research is at an early stage, he has amassed the support not only of convention organizers, but also of the Popular Culture Association, comics journalists, and comics writers and artists. However, he is not new to the field of comics research, having taught classes on comics at Georgetown University and presented papers at conferences on topics such as “The Relationship Between Biblical Midrash and Comic Retcon.”

Although he’s an academic by day, currently teaching at Northeastern University, Lewis has a secret identity of his own as a comic book writer. “I can never decide if I like writing or writing about them better,” he said.

Lewis’s latest project looks at a different kind of superhero: Moses. His graphic novel “Lone and Level Sands” retells the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt from the perspective of the Egyptians. “I had the idea a long time ago,” he said. “I went to Hebrew School [at Temple Beth Am in Framingham], had my bar mitzvah, but the first time I really gave it any thought was then the movie “Prince of Egypt” came out and I didn’t like it.”

The film’s account of Moses’s life didn’t mesh with Lewis’s memories of the Torah text, so he launched into a research project to find out what Egypt was really like during the time. “The challenge became how to make history and biblical myths live together.”

Lewis cites films about the Holocaust as well as modern American disasters as providing an important conceptual frameworks for him. “I didn’t want it to paint all Egyptians as evil,” he said. “I wanted to tell the full story, see their reaction to the plagues – not just being freaked out when frogs are falling. When everything is done, was there an emergency response plan to deal with the frogs on the ground?”

While Lewis deals with the details of the events, there’s one big detail he’s left up to the readers’ imaginations: “You certainly don’t see God [in the book]; there’s no guide with a beard, voice from the heaven, or hand pointing down,” he said.
He’s also left open to interpretation whether the Egyptian gods are present in the story. “A lot of characters are asking these questions,” he said. “I just never let them have an answer.”

The product is a 160-page story, illustrated by mpMann [yes, that’s how it’s spelled on the cover] that debuted in a black and white edition last April, published by the authors. It generated enough press and sales that Archadia Studios Press has picked it up for broad release. The publisher is now readying a full-color, hardcover edition for December.

“I would love for Hebrew Schools and Jewish groups to read and discuss this,” Lewis said. “But it’s not toeing the company line. It’s

4 Joe and Monkey comic strips

How long canyou keep an in-joke going? Zach Miller managed to keep a joke about Judaism and wearing pants going for 2 years!

Here are the links to the 4 strips :

Totally Drewish!
It's Gotta Be The Pants
Post-Weekend Unwrapping
Required Reading

Is Superman gay? Jewish? Christian? (online comic strip)

Thanks to rhiannonstone for telling us about this PVP cartoon.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superman #226 - "NEVER AGAIN!"

Daniel Crandall's summary at The Flickering Mirror of the scene that compares the 1950's US of A to Hitler's Germany :

In Superman 226, an Infinite Crisis Crossover title, Superman is reliving his life as a Superman from an alternate earth smacks him around. During these flashbacks Superman tries to stop Hitler but cannot. Something about Dr. Fate and Hitler possessing the Spear of Destiny.

Flash forward a few years and Superman is fighting no greater a foe then ... Wait for it ... The United States of America. Why, you ask? Because, a thought bubble tells us, "The witch hunts have begun." In this rendition of Congress's investigation into Communist spying on American soil, the Justice Society of America has been hauled before the Congress and ordered to remove their masks. Never mind that half that folks standing there aren't wearing any masks. Superman makes his grand entrance to call a halt to this outrage.

In case you failed to get the analogy between the America during the 50s and Nazi Germany, the writers spell it out for you. In a full page panel Superman stands before an empty concentration camp and cries out, "NEVER AGAIN." As Superman flies into Congress during hearings on Communist Spies in America, his thoughts are "NEVER AGAIN." Being asked to testify before Congress on Communists in America is no different than being in a Nazi Concentration Camp.

Nick Newman gives us the following in his review in the "Mild Mannered Reviews" section of the Superman Homepage :

My favorite part was definitely the World War II scenes though. I've always liked the idea of tying the heroes into the conflict, and watching the whole JSA go to war is a great concept. The holocaust page was also very appropriate, and very in key with the Earth-2 Superman.

I also loved the scenes with the JSA standing up to congress (if you haven't read The Golden Age, by James Robinson, go do so now... I'll wait) and Superman standing up to congress was great.

Rats : A "Sin City" Yarn

Commentary below is from "Rasp-Barrie Clart" at Hmmmmmm - The Musings of a Bear :

Having loved the collection of short stories from 'Booze, Broads & Bullets' i remebered this one rather vividly. It is (i assume) the last day of a former Concentration Camp refugee who has survived but still has memories of his time in captive and takes his frustration out on the rats that live with him. They are perhaps a metaphor for the other captives who were brutally gassed in many of the camps. Basically watch the vid, then compare it to the actual comic strip. It is word perfect, shot perfect and colour perfect. A masterpiece.

Testament - Responses to Criticisms of Douglas Rushkoff’s comic

JP gives his opinion of Loren's commentary on Testament at Chickity China :

One complaint from the this-is-history viewpoint regards Moloch as the deity worshiped at Mount Moriah’s altar. Moloch isn’t specifically mentioned until much later in the Bible, so Rushkoff placing him as the altar’s god seems very odd, if not totally inaccurate. Criticisms like that often stem from a belief that the Bible sprang from the ethers completely formed as we see it today. The truth is that myths and stories from the Mesopotamian areas all fed off one another, and the Hebrew myths changed as the people’s environments and experiences changed. If that is Rushkoff’s view, then it would make sense that the Moloch he uses in the story is really an amalgam of various versions of Moloch’s archetype. Moloch could just as easily be called Ba’al, while Astarte go by Inanna, Ishtar, or Aphrodite. It makes more sense to view Moloch as Inanna as continual forces of violence and sexuality despite any name changes.

The Further Adventures of the Wandering Jew by Andrew E. Harrison and Norman J. Finkelshteyn

This work-in-progress was entered in an online Comic Book Idol contest.

The Silk Road Design Arts website has sample pages, as well as a concept summary :

Not quite 2000 years ago, Yishai was mistakenly cursed by a powerful magician named Jesus.

Condemned to live forever, he pledged to fight against earthly magical beings and mystical forces, so that no one would suffer his own fate. In medieval times, he was known in legends as the Wandering Jew.

Now, calling himself Jesse, he has decided to reclaim his once mundane life. He works as a temp in an office to avoid his extraordinary destiny. But the powers that be aren't having it. Jesse's old nemesis Merlin has returned, and is running an electronics store. The Archangel Michael still wants to use Jesse for his own purposes. And - his old brain inundates him with quixotic hallucinations.

Somewhere in between past and present, magic and banality, tradition and assimilation... is the Wandering Jew.

At the comics shop, religion goes graphic by Alex Johnson

Judeo-Christian themes woven into comic books you might not expect


“With comics,” said Greg Garrett, the author of “Holy Superheroes! Exploring Faith & Spirituality in Comic Books,” “the fact that we’re dealing with ultimate questions of good versus evil — all of those things that we wrestle with in theology — it makes it a natural place for those to be part of any important story.”

Those ultimate questions are being asked in unexpected places. Four years ago, we learned that The Thing is Jewish when he was shown praying in Hebrew over the body of a friend he had sought to protect. (“It’s just ... you don’t look Jewish,” a surprised character tells the enormous, destructive orange rock-man, who explains to another character that he never said anything about it because he didn’t want to embarrass other Jews, seeing as he was, after all, an enormous, destructive orange rock-man.)

Reading the roll
You can track who’s what by diving into a database at, a project of the exhaustive religion reference site The database links to closely argued, heavily referenced essays that, for the most part, build compelling cases for its identification of a particular character’s church ways.

Why is Israel relevant today? Read this comic book by Chanan Tigay


NEW YORK (JTA) – Glimpsed from certain angles, the wild tufts of white hair that leapt skyward from David Ben-Gurion’s head looked like wings. Even so, the diminutive first prime minister of Israel seems an unlikely comic book character.

But if William Rubin has his way, Ben-Gurion – along with Moses, Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon and a host of other historic Israeli heroes and heroines – will grace the pages of a new graphic novel set to tell the story of Israel from the Bible to statehood and right up through the present day.

“People today aren’t reading the great works of Zionist history,” says Rubin, executive director and CEO of the Community Foundation for Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago. “We require ways to teach this magnificent living history for the general and Jewish marketplaces in a real engaging and exciting framework.”

That’s where HOMELAND: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel, comes in.

Its creators hope the book will tell Israel’s story in an accurate and entertaining way, educating both Jews and non-Jews about the Jewish state, encouraging readers to visit Israel and answering one overriding question: why is Israel relevant in the modern world?

“I happen to love comics and I think it’s a form of storytelling that returns stories to where they belong – to the people, not just experts,” says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, vice president of CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

HOMELAND will target an audience ranging from sixth-graders through adults. It seems a wide swath at which to take aim, but Rubin sees the enormous success of the Harry Potter books as instructive.

“My 9-year-old son reads Harry Potter before he goes to bed,” Rubin says. “Then my wife takes it and reads it, too.”

The text is being written by Marv Wolfman – an award-winning comics and cartoon writer who created Blade The Vampire Hunter and co-created the very popular Cartoon Network show, The New Teen Titans. He is aided by members of the foundation staff. Mario Ruiz, an evangelical Christian and president of Valor Comics, is composing the art.

Scheduled to hit the presses in May, Homeland – the first title by Nachshon press, an imprint of Chicago’s community foundation – will become available to the public the following month.

The story will be told through narration by a female professor teaching a Middle East studies course at an American university. Students’ questions will serve as jumping-off points for Israel’s narrative.

The project is being funded largely by the Rosenwald School Initiative, and the Chicago foundation has backed it with significant use of its staff’s time. Information is available at Nachshon’s preliminary Web site,

Some 10 per cent of the 120-page book will focus on the biblical period; another 10 per cent will deal with the post-biblical period; and 80 per cent will tell the country’s story from the 1860s through today. It will include 24 pages of archival photographs.

Aware that Israel’s history is controversial and hoping to take the rug out from under those who might challenge the book on a factual basis, the creators are making a point of depicting Israel in its entirety – warts and all.

It will include, for example, episodes dealing with Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish US Navy analyst imprisoned for spying for Israel, and the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian militiamen in Lebanon, for which many blamed Israel.

“This is a look at Israel with its blemishes, because it has to have academic integrity,” Rubin says.

Jacob Lassner, a Jewish Studies professor at Northwestern University, has been engaged as a consultant to check the book’s historical accuracy. The authors have also included a poem on Page 1 that, Rubin says, acknowledges that the Palestinians have their own narrative about the region’s history.

Eventually, the foundation hopes to translate the book into Hebrew and other languages, and plans to write a teaching curriculum to accompany it in both formal and informal Jewish educational situations, from day schools to adult education classes.

Comic books began to appear in the late 1920s and early 1930s. At that time, they were essentially compilations of strips that had appeared in newspapers. Will Eisner, a Jewish writer and artist and a father of the modern comic book, later coined the term graphic novel to refer to longer collections comprising self-contained stories.

Today, Charles McGrath wrote in a New York Times Magazine article in July 2004, comics are “enjoying a renaissance and a newfound respectability.

“In fact,” he went on, “the fastest-growing section of your local bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and so-called graphic novels.”

As editorial and creative director for the American Bible Society’s Metron Press, Ruiz – the HOMELAND artist – drew 2001’s Samson: Judge of Israel and 2003’s Testament, a compilation of stories from the Hebrew Bible told in a pub. Their popularity was unexpected, he said.

“Who would have ever thought that comic fans would get excited over Bible stories?” he asks.

But graphic novels have addressed Jewish themes in the past, from Eisner’s semi-autobiographical A Contract with God, considered the standard-bearer for the genre, to the extremely successful Maus, a Holocaust book by Art Spiegelman.

CLAL’s Hirschfield, an Orthodox rabbi who wrote the introduction to the Bible society’s Testament, says he “made the shidduch,” or match, between Ruiz and the Chicago foundation.

“You can tell a story for a particular audience that people beyond that audience want to hear about,” says Hirschfield. Israel’s story is “both dear to Jews and important to Christians,” he says.

Arye Mekel, Israel’s consul general in New York, said he hadn’t been familiar with the HOMELAND project. While he thought it was potentially a good idea, he wasn’t sure that it would achieve the desired effect.

“There’s a reason why the Hebrew world hasbarah cannot be translated into English,” says Mekel, using a Hebrew word that means something like public relations. “This unique word deals with the unique situation which is called Israel. By and large, what we have found out over and over again is that what you might think of as regular techniques do not necessarily apply to hasbarah because the situation is unique. Experiments may not work here.”

Nevertheless, Rubin says, “We are going to find a way to really nail this – for us, for our children and for our grandchildren.”

David Campbell and Passover (the comic book, that is, not the holiday)

from Dave's Long Box

In honor of the holiday, I present the comic Passover, from Maximum Press and the year 1996.

I got this comic back in the day so that one day I could teach my daughters the story of the Jews’ deliverance from bondage. Imagine my surprise when I found that Passover the comic and Passover the holiday have very little in common. I know, you’d think I would have figured that out by the cover alone. I thought maybe they were just embellishing the Passover story a little with the scary angel with the bloody axe. You know, jazz it up for the kids.

But no.

Apparently this comic is about the Angel of Death, who is responsible for the ten plagues that afflicted Egypt and goes by the name Passover.

That is stupid. That’s his name? Passover? What did all the other angels call him before the ten plagues? I guess Passover is a better choice than Lord of Boils or Frogsummoner, but still – lame.

Dave then goes on to reproduce choice panels and then adds his own biting commentary.

This is followed by 29 cxomments from visitors to Dave's blog.

Some examples :

kjmrcr said...

Did they ever release that team up issue with Tom Kippur?

Scott said...
"Belongeth" ?? That's worst than Thor-speak

bostonpenguincat said...
Passover and Good Friday in tag team action Vs. ARR-borday and Killer (C)Kanukah!

Rasselas said...
Is it stupid to wonder whether Passover is part of a super-team with Easter?

Graphic novels drawing the young to faith by Mark I. Pinsky

from :
For more than 2,500 years, Jews have been telling their faith's sacred stories, in written words on parchment and the page, and through the oral tradition of rabbinical debate.

Now they're trying something new: a graphic novel.

The Jewish Publication Society, a venerable group that is the closest thing to an official press for all the religion's denominations, is turning to a very modern way to reach young Jews. "Megillat Esther" is a graphic novel - an extended, black-and-white comic book - based on the holiday of Purim, and probably rated PG-13 for a few borderline racy drawings.

"We all understood that it was a way to reach a much younger generation," says Ellen Frankel, CEO and editor in chief of this Philadelphia-based publisher. "Even though it is a stretch for JPS, it is right on point because it's Bible commentary."

This Jewish foray into the world of graphic novels is just the latest example of believers creating alternative forms of religious messages in print.


Nor did the Jewish Publication Society want to limit itself to already committed observant Jews with "Megillat Esther."

The story, about a Jewish maiden in ancient Persia who becomes a queen and saves her people from genocide, is told both in the original Hebrew and English, although some pages are wordless. Other pages have numbers at the bottom indicating rabbinical commentaries from books such as the Talmud, and there is a detailed, scholarly bibliography at the back.

At the same time, it is a typical graphic novel: Female characters tend to be voluptuous, and the pages are peppered with self-deprecating wisecracks. Near the end of the story, one small character says, "The whole thing seemed a bit overdrawn to me."

The author, JT Waldman, spent seven years working on the book, including 18 months in a Jerusalem yeshiva learning Hebrew and studying the Bible and commentary.

"First came the love of comics and that way of storytelling," says Waldman, 29, who is now studying computer graphics in Canada. "The Bible and Jewish angle didn't come until I graduated from university and was trying to flesh out my Jewish identity. I wanted to merge my new interest in Judaism with my more established language and vernacular of illustrating comics."

Turned down by religious and commercial publishers, he was about to self-publish the book when the offer came from the Jewish Publication Society.

"I looked at it and thought it was amazing, but I thought that JPS would never agree to publish it," Frankel says, even though it includes every word of the Hebrew scroll. She was uncertain how the board of her 118-year-old press would respond.

"Before the meeting, I took a number of Post-its and flagged the pages that were the most outrageous," she says, but to her surprise, "They all loved it. Their response was: 'It's time.' "

In the introduction, Rabbi Moshe Silverschein, Waldman's teacher at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, calls the book an "expanded biblical narrative" and "not just a simple comic book."

Neil Kleid's special day

MAZEL TOV to cartoonist Neil Kleid, who recently got married
to Laura Sternberg. A 4-page mini-comic of how L & N met was included
in the program/processional. Neil has kindly reproduced it at his

Steve Bergson on Sirius

The host of this Jewish comics blog (Steven M. Bergson) is scheduled to be interviewed on the Covino & Rich Show broadcasting on Sirius sattelite radio on June 29th at approximatley 11:30 AM EST. The topic will probably have something to do with the alleged Jewishness of Superman which has gotten quite a bit of press lately.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tonight : Graphic Novelist Miriam Katin at Harbourfront in Toronto

Miriam Katin at International Readings at Harbourfront Centre
In support of her new graphic novel We Are on Our Own
Tonight, Wednesday May 31, 2006 @ 7PM
Brigantine Room @ Harbourfront Centre
Cost: FREE if you come to The Beguiling today…!

International Readings at Harbourfront Centre is pleased to welcome celebrated New York graphic artist Miriam Katin to the Brigantine Room stage as a part of International Readings at Harbourfront Centre. Katin will read from her new memoir We Are on Our Own, along with readings by Laurie Gough and Alayna Munce, on Wednesday, May 31, 2006. Katin’s captivating and elegantly illustrated book tells the story of her and her mother’s struggle for survival in Hungary during WWII. This book has garnered much critical praise and was recently called, “a powerful reminder of the lingering price of survival” by Publishers Weekly, where it also received a starred review.

Miriam Katin presents her first full-length graphic novel, published at age sixty-three. The captivating and elegantly illustrated We Are on Our Own is the story of Miriam and her mother’s struggle for survival in Hungary during WWII. Miriam first worked as a graphic artist in the Israel Armed Forces. After moving to the United States, she worked for both Disney and MTV.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rex Mundi #17

Rex Mundi #17

Greg at Comics Should Be Good points out the issue's weak points, but then concedes that "there's a nifty fight with a golem" which helps makes up for them.

Moishe Hundesohn comic strip

A German-speaking, walking, talking Jewish dog?

Take a look for yourself at


Just what the comics-reading world needs : another "X" book from Marvel. I'm still waiting for the day when the House of Ideas becomes so strapped for ideas that they must publish the comic about obese mutants trying to lose weight fast : X-Lax.

At least this comic (X-Corporation, that is) takes place in Israel, according to Dino Pollard.

summary of X-Corporation #1 : Warren Worthington plans to open an X-Corporation office in Jerusalem, but the Israelis may not be too happy about a pro-mutant organization operating in their holy city! Meet the division heads of the X-Corporation in part one of "Holy Land," by Eric Faynberg!

summary of X-Corporation #2 : Mousa al-Ghoul has been behind numerous terrorist attacks in Israel and now he has his eyes set on getting rid of the X-Corporation! But Warren and the other X-Corp board members have plans of their own, because they've discovered al-Ghoul's dirty little secret! It's the conclusion of "Holy Land," by Eric Faynberg!

more about Elsewhere #2

Gary Sullivan, at his Elsewhere blog reveals that the comic will include a "Jewish 2 pp spread, posters, bumperstickers, signage".

Earlier, he described the layout of the book :

In laying the comic out, I'm paying attention to a number of specific

1. Images must generally fall sequentially in order of where they were photographed, moving northward up Coney Island Avenue. The immigrant population on Coney Island Avenue is very diverse, but more or less clustered as such, moving south to north:

Israelis & Jews from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union
Pakistanis, Kashmiris, and Punjabis
People from the West Indies
Mexicans and other Central Americans

The Thing #5

According to Benito Cereno, The Thing #5 has some Jewish content in it :

Slott again shows that, hey, continuity's not a swearword by referencing that well-publicized but probably mostly unread "The Thing's a Jew" issue of FF. I dunno. It's a pretty cool issue. The Thing on Yancy Street, learning lessons.

Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person - a graphic novel by Miriam Engelberg

At her blog, Miriam wrote :

I am Jewish, of course, so you've intuited correctly. There is a small amount of Jewish content in the book--but more general pondering about spirituality than specific Jewish tenets. I am a huge fan of Our Cancer Year (and Pekar in general), and found his book helpful to re-read when I came down with cancer myself. My book is completely different though -- it has a narrative, but is more of a morbidly humorous look at various aspects of being seriously ill.

Jewish comics multimedia

2 webcast videos

The Comic Book Report : Israeli Comic Books

Israel & Comics (Sabra, Magneto, Wolverine)

Shaw Island comic strips on the Web

Jan. 28, 2005 - what model guillotines are NOT for

Dec. 23, 2005 - the dreidel nightmare

more recognition for The Rabbi's Cat

Joann Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat has been chosen as on the best comics of 2005 by Now Playing magazine (my thanks to for the tip).

Arnold T. Blumberg's review of it appears on the NP website.

Sfar's book has also been nominated for the prestigious Eisner award.

If it wins, it will be the 2nd Jewish graphic novel to do so (Maus II won Best Graphic Album: Reprint in 1996).

Ex Machina #19

According to Stephanie Kay's post to the Comixfan forum, in this issue :

In the aftermath of the attack there has been a lynching and tempers are running high. After a Muslim representative berates the Mayor at a meeting of the City’s religious leaders, a rabbi steps in to ask about how the “obligatory reminder that Islam is synonymous with peace” is a defense for allying with a group that supports Hamas. Snippets and half scenes such as this allow readers to laugh at the awful truths of the world while still enjoying the non political and social fallout of such an event.

The Forward newspaper reviews J.T. Waldman's Megillat Esther

The review is by Jay Michaelson and gives a nod to Douglas Rushkoff and Liam Sharp's Testament miniseries, as well.

Rabbi Encounters by Rob Woodrum

Rob Woodrum (aka soulsurfer) presents the webcomic Rabbi Encounters, described as "strange tales of encounters with an odd rabbi somewhere in the Middle East." Click on the "Archive" link to get to the comics.

Y : The Last Man

Spiros Derveniotis provides a description of the series, while Kevin provides this mini-review :

It’s a witty, smart-edge-of-your-seat adventure and survival story, where Yorick is being taken by a secret agent named 355 and a scientist who is working on cloning (after all – no men, no reproduction. Hence, the end of the species – and not just ours: the animals die out too. This comic really knows every angle of this situation, and that’s part of the impressiveness of this story). They’re being pursued by militants, a psychotic woman’s group named the Amazons (every member cuts off their right breast, and is dedicated to showing everyone how better off they are without men. Yorick’s sister was a part of them), Israelis, and sex-starved women everywhere.

Israel goes after Brother Eye

Charles Wisniowski reports at FanBoyWonder that The OMAC Project: Infinite Crisis Special has Israelis in it :

When the remains of the Brother Eye satellite-containing secret detailed information on every hero and villain- crashes into the Rub Al-Khali Desert in Saudi Arabia, the various international governments race to the scene to grab the goods.

The forces dispatched to the still active satellite include Checkmate's Sasha Bordeaux and Fire (former Justice League bimbo and even more former Brazilian spy and killer as Rucka reminds us), as well as Israeli Commandos, a Chinese metahuman and Russia's Rocket Reds (Wow! We're having an '80s flashback)

Pizzeria Kamikaze by Etgar Keret & Asaf Hanukah

A mini-review by Sam Teigen

"Who cares about the source so long as the point's made?"

A comic strip statement by Tony-Allen about anti-Israel press, the importance of bias and learning from history.

Sgt. Rock : The Prophecy - a slide show

David Bellel provides a summary of the series at Pseudo-Intellectualism, along with a link to a "virtual slide show" of several pages from the first issue.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My review of Brownsville by Neil Kleid

Kleid, Neil and Jake Allen. Brownsville. NY : NBM ComicsLit, 2006. 207 p. $18.95 (ISBN 1-56163-458-1)

Rather than glamorize the lucrative lifestyle of the Jewish mafia of the 1930's or present the usual good-vs.-evil morality tale, Kleid delivers a more complex story in this graphic novel. The protagonist, Allie Tannenbaum, isn't a poor kid trying to escape poverty. His concerned father doesn't forbid him from joining Lepke's gang, but tries to emphasize to Allie how such choices are his to make --- and that they can be very costly.

In addition to the cast of fictional and real-life Jewish characters (such as Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Harry Strauss), there are Jewish references sprinkled throught the book : Yiddish phrases and terms thrown around, a mobster telling how Mendy Weiss doesn't kill on shabbos, a Star of David necklace used in arranging a surrendering to the authorities.

Allen's illustrations and pacing maintain the suspense and action, while Kleid's script blends fictional narrative with well-researched facts. A bibliography of novels, non-fiction, films and websites appers at the end, encouraging readers to learn even more about this forgotten dark chapter of Jewish history.

Though the violence in the book isn't gratuitous, it is present quite often, along with coarse language. I would reccommend this book for the Judaica graphic novel sections of public, synagogue and high school libraries.

My review of Jetlag by Etgar Keret

Keret, Etgar and Actus Comics. Jetlag New Milford, CT : Toby Press, 2006. 80 p. ISBN : 1-59264-155-5

The first thing that one notices about the 5 graphic novellas in this collection is how different they seem, despite all being written by the same author. This is partly due to the way Keret varies the personalities and characteristics of his protagonists from one story to the next. It is also a result of the unique artistic style of each of the individual artists who illustrate his stories here (in dazzling color).

On the surface, none of these tales seem to be particularly Jewish or even particularly Israeli (the locale chosen for each story is different, though part of the first story takes place in Tel Aviv). Taken as a whole, though, the reader is exposed to a world where mundane normalcy is horribly interrupted by death, dismemberment or the threat of violence - symbolically evocative of the unpredictable terror that has become a fact of everyday Israeli life.

There are no wars, suicide bombers or terrorists in this book. There aren't even any true antagonists, in the sense that we're used to reading in literature. Instead there are such "Twilight Zone"-style absurdities as a rabbit's severed head being pulled out of a magician's hat, a woman who becomes infatuated with a dead man, a plane that is deliberately crashed to teach a lesson, a disabled monkey driven around in a wheelchair and a boy's beloved piggy bank.

I would reccommend this title for the general adult (and teen) graphic novel collections of public, academic and synagogue libraries, as there are scenes which are inappropriate for children.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Up Up and Oy Vey

You can now pre-order copies of the book Up, Up, and Oy Vey : How
Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book
by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein by going to,-42&Product_ID=18

Up, Up, and Oy Vey chronicles how Jewish history, culture, & values helped shape the early years of the comic book industry.

The early comic book creators were almost all Jewish, and as children of immigrants, they spent their lives trying to escape the second-class mentality which was forced on them by the outside world. Their fight for truth, justice, and the American Way is portrayed by the superheroes they created. The dual identity given to their creations mirrors their own desire to live two lives—privately as a Jew, and publicly as an American.

Their creations are the descendants of a Jewish tradition littered with stories of super strength from Samson to the Golem of Prague. An increasing number of fans and amateur historians, obsessed with back-story "mythology," claim they've uncovered the secret "Jewish-ness" of the comic book characters. Superheroes, they claim, are usually outsiders; gifted yet misunderstood, and strangers in a strange land.

This book observes comic book superheroes through three different lenses—historical, cultural, and biblical/spiritual. Utilizing a bibliographic and subjective methodology, the author (an ordained rabbi) charts how the superhero model has unconsciously tapped into the deepest core of Jewish spiritual understanding.

Both teenagers and adults, especially those that are history enthusiasts, pop culture fans, seekers of Jewish spirituality, new-age mysticism cohorts, and of course, comic book readers, will enjoy reading this exciting and inspiring account of the birth and mythical origins of the comic book.

Book on the history of Jews in comics

Arie Kaplan is currently writing a book on the history of Jews in comics to be published by JPS in 2007. Interviewees include Art Spiegelman (Maus), Trina Robbins (GoGirl!), and the late, great Will Eisner (The Spirit).

The Jewish Graphic Novel : Artist's Panel

The Jewish Graphic Novel : Artist's Panel
April 26 at 7 pm

Miriam Katin has been added to the HUC panel, according to Arie Kaplan.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Multicultural super-team with a Jewish superhero (cartoon series)

That's right!

As "The Human Resource" reports at Start Snitching, the Minoriteam consists of

a wheelchair bound Asian, a bulletproof Indian clerk, a super fast Black man, a Jewish guy and a hard-working Mexican

The Jewish guy is young Neil Horowitz, who shouts "Hidal Didal Didal" to transfrom into Jewcano - "a man with all the powers of the Jewish faith --- and a volcano".

Special Haggadah with Comic Art

A special Haggadah was recently put together by Rachel Barenblat (aka "The Velveteen Rabbi"), using donations of material from such artists as Yaron Livay, Allan Hollander and Alison Kent Emily Cooper, Beth Budwig, and Eisner-award-winning comics artist Howard Cruse.

Cruse's rendering of "The Four Sons" (the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the son who does not know how to question) appears at the bottom of page 18 in Rachel's haggadah. At his blog, Cruse shows and explains the process of drawing this illustration.

You may view Barenblat's Haggadah by going to (Acrobat format).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Brownsville review & offer

Jason Rodriguez provided a mini-review of Neil Kleid's Jewish mob story at his "The Moose in the Closet" blog --- and he also offered to mail the book to someone who would agree to review it (chosen at random from those who posted comments at his blog).

I can't wait to read & review it.


Superman again - Jews in pop culture

Tim Lieder briefly discusses Action Comics #835, the Pulitzer-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and the miniseries Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy at weirdjews2.

The Bible and Graphic Novels: A Review and Interview with the Authors of "Marked" and "Megillat Esther"

The above article by Dan W. Clanton, Jr. may be read at the Society of Biblical Literature website. Apparently, it was posted between Jan. 17th and Feb. 21, 2006.

And it happened in the days of Achashverosh...

Over at The Last Trumpet, Drew Cohen tells us that he picked up a copy of Waldman's Megillat Esther :

It's a beautiful graphic novel with both Hebrew and translation of the Megilla, as well as some midrash regarding various aspects of the story. I hope to gain some insight from it in planning our Purimspiel.

Drew also shares a graphic from the book at the top of the entry.

Rescue Of Lubavitcher Rebbe From Nazis Made Into DC Comic Book (Sgt. Rock: The Prophesy)

from Failed Messiah :

Famous comic book artist and creator Joe Kubert has drawn a six-part series for DC comics. Sergent Rock: The Prophesy, 'based' on Brian Mark Rigg's book Rescued From the Reich, "tells the story" of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn's rescue from the Nazis early in WW2. The New York Jewish Week reports:

A U.S. Army reconnaissance unit parachutes into Vilna in 1943.

Surrounded by the Nazi and Russian armies, under heavy shelling, the American soldiers rendezvous with a Lithuanian partisan, a bearded hulk of a man named Bear. Stepping out of the rubble, Bear declares “We got package for you, very valuable, very … breakable.”

Then the soldiers overpower a pair of German tanks. Bear and the resistance fighters find refuge from the barrage in the shell of a building. Bear departs, and returns with his “very valuable package,” someone covered with a cloak.…

Kubert’s story is based on a true tale, the rescue of Rabbi Joseph Schneersohn, leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic movement, from Warsaw in 1940. It was the subject of Bryan Mark Rigg’s 2004 book “Rescued from the Reich: How One of Hitler’s Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

A friend gave Kubert the book last year. “I felt it was a real interesting story,” he said.

Rigg's book does tell an interesting story, but it is not the story Joe Kubert tells. Kubert has changed the facts and distorted the story to make his comic book more exciting. This would be fine if no mention was made about the historical event that inspired him. To to promote the comic book on that event while distorting that event in the comic book is reprehensible.

Perhaps DC Comics can clarify the issue and explain their marketing. I'll keep you posted.

For the actual details of the rescue along with other posts about Chabad and the Holocaust, please click the Chabad and the Holocaust link at the bottom of this post, scroll down to the bottom of the page and read upward. Thank you.

UPDATE: In this article written last month, Kubert describes the rabbi as a "snotty kid." I'm still waiting a reply from DC Comics, but it appears the comic book does not mention the Lubavitcher Rebbe by name, and does not mention Rigg's book either, so the only link between Chabad and the comic book is the Jewish Week article linked above. This would explain why Chabad's spinmeisters have not yet attacked Kubert. I suspect this will turn out to be a case where Kubert simply wanted to acknowledge Rigg's book for the basic idea of a rabbi being rescued from the clutches of the Nazis, but no more than that. Perhaps he even made this clear in his Jewish Week interview, but the JW blew the coverage. Or, perhaps he was not clear enough. More on this if and when DC Comics and others involved respond.

February 09, 2006

Joe Kubert, by the way, used to (still does?) draw for the Lubavitch "Moshiach Times," along with Mad Magazine's Al Jafee and the late Dave Berg.

Posted by: Nachum * February 10, 2006 at 08:03 AM

Havoc 21 #2

Baz reviews the first 3 issues of this "Definitive Irish Anthology" by Wolfman Productions at his Owl in Daylight blog.

In discussing the 2nd issue, he writes :
Indeed, the anthology kicks off with a story about pacts and regrets set against the backdrop of the holocaust. It’s a brave move to start a comic with the words ‘Heil Hitler’, and I’m not entirely sure that The Grave has the maturity or skill to pull it off, rather it seems to revel in the horrors of torture in order to provide a basis for the story’s final twist. The artwork is unconvincing too and appears to consist of delicately hand-drawn pictures that have, at some point, been mangled by a computer leading to some clumsy shading and an unnecessary pixelation and an overall cut-out feel. The pixelation in particular is a shame and there really is no excuse for it, there are hundreds of tutorials on the internet about scanning techniques and image preparation for the small press scene and allowing your art to be presented to the public in such a state shows not only a lack of quality control but a contempt for your audience, in my opinion.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jewish superheroes audio interview

I was interviewed in December by Heidi Estrin for her podcast "The Book of Life". You may listen to the episode by going to

Beowulf #4

Johnny Bacardi provides summaries of and page scans from DC's Beowulf #3 and #4 (from the 1970's).

In #4, Beowulf and his companions battle Vlad Tepes the Impaler, who is in conflict with the Ashers, the Lost Tribe of Israel, who hunt him for his atrocities.

As Wulfy and company trek across the desert, they are attacked by the Ashers, who mistake them for Vlad and his men. Beowulf convinces them of the truth by virtue of a huge chain. Seeing the error of their ways, the Asher leader introduces himself as Bruzz-Solomon and his second-in-command as Yusashia Ben Simon, and explains how Vlad Tepes, the evil Wallachian, has invaded the desert from the north- not to conquer but to plunder, torture and kill. In a really nice montage, artist Villamonte depicts him and his men dealing death and Vlad in one scene refusing to drink wine, instead preferring a cup of blood. He says, that's right, "Fool- I never!" Anyway, the Ashers apologize and Beowulf says "You may dress differently and believe in a different god, but we fight for the same cause. Beowulf stands WITH you against the madman Dracula!" They then retire to the campfire to plot strategy.

[T]hey are suddenly set upon by the Wallachians, with Vlad Tepes at the head! The battle rages on, with one unfortunate casualty for the Ashers: Solomon, who gets a death scene which made me a huge fan of this series in just one page.

After they're gone, the two remaining warrior chiefs say their goodbyes, with Ben Simon leaving Beowulf with a Star of David for good luck.

A scan of the page showing Solomon getting killed is at As he lies dying, Solomon recites the Shema prayer (often said by Jews who are near death). Yushashia then begins to recite the kaddish (mourner's prayer).