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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

David Crane comic strip - Oct. 18, 1959

To all my Jewish readers, I would like to extend a hearty Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year)!

Although I rarely put images in my blog posts, tonight I'd like to share an old comic strip illustrated by Canadian cartoonist Win Mortimer, who passed away 10 years ago.

In the following David Crane strip, David explains to a group why Jews cover their heads and also discusses Jewish symbols. I wonder where the line "it [a fringed prayer shawl] or a skullcap or both are worn in the synagogue" came from. I've never seen anyone in shul wearing a tallis but not a yarmulke. Those who are seen not wearing one are usually politely reminded that they should be wearing a skullcap and most synagogues have extra yarmulkes on hand for those who may have forgotten theirs somewhere or lost it on the way there.

Please click on the hyperlinked image below to see a larger, clearer version of the comic.

Why do Jews cover their heads in the synagogue?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

meet Jordan Gorfinkel, Harvey Pekar, or Marc Tyler Nobleman

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, Ohio is currently hosting the touring exhibition "Zap! Pow! Bam! The Super Hero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950".

That's the Maltz Musem, not the Shmaltz Museum.

Although it's basically the same exhibition that's been on display in such places as New York, Miami Beach, and Atlanta, each host city's museum has the opportunity to focus in on local Jewish cartoonists (Miami Beach's museum had a special focus on Will Eisner, who had moved to Miami from New York).

Cleveland has been the home to quite a few Jewish comix creators, including Brian Michael Bendis and Peter Kuper.

On Wed., Oct. 22nd (7:00 PM), Jordan B. Gorfinkel (author-illustrator of the syndicated Jewish comic strip Everything's Relative and Michael Sangiacomo (Plain Dealer comics columnist and author of Tales of the Starlight Drive-In) will talk about the impact of Jewish comics creators.
"Who Knew? Why All Superheroes (and their creators) are Jewish!"
$10 ($8 for Maltz members)

On Sun., Oct. 26th (1:45 PM at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center), legendary comix writer Harvey Pekar (American Splendor, The Quitter, Ego & Hubris, Our Cancer Year) will talk about his unique brand of comic storytelling with Michael Pawuk (Teen Librarian at the Cuyahoga County Public Library [Brooklyn Branch] and author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More)
"The Splendor of Graphic Novelist Harvey Pekar"
$15 ($10 for Maltz or JCC members)

On Wed., Nov. 5th (7:00 PM), Marc Tyler Nobleman will talk about his children's book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman which spotlights Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
"It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ... Siegel and Shuster!"
$10 ($8 for Maltz members)

Thanks to Shawna Gambol Woodard (aka the Library Mistress) for announcing these exciting events at her blog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Yearly Shpritz of Jewish Bits

I usually don't get too enthused about the wide assortment of oversized, overpriced, theme calendars that flood the market every September. For my own personal use, all I need is the most basic type of calendars - the plain type with just the dates in big squares for me to jot down important events and appointments.

Even though I am a lover of both Judaica and comics, I usually avoid the Jewish or comix-themed calendars, which are usually just recycle previously-published illustrations or photographs.

This year, however, I have been introduced to a calendar that not only combines something Jewish (specifically, Jewish jokes) and the comix format, but also something which contains cartoons which have not previously been published (i.e. NEW material).

The product I am talking about is A Yearly Shpritz of Jewish Bits : The Ultimate Illustrated Calendar of Jewish Humor (Old and New), with jokes adapted into comics format by the talented former MAD intern Chari Pere.

As with other standard Jewish calendars, this one displays both the English and Hebrew dates, marks both Jewish and American statutory holidays and provides Friday night (shabbos) candle-lighting times.

Unlike other Jewish calendars, it ends with a bibliography, pointing readers to the sources (print & online) from which Chari adapted the jokes and showing them where to find more jokes.

Among the cute touches to be found in the pages of the calendar are the recurring sun motif at the top of each month which wears progressively more or less clothing (including sunglasses, which seemed ironic to me), fictional holidays (though I could seee myself making a new tradition of annually celebrating National Chocolate Chip Day, National Ice Cream Sandwich Day and I Am In Control Day), and subtle jokes in the background (e.g. newspaper headlines : "Jew Wins Marathon" and "World's Biggest Latka").

I would say that the only drawback to this year's (inaugral) calendar of Chari's is the small size, which resulted in date squares too tiny for me to scribble in the multitude of appointments and events that I try to schedule in every year. On the other hand, this comic calendar is too nice-looking for me to want to mark it up at all (and I receive enough large-sized freebie calendars to let me use for that).

Overall, I would highly reccommend this laugh-your-tuchus-off product to anyone who enjoys humor (and particularly those who enjoy Jewish comedy) or cartoons (and particularly those who enjoy Jewish comics) and those who love fun calendars (and particularly those who enjoy fun calendars featuring cartoon adaptations of Jewish jokes). Since calendars are an annual publication, Chari Pere's Yearly Shpritz gives us something to look forward to every Fall.

And don't just take my word for it.

The Jewish Star's Alan Jay Gerber (the "Kosher Bookworm" ) wrote the following in his review / profile of Chari

calendar that will never be thrown out after it expires one year from now

I have never seen anything like this. It is different and funny, and unique for a calendar since it is dated; the jokes and humor used are indeed dated to an era long past and forgotten, yet deliberately revived to entertain a new generation of young Jews.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

meet Paul Buhle, Miriam Libicki, or Arie Kaplan

Tomorrow night, the KGB Bar is hosting the launch of a new book edited by Paul Buhle - Jews and American Comics : An Illustrated History of an American Art Form.

Among the special guests (besides Buhle) will be Lawrence Bush (editor of Jewish Currents, Kim Deitch, Miriam Katin (author of We Are On Our Own), Peter Kuper (author of the story "Promised Land" and the graphic autobiography Stop Forgetting to Remember : The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz) and Seth Tobocman (author of Portraits of Israelis and Palestinians: For My Parents ).

The launch is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM.

85 East 4th Street

Israeli-Canadian journalist Lisa Goldman reports at her blog (On the Face) that Canadian cartoonist Miriam Libicki (author of the jobnik comic book series, the first 6 issues of which have been collected in a trade paperback) will be appearing at Tel Aviv store Comix ‘n Vegetables (40 King George Street, around the corner from the Dizengoff Center) at 11:00 AM on Friday, September 12 for a Q&A session and signing.

Arie Kaplan, author of From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books has been scheduled for 10 appearances to discuss and promote his book. Those appearances - and any which haven't been finalized just yet - are listed / will be listed at

On Sep. 14th (3:30-5:00 PM), Arie will give an audiovisual presentation at a teen program to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn (12600 University Dr., Fort Myers, FL)

On Nov. 2nd (9:00-11:00 AM), as part of the grand opening of the Temple Emanu-El Library in Closter, NJ (180 Piermont Road), Arie will meet Grade 4 & 5 students (9-10) and will be the guest speaker for the Adult Breakfast (10-11).

On Nov. 4th, Arie will be one of the guest authors at Toronto's 32nd annual Jewish Book Fair, which will be held at the Koffler Centre of the Arts (4588 Bathurst Street).

On Nov. 5th (7:00 PM), Arie will be appearing at the Gershman Y in Philadelphia (401 South Broad Street).

On Nov. 6th, Arie will be appearing in the Rosenwald Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania (3420 Walnut Street, sixth floor) for a lively presentation - including film and video clips - followed by a book signing, as part of Comics, Animation, & Graphic Novels at Penn : A Year-Long Celebration. To RSVP for this event, please go to

On Nov. 9th (10:00 AM), Arie will be appearing at the Jewish Book Festival brunch of the Jewish Community Alliance in Jacksonville, FL (8505 San Jose Blvd.).

On Nov. 16th (2:00 PM), Arie will be appearing at the Twin Cities Jewish Book Fair at the Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area (1375 St. Paul Avenue).

On Nov. 18th, Arie will be appearing at the JCC of Greater Kansas City (5801 W. 115th Street St #101).

On Nov. 20th, Arie will be appearing at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven (360 Amity Road).

On Dec. 8th (6:30 PM), Arie will be appearing at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester [220 South Bedford Road (Route 117)]