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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jewish Graphic Novels exhibition at Hebrew Union College (a repost)

The Jewish Graphic Novel, an exhibition where image and text are linked in a powerful form of contemporary art, features the original works of three generations of pioneering graphic novelists, from the late Will Eisner and Joe Kubert, to second generation artists Peter Kuper and James Sturm, and the newcomer JT Waldman.

Graphic novels represent an important genre in artistic expression and assert the intensity of word and image in conveying narratives that speak eloquently to the contemporary viewer. Reflecting the Jewish heritage of many of the founders of the American comics and cartooning art forms, this exhibition focuses on artists whose works are based on Jewish historical experience or Jewish literary sources and who tackle the themes of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, belief, and survival. Their visual narratives of human experience and historical jeopardy are gritty, realistic, and raw. Humor, irony, and fantastic imagination trigger a visceral reaction from the viewer.

"The Jewish Graphic Novels highlighted in this exhibition have been selected for their intense visual elucidation of Jewish historic and literary events," explains Laura Kruger, Curator. "The artists combine intense illustration with searing social issues. Each of these artists reveals an aspect of Jewish social history, literature, traditional text, and mythic heroism through their own unique work."

The late Will Eisner coined the term 'graphic novel.' He used the phrase 'sequential art' to describe the visual flow of ideas across the page. A master of the graphic novel field and mentor to generations of comic book and graphic artists, he authored A Contract With God, Fagin the Jew, The Name of the Game and The Protocols of Zion.

{blog editor's note : Actually, the latter title is The Plot, which is about the Protocols}

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he touched every nerve of social consciousness and Jewish history. Joe Kubert, has been working for more than 50 years in both the comic book industry and the graphic novel genre. He is featured in this exhibition with four searing works. Yossel, April 1943, depicts the life of a young boy in the final days of the Warsaw ghetto. In Jew Gangster, Kubert traces the history of Murder, Inc. in Brooklyn circa 1930. Growing out of the despair of the depression he creates a retaliatory aggressor rather than the meek victim. Currently, Kubert has revived a comic book creation of his, Sgt. Rock, who together with his troops goes into Vilnus, Lithuania in 1940 to bear witness to the atrocities and to rescue the Rabbi who will tell the true tale of the victimization of the Jews.

Peter Kuper uses The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and other of Kafka's short stories as the bases for his own landmark graphic work. Kuper's darkly-humored comics express adaptations of Kafka's works into graphic novels that merge American cartooning with German Expressionism. Kuper adapts the nine tales of paranoia and alienation in Kafka's Give It Up: And Other Short Stories to black- and-white comics. Kuper is challenged by the complexity of human decisions and in The System, he quotes from William Blake, Alexander Pope, and Darwin to create a 'flow chart' of the parallels, coincidences and interconnections of urban life.

James Sturm has taken the historical episode of an evangelical group of baseball players from the early 1920's who play under the team name of The House of David. When these players fall into a losing streak they bring to life a 'golem,' a mighty hitter, in hope that they will be delivered, like the 19th century Jews of Prague, to victory.

JT Waldman's interpretation of the biblical story, Megillat Esther, or The Book of Esther, is the basis for his just-published graphic novel of assimilation, oppression, self-defense, and vindication. Throughout the ages artists have illustrated the story of King Ahashverosh, Queen Esther, her Uncle Mordechai and their enemy Haman. Visually translating the text into dramatic, often violent, images, Waldman contributes to this continuing tradition.

Published works by the artists will be available for purchase in the exhibition or by contacting Rachel Litcofsky at or 212-824-2205.

PROGRAM An Evening with the Artists of the Jewish Graphic Novel

Reception and Program: Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Artist's reception: 5:30 PM
Program: 7:00 PM
Moderator: Arie Kaplan, MAD Magazine writer & screenwriter
Panelists/Graphic Artists: Joe Kubert, Peter Kuper, James Sturm

RSVP: or (212) 824-2205 by March 16, 2006

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan

Museum Hours: Mondays-Thursdays, 9 AM-5 PM; Fridays, 9 AM-3 PM; Selected Sundays, 10 AM-2 PM, Feb. 12, 26; March 12, 26; April 9, 23

Information/Tours: (212) 824-2205

Admission: Free, Photo ID Required.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Alien Loves Predator - the Jdate cartoon

In cartoon #171, Alien decides to use Jdate to prey on sexy Jewish females --- just like many of the guys that use Jdate.

The Lone and Level Sands by A. David Lewis - preview

The 8-page prologue may be accessed (Acrobat format) by going to

Crazz's reviews of 3 Jewish comic books

from The Comic Book Observatory

Testament #1 & 2 Vertigo
What do you get when you combine a story about an oppressive government in a society that is on the brink of social and political upheaval with religious mysticism and prophecy? You get Testament, and it's a pretty cool book! There are themes that may offend someone or group now that religious imagery in comic format is such a political hotbed, but I'm thinking that if you are of that mind set then you're probably not going to be reading ANY comic.

The main character is Jake, who has just become eligible for the newly instituted draft. His father is a scientist that developed a tracking chip that everyone is required to have to keep track of them and register them for things such as the Draft. Jake is also friends with a group of young radicals that are fighting the system by removing their chips and hacking into government computers. As the characters are introduced the story moves towards a confrontation between the government and those protesting the draft and such. Throughout this modern plot biblical interpretations are placed that seem to be mirroring or foretelling events that are happening to Jake and those around them. The biblical pages tell of Abram and his relationship and devotion to God.

The art is good. Very solid and for the most part are believable looking, with the occasional awkward pose of a character in spots. The colors, inks, and letters are all solid, yet I think the style of the art would be better suited for a fantasy story than this mostly modern tale. It's still good, but I think it's not a perfect match.

If this kind of a story interests you, I think it's worth checking out. I've enjoyed it, and I think you will too.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #2 DC
WWII is back in full swing and Sgt. Rock and Easy Company have been asked to go into disputed territory and retrieve and item of great importance. The item just happens to be a Jewish prophet that has an attitude. Stuck between German and Soviet fire, Rock and Easy CO try to make the extraction point.

I was really excited when I heard they were doing a new Sgt. Rock series by Joe Kubert, but after two issues I find it to be a bit substandard. Maybe it just smacks too much of the Silver Age for my tastes, but I'm not going to be picking up any further issues. I don't particularly like the art, the colors, or the story. It's not bad, but it's extremely bland for my tastes and I would rather spend my money elsewhere.

Crazz also had the following exchange with Brant W. Fowler via the comments area :

Brant W. Fowler said...
Months ago I read an interview with the writer of Testament, and his views were so twisted and so far fetched (and they were his actual views, not just something he imagined) that there's no way I could give that book a try. He was misquoting scriptures and making up meanings for words and everything.

I got in a heated debate on the Newsarama boards about it (one of two debates I got in there and learned my lesson that it was pointless because of their attitudes) providing scriptures and breaking down the Greek and Hebrew meanings and everything. This book really got to me.

It's not the book itself or the fictional nature of it, but rather that this is what the guy believes and is trying to pass off as fact that offended me.

Anyway, rant over for the night. :)

11:43 PM
Crazz said...
Yeah, I agree with you Brant. I read some of his personal statements at the end of the 1st issue and I thought the guy was a total looney tune. I don't know where he "thinks" his facts are proven, but I would love to see them at length, especially as a historian who has studied scripture. I didn't want to mention that stuff because I wanted my review to be base soley on his work, not on his psychosis!!

12:06 AM
Brant W. Fowler said...
Lol. That's understandable, man. :)

More publicity for J.T. Waldman's Megillat Esther

The Velveteen Rabbi reviews the Megillat Esther graphic novel :

I am really impressed with this book. First of all, it's a good graphic novel; each page is striking, the pictures collaborate with the words in a way Scott McCloud would surely applaud, and I would like to spend time contemplating the visual prosody of every page in the book. (The art is also a style that really works for me -- black-and-white, like woodcuts, but elaborate and detailed. Apparently the iconography is largely drawn from Persian art from 600-400 B.C.E.) Secondly, it's a faithful retelling of the original: the whole megillah is in here, in Hebrew and in English. Most often the English words are boxed and the Hebrew calligraphy is woven into the frame, but one way or another, Waldman's respect for the text is clear.

Mixed Blessings

Mixed Blessings by Lawrence Schimel

Mixed Blessings, a full-color graphic novel is about a gay WASP and a gay Jew in NYC who decide to get married (and how their families react). It is currently being written for German publisher Heinz und Horst verlag.

Esther Unplugged (Arie Kaplan interviews J.T. Waldman)


JT Waldman and Arie Kaplan

Prepare yourself to experience the Book of Esther, the basis for the holiday of Purim, in all its shocking, violent glory through JT Waldman's stunning new graphic-novel version, Megillat Esther. Waldman's drawings explode from the page, offering an unforgettable Esther for the 21st century. He is joined by author, screenwriter and animation writer Arie Kaplan, a contributor to Mad magazine and the creator of the children's comic strip Dave Danger, Action Kid. Kaplan is also the author of the book Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!, coming this fall from Chicago Review Press.

Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door.

Date & Time: Wed, Mar 8, 2006, 7:00pm

Location: Steinhardt Building, 35 West 67th Street Directions

Code: T-MM5LE63-01

Price: $12.00