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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Comix Side of the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Cleveland (2008)

My AJL convention / vacation in June went amazingly well.

I had worried that my session would have a low turnout, but that was not the case. The room had about 40 seats and most of those seats were filled throughout the session. I had made 40 copies of the handout, but was asked to make an additional 20 more for a handouts table (they had disappeared by the end of the convention).

I ran into people who said that they were interested in my "Israel in Comics" presentation, but were unable to attend. I told them about how the session was recorded for a podcast file which will be available online later this year (I'll announce it with the address once I find out). I also told people the website address for the presentation blog -

Miriam Libicki read from her graphic works (with the graphics displayed on a screen as she read) "Towards a Hot Jew: The Israeli Soldier as Fetish Object", The jobnik! Manifesto, and an as-yet-unpublished essay which will appear in an anthology titled The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches.

I bought the jobnik! volume 1 trade paperback, Ceasefire and Towards a Hot Jew, which all got signed by Miriam.

Among the factoids I learned at Steve Sheinkin's panel were : Steve had to rewrite & redraw a story in which Rabbi Harvey would have "accidentally" rolled up a paper that would have condemned him to death and used it to make a cigarette which he then smoked (the book editor didn't think a role model like Rabbi Harvey should be shown smoking) ; Steve has used Rabbi Harvey to explain Jewish wedding customs for a pamphlet given out at a friend's wedding ; Steve has written & illustrated a book review of The Rabbi's Cat 2 for Jbooks in a comix format using Rabbi Harvey as the reviewer.

Steve signed one of my Rabbi Harvey books (the other one was already signed) and also drew a Rabbi Harvey sketch for me.

I bought a copy of Mendel's Daughter : A Memoir and got Martin Lemelman to sign it for me.

At Bill Rubin's session (which was part of the special Celebration of Jewish Children's Literature program), he gave insight into the creation of the award-winning graphic history book Homeland : The Illusterated History of the State of Israel, such as the decision to use a modestly-dressed female university professor as the narrator of the book, the attempt to try to provide rock-solid historical accuracy to avoid criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, the intentional blurring of the depiction of the Biblical Isaac (to avoid reader dissatisfaction about Isaac's age, since that is a subject under debate among Biblical scholars) and Marv Wolfman's insistence on the double-page spread that appears at the end of the book. Truth to tell, that was one of the parts of the book that disappointed me. As Bill exsplained, Marv felt that the book should show how the ghosts of Herzl and Moses are still with us in the present. I do understand that, but personally I felt that it was already implied by the way that Moses and Herzl both saw blurry visions of the same Tel Aviv "skyline of the future" which appears in crystal-clear color as the students of today are looking at it. I agree with the sentiment, but felt that the reader should have realized that the spirits of our ancestors are still with us, by making the connection on their own and that having Moses and Herzl drawn as ghosts kind of spolied it.

At the Jewish Publication Society table, I had a chance to peruse the galley for Arie Kaplan's forthcoming book From Krakow to Krypton : Jews and Comics. At the Ben Yehuda Press table, I learned that the Yudelsons (the co-publishing couple at BYP) were interested in the work of Aaron Freeman & Sharon Rosenzweig (who co-write the comics that appear on the Comic Torah website).

Among the tourist attractions and other places we visited, there were additional opportunities to see comics art - some intentional, some not so much.

We made certain to drive to Columbus so that we could visit the Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University. I had a chance to look at original artwork from Jeff Smith, creator of the epic Bone series currently being republished in color by Scholastic. The exhibition "Jeff Smith : Before Bone" displays pages from the comic strip "Thorn", which ran in the Ohio State University student newspaper The Lantern. I hadn't realized that Smith was a student at OSU nor known that he used Thorn to flesh out the characters who would later figure prominently in his Bone series. I also took a look at 2 Jewish cartoon books by Joe Nebesky that were in the collection : Ring around the Talis and Rabbi Knows Best.

One of the special exhibits at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was a look behind the scenes of the Beatles movie Help!. Among the photos on the walls were at least 2 which showed that Paul McCartney enjoyed reading American comic books, specifically Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. I had never even known there were such photos ... but someone else apparently knew about them and posted them on his blog.

At the Eton mall in Woodmere, I couldn't help stepping inside the Dick Kleinman Fine Art Gallery, the portraits of the current US presidential candidates having captured my attention. At the back of the gallery, there was a display of artwork by the great children's author and illustrator Dr. Seuss. Among the familiar illustrations which went into his classic picture books were illustrations and sculptures I'd never seen before - self-portraits, a bronze sculpture of a group of turtles standing one on top of the other in a tower formation and 3-dimensional pieces from Seusss's "collection of unorthodox tapestry". If you're in that area, I reccommend that you take a look for yourself.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Israel in Comics - the blog

At the AJL convention in Cleveland last month, a Powerpoint presentation on the portrayal of Israel & Israelis in comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels was given.

A podcast of the session will be available via the AJL website at

Tonight, I put the finishing touches on the official presentation blog for "From Tintin to Waltz with Bashir", which may be found at

Even if you were among the 30-something people who attended the session, you'll probably want to take a look at the blog. Not only will doing so enable you to take a second look at the all of the scans I showed, but you will be able to see dozens of additional ones which time didn't permit me to share.

The blog is arranged into 11 sections for those who don't want to read it all at once (and the downloading of the images is quicker).

To see the full-size scan of any image, simply click on that image (a hyperlink will take you to the image file).

the 11 sections :

Works Not Yet Published (as of June 2008)
Bibliography of Articles

additional features :

* hyperlinks to selected webcomics

* promotional videos

* hyperlinks to selected fulltext magazine, journal, & newspaper articles

* description of each of the scans, sometimes with additional commentary

* hyperlinks to reputable online vendor sites that sell the items under discussion

* hyperlinks to cartoonist bios and websites

Your feedback (positive or negative) is welcome and appreciated.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

50 Jewish Reasons to Attend Comic-Con International in San Diego

Tomorrow night will be the preview night for one of the biggest comics events of the year - San Digeo Comic Con International aka SDCCI.

As I try to do every year, I've made a list of "Jewish" people and sessions that atand out from the less "Jewish" ones.

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

(2) Antarctic Press (publisher of Families of Altered Wars [which included the "Stars of David" storyline] and Dictators of the Twentieth Century : Hitler #1-4)

(3) Arsenic Lullaby (issue #12 contains "Pilsbury Doughboy at Auschwitz"")

(4) Kyle Baker (Eisner-winning author-illustrator of the King David graphic novel from Vertigo, as well as a funny 1-page cartoon in his Kyle Baker : Cartoonist TPB in which a Jewish Cinderella has a mishap under the chuppah)

(5) Mike W. Barr (author of the story "Sympathy for the F├╝hrer!" (Adventures of the Outsiders #35)

(6) Howard Chaykin (author-illustrator of American Flagg, as well as Batman / Houdini : The Devil's Workshop)

(7) Aron Coleite (author of the online Heroes stories "Wireless", "The Path of the Righteous", and "The Death of Hana Gitelman", all featuring Israeli character Hana 'Wireless' Gitelman and all reprinted in the Eisner-nominated Heroes volume 1)

(8) 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 and

(9) Tony Dezuniga (illustrator of the stories "Black Crossing" and "There Comes Now Raging Fire" in Strange Tales #176 & #177)

(10) Colleen Doran (illustrator of a one-page illustration in The Death Gallery, in which Death is at a concentration camp

(11) Mark Evanier (author of a Crossfire story for a Free Comic Book Day comic involving a Holocaust survivor who tries to kill a suspected Nazi war criminal)

(12) Al Feldstein (author of "Master Race"Impact #1)

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

(14) Robert Loren Fleming (co-author of the Ragman miniseries)

(15) Keith Giffen (illustrator and co-author of the Ragman miniseries and author-illustrator of the Heckler series which introduced the characters Rabbi Zone and Dreidel)

(16) Mike Gold, editor

(17) Mike Grell (author-illustrator of Green Arrow #57-58 and Jon Sable : Freelance #22-24)

(18) Pia Guerra (one of the illustrators of the Eisner-nominated Y: The Last Man)

(19) Jaime Hernandez (co-author of the graphic novel Love & Rockets X)

(20) Al Jaffee (one of the cartoonists featured in the online article "Jews and the Graphic Novel")

(21) Phil Jimenez (illustrator of Wonder Woman: Donna Troy #1 and the Heroes online comic " Wireless Part One)

(22) Arie Kaplan (author of From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, who will be signing copies of his Speed Racer comic book at the IDW Publishing booth (#1705) on Thursday July 24th from 4-5 PM)

(23) Neil Kleid (author of the graphic novel Brownsville, as well as the forthcoming Migdal David and The Big Khan)

(24) Peter Kuper (author-illustrator of the short biographical story "Promised Land"(Bleeding Heart #2), as well as the book-length autobiographical Stop Forgetting to Remember : The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz)

(25) Scott Kurtz (author-illustrator of PVP, the Eisner-award-winning online comic strip which in 2006 made a joke about the Superman Returns movie being "a Jewish conspiracy to convince Christians that Jesus was gay")

(26) 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)

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

(28) Miriam Libicki (author of the jobnik! series, the first volume of which has been collected in trade paperback)

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

(30) Rutu Modan (author-illustrator of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Exit Wounds)

(31) Steve Niles (author of the golem story Criminal Macabre: Feat of Clay)

(32) Jim Ottaviani (author of Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love and Fallout : J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb)

(33) Jimmy Palmiotti (co-creator of the short-lived golem series The Monolith from DC Comics)

(34) Jerry Robinson (Batman series artist who also did illustrations for Bible Tales for Young Folk)

(35) Jon Rosenberg (author-illustrator of the webcomic Goats), which includes the Jewish character "Jon", as seen in the strip from Nov. 24, 2005)

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

(37) Ariel Schrag (editor of Stuck in the Middle)

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

(39) J. Michael Straczynski (author of the Spider-Man story "You Want Pants with That?" and the Rising Stars story "Selah")

(40) James Sturm (author-illustrator of The Golem's Mighty Swing, reprinted in the Eisner-nominated God, Gold, and Golems)

(41) 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})

(42) Jim Warren (publisher behiod Warren Publishing, whose titles included After Hours, Creepy, Eerie, Famous Monsters and Vampirella)

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

(44) Judd Winick (author-illustrator of Pedro and Me and Caper #1-4)

(45) G. Willow Wilson (author of the graphic novel Cairo)

(46) Marv Wolfman (author of The Tomb of Dracula #27, The New Teen Titans #24 and Homeland : The Illustrated History of the State of Israel)

(47) session - Comics Arts Conference Session #4 (Thurs., July 24th, 2:00-3:30 PM) Superman’s 70th Anniversary— Price Hamilton (American Falls High School) compares three different versions of the Superman origin story and three versions of the Jewish folk tale "The Golem of Prague" to demonstrate how certain images begin to appropriate larger meanings through their consistent repetition.

(48) session - screening of Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist (Thurs., July 24th, 7:00-9:00 PM)

(49) session - Will Eisner Tribute (Sat., July 26th, 1:00-2:00 PM)

(50) session - Jack Kirby Tribute (Sun., July 27th, 10:00-11:00 AM)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

David Gantz, Jewish Cartoonist, 1922-2007

David Gantz, author-illustrator of the book Jews in America : A Cartoon History and the online article "Jews and the Graphic Novel" passed away on Dec. 14th.

Blogger Mike Lynch gave a tribute to him at