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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ninjews claymation cartoon by Josh Bass

I came across this animated cartoon years ago and made a link to it on my online bibliography page. Unfortunately, it became a dead link and I thought that I'd be unable to share it.

However, the author (Josh Bass) has given it a new home on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy0ZUuS_oAw

Technically, it's not a comic, but it would make a good comic if one freezed the frames and reproduced them on paper.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alan Oirich recognized by Business Week

This week, Business Week takes a look at "five entrepreneurs whose companies reflect their beliefs". One of these businesspeople is Electric Comics founder Alan Oirich seen pictured in the fifth slide on its webiste. Also pictured are 4 models in costume, whom I assume are his wife and 3 kids.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

review of Homeland graphic history book



Wolfman, Marv, Mario Ruiz, and William J. Rubin. Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel. Skokie, IL : Nachshon Press, 2007. 124 pp. $19.95. ISBN : 978-9771507-0-0 Pbk.

In 1958, on the occasion of Israel’s 10th anniversary, Thomas Yoseloff Inc. published Pictorial History of Israel, which used over 600 black-&-white photographs (as well as a small number of black-&-white illustrations) to show readers how Israelis live and have lived, how they came to establish the modern state and how its history has been a combination of joyous triumphs and bitter struggles. Two more (updated) editions followed. However, the latest edition (published in 1968) appeared just one year after the Six Day War, on the occasion of Israel’s 20th anniversary. As useful and interesting as these books have been, there has certainly been a need for a more contemporary treatment.

Earlier this year, Nachshon Press published Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel. A visual panorama of images for the eyes, the book not only includes previously published photos (color photos, as well as monochrome ones which stand out on the page, due to the use of varied color backgrounds), but also contains lushly painted colored illustrations rendered by the talented comic book artist Mario Ruiz. Though the book’s authors admit to their particular viewpoint and bias early on in the narrative (which takes the form of an academic class being taught), the book occasionally introduces contrary ones (e.g. pg. 42, where a student challenges the professor by asking if Zionists had considered the rights of the Arabs who were living in the country).

One of the beautiful visual “tricks” that Ruiz uses in the book could be described as “unity of vision”. On pages 12-13, when Moses looks out towards Israel from atop Mount Nebo, what the reader sees (through his eyes) is not an ancient land of fig trees and stone wells, but a somewhat blurry modern skyline. This image is mirrored on pages 42-43, but here it is Theodor Herzl who is viewed from behind and the skyline looks a bit clearer. On pages 118-119 – the final pages of the book – the photo of the skyline is shown in focus in front of a group of young students. Another visual “trick” occurs on pages 30-31. At first glance, there appears to be a single man’s face divided along the spine of the book. However, a closer examination shows that the left side is half of a face of a Muslim, while the right side is the face of a Christian crusader.

In addition to discussing the many aspects of Jewish & Israeli life that I expected it to cover (including a condensed account of Biblical history, various periods of invasions and wars, the Holocaust, terrorism), Homeland also touches on topics that surprised me (e.g. Shlomtzion [the first female Jewish ruler], the complexity of Zionism and its subgroups, and the explanation of the Birthright program). In my review copy, some of the text in the “1991-present” section was obscured by the photos, but I feel certain that this problem was corrected for the published editions. A newer 60th anniversary edition is planned for 2008.

Overall, I would highly recommend this stunningly visual, textually engaging book for public, school and synagogue libraries. It is well-suited for elementary students, but adults should find it worthwhile as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

followup to Edge City's current Hanukkah storyline

A big "thank you" goes to "dddegg", who pointed out to me that the Houston Chronicle keeps a 30-day current archive of the "Edge City" comic strip on their website.

I took a look and it seems that the current storyline about the menorah of Abby's great grandfather started on Monday, Nov. 26th, not yesterday as I had originally thought.

So, the links to this weeks' story is as follows :

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20071126&name=Edge_City

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20071127&name=Edge_City

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20071128&name=Edge_City

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20071129&name=Edge_City

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20071130&name=Edge_City

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peter Sanderson looks at Disguised as Clark Kent

Comic Book critic and historian Peter Sanderson shares his thoughts on the Danny Fingeroth book Disguised as Clark Kent : Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero at his Comics in Context website.

Here's an excerpt :


Later in the book, Fingeroth discusses a Silver Age contribution to the Superman mythos: the Bottle City of Kandor, a Kryptonian city that had been reduced in size and stolen by the evil Brainiac, and thus survived the destruction of the planet. Superman recovered the miniaturized city and placed it in his Fortress of Solitude (whose name arguably alludes to Superman’s status as an alien on Earth), which Fingeroth correctly describes as “the survivor’s living museum to the memory of Krypton. He was now no longer fully alone and could revisit a piece of the culture and society from which he had been simultaneously saved and exiled” (Fingeroth p. 83).

Two years ago when I was listening to a BBC radio program “Is Superman Jewish?” (see “Comics in Context” #75: “The Rubber Band Theory of Cartoon Art”). I was startled when it made the argument that Kandor represented the nation of Israel: a community of Jews, small compared to the millions who once lived in Europe, that survived after the Holocaust.


Earlier, Sanderson interviewed Danny and the interview may be found at http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6493288.html?nid=2789.

"Jewish Mothers and Their Sons..." by Benita Epstein

I found the following one-panel cartoon earlier today :

"Jewish Mothers and Their Sons, The Doctors Annual Picnic"

Illustrated by Benita Epstein

To view, go to http://www.aish.com/jewlarious/comix/images/picnic%20comic.jpg

Palestine : The Special edition (Joe Sacco)

In celebration of the publication of Palestine : The Special Edition (written and illustrated by Joe Sacco), Fantagraphics hosted an exhibit of original artwork from the Palestine comic series which the special edition collects in one volume. The exhibit was held at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in late October.

Photos, video and audio from the evening may be accessed at the Fantagraphics blog :

Go to http://www.fantagraphics.com/blog/2007_10_21_fantagraphics_archive.html
#3111752547376532584
and http://www.fantagraphics.com/blog/2007_10_28_fantagraphics_archive.html (scroll down to "Sacco talk audio").

A new book of Joe's - Footnotes in Gaza is expected to be on shelves by the end of 2008.

Chanukah / Hanukkah Comix

I realize it may seem like I'm jumping the gun a bit, wishing all my readers an early "Happy Hanukkah", when the holiday doesn't start this year for another 5 days (well --- evenings, since all of the Jewish holidays start at sundown).

However, I'm not the only one getting psyched for the Festival of Lights.

Tery Laban, Jewish cartoonist of "Edge City" (co-written by his wife Patty) has already started a multi-part storyline in his syndicated comic strip. Since SFgate doesn't archive the strip and since the King Features page that does archive the strip only retains one week's worth of strips (and is over a month behind), you need to click on the following link to read what looks like part 1 of the current Hanukkah storyline: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/comics/Edge_City.dtl.

It is too early to read Hillary Price's Chanukah-themed cartoons in her syndicated comic strip "Rhymes with Orange" (assuming she does one this year), but it's never too early or too late to click on the following links and enjoy the ghosts of Hanukkah cartoons past :

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=19991219

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=20001220

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=20001222

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=20041210

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=20060102

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/home.php?date=20061215

I also found the link to the Off the Mark Chanukah cartoons of Mark Parisi : http://www.offthemark.com/search-results/key/chanukah/, which I may not have posted about before.

In 2003, Elena Steier did a "Ramprats" Hanuukah cartoon which featured Mothra (don't ask why ; just click on the link) : http://www.striporama.com/ramprats/mothra_Hanukkah_2003.jpg

Walter Hudsick over at the Recreation Annex blog discussed the backup story in Justice League of America (original series) #188 - "Miracle at 22,300 Miles" in December 2005, but I only just ran across it.

If anyone comes across any additional Chanukah comic strips, comic book stories or graphic novels that haven't been listed or mentioned in my online bibliography, Yahoo discussion forum or this blog, please send me an e-mail (safran-can@yahoo.com).

Happy Holidays, everyone - whatever & however you celebrate!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Toronto graphic memoir author-illustrator at Jewish Book Fair - Nov. 11

Sun., Nov. 11th
4:30 PM
Leah Posluns Theatre
4588 Bathurst Street
Toronto, Ontario
M2R 1W6
FREE!

Artist and author Simon Schneiderman shows slides and speaks on his new book Preoccupied with My Father. With paintings and poetry Simon Schneiderman has created a graphic memoir of his late father Yoel's life, changed forever by the Holocaust.

A collection of Schneiderman's paintings will be exhibited November 3-11 in the Leah Posluns Theatre lobby and at the Miles Nadal JCC.

To see sample pages from Preocuupied, go to
http://lipmanart.com/frames_gallery_schneiderman_book.html

2 Jewish graphic novel author-illustrators in Toronto - Oct. 20th

For the 3rd year in a row, Harbourfront Cenre is hosting a reading by a Jewish female cartoonist as part of its annual reading series.

The International Festival of Authors presents both Rutu Modan (author of Exit Wounds) and James Sturm (author of The Golem's Mighty Swing) on Oct. 20th at 12:00 noon in the Brigantine Room. The readings / Powerpoint presentations will be hosted by Peter Birkemoe, co-owner of The Beguiling (the best place in Toronto to shop for Jewish & Israeli comics and graphic novels).

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario Canada
M5J 2G8

To purchase tickets, please go to http://www.readings.org/?q=ifoa/reading_presentation_rutu_modan_
james_sturm_emily_schultz

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Comic Torah

The Comic Torah is a new, weekly on-liner
based on the parsha hashavuah. It is created by comedian and NPR
commentator, Aaron Freeman and visual artist, Sharon Rosenzweig.


We have re-imagined the Hebrew bible as part family feud between YHWH and the rest of the Canaanite pantheon and part love story between YHWH (a green-skinned female) and Moses (a black bodybuilder.) The pages are certainly irreverent but we think Judaism will die of boredom long before it expires of sacrilege.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Jewish Side of TCAF 2007

This weekend, Torontonians and visitors to Toronto will be able to experience the 3rd TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival). at Victoria College (on the University of Toronto campus).

There will be a diversity of publishers, writers, and artists at exhibitor tables showing off their wares, selling their products, signing their work and some will probably even do free sketches if you ask them nicely.

Among the guests will be people who have done what I classify as "Jewish comix work".

* Dave Sim
Dave Sim is internationally renown for his epic CEREBUS series, now completed in over 15 collected volumes. Since the completion of Cerebus, Sim has begun working on a series of new projects, some of which will debut at or just before TCAF this August. For those of you that miss seeing Cerebus on the stands, take note: Following Cerebus, a zine dedicated to the series and to its creators continues to be released several times per year.

The second-to-last collected trade paperback in the Cerebus collection was Latter Days, which reprinted Cerebus #266-288, in which Cerebus becomes "The Rabbi" and which has the only appearance of the Ben Gurions of the Universe.
Please note: Dave Sim will only be appearing on Saturday, August 18th.

* Cameron Stewart
Artist Cameron Stewart is probably best known for illustrating the adventures SEAGUY (co-created with Grant Morrison), SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN, and CATWOMAN for DC Comics. He recently illustrated the Eisner Award-nominated Vietnam war graphic novel THE OTHER SIDE, and this summer will see the release of the new graphic novel APOCALIPSTIX from Oni Press, with co-creator Ray Fawkes.

The first issue of Seven Soldiers : The Manhattan Guardian had the title hero face off against a Jewish golem. Alas, the word YHWH wasn't done from right-to-left as Cameron was trying to get done, but it's still a nice effort.

* Sarah Dyer & Evan Dorkin
Sarah Dyer is a writer/artist/colourist, and founder/editor of the ACTION GIRL! comics anthology. She's coloured just about every illustration husband Evan Dorkin has ever made, and in addition she also runs JinJur.com, a collection of articles and commentary on more "domestic" pursuits.

The notorious creator of MILK & CHEESE and DORK will be joining the Toronto Comic Arts Festival for his first-ever comics event in Toronto! After starting at Marvel Comics, Dorkin made his name on hip, contemporary looks at youth in popular culture through his series HECTIC PLANET and his short humour strips in anthologies including INSTANT PIANO. Currently, Dorkin's work can be seen in annual issues of DORK and in Nickelodeon Magazine, MAD Magazine, and on the cover of the new Larry Doyle novel I Love You Beth Cooper. Also this summer, Slave Labor Graphics will release vinyl toy figures of MILK & CHEESE, and we've all got our fingers crossed that they'll show up in time for TCAF.

Back in mid-Jan. 2004, Dorkin made reference in his Livejournal to a "fully-drawn 16 page One Punch Goldberg story waiting for when we can find the time to put together the long delayed Action Girl Co-Ed Special". One Punch Goldberg has been described as a "female Jewish boxer".

* Paul Gravett
Paul Gravett is a London-based freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster, who has worked in comics publishing and promotion for over twenty years, including co-publishing the highly-influential ECLIPSE from 1983-1989.
His extensive knowledge of comics and graphic novels is reflected in his two books, GRAPHIC NOVELS: STORIES TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE and MANGA: 60 YEARS OF JAPANESE CULTURE. The former is a rich, layered examination of contemporary graphic novels; a wonderful entry point for newcomers to the medium and a wonderful guide to the breadth of material available for even the most advanced reader. Meanwhile, his book on Manga has quickly become the book of note on an iteration of the comics medium that is gripping the world. His most recent book, GREAT BRITISH COMICS, is a very thick one that covers exactly what the title promises.
Paul Gravett will be speaking on multiple subjects at TCAF, please see the Events page for further details.

Paul Gravett is the author of the online essay "After Maus : The Jewish Experience in American Graphic Novels" (circa 2002) and the essay "De l’influence des quelques auteurs juifs sur les graphic novels" in the ever-delayed French anthology La diaspora des bulles : bandes dessinees et judeites (DenoĆ«l, 2007?). Paul also moderated 2 panels on Jewish graphic novels at the annual Jewish Book Week in London, England in 2006 and 2007.

* Paul Pope
In America, he's been called the "comics destroyer;" in France, he's been called the "Jim Morrison of comics" and "comics' Petit Prince." New York’s Paul Pope creates comics that defy genre and period, straddling the line between artistic capriciousness and commercial appeal. One of a handful of young cartoonists consistently gaining critical praise and media attention, Pope has been featured in Canada on MuchMusic and Space channel, among others, and his work has appeared in print outlets like Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Jalouse, V Magazine and The Village Voice. He is also the only American cartoonist to have worked for Japan's largest manga publisher (Kodansha), for more than five years now. Pope’s recent work includes the near-future sci-fi romance 100%, the career spanning THB, as well as recent stints on iconic comic character series like Batman and Spider-Man. Just in time for TCAF, Adhouse Books will release PULPHOPE: THE ART OF PAUL POPE. It's going to be great.

Paul wrote and illustrated the story "Berlin Batman" in The Batman Chronicles #11, in which Batman is a Jewish painter named Baruch Wane.

* Emily Holton
Emily Holton will be debuting her new book, Little Lessons In Safety at the Conundrum Press table (see publisher listings for signing times). It is a collection of Holton's bookworks and drawings, produced over the past five years. Her "scratchy intelligent line drawings" (Broken Pencil) and lean text play with the format of children's readers, comics, celebrity fashion magazines, and cut and paste murder mysteries. Smart, strange, and funny, Holton's work recalls artist Raymond Pettibon, filmmaker Miranda July and southern gothic writer Carson McCullers - all at once. There is a boy with a bird for hair, feral children who grow up to be cowboys, treeplanters who never come back, and fashionista Karl Lagerfeld perfoming a bris. Her stories, "exploring a richer, weirder understanding of language and sentiment" (Brian Joseph Davis), reveal themselves in layers - eerily straightforward and yet never quite what they seem.

* Miss Lasko-Gross
Though not listed as a guest at the TCAF website, Miss announced in a ComicSpace Bulletin that she will be there. Apparently she will be sharing a table with Becky and Hwan.

Miss is the author-illustrator of the autobiographical graphic book Escape from "Special". From an online review : "For Melissa, special is a title bestowed upon her by parents, teachers and other adults in her life. She doesn't quite fit in with those around her. She continually finds herself in awkward situations that further alienate her from family, friends, and classmates. Her leftist Jewish parents attempt to help via therapists, new schools, and surprise parties, but of course, these fall miserably flat or worse, backfire on Melissa."




* James Turner
James Turner is a Toronto illustrator whose first graphic novel, NIL, sort of came out of nowhere and surprised an awful lot of people with how very good, and unique, it is. James has since created the ongoing comic series REX LIBRIS, about a team of gun-wielding librarians, which has become quite popular indeed.

No Jewish comix work (yet) as far as I know, but I felt I also had to acknowledge the only cartoonist in attendance who is writing a comic series about librarians --- gun-wielding librarians, yet. I'll need to remember that one if I ever decide to start a "Librarians in Comics" blog.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Israeli Comics Cartoon and Animation Festival 2007

from the July 29, 2007 Haaretz, as reprinted at the Haaretz website.

An uncensored alternative to mainstream comics
by Nirit Anderman

There were dolls representing Superman, Spiderman and X-men, crates full of comic books featuring Batman, Wonder Woman, Hulk and the other American super heroes, book stands run by publishers like Keter, Am Oved and Modan, dozens of colorful comic books in Hebrew and English on chromo paper, computer games, a television journalist wandering among the stands - dressed up as Catwoman - fingering the furry ears on top of her head as she chatted with children and teens smiling shyly at the camera, and excited children who pull their tired parents from one stand to another.

In the hustle and bustle of the third Israeli Comics Cartoon and Animation Festival held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque lobby last week, only the sharp-eyed would have noticed the pale poster with the colored felt marker letters indicating the location of the alternative comics exhibition on the upper floor, above the washrooms. The lights at that exhibition were a bit dimmer, while the stands - which primarily displayed amateurish, homemade looking comic books without colors or chromo paper - were set up close to each other beside the staircase. The throngs of festival visitors did not reach the alternative exhibition, nor did the cool climate-controlled air from below. Two large industrial fans stood on the floor doing their best to move the humid air a bit, occasionally lifting a rogue comic book into the air, where it fluttered and fell to the floor.

Miri Kluner, who offered editions of her comic book, "Anti," recalled how for a moment in the afternoon, a cool breeze had swept through the area. That happened, she says with sparkling eyes, when the movie ended, and the air-conditioned theater's doors opened. "After that, we tried to open the doors again to enjoy some of the air conditioning, but we couldn't."

This year, for the first time, the festival's management decided to give the alternative comics their own space in order to enlarge the variety of cartoon styles on display at the festival. "It is important for us to provide a stage for the youngsters who are fresher and uncensored, who cannot publish professionally," says Nissim Hizkiyahu, the festival's art director. The cartoonists were asked to pay only a symbolic fee for their stands at which they sold their creations during the the three days of the festival. The display was comprised of 10 stands, and most of the salespeople were the creators themselves.

On the festival's second day, they got fed up with the intense heat and their distance from the visitors below, and realized that, as always, there must be an alternative. Assi Halfon, 16, was the spearhead, and the others followed him. One after the other, they gathered up their stands, took them down the stairs, and set them up at the cinematheque entrance. Next year, says Hizkiyahu, management will try to find a solution to the problem of the air conditioning too.

NIS 1 per page

"Format: A4, illustrated on both sides of the page. Means: Photocopy machine. The mandate: The small group has complete freedom not to accept decisions. Anarchy. All are invited. Let each person draw as he sees fit. Pluralism. Deviance. Tits and ass. No selections. No direction. No God. Everything is distributed, the strong sells." This is how the independent A4 comics group defined itself on the inside cover of the six comic books it published for the festival.

At the group's stand, beside the books, there was also a stack of A4 paper with black-and-white comics depicted on them in a print quality that could not be described as enviable.

"Part of our concept is the fanzine look," explains Yuval Caspi, one of the group's founders and coordinator of festival activities for the alternative exhibition. "We are a group of pluralists that accepts anyone who draws cartoons. We never refuse anyone." Each comics page sells for a shekel, and every 16-page comic book costs NIS 15.

The group has its own web site (www.aaaa4.tk), which, Caspi says, registers about 200 visitors a day. The site has an active forum that cartoonists can use to upload their works, and therefore, join the group.

"We already have about 150 cartoonists," says Caspi. "One or two new ones join each day. We have sold about 3,000 A4 pages so far." Caspi notes that all revenues are used toward printing costs and for hosting events at which the comics are sold. Alongside known artists who are members (Dudu Geva, Zev Engelmeier, Uri Fink), the group includes young artists, mostly aged 15-16.

The group does not censor content. Thus, for example, one can find an A4 comic book with stories about an Israel Defense Forces soldier who is a suicide bomber, dubious connections between Ilan Ramon and Omri Sharon, the adventures of a talking cup, and a tour of Chen Blvd. in Tel Aviv with a dog who prefers his own kind.

"We are not mainstream," says Caspi. "Anyone can write about sex, violence, drugs, politics or even a simple love story."

More than an industry of individuals

The group was founded about five months ago at the initiative of Caspi, Geva, Rani Levanon, Boaz Kadman and a few others. "We wanted comics to be more than an industry of a few individuals, that it should become something more popular, that anyone who wanted to express himself could put out a comic book," Geva says. "[We wanted] to give an opportunity to every child, every old woman, everyone who couldn't afford to publish works on his own."

Geva took upon himself the printing of the first 100 of the group's cartoons on his home photocopier. "I made 50 copies of each page, on both sides of the page, which comes out to about 10,000 copies," he says. "I felt like a print shop owner, a small Communist contributing to mankind."

Another group of artists that exhibited in the alternative comics exhibition was the Dimona group, whose five members have been operating together for a year-and-a-half. The five - Sagi Morad, Michal Baruch, Merav Shaul, Yifat Cohen and Amitai Sandy - studied design at either Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design or Vital, the Tel Aviv Center for Design Studies.

"We preferred to work in a group, because a group has much more power, both in the economic sense and from the perspective of dividing the work load," says a group member. "Putting out a book independently is a lot of work, and this way we split up the tasks: one distributes (whoever has a car that day); one is in charge of printing; another is responsible for public relations. We have no fixed roles, switching with one another all the time. Beyond that, Dimona is also a kind of support group. We meet, show one another what we have done, and share ideas."

In the beginning, they approached regular publishers, who were not enthusiastic about the group of young inexperienced artists who insisted on drawing cartoons. The group refused to be discouraged, however, and decided to do everything on its own.

"We discovered that it is great to publish on our own," says another Dimona member. "It gives us a sense of independence. We have no restrictions on the content we put in the books. Each one of us can do what he wants on his pages."

The group's members agreed to write their cartoons in English so they could distribute the comic books overseas, and they chose the name Dimona because they wanted an Israeli name that non-Israelis could pronounce easily. The have published two books, participated in the International Comics Festival in Angoul, France, and had their works published in two anthologies - one in German and the other in Slovenian. This week the five are going to the Internationales Berliner Comicfestival.

Every so often, they pack copies of their books, "Dimona" ("We picked it up from the printer a day before our trip to France) and "Dimona Israeli," which came out last week ("on the first day of the Cinematheque festival we ran to get it from the bookbinder") into Baruch's car, and distribute them to small bookstores like Prose, Ha'ozen Hashlishit, Tolaat Sfarim, and Salon Mazal in Tel Aviv.

"You won't find our books at Steimatsky's," they say. "We don't distribute to chain stores."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jewish Side of San Diego Comicon 2007

I won't be attending this year's San Diego Comic Convention and there won't be a "Jewish Side of Comics" panel there this year.

The SDCCI (which starts tomorrow and has its preview night tonight) will have plenty of Jewish comics professionals in attendance, as well as some non-Jewish comics professionals who have done "Jewish" work and 6 sessions which I would specifically reccommend to those who will be there.

Among the guests in attendance will be :

* Sergio Aragones (who illustrated the "Fanny Hillman : Jewish Madam" books and adapted the Jonah story for Testament)

* Dick Ayers (illustrator of "Lonely Are the Brave" in Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #2, in which the titular heroes liberate a concentration camp)

* Kyle Baker (author-illustrator of the King David graphic novel from Vertigo)

* Mike Baron (illustrator of many Nexus stories ; one of the main characters in Nexus is Judah Maccabee aka "The Hammer")

* Brian Michael Bendis

* Nick Bertozzi (illustrator of Houdini : The Handcuff King

* Bob Burden (author of the story "Behold the Golem" in Gumby #2)

* Peter David who infamously used the names of seder plate items for aliens in a Star Trek novel and who wrote the stories for The Incredible Hulk #386-387 ; see
http://www.leaderslair.com/noexcuses/hulk2-386.html and http://www.leaderslair.com/noexcuses/hulk2-387.html)

* Mark Evanier (author of a Crossfire story in which a Holocaust survivor tries to take revenge upon an actor he mistakenly thinks is a Nazi war criminal)

* Danny Fingeroth (author of Disguised as Clark Kent : Jews, Comics, And the Creation of the Superhero)

* Gary Friedrich (author of "Lonely Are the Brave" in Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #2, in which the titular heroes liberate a concentration camp)

* Neil Gaiman (Jewish author who retold a midrash on Adam's 2nd wife and had a Jewish musician meet Death in the pages of his Sandman series)

* Rick Geary (illustrator of the story "Behold the Golem" in Gumby #2)

* Justin Gray (co-creator of the Monolith)

* Arie Kaplan (author of the "Kings of Comics" series of articles in Reform Judaism magazine)

* Miriam Katin (author-illustrator of the autobiographical We Are On Our Own)

* Scott Kurtz (author-illustrator of PVP, the Eisner-award-winning online comic strip which last year made a joke about the Superman Returns movie being "a Jewish conspiracy to convince Christians that Jesus was gay.")

* Stan Lee (Jewish comics legend who co-created the Fantastic Four, which has a Jewish chartacter called The Thing and who appeared in the story "What if the Original Marvel Bullpen was the Fantastic Four?" in What If? #11)

* Paul Levitz (author of "Tradition" in DC Comics' 9-11 September 11th 2001)

* Miriam Libicki (author-illustrator of the autobiographical jobnik! series)

* Rob Liefield (illustrator of stories in the Youngblood series, which included the Israeli superheroine Masada)

* Joseph Michael Lisner (illustrator of the story "Corporate Ladder" which appeared in the series Cry for Dawn)

* Todd McFarlane (co-plotter of the story "Remains" in Spawn #103)

* Jimmy Palmiotti (co-creator of the Monolith)

* Paul Pope (author-illustrator of the "Berlin Batman" story in Batman Chronicles #11)

* Trina Robbins (co-author of "Zog Nit Keyn Mol : the Partisans Song" and author of "Th Trinagle Fire" which was published in both Corporate Crime Comics #2 and Lilith magazine #2)

* Steve Rude (author of many Nexus stories ; one of the main characters in Nexus is Judah Maccabee aka "The Hammer")

* Gail Simone (who wrote the story "Li'l Krusty in Give a Hoot, Stay in School" in Simpsons #62)

* Cameron Stewart (illustrator of Manhattan Guardian #1, in which the title character battles a golem)

* JM Straczynski (author of the Spider-Man story "You Want Pants with That?" and the Rising Stars story "Selah")

* James Sturm (author-illustrator of The Golem's Mighty Swing)

* Roy Thomas (who had the Thing battle the Golem in Marvel Two-in-One #11 and introduced Jewish superheroes Nuklon {Infinity Inc. / JLA} and Golem {The Invaders})

* Marv Wolfman (author of a Tomb of Dracula story in which a Jewish man named Eshkol makes Dracula recoil with a Star of Daviod necklace, a Teen Titans story which has a heroic Israeli soldier and the graphic history book Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel)




Jewish / Israeli work that has been nominated for an Eisner award

* Kramer's Ergot #6 (which is edited by Sammy Harkham and includes his story "Lubavitch, Ukraine 1876") is nominated for Best Anthology

* Pizzeria Kamikaze (by Israelis Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka) is nominated for Best U.S. Edition of International Material

* Joann Sfar (author-illustrator of the Little Vampire books, Vampire Loves, The Rabbi's Cat and Klezmer) is nominated for Best Writer / Artist




Notable Sessions

* Fri., July 27th, Room 30AB
Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero
Superheroes were created by Jews. Is that significant, or a complete coincidence and no big deal? In a reading from his provocative new Continuum book, Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero, longtime Spider-Man editor and author of Superman on the Couch Danny Fingeroth explores the backgrounds of the young, largely Jewish men from Eastern European backgrounds who created the most well-known superheroes. Fingeroth will discuss how the creators' Jewish backgrounds may have helped make superheroes the most familiar popular culture icons of all—on TV, in movies, and in electronic media, as well as in comics.

Arie Kaplan will be a respondent at this session and will be signing his book Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed! from 11:30-1:00.

* Fri., July 27, 1:30-2:30, Room 3
Spotlight on Miriam Katin -
Illustrator Miriam Katin's first graphic memoir, We Are On Our Own, chronicled her escape from Nazi-held Budapest with her mother during World War II and debuted to national fanfare from magazines such as Time and People. Cartoonist and editor Shaenon K. Garrity will interview Miriam about her life and work.


* Fri., July 27, 2:30-3:30, Room 4
Legacy of Will Eisner -
Even after his death, Will Eisner's legacy continues with the same intensity that marked his long and remarkable career. A major motion picture adaptation of The Spirit, new Spirit comic books and archival collections from DC Comics, new collections of Eisner's influential graphic novels from W. W. Norton, theatrical adaptations, art exhibitions and a never-before-published textbook are among the many projects in the works. Discussing this wide range of activity are Will's widow Ann Eisner, writer/artist Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics's Will Eisner's The Spirit), and movie producers Michael Uslan and Deborah Del Prete. Moderated by Eisner's long-time publisher and art and literary agent Denis Kitchen.

* Sat., July 28, 10:30-11:30, Room 10
Spirituality In Comics
Spiritual themes weave a significant pattern in the story arc of our comics’ worlds. Hear from distinguished guests Doug TenNapel (Creature Tech), Holly Golightly (School Bites), Miriam Libicki (Real Gone Girl Studios, jobnik!), Christine Kerrick (Soul Trappers), and Leo Partible (Behind the Screen: Insiders on Faith). Moderated by Scott A. Shuford (Christian Comic Arts Society).

* Sun., July 29, 10:30-11:45, Room 1AB
Jack Kirby Tribute
Let’s face it: when it comes to comics, it’s Kirby’s World and we just live in it. 2007 has seen a bumper crop of Kirby projects, including the first volume of DC’s deluxe chronological reprinting of all the Fourth World stories, a major documentary about Jack on the Fantastic Four DVD, and Mark Evanier’s upcoming art book Kirby, King of Comics. Join Evanier as he talks to Neil Gaiman, Erik Larsen, Darwyn Cooke, Mike Royer, and members of the Kirby family about the lasting influence of the undisputed King of comics.

* Sun., July 29, 12:00-1:00, Room 30AB
Comics Arts Conference Session #14: Wolf Gal and the Feral Women of Li’l Abner
Cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins (From Girls to Grrrlz) presents a slideshow talk on the feral girls—Pig Girl, Hawk Girl, and Wolf Gal—of Li’l Abner’s Dogpatch, a bloodthirsty lot with no compunction about turning Dogpatchers into dinner. Wolf Gal, the starring wild girl of Dogpatch, is strong, beautiful, independent, and—don’t laugh—a feminist. When the little girls of Dogpatch imitate Wolf Gal by taking no guff from the boys, the citizens of Dogpatch react. They want their daughters to grow up as "overworked, wore-out, respectable married drudges," not "wild an' happy an'f ree, like th' wolf gal!!" Robbins connects these cartoon wild women with mythical feral children and more contemporary figures like Misha Defonseca, a Jewish orphan during World War II, who hid from the Nazis in the forests of occupied Europe for four years and eventually teamed up with a family of wolves. Recounting her experiences years later, she wrote, "the only time I ever slept deeply was when I was with wolves... Those were the most beautiful days I had ever experienced."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Jewish Side of ... ". MOCCA Festival 2007

Last week's annual MOCCA (Museum Of Comic and Cartoon Art) Festival in New York had several creators who have worked on Jewish comic stories (many of whom are Jewish themselves) who were present to talk about, display and sell their wares.

Among them was :

* Lauren Weinstein (author-illustrator of the anthology Girl Stories, which includes the story Chanukah Blues" and writer-illustrator of the story "Horse Camp" which appeared in the anthology Stuck in the Middle)

* Josh Bernstein (a contributor to the magazine Royal Flush which includes stories of the "Mitzvah 4")

* Nick Bertozzi (co-illustrator of Houdini : The Handcuff King)

* Evan Dorkin (writer-illustrator of the story "One-Punch Golberg" which will appear in Action Girl Co-Ed Special)

* Cheryl Gladstone (author-illustrator of the mini-comic Bernie, the Wackiest Jewlipino on Earth!)

* Miriam Katin (author-illustrator of We Are On Our Own)

* Neil Kleid (who has written {and sometimes illustrated} Brownsville, Stable Rods, "Shomer Negiah", Pilgrimage : Two Weeks in G-d's Country and is working on both Migdal David and The Big Khan)

* Miriam Libicki (author-illustrator of jobnik!)

* Diana Marsh (illustrator who adapted the short story "The Bleeding Tree")

* JT Waldman (author-illustrator of Megillat Esther)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon 2007

The "Jewish Side" of the 2007 Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon

This year's guests included :

* Saul Colt of SSS Comics (author-illustrator of Rope, which has the character Robin Goldman, described as "a young very pretty Jewish looking woman with thick curly hair and has her police badge clipped to her costume. "

* Justin Gray (co-crator of the 12-issue Monolith series which stars a golem)

* Joseph Michael Lisner (illustrator for the Cry for Dawn series, which had 1 issue in which a racist businessman learns that his grandfather was a Nazi)

* Gabriel Morrissette (illustrator of Angloman 2 and New Triumph)

* Jerry Robinson (one of the illustrators of Bible Tales for Young Folk)

* Gail Simone (author of a Simpsons Comics story which showed Krusty the Clown as a Jewish kid in school)

* Marv Wolfman (writer for Teen Titans, including a story in which a member of the Israeli military is shot and later transformed into a super-villain ; writer for Tomb of Dracula, including a story in which Dracula is repelled by a Jewish man's Star of David necklace ; and author of Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel)

* Liana Kirzner (aka Liana K) - co-host & producer of the syndicated cable show "Ed's Night Party", which inspired the 2 comic issues of Ed and Red's Comic Strip. She is also hard at work on a comic book with theologoical underpinnings called The Vessel, a series about a woman warrior-avenger. Liana showed me the ashcan and pointed out how the lead character (when in battle mode) has the equivalent of sidelocks (peyes) and is wearing tefillin on her arm and head. Not the kind of Jewish religious imagery one typically finds in comics.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jewish David & Irish Eileen

Last year, "Sleestar" over at Lady, that's my skull commented on the silliness of the Charlton editors using "Jewish David" and "Irish Eileen" as a shorthand for telling the casual reader that the story inside involves a Jewish man named David and an Irish woman named Eileen.

If my name was Jewish David or Irish Eileen I'd first slap my parents and then get my name legally changed to something that sounds less like an insult from the neighborhood bullies.


Although those names don't actually appear in the story, David gave Eileen the annoying term of endearment "Irish". Thankfully, she doesn'r return the favor by calling him "Jew".

"Sleestar" also notes how short-lived the Soap Opera Love series was and makes the erroneous (but understandable) observation that
If Charlton had the foresight to better name their characters maybe it wouldn't have been cancelled after 3 issues.
Actually, the "Jewish David & Irish Eileen" storyline was told in 9 parts and had appeared back in 1973 in the series Just Married.




A little over a month ago, Eli Valley offered his commentary on this storyline at Jewcy, which also reproduced select pages from the stories.

In the storyline’s solitary visit to a Jewish house of worship, we glean fascinating insights into Orthodox Jewish customs – the burning incense, the rabbi wearing a circular necklace, the resemblance of the rabbi to Jesus, the prayer book inscribed with a Jewish Star drawn to resemble a Pentagram. It is as if the comic book is asking, are not all religions the same? Especially if they all look like Christianity? Finally, the comic book reveals that in Orthodox Jewish weddings, it is customary for the rabbi to make out with the bride, particularly if she is a Gentile.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stuck in the Middle book launch - Friday night

What better way to attract Jewish comix lovers to a book launch than to hold the launch on erev shabbes (i.e. Friday night)? It'll be at The Rocketship, a fabulous comics shop in Brooklyn at 8 P.M. (208 Smith St.).

In all seriousness, though, not all Jewish comics fans -or- Jewish comics writers -or- Jewish comics illustrators are observant Orthodox Jews.

3 comics writer-illustrators who will be at the Stuck in the Middle comics anthology book launch Friday night (May 18th) are Lauren Weinstein, Tania Schrag and Ariel Schrag (who also edited the collection). I have already discussed Lauren's "Horse Camp" story in a previous blog post. However, I didn't mention that I've been told that both Tania and Ariel are "half-Jewish". This is suggested in Tania's story "Snitch" (p. 17-35), in which Tania is called "The Nose" and is made fun of because of the size of her nose. Not that Jews have a monopoly on big schnauzers. When I showed Prof. Andrea Most the story, she pointed out to me that Tania draws her nose the same as the other characters --- something I hadn't noticed myself. Also in the collection is the story "B.F.F." by Vanessa Davis (p. 1-8), in which she mentions being in a "Jewish private school".

Rashi - the graphic novel

The following press release is from From Mahrwood Press
www.mahrwoodpress.com

Rashi Is HERE!

Mahrwood Press is pleased to announce the official release of
"Rashi - A light after the Dark ages"

written by: Berel Wein and Aryeh Mahr
Art by: Sofia Federov-Polonsky Mike Netzer with Sventlana Pekarovsky

This is it, the book everyone has been asking about.

The 11th century in France marked the beginning of the "Reign of Terror" - the
Crusades. Rashi, one of the greatest and most beloved Torah sages of all time,
guided the Jewish people through many of the trials of that time. A true Jewish
hero, he defended the right of the Jews to learn Torah and live a life of
spiritual freedom.

Rashi's 900-year old commentaries open the door to the true meaning of the words
and even the letters of the Torah and Talmud. To this very day, Rashi is the
most studied commentary in the world. Every student, from the beginner to the
most knowledgeable sage, is enriched by his study of Torah with Rashi.

Rashi - a light after the dark ages explores hyis life from his youth in Worms
to his old age in crusader ravaged Alsace-Lorraine.

Rashi - A Light After The Dark Ages

A Family Secret & The Search - Holocaust graphic novels from the Netherlands

Info below sent by Theodoor Westerhof




two comic books published by the Anne Frank House (the foundation, so in Dutch it is called the Anne Frank Stichting). Currently there are two museum expositions in Amsterdam related to these books. The first book is already available in English and German. The second will be. The English titles are "A Family Secret" and "The Search", the original Dutch titles are "De Ontdekking" (The Discovery) and "De Zoektocht"(The Search/The Quest). The first book was made in cooperation with the Resistance Museum Friesland, The second with the Hollandsche Schouwburg. Both were drawn by Eric Heuvel.

http://www.annefrank.org/content.asp?pid=1&lid=1&setlanguage=2

The available book (from 2003):

http://www.annefrank.org/content.asp?PID=679&LID=1

The Frisian Resistance Museum, click on General:

http://www.verzetsmuseum.nl/GB/Engelse%20site.htm

It does have in its Dutch section a page on the first book, which was a free gift to all kids in the second year of secondary education in 2005, to promote the education about WW II. The second book is on the same age level. The cooperation here is with the Hollandsche Schouwburg.

http://www.hollandscheschouwburg.nl/

Where the education part of the first was about the War, with quite some attention to the Holocaust/Shoah, the second is much more about the Shoah. (Sometimes I think that the attention for the Shoah part of the Holocaust is a bit overdone, the Jewish victims outnumbered in the Netherlands the other "ethnic" victims just by a factor 400 or so.)

Site of the first book (Dutch, with animation and stuff to print out) :

http://www.annefrank.nl/ontdekking/

Site of second book (Dutch, with animation and stuff to print out):

http://www.annefrank.nl/zoektocht/

The other Resistance museum (The one in which they have an exposition like they had in the Frisian some time ago, but inspired by both books, it's saving grace is that it is very close to De Hollandsche Schouwburg.)

http://www.verzetsmuseum.org/exposities/
tijdexpo/tijdexpobas.html


Anyway the story: Dutch boy Jeroen looks for stuff to sell in his grandmother's attic, he finds stuff and Grandmother tells about (German) Jewish friend Esther Hecht, the invasion, Nazi-obeying police officer (father), resistance brother, SS-volunteer brother, the German violence against peaceful protest against the persecution of Jews, aunt in the Indies, more about the persecution of Jews, the hunger. The liberation, (NOT a nice period either). On memorial day (4th of May), Jeroen goes to the Memorial thing, where a Jewish lady living for over half a century in the States, (of all places! That must have been an Anne Frank idea, if you ask me, why not a nice country like Israel or Canada?) turns out to be Esther Hecht, now Mrs. Leibowitz, the old friends are reunited and grandma's dad turns out to have saved Esther.

(This story you can already order in English, cheaper than the regular hardcover edition).


It's quite unclear how much time passes in between the book. Has Esther been to the States or is it just the 6th of May or so? It turns out that Esther has a son and a grandson living in the Netherlands (except for the bar mitzvah pic always in baseball cap), that the name of the grandson has a Dutch spelling, that the Bar Mitzvah of Daniel (with ".." on the e) is the reason Esther is in the Netherlands. (Text balloon in said picture is in Hebrew, interest in a scan?). It's a bit weird, why should a nice US-Jewish boy move to the Netherlands, a country with a very clean history when it comes to religiously motivated violence against Jews, or the same violence native in origin (MIND the qualifiers), a country where Easter has never been a reason to worry. Two reasons come to mind, nice Dutch Jewish girl and job, the former seems more likely (NAME of SON!).

We get a bit of her history in Germany, rise of Hitler, lots of the A-S word description and so, move to the Netherlands, she knows a Jewish athlete, Bob Canter, a fighter, boxer, which was more or less the typical Jewish sport. Nazis came, and all, quite limited but rather instructive. After the nice hiding history, we get the story of Auschwitz and the death marches. That is by way of Daniel using internet to contact the family of Bob Canter. Esther visits Bob and after Esther telling her friends and grandson. Grandma finds an old photo book that belongs to Esther and Esther and Daniel watch the past that was taken from them in an attempt to take their future.

There are quite some things which do irritate me a little:

1. 55% of the surviving Jewish Dutchies did NOT emigrate. Emigration to US and Israel, who stayed or at least stayed in the country? A bit attention for the folks who refused to move in a way which would make at least Europe a bit more Judenrein, is deserved, at least a sketch of the absolute non-discrimination policy (I would guess that it helped getting anti-Jewish feelings back to the normal level, the government not being (extra) nice to Jews, but it still was heartless and callous, though it may have been the wisest thing to do in the long run).

2. The [cursed] route from Westerbork to Auschwitz starts wrong, those trains went NORTH from Westerbork, not south. Believe me, I have been travelling on that track twice a week for years.

3. Westerbork was not really a bad place to be either(provided you could STAY, which nobody could (be sure of)), Erika that was a bad place for Jews, a bunch of really monstrous Jew haters, getting a reward if they KILLED a Jew FLEEING. Westerbork had enough good sides to leave the prisoners hope. So what's so bad about transporting Jews TO Westerbork? And FROM Westerbork? That question should have been given more attention.

http://www.westerbork.nl/

4. Auschwitz bombardment- indignation. "The gas chambers should have been bombarded." I am convinced that that would not have been a rational decision.

There was a WORLD WAR going on, dropping bombs on a prisoner camp would very likely just have helped the Nazis killing Jews and other "unwanted people". There was no strategic purpose served, justifying the expected collateral damage and it would have given the Germans an excuse. Realistically, if it had been possible to bomb the gas chambers, the elite units capable of doing so, should not have been wasted on such an unimportant, difficult and hard to reach target.

5. The "Joodsche Raad" is getting a bit too much of a positive press, should be more balanced. There was a joke, but one with more than a core of truth about Jews being more afraid of the Jewish Council than of the Green Police. Mind you, that was the Amsterdam one.

Some others really tried to resist and could have a somewhat better survival rate (a loss of two-thirds of the congregation is still an excellent survival rate!)

http://www.synagoge-enschede.nl/

[THIS is the very exposition Krolik (Rebeca R.) comes from.

http://hannivoort.org/synagoge-enschede.nl/asp/GeenKinderspelENGELS140106.asp

Reading in the links about the toys, especially Bear helps to discover what Krolik means. You see that the exposition in Mechelen ended January 2004, so that must be about the time Rebecca R. is situated, the toys in this exposition are (at least mostly) not the ones from Jersusalem, but "Dutch" ones.

http://www.scep.nl/verzet/digiexpo/geenkinderspel.html

(some of the toys in this expo). (No English text available)]

Sorry, but this is quite important about another "Jewish" comic. That one was presented in De Hollandsche Schouwburg, though it's fully Belgian, except for the pre-publication]

My own judgement:

Based on the original Dutch set:

Good, if you want an introduction to WW II in general and the Shoah in specific from a Dutch p.o.v. these books will be probably the best that will be available in the English language. With the continued popularity of Anne Frank, they might be welcome gifts to somebody with a deep interest in a combination of the topics.

Here and there a bit too one-sided pro-Jewish, though not very much so, to the reader who is either neutral or pro-Jewish already, but taking into consideration that the intended public for the original version might well include people who grow up with rather negative connotations concerning Jews, that is understandable.

If you want to have all the (educational) comics on the topic, buy it. If you want an introduction to the topic, but aren't much of a reader you should get them too, but if you got to the end of this message, you cannot fall in this category.

It is an education comic, definitely not EDUTAINMENT, OK there are happy endings, two friends reunite, a Jewish boy and his grandmother get a book with family pictures back, a man whose remembrance was black turns out grey, looking at the pictures even light grey. But that doesn't change the fact that many of the characters are murdered. Whether it is a fitting present I don't know, but in many contexts it is not.

On the other hand, it definitely would deserve a place in a library, the Dutch ones are much borrowed from libraries, and as an "easy" introduction to a difficult topic, backed by the Anne Frank House, with Esther Hecht more or less a surviving Anne Frank, it would certainly have value, if only as introduction level background to Anne Frank.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

reviews of Testament #10 (Vertigo)

Comics Should Be Good review by Brian Cronin

There were almost enough really cool scenes towards the end of the comic to make me recommend the book, but ultimately, the other 3/4 of the comic has to count for SOMEthing, doesn’t it? Slightly Not Recommended.

Chickity China review by JP

Again, the real genius is in the details. One character asks why people would be anxious to give up their freedoms for this new currency, and another answers that the initial release of it will give some bonuses like “two second advantages for online auctions.” People hand over their privacy for silly things all the time, like affinity cards at grocery stores for a small discount on purchases.

Page Thus Turned review by KcKelley

This one is really deep ... The storytelling is phenominal in how he parallels the events in the bible to those that happen in a future that is very possible. Douglas Rushkoff (the writer) cites this as the new bible.... I don't see that, but he certainly does reveal some of the dirty secrets that the churchs don't like to acknowledge. Most importantly, it's a damn good story.

Douglas Rushkoff's Testament - reviews and opinions

I don't know if it will be possible to read every issue of the Vertigo series Testament, but with many of the issues reviewed to date, that may yet happen.

Below, I'm providing hyperlinks to various reviews, as well as quotations from them.

general reviews

"Epic Trip" in Heeb magazine (February 2007?) - mini-review and interview with Douglas Rushkoff by Jeff Newelt

The series ranks among the triumvirate of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Grant Morrison’s Invisibles and Alan Moore’s Promethea, and alongside Jack Kirby’s ’70s psychedelic cosmologies/comics, The New Gods and the Eternals.

10th Zen Monkey by RU Serious

The “Testament” series is a startling attempt to bring Biblical mythology back to life.

Ishush blog (as in "I shush people" ; it's a blog by a librarian)
What Testament should have been was a story that started as a story -- instead of a manifesto that got a spackling with plot.

Akedah (volume 1 trade paperback)

Silver Bullet Comics "Line of Fire" review by Robert Murray

This is one comic book that, though polarizing in subject matter, utilizes all the bells and whistles of traditional hero comic books to tell a tale unlike anything we have seen before. Sure, there are instances when the momentum of the story feels forced or gimmicky, but this is a title that is guaranteed to make you think and ponder long after you’ve finished reading it.

Testament #1
Suspension of Disbelief blog - review by Loren Collins

The theory is that Abraham's story itself is the anachronism, a later-scripted message from a time when Moloch-worship was prevalent, written to condemn child sacrifice by retconning God's opposition to it far back into Israel's history. It's not a theory I'm particularly fond of, but I suspect it's one that Rushkoff may subscribe to, and it's one that seems to be on display here.

Bags and Boards review by Tom McLean

the comic itself is impossible to put down once you start reading it as Rushkoff retells the biblical story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac alongside a futuristic tale of a young man preparing to enter a mandatory military draft. Many will surely find this approach pretentious or on-the-nose, but it’s done well and chock full of the sort of cool, forward-looking ideas that made classics of such cool 1980s comics as “American Flagg!” and just about anything written by Alan Moore. Sharp’s art is terrific and sexy, and should draw in readers on that level alone.


Testament #2
IGN review by Hilary Goldstein

I commend Rushkoff for managing to take a very modern story and relate it to the Old Testament, but I wonder how long this can last. In some respects, I think the series might prove stronger if the parallels were merely implied rather than demonstrated repeatedly throughout the issue. The problem, though, is that Abraham has become a more believable and relatable character than the modern-day star of the series.

Silver Bullet Comics "Line of Fire" review by Keith Dallas

Testament is the epitome of what Vertigo prides itself as being: thoughtful, sophisticated, controversial, avant-garde. Comic book enthusiasts are always on the look-out for titles that legitimize and dignify the medium, titles that reveal the grandest of possibilities for sequential narrative, titles that are worthy of being taught in the college classroom alongside canonical literature, titles like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Art Spiegelman's Maus.

Testament is such a title.

Testament #3
IGN review by Hilary Goldstein

I've been trying to stay "in the moment" with this series, but this issue killed some of my enthusiasm. The parallel storytelling was a great convention in the first two issues, but seems less exact for issue 3. There are a few supernatural elements to this ish that come out of nowhere.

Testament #4
Speculative Friction blog - review by Bill Baker

This issue starts with violence and a miracle, and ends with the promise of a very big bang. Along the way, it strikes the perfect balance between building suspense and furthering the story, all the while giving the reader something astonishingly fun and easy to read. ... I honestly can't rave enough about this series, and what these folks are doing with the comic medium. My highest recommendations.

Comixtreme.com review by Blake Petit

You know, I find that I want to like this title a lot more than I actually do. There are a lot of interesting ideas here, but Rushkoff seems to have arbitrarily tethered his story to Biblical allusions that, thus far, really haven’t added very much to the story. ... Overall, this book just feels like it’s trying too hard to be relevant, and the story is getting lost in the mix.

Silver Bullet Comics "Line of Fire" review by Keith Dallas

Testament is one of the most ambitious comic books being published today. ... My one concern about Testament (and this might come across as a weird complaint considering everything I have just written) is the infusion of the supernatural into a technology-focused dystopian tale. Supernatural displays suit the Biblical tale, but not the dystopian one. The manner in which Jake is saved by Astarte in this issue is so supernaturally fantastic that it doesn’t fit within the modern story involving robots, implanted homing chips, and the like.

Comic Book Resources forum - online discussion of the issue
comment by "dude_abides" :

it is in the preposterous premise that angry and forgotten, old testament deities are possessing pseudo-punk teenagers in a technological and totalitarian dystopia. it's yahweh meets philip k. dick. it's like some crazy hallucination. in fact, i'm not sure what it is, and that is precisely why i like it. it keeps me on my toes: a rare thing, and for my money that's worth $2.99.

Testament #5
Obssesed with Comics review

mostly your enjoyment of this series will be directly proportional to your willingness to read a story that's full of bizarre moments, unexplained complexity, and odd mysteries. Testament is a book in which very strange things happen in very strange world to very strange people. Not a lot is explained. Much is implied, often by analogy, but little is actually spelled out for readers. For example, readers receive no explanation of the evil Mr. Fallow, with no explanation for the bizarre libertine lifestyle that surrounds him. It's not even clear if Mr. Fallow is a literal presence or one of the Gods, since his world is so abstracted from the real world of the story. The series seems to carry the promise that Mr. Fallow's motivations and background will come out in time, but without that, the reader is left to interpret cryptic pieces such as the weird cover of issue #5 or the bizarre things shown in the background in his mansion without a lot of help from writer Douglas Rushkoff.


Testament #6
Comics Should Be Good review by Brian Cronin

What I was most impresse by in the comic was the part where Rushkoff showed how the story of the Bible was a plot by three gods to gain power over the other gods, because when there was a multitude of gods, no ONE god could become too strong. However, in this story, three gods banded together to create “God” and they did so through the Bible. Through the issue, we see them write and then do revisions on the Creation story. Very clever stuff. “Hmmm…no, I think we’ll make Eve come from Adam’s rib,” stuff like that. ... All together, I thought this was an engaging story. I would recommend it without reservations, as you do not even need to have read the first five issues to pick up on the story.


Testament #7
IGN review by Jesse Schedeen

It is slightly annoying that most of the characters from the first arc were taken away just as I figured out who they were. Unlike other Vertigo titles such as Y: The Last Man, DMZ, or American Virgin, Testament hasn't provided readers with a true main character to latch onto. I think if the creators slow down a little and let readers catch their bearings, this could become a series truly worth following.

Testament #8
Comics Should Be Good review by Brian Cronin

When we go to the modern parallel story, it is interesting how the “Joseph” character is positioned in an ANTagonist position, rather than as a PROtagonist. I thought that that was particularly clever on Rushkoff’s part, in a way to really keep the whole “parallel story” idea fresh, which can be quite difficult at times. There is a clever idea presented in the modern story, which is the question, “If everyone was praising you for the perfect crime, and you wouldn’t be punished for it, would you take the ‘blame’ even if you knew it was not you?” Very clever scenario.

Comixtreme.com review posted by Blake M. Petit

I know the Biblical allusions are really the whole point of this series, but honestly, I think they’re holding the story back more than anything. Since the first arc the allusions have been more and more strained, and with one exception we haven’t seen any reason to believe that the ancient gods that are watching both stories from the gutters really have any impact on the plot, and thus far that one brief exception hasn’t really been enough to justify their existence. Testament is a very difficult title for me – it has an interesting premise and I want to like it, but the more I read the more I feel like the ideas are simply too big for the story Rushkoff is trying to fit them in.

Testament #9
Newsarama.com review posted by JJ Fresh

My only qualm with this issue is our hero Jake getting involved in all kinds of debauchery, such as smoking dope and getting busy in brothels. I'm not saying heroes have to be squeaky clean, but if this character is considered a part of a messainic line his actions are pretty deplorable. On the flip side though, Biblical characters also had thier shortcomings, yet thier return to good made them champions of virtue. See how deep this book goes with the premise? Still, while Jake is in this dark time it's kinda hard to root for him.

Testament #10
No online review found.

Testament #11
pop syndicate review by Cornelius Fortune

God and Satan make a wager concerning one of God’s faithful servants, a man who has everything—what if you took these things (essentially his life) away from him, would he still worship you? God then allows Satan to put his servant to the ultimate test including the death of his children, the defamation of his body, and even the jeering of his wife, who pretty much tells him he has nothing to live for.

This is told in both a Biblical timeline as well as a retelling in our present time. This is like the clock on Fox’s 24, the device can kind of holds the thing together, but you either dig high concept shows (and comics) or you don’t. Casual readers can get easily confused with this book, because like Promethea it doesn’t just read from left to right and requires active participation to get the most from your reading experience.

Testament #12
Chickity China review by JP

the Babylonian god Marduk is summoned by the other gods. Originally he assumed a place as head god of the Babylonians, so it will be interesting to see where this leads. This continues to be a good but dense story, and it’s well worth the effort to read.

Testament #13
Broken Frontier - Guiding Lines review by William Gatevackes

last issue the modern day cast went “off-script”, breaking from the allegory and causing the deities to take a more active role in the proceedings. This added a bit of excitement to the series and renewed my interest in the book. If you have turned away from the comic, this issue might be one to get you started reading it again.

Testament #14
All About Books & Comics Blog review by Phil Mateer

I couldn’t keep the story straight, didn’t really feel like rereading previous issues to figure it out, and was eventually reduced to just skimming through each new issue to see if it had any nude scenes. Comics serials like these, to be successful, need a delicate blend of long-term mystery and short-term reader satisfaction (see Preacher), and this, I’m afraid, seems to have lost its way and is just sputtering to a bad end.

The Kingdom review by Big Bibbowski

Issue #14 has perhaps the least Biblical content of any so far, which would be a weakness if it weren’t for the fact that Rushkoff’s writing relies more on the human experience than riding on the tails of Bible history. As it is, this issue turns out to be one of the best. The Dr. Green character is compellingly portrayed as a flawed, complicated man whose quest for redemption would feel right at home in the Old Testament. Rushkoff’s confidence as a storyteller is evidently growing and his craft is in rare form from the first to the last heartbreaking pages.

pop syndicate review by Jared Blumberg

Once again series writer Douglas Rushkoff deftly handles the intertwined tales, ratcheting up the tension without leaving anyone behind. While all this plot builds to its climax, he still manages to keep us up-to-speed on the smaller details, such as the peculiarities of the artificial intelligence, Green’s underlying motivations, the schemes of Atum-Ra and Moloch, and Astarte’s pregnancy courtesy of Krishna.

Testament #15
Newsarama.com review posted by JJ Fresh

Some scene shifts in this issue don't quite flow, and anybody who remembers thier creative writing classes knows the importance of "flow". This disjointedness isn't that evident enough to totally remove a reader, but moments do cause the reader hesitation, and with that the escapism stops as well.

The Kingdom review by Big Bibbowski

One page of Liam Sharp’s art packs more kinetic energy than 24 frames of most films whether it’s a quiet office scene between a student and her professor (who looks an awful lot like Rushkoff) or after that a giant world-eating god raping a goddess in the cosmic deep. ... If you’re interested in a book that tries to be about everything, and like the source code, succeeds, take a trip on the Testament wagon.

Testament #16
Comic Book Resources - The Buy Pile review by Hannibal Tabu

The "As above so below" rule gets all muddled as the actions of mortals are powerful enough to fell divinities, as the Bible Gods (that's how solicitation copy referred to 'em, let's go with that) are undone by their alliance with the Babylonian god of cities Marduk, himself all rage and expectations. ... Challenging allegory, densely informative storytelling and not for the easily distracted or dissuaded, but quite a reward if you can grasp it.

Testament #17
No online review found.




The essay version of the "Another Abraham: The Exegesis of Douglas Rushkoff’s Testament" presentation that A. David Lewis recently gave at the annual conference of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association in Boston may be found online at http://captionbox.net/testament_paper.doc (Word format)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reception for Bronfman Arts Fellows Project Presentations

Below is an event listing sent to me by Chari Pere

Reception for Bronfman Arts Fellows Project Presentations

Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00 PM
@ The Barney Building, 34 Stuyvesant St., NY, NY

Please join us for a culminating celebration of the Bronfman Fellowship for Emerging Artists at NYU.

The six participants will be unveiling their final projects which span a wide range from musical composition to multi-media art installation.

The 2007 Fellows are:
Valeriya Kotok, Sophomore, NYU's Steinhardt School of Education

Matthew Engler Junior, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Majoring in Film & Television and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Deenah Vollmer Junior, NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Benjy Fox-Rosen Senior, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music Majoring in Jazz Studies

Gilad Lotan Graduate Student, Tisch School of the Arts Majoring in ITP's Interactive Telecommunications Program

Chari Pere Senior, School of Visual Arts Earning a B.F.A. Degree in Cartooning

Refreshments will be served!

Contact : Jackie Miller

**********

One of the girls, Deenah, and I are each working on comics-related projects. She is working on a graphic novel and I have won two awards, including an SVA Alumni Award, for my "Ultimate Unboring Jewish Calendar!" project. My project is in progress but sample pages will be on display.

Additionally, there are performance pieces by a couple of musicians, a film major, and there will be a multi-media project on display. It should be an enjoyable evening, and I'll let you know how it goes!

~Chari =0)

*****

The “Ultimate Unboring Jewish Calendar!” is a project that Chari has been dreaming about completing for years. She plans on taking old jokes that have been circulating in the Jewish world for decades, and translating them into comics form for the first time ever. This will follow a wall calendar format: each and every one of the top pages will include a comic strip and a border that somehow pokes fun at the events or holidays that occur within that month. Each month will be completely unique, so that each person will not know what to expect as the next month is revealed. In addition to the generic holidays listed on every calendar (such as New Year’s, President’s Day, etc.), “non-traditional” daily holidays that do exist will be included, such as “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (Sept. 19th), and “International Chocolate Day” (September 13th).

*****

Deenah will be creating an autobiographical graphic novel relating her personal Jewish history to that of the Lower East Side. The book will chronicle her journey to the Lower East Side from Los Angeles within the framework of American Jewish history and will touch on such topics and Yiddish socialist immigrants, the Beat Generation, the Folk music revival and the birth of punk music, all which have distinct Jewish roots.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Heroes for Hire #6 (Marvel)

Description from snap judgements


we have a Jewish enforcer by the name of ‘The Shadows’ going to Heroes for Hire to look into a situation for him that he can’t have his hands on. Turns out this all leads to a possible trap/ unfortunate coincidence wherein Man-Ape, the Grim Reaper and some chick named ‘Saboteur’ who apparently are resorting to old school villainy by trying to threaten New York with a bomb.

"Zion" by Joan Hilty

"Zion" is a Mormon-Jewish teenage love story set in southwest Utah by cartoonist Joan Hilty, which appears in the 2nd volume of Juicy Mothers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beg the Question by Bob Fingerman

from Ninth Art


first and foremost it's a romance. Rob and Sylvia are a classic mismatch - he's a snarky and buttoned-down Jew, she's a sensual and mood-swing-prone Italian. They struggle to make their livings, they have fights that gust up out of nowhere, and they have sex. Lots and lots of sex. Fingerman's frank portrayal of sex as a normal everyday part of life is one of the most refreshing things about this book. (And it's a good way to get you to buy it, isn't it, you beady-eyed rascal you?) There is a (sometimes irritating) supporting cast, but they aren't that important. This is Rob & Sylvia's show.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rabbi Harry Manhoff to deliver 3 lectures about Jewish heritage and comics

The dates of his lectures (at Temple Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores St. in San Leandro, California) are : April 22 and 29, and May 6. The lectures take place from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.

A recent article about Rabbi Manhoff - "For Jewish scholar, panels pose a rich history" appeared in the Oakland Tribune on Apr. 9th, reprinted at http://origin.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/
localnews/ci_5626249
:


What does he regard as some of the best graphic novels and ongoing series?

"Fallen Angels," about the struggle between light and dark, and "Testament," with plots based on the Bible, world religions and science fiction, are among Manhoff's favorites.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hey Yids! Comics! (New York Comic Con 2007 Report #5)

Sign showing the schedule for the room

In this fifth (and final) NYCC report, I will tell about the "Jewish Side of Comics" session that I moderated at the end of the final day.

audience - left side

Personally, I thought we had an excellent turnout. Among those in attendance were : Debbie Bergson (my wife), Rachel Birnboim (my cousin), Clifford Meth, Chari Pere, David Ben-Yshay (creator of the webcomic Shkoyach, "Typo Lad" (who runs the "What Were They Thinking?" blog), Roy Schwartz, Jordan B. Gorfinkel (author-illustrator of Everything's Relative, Rabbi Carey Freedman (author of Wisdom from the Batcave), Laurie Kleid, Elayne Riggs, Robin Riggs, Tim Lieder, David Wolkin, "Balaam's Donkey", "Laura" and "Jake". This was due, in part, to the pre-convention Internet publicity about this session specifically.

The New Comics Waiting Room Blog highlighted the panels which Danny Fingeroth was on at NYCC.

At ComicMix, Elayne Riggs asked " would it hurt them to have bagels? Or a maidele or two like Leela Corman (to talk about Unterzachen, her graphic novel in progress?"

Esther Kustanowitz at Jewlicious advertised the panel, though she herself was unable to attend.

The Daily Cross Hatch reccommended attending the panel, due to Neil Kleid being one of the panelists.

Loren Javier at One Diverse Comic Book Nation listed sessions that celebrated diversity in comics, including the "Jewish Side of Comics".

"Webmaster Brian" posted my "press release" to the Comic Book Conventions message board.

Rab at Estoreal mentioned the panel in a joke he made in reference to Brian Cronin, writing that "Brian Cronin is more Jewish than anyone in my family and any of my Jewish friends...and yet he's not actually Jewish. Or so he says."

At the Around Comics discussion board, David started a thread after stating that my session piqued his interest.

At Brian Michael Bendis's Jinxworld forum, DLevy started a thread about the "Jew panel", which panelist Neil Kleid took part in.

For his part, Neil himelf promoted the session via a bulletin at ComicSpace.

Embarassing as it is, I need to own up to the fact that the panel description ended up being less than accurate and I'll take the blame for that. Josef Rubinstein, as it turns out, will not be one of the contrributors on the anthology Balm in Gilead. In my defense, I was basing that fact on the information at the Mahrwood Press website, which still lists him as of this writing (Apr. 11, 2007). I also got info wrong about Stan Mack ; although he is working on a graphic history series, it is neither fictional nor specifically Jewish. Rubinstein didn't show up for the panel, even though I specifically reminded him about it - in person - immediately after I saw him following the Cockrum tribute session (just an hour earlier). Fortunately, Arie Kaplan was gracious enough to fill out the panel at the last minute --- and he hadn't even prepared notes.

The previous session had started late and also finished late. Thus, my session also started late. I am indebted to Clifford Meth for convincing those in the room to promptly vacate it so that our session could get started.

Steve standing at the podium

After introducing myself, I made short announcements concerning the latest news about Jewish comics (e.g. the Jewish Book Week panel and the Brandeis anthology) and then introduced the other panelists.

Neil Kleid described the different Jewish comics work that he has done and is working on. Personally, I'd have preferred to hear more about both The Big Khan and Migdal David, as I can read about the other stories &/or purchase them.

Neil Danny Stan and Simcha

Danny Fingeroth read from his manuscript, trying to make the argument that the blond-haired Aryan-looking Thor the thunder god and the now-late Captain America are Jewish-like. He didn't say anything about the DeMatteis run of Captain America during which Steve Rogers (Captain America's civilian identity) dated Bernie Rosenthal. Maybe it's in the book?

Stan Mack told the story of how he came to write the graphic history book The Story of the Jews, despite "not being very Jewish" himself, after he retraced the Exodus journey "in reverse" during a trip to the Middle East.



Rabbi Simcha Weinstein retold the joke he had told in San Diego (which doesn't have to do with comics and is less funny the second time around). He then talked about parallels between the Biblical stories and comic book stories (e.g. comparing the origins of Superman and Moses, telling how Superman compared himself to Samson when he knocked down the pillars of a villain's lair).

the panelists : Steve Neil Danny Stan Simcha and Arie

Arie Kaplan gave an overview of how the comics industry both attracted and benefitted from writers and artists who happened to be Jewish and how this indirectly (and later more directly) was reflected in their comic stories.

After these presentations, there was a brief question-and-answer period. Myself, I can only recall 3 of the questions at the moment.

The first question had to do with how to "sell" a Jewish story idea to a non-Jewish (i.e. secular) comics publisher. I tried to broaden the question by rephrasing it in terms of how to market to both the Jewish and non-Jewish (i.e. secular comics) market. Neil seemed to feel that one has to choose one or the other when it comes to "niche stories". He presented the example of JT Waldman who initially had trouble selling his graphic novel idea to both Judaica publishers ("too much nudity") and alternative comics publishers ("too religious"). Eventually, Waldman's Megillat Esther was
both published by the Jewish Publication Society and distributed by Diamond. However, Neil suggested that a creator usually needs to choose between selling to a "Jewish market" or a "comics market". Still, I wonder if the Christian comics creators have managed to do both successfully.

The second questionner asked about the types of obstacles Neil's brother faced from the Orthodox community they lived in. Neil spoke of how his brother was essentially rejected from Neil's Yeshiva, even though his family was willing to pay any extra costs involved (e.g. for a special education teacher). Such an attitude was a major letdown for them. Stan then pointed out that, in his own experience dealing with Jewish support groups (his partner fought and lost a battle with cancer, as detailed in his memoir Janet and Me), he found them to be very helpful and understanding.

audience - right side

The final question was about whether there were any Orthodox Jewish superheroes who have Gentile friends. The panelists (including myself) may not have fully heard or understood the question. As a result, different panelists tried to offer examples that didn't seem to satisfy her, rather than say "I don't know" or "There don't seem to be any". I was at a bit of a disadvantage in that I answer those questions better when I have full access to my collection, rather than relying on just my memory. Since returning to Toronto (and my collection), I looked at the question again and came up with an answer. However, that answer will appear in a separate blog post (soon).

Shortly thereafter, it was pointed out that it was time for mincha / maarviv (the evening prayers) and a minyan (quorum) of 10 men soon assembled at the easternmost wall of the room.

In addition to a number of compliments I received from attendees in person after the panel was finished, at least 7 people have made comments about the panel via cyberspace.

Howling Curdmudgeons - Jake (in the "Comments" section) :

I went mostly to see the Jewish Side of Comics panel, which was excellent. I'd read the speculation about jewish subtext in Superman and Captain America's character designs, but I'd never thought of Thor in that category. Other interesting insights included the split markets for a book like Brownsville, since religious bookstores and Diamond aren't really in cahoots.


The Beat - Torsten Adair (in the "Responses" section) :

As a participant, I had a decent weekend, starting with the ICV2 GN conference and ending with the jewish panel on Sunday.


Elayne Riggs of ComicMix wrote :

Jews in Space The Jewish Side of Comics featured moderator Steven Bergson and panelists Neil Kleid, Danny Fingeroth, Stan Mack, Rabbi Simcha Weinstein and Arie Kaplan. Alas, we needed to make our bus connection so we left about halfway through, but it was nice to have that sense of community reinforced and, because of that above all, this year's NYCC ended on a very high note.


Tim Lieder wrote at his livejournal :

Everyone on the panel seemed cool. Rabbi Simcha did lame Jewish jokes. Arie Kaplan talked about Mad magazine and its Jewish traditions (where non-Jews learned Yiddish) and we davened Mincha afterwards. Got there late so I didn't know about the first three speakers - except I did read the third guy's History of the Jews book - reminded me of Larry Gonick - which is unfortunate because he'll probably get compared most of the time. When I walked in the second guy was reading from an essay on Thor as a Jewish character.


Laura wrote at her Xanga site :

went to this Jewish Comics panel and I asked a question. Which was that if there is any jewish series comic that has a Jewish hero and is friends with non-Jews but he/she still keeps the faith. They all seemed quite surprised LOL. They said there is. I don't think they knew what the heck I meant.


Balaam's Donkey was more critical, commenting on the Jewlicious site (see "Commentds" section) :

I found Neil Kleid to be fantastic, in discussing the potential of the comics medium as an expressive Jewish art form. I was disconcerted by the fact that audience members seemed to have a problem with the fact that his upcoming work is critical of the Jewish community, and rightfully so, as it is his first-hand experience of his brother’s struggles at feeling welcomed into the Orthodox community in Michigan because of his developmental disabilities. As a Jewish educator with some background in special education, I’m truly excited by the work.
Arie Kaplan’s perspective seemed to have a fair amount of substance, and despite this, he was very humble and self-effacing about his credentials. While his book on the subject has yet to be published, I am excited to read his work, as his meanstream writing is quite enjoyable.
Rabbi Weinstein barely spoke about comics. He told a bunch of dumb jokes that had nothing to do with comics, because, in his own words “that’s what rabbis are supposed to do”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty lame image of the rabbi to present. His more fundamentalist readings of Judaism limit his ability to explore the true origins of hero literature and how it influences superheroes of today, which does link to the Bible, but predates it as well. In addition, his book is really lacking in substance, on a variety of different levels, and is really poor scholarship, to say the least. In all honesty, I have been equally disappointed by his book, his articles and the one time I have seen him speak, and this is as somebody who was initially excited about all three.
Stan Mack was pretty decent, and Danny Fingeroth not bad as well, but the content of the program itself really implied that there wasn’t a huge amount of knowledge about Judaism sitting up there, and much of the conversation in this case (and in general, as well) on the subject focused in the whole “wow! there sure are a lot of Jews in the comic book industry!” thing.


Panelist Neil Kleid was also critical, reporting on NYCC via his livejournal (see final paragraphs) :

The panel was... odd. Basically we each had some time to talk about whatever we wanted - i was under the assumption that we were going to be given questions by the moderator so I made a UJA joke and just sort of introduced my work and passed it along to the rest of the folks, each who had prepared something. Danny read from his book about whethere Captain America and Thor were Jewish, Stan talked about his roots as regards walking the homeland and his books on history, the Rabbi... well, his was a bit rambly but pretty good about jews as relates to superherocis and oppression and Arie...well, Im not sure what his was about apart from him giving instances of Judiasm throughout his work. I got to shine, though, during the Q & A where I discussed the direct market VS the Judaic book market and instances of judiasm in mainstream comics. Overall, though, I'm not sure what the panel did other than to serve as a big ol' Jewish hoedown for us to say "we're jewish! we're here! get used to it!" I really wanted to explore why, apart from Stan Mack and I, none of the others were creating original fiction with jewish characters instead of devoting time and effort into trying to explain how Doctor Strange might be Jewish because he likes Chinese food.