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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unmasked : The Ariella Dadon Story

This past June, following a struggle spanning several years, 28 year old Ariella Dadon managed to receive a get (a Jewish divorce) from her violent, abusive husband.

“Unmasked: The Ariella Dadon Story” is her poignant story.

Illustrated by rising cartooning star (of David) Chari Pere, the 3-page online comic (which may be read in Hebrew or English) has attracted quite a bit of attention in cyberspace.

Shemspeed calls it "poignant".

Jewlicious calls Chari a "cartoonist extraordinaire".

Occasional Superheroine notes that "Pere draws Ariella with a cracked 'happy face' mask during her unhappy marriage and unsuccessful attempts to get away from her husband, and it is a haunting and devastating motif."

Mike Lynch calls it "a cautionary tale".

My Machberet writes that it is "utterly absorbing".

e Jewish Philanthropy considers it to be an "empowering tale".

At the "Jews and Comics" panel of the Facebook Comic Con, Chari talked about working on the comic. I've pasted her comments below for those who don't have Facebook access.

I met Inbal Freund-Novick last summer, when I attended the 2008 PresenTense Institute Fellowship in Jerusalem. It was a 6-week fellowship program for young social entrepreneurs who have ideas on how to positively impact the Jewish community, and ultimately the world as a whole. I had been accepted into the fellowship to work on my company, Hey Yiddle Diddle Productions (, which bridges the gap between generations and denominations by revitalizing old Jewish humor through fresh, fun cartoons, products, and modern media. Inbal was a 2007 PresenTense Institute Steering Committee member who had previously received grant money from another organization for a comic to raise awareness about Agunot (women who cannot receive a Jewish divorce from their husbands).

As a personal mission, I try to use my cartooning “powers” for good and meaningful projects. I’ve completed coloring books for children with diabetes, and am working on such projects as a comic book for elementary school kids on how to defend themselves against bullies. When Inbal pitched the Ariella Dadon comic idea to me, I absolutely loved it. Although my first passion is making people laugh (be it with me or AT me), I also use the negative experiences in my life and in the world to create inspirational works that can help people see the light out of darkness. “Unmasked: The Ariella Dadon Story" is truly the embodiment of those same ideals.

Ariella doesn’t have a computer in her house in Southern Israel, so Inbal brought a laptop with a wireless connection, so that the three of us were able to spend 2 1/2 hours talking through Skype. I understand Hebrew pretty well – I do have 12 years of excellent Jewish education from Brooklyn’s Yeshivah of Flatbush under my belt– but if you don’t use the language you lose it. And I am certainly unfamiliar with the contemporary Israeli vernacular. So Ariella told her story to us in Hebrew, and Inbal translated everything she said into English so that I didn’t miss a detail. After Inbal and I completed the script, Inbal translated the comic back into Hebrew. I did the layout and illustration, and chose the color scheme – which was based on the Mavoi Satum’s logo (Mavoi Satum is the organization that helped Ariella get her ‘Get’, or Jewish divorce papers). And voilĂ , the comic was born!

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from everyone of all backgrounds, faiths, and denominations. I’m really, really proud of “Unmasked”, and hope that it sparks even greater causes and projects.

illustrated presentation - The Spirit of Comics : The Life & Art of Will Eisner

Only one name stretches from the beginning of the history of the comic book through the modern era of the literary graphic novel: Will Eisner.

On Monday, March 23rd, comics writer and critic Danny Fingeroth (author of Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero) will give an illustrated presentation about the life, work, and influence of the great writer and artist.

Taking a tour through Eisner's life - in effect, a journey through comics history - the presentation will serve as an introduction to those who'd like to know more about how the graphic novel phenomenon (which has spawned hit comics-based movies like The Dark Knight and Watchmen), and will offer new insights for those who may already know the work of Eisner and his creative descendants.

Monday, March 23, 8:00 pm
Columbia University
Broadway and 116th Street
New York City
Schermerhorn Hall
Room 501


Watchmensch to tweak the blue man's bits

Shipping on Wednesday 18th March in the USA and Thursday 19th March in the UK, Watchmensch is a parody of a certain legendary graphic novel and recent blockbuster movie, as well as a trip through time to the beginnings of superhero comics.

Written by London-based comics gossip industry columnist Rich Johnston, drawn by newcomer Swedish artist Simon Rohrmuller and published by American publisher Brain Scan Comics, Watchmensch seeks to compare and contrast the legal wranglings over the recent movie, with the comics industry as a whole, from the creation of Superman in the nineteen thirties to the present day.

Featuring a large half-naked blue man (modestly covered) as the omnipotent voice of business, 1700 Broadway Manhattan, a vengeful and Hassidic-attired Spottyman, the rockstar billionaire Ozyosbourne, the legal eagle Silk Taker and the cross-dressing Nite Nurse, the Watchmensch have to fight against a global conspiracy that threatens the destruction of comic creators' rights.

Watchmen co-creator and artist Dave Gibbons described the book saying "I laughed out loud at Watchmensch. Several times, in fact" and in reference to the amended end of the Watchmen movie, stated "[Watchmensch's] climactic scene is more awesome than any squid!"

Shops stocking the comic can be found at as well as artwork from the comic, reviews and interviews with the creative team.

"Johnston's book shows a greater appreciation of Moore and Gibbons's original work" - Comics Bulletin

"heartfelt, interesting and a little bit angry" - Slashfilm

"The comic is totally worth it, and far more than just a parody" - Occasional Superheroine

"the revealing spreads on pages 18 to 20 are some of the best- drawn panels I've seen in years" - Bleeding Neon

"Watchmensch offers a savage take on US comics, laced with a decent amount slice of humour and visual gags" - Down The Tubes

Growing Up Comix - exhibition launch

The Open Tent is proud to present Growing Up Comix - the works of graphic novelist JT Waldman - at ArtCenter/South Florida, which brings together both non-profit organizations’ commitment to producing cutting-edge, inclusive arts events that are contemporary and accessible to the public. Retracing Waldman’s defining years, Growing Up Comix is divided into five major periods including The Wonder Years, College Years, In-Between Years, Persian Years and Days of Recent Past. Through comics, cartoons and graphic representations, the artist explores the epiphany that ignited his passion for drawing in the mid-80s; the inception of signature character “Starman” in the late-90’s, and the technical and creative changes that followed his enrollment at Vancouver Film School in 2006.

Best known for transplanting biblical and Jewish content from its conventional format to the comics,Growing up Comix further explores Waldman’s interpretations of oral and written traditions of Judaism. The writer and illustrator for the Jewish Publication Society's (JPS) graphic novel “Megillat Esther,” and featuring pages from “Story of Esther” and “The Four Children” commissioned by Nextbook, Waldman’s Growing Up Comix shows how cartoons and modern-day representations of socio-religious topics can be visualized and interpreted from diverse points of view. Giving the Jewish and graphic novelist community a firm identity in the comic book world, Waldman combines three decades of illustrations and experiences that have shaped his career.

Reception will take place on Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Exhibition runs March 20 to April 12, 2009
Event is free and open to the public

For more info:
ArtCenter/South Florida
800 Lincoln Road at Meridian Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: 305.674.8278