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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jewish Side of TCAF 2010 - May 8th & 9th

This weekend, readers, writers, artists, publishers and fans of comix will converge at the Toronto Reference Library to take part in the the FREE Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Among the talented people who will be at TCAF this year are a small number of comix professionals who have done work that has already been mentioned at the Jewish Comics Blog.

* Willow Dawson, a talented Canadian artist, who has illustrated the anthology No Girls Allowed : Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure, written by Susan Hughes & published by Kids Can Press. The anthology includes the story of Esther Brandeau, the first Jewish person to immigrate to Canada.

* Sarah Dyer, who has co-written the following : "The Gift of the Maccabees" (in The Simpsons Winter Wing Ding #1 ; "One-Punch Goldberg" (in Biff Bam Pow! #1 ; the one-page comic "How to Cook a Gentile" (Heeb #15)

* Evan Dorkin, who has written or co-written the following : "The Gift of the Maccabees" (in The Simpsons Winter Wing Ding #1 ; "One-Punch Goldberg" (in Biff Bam Pow! #1 ; the one-page comic "How to Cook a Gentile" (Heeb #15) and "The Soda Thief" (in Streetwise : Autobiographical Stories by Comic Book Professionals)

* Sammy Harkham, author-illustrator of "Lubavitch, Ukraine 1876", which appeared in Kramer's Ergot #6

* Miriam Libicki, author-illustrator of the jobnik! series, the first volume of which has been collected in trade paperback, the illustrated essays "Towards a Hot Jew: The Israeli Soldier as Fetish Object" and "Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy!" & the illustrated mini-journals Ceasefire and Fierce Ease.

* David Malki!, author of the Wondermark webcomic, which has been collected in trade paperback. Among the comics that have appeared on the site is one with the punch line "Hannukah bush", one about the Jewish New Year, one that uses the juice/Jews homonym joke and one about Hebephiles

* 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

* Paul Pope, author-illustrator of the story "Berlin Batman" in The Batman Chronicles #11 (reprinted in Batman : Year 100), in which Batman is a Jewish painter named Baruch Wane.

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

* James Sturm, author-illustrator of The Golem's Mighty Swing and Market Day


Panels these creators will be at

Comics as Art Objects: Form vs Function
Saturday, May 8th, 10:45 – 11:30am, Novella Room

Screenprinted; hand-sewn; individually colored; hand-done die-cuts — some comics are created as art objects in and of themselves. How does this focus on the comic as an art object affect the stories comics tell? Join cartoonists Willow Dawson, Lizz Lunney, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Matt Swanson, Robbi Behr, and Matt Wiegle to answer these questions and raise many more! Moderator TBD.

Feature: Daniel Clowes, James Sturm, Seth, Chester Brown, and Jim Woodring
Saturday, May 8th, 11:30 – 12:30pm, Learning Center 1

Five of the world’s most respected cartoonists in one room, on one panel! Moderated by Tom Spurgeon.

Spotlight: Paul Pope and Dash Shaw
Saturday May 8th, 12:00-1:00 pm, The Pilot

TCAF Featured Guests Paul Pope and Dash Shaw are two of the most exciting creators in comics, mixing their influences and innovations to create groundbreaking work. Now Inkstuds Radio/Podcast host Robin McConnell will moderate a conversation between these two creators about the role that influences play in creating comics, ranging from traditional comics to film and music and from classical to contemporary works. This also includes a discussion of education, some key points in creating your own vision in comics, and an examination of how to make influences work and finding out where they lead you.

Comics and Social Media
Sunday, May 9th, 11:00 – 12:00 pm, The Pilot

Is comics a solitary pursuit, in creation and enjoyment? Or can there be community, sharing, support, and all of the headaches that come with it? More importantly, should there be? And what happens when it comes time to get away from it all? Join creators Kate Beaton, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Rowland, Rich Stevens, and James Sturm, to hear what they have to say about building communities and using social media, and getting away from the internet entirely! Moderator TBD.

Webcomics and Serial Storytelling
Sunday, May 9th, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, The Pilot

Comics have a long history of gag a day and serialized storytelling in comic strip culture… but as the medium has moved to the web it is the gag-a-day strips that seemed to find immediate success. We talk to a number of comics creators doing long-form, serialized comics on the internet to see the challenges they face, and how serial storytelling works when it’s online. Creators include Ananth Panagariya (Applegeeks), Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), Spike (Templar, Arizona), Jonathan Rosenberg (Goats), Tara Talan (Galaxion), Cameron Stewart (Sin Titulo), and Ramon Perez (Kukuburi). Moderated by Holly Post of Topatoco.

Re-making History: Curating and Packaging Reprints
Sunday, May 9th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, The Pilot

The comics reprint boom is in full effect, but we’re still only learning just how history is made or invented. What are the moral, legal and aesthetic issues involved in the reprinting and repackaging comics? With Seth, Jeet Heer and Evan Dorkin. Moderated by Dan Nadel.

Research and History: Inspiration versus Obligation
Sunday, May 9th, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, The Pilot

A discussion about different approaches and uses of research from the hardcore to the writers of historical fiction. Inspiration versus obligation … for everybody. A lively discussion led by Kathryn Immonen, and featuring Stuart Immonen, Jim Ottaviani, Kate Beaton, Ho Che Anderson, Willow Dawson, and Matt Kindt.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jews, Comics, & Film in Toronto @ TJFF - starting Apr. 18

From Saturday, April 17th to Sunday, April 25th, Torontonians (and visitors to the city) can experience the 18th annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival - an opportunity to watch films and listen to panels & lectures related to Jewish film and filmmakers (and some of them are even FREE!).

This year's special theme is "People of the Comic Book: The Creators of Superheroes, Graphic Novels and Toons". Ellie Skrow's curator statement includes the following :

Comic-book movies are now big business. Disney’s recent acquisition of Marvel Comics for $4.24 billion attests to the fact that this phenomenon will likely continue. The current crop of comic-book flicks are revamped with ever more spectacular digital technology and special effects. The same holds true for animated features — another huge box-office draw.

People of the Comic Book takes us back to the very beginning, when comic art began. As we witnessed in previous TJFF sidebars, it isn’t just the fact that Jews dominated this particular form of popular culture that is the cause for celebration; it’s the fact that they were fantastically good at what they created.

To read the full statement, go to

In this moderator's opinion, the best / most interesting / most relevant events are the following :

Sun., Apr. 18th

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Al Green Theatre
Paul Buhle Talk - "Jews and Comics"
The connections between Jews and comic art on the printed page and on screen (film, TV and computer) offer one of the most enigmatic and valuable sagas in all Jewish/popular cultural life. Before Jewish artists and entrepreneurs created the comic book and the archetypal superhero, Rube Goldberg and Milt Gross invented wildly imaginary machines and the first graphic novel. More important, the Fleischer brothers as much as invented animation, with Betty Boop’s syncopated madness. For 30 years, movie cartoons filled theatre screens between features, and as they crashed, William M. Gaines (EC Comics) and Harvey Kurtzman (Mad Magazine) reinvented comic art once more. And that was only the beginning! Comics scholar Paul Buhle (author of Jews and American Comics) opens up the TJFF’s exploration and celebration of this field with film clips and observations, high points, disappointments and, increasingly, Jewish self-identification.

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Al Green Theatre
The Comic Art Forum

What’s new in Jews and comics, and … what’s old! This lively forum — with special guests and listeners joining the conversation — will probe familiar questions (what is it about comic art that drew Jewish artists in the first place?) and go on to recent ones (why is 90 percent of comic art on the web?). Just some of the other topics: Where is the comics industry going, now that the traditional comic book of the pulp variety is dying, and what has happened since comics became a growth industry, but mainly for the sale of superhero characters to Hollywood? Paul Buhle (author or editor of 42 books, including Jews and American Comics) and Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) have collaborated on a series of comic art volumes, including The Beats, Students for a Democratic Society, an adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Working and the forthcoming Yiddishland. Graphic novelist Ben Katchor (“The most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip”) is the only cartoonist to receive a “genius” MacArthur Fellowship. Katchor’s most recent Pop Opera (in collaboration with Mark Mulcahy) will be performed at Lincoln Center in May.

Mon., Apr. 19th

12:00 PM - 1:41 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of American Splendor (the movie)

Based on two of writer Harvey Pekar’s popular comic-book series (American Splendor and Our Cancer Year), this Oscar®-nominated and multi-award-winning feature ingeniously interweaves documentary footage of the real-life Harvey Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, with uncanny performances by Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis. The story of the former file clerk from Cleveland — a compulsive jazz lover and collector, and a curmudgeonly “poet of the mundane who knows that all the strategizing in the world can’t save a guy from picking the wrong supermarket checkout line” — is innovatively captured in this cinematic gem, from Pekar’s friendship and collaboration with artist Robert Crumb and others, to the creation of his own unique brand of underground comic books and his rise to fame with appearances on the David Letterman Show.

{moderator's note : Harvey Pekar told about his experiences of having his life filmed in the trade paperback Our Movie Year}

Harvey Pekar will be a guest at the screening.

8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Al Green Theatre
The False Forest and Other Picture Stories (slide show / reading)

In this special live appearance, graphic novelist Ben Katchor (The Jew of New York, Julius Kniple: Real Estate Photographer) will read from his works, accompanied by projected images of his comic art illustrations, on the subjects of architecture and urban design. Katchor, “the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip” (New York Times Book Review),is the only cartoonist to receive a “genius” MacArthur Fellowship. He has also written for the stage, including three pop operas with composer Mark Mulcahy; he’s a former contributor to Art Spiegelman’s Raw; and he’s a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The Forward. Katchor’s picture-stories appear in Metropolis Magazine. According to author Michael Chabon, “We have never — at least not since Herriman (Krazy Kat) — had a writer like Katchor.… Though his style in no way resembles that of Jack Kirby or Will Eisner, Ben Katchor is along with them one of the three great depictors of New York City in the history of comics.… Katchor’s style, like all the great styles, is addictive.… In the end it isn’t nostalgia but loneliness of an impossible beauty and profundity that is the great theme.…”

Tues., Apr. 20th

2:00 PM -3:30 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of the documentary Comic Book Confidential

Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann’s acclaimed documentary is a terrific introduction to TJFF’s sidebar series, offering an entertaining, insightful survey of a largely unrecognized art form. Through interviews, animated montages and readings, the film traces the journey of comic book art through the 1930s and ’40s and the explosive popularity of superheroes, through to the groundbreaking work of Will Eisner and the crime and horror comics of the 1950s. Comic Book Confidential also looks at the impact of the Comic Code, which cited comic books as a major cause of juvenile delinquency, resulting in the chilling effect of censorship. Mad Magazine defiantly survived the era, profoundly influencing everything that came after it. The film also looks at the rise of Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics and the independent and underground “comix” of the ’60s and beyond. Appearing as commentators and participants are a roster of Jewish masters of comic art, including Art Spiegelman, Harvey Pekar, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman.

8:15 PM - 9:15 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of the documentary Last Son

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Superman!” The Man of Steel took the world by storm when Toronto-born Joe Shuster (artist) and Cleveland native Jerome Siegel (writer) created the character for DC Comics in 1938. This new documentary traces the fascinating story of the invention of the iconic superhero, and posits several theories about the character’s origins, including Jewish and other influences that helped shape the Superman mythology. Incorporating never-before-seen archival footage, Last Son looks at the stories behind Superman’s mild-mannered secret identity, and what actually happened when Jerry Siegel’s father mysteriously died during a robbery. The son of Jewish immigrant parents from Rotterdam and Kiev, Joe Shuster moved to Cleveland from Toronto when he was 10. A cousin to Frank Shuster, of Wayne and Shuster fame, Joe worked as a newsboy for the Toronto Daily Star, which he claims was the model for The Daily Planet.

An unnamed special guest has been invited.

Wed. Apr. 21st

8:30 PM - 10:06 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of the documentary Will Eisner : Portrait of a Sequential Artist

Named “the most influential comic artist of all time” by Wizard magazine, Will Eisner transformed the “funny papers” by creating a new form of art — the graphic novel. Part of an extraordinary group of Jewish cartoonists of the time, as well as a successful entrepreneur, Eisner was perhaps the most highly regarded internationally. The Spirit, an urban crime-fighter series based on Eisner’s Jewish upbringing in the tenements of New York, was a realistic portrayal of life on the streets, filled with subtle humour. Other Eisner works that dealt overtly with Jewish themes include A Contract with God, The Plot, Fagin the Jew and Family Matter. Eisner’s life, work and times are brought wonderfully to life in this film, which includes interviews with Michael Chabon, Jules Feiffer, Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller and others. A TJFF reprise screening.

An unnamed special guest has been invited.

To watch a trailer of the film, go to (MPG format) or (MOV format).

The short film Munro will be shown as well.

Fri., Apr. 23rd
4:00 PM - 5:26 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of the documentary Line King : The Al Hirschfeld Story

This delightful, Oscar®-nominated documentary is a rich and loving portrait of the remarkable Al Hirschfeld — best known for his caricatures of show-biz personalities (most notably of the Broadway stage) that graced the arts section of the New York Times for decades. Produced when Hirschfeld was a vibrant 93 (he died in 2003 at age 99), the film captures his touching relationship with his second wife, Dolly, and his daughter Nina (whose name is cryptically embedded in all of Hirschfeld’s drawings), his proficiency in sculpture and lithography, and his travels and interests. Perhaps best of all, the film reveals the true mastery of Hirschfeld’s work. His ability to depict the essence of an image in a deceptively simple line profoundly influenced other artists, including cartoonists and animators. Celebrities appearing in the film to pay homage to the legend include Lauren Bacall, Carol Channing, Katherine Hepburn, Jules Feiffer and Colleen Dewhurst.

Sat., Apr. 24th

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Bloor Cinema
Screening of the documentary-in-progress Joann Sfar Draws from Memory

This work-in-progress, part of a special spotlight programme on documentary filmmaker Sam Ball (see also Balancing Acts), tracks Joann Sfar, author of The Rabbi’s Cat and Klezmer, on an odyssey through the dual Algerian and Eastern European family heritage that is the wellspring of his work. Co-produced by Sophie Constantinou, Estelle Fialon and Valerie Joseph. French comic-book artist/director Joann Sfar’s Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat) is slated to be released as a feature film in June 2010.

Special guests at the screening will include director Sam Ball, executive director Valerie Joseph, producer Liam Romalis (Pleasures of Urban Decay)

Sun., Apr. 25th

6:15 PM - 7:45 PM
Al Green Theatre
Screening of the documentary-in-progress The Mad Playboy of Art

Will Elder, born Wolf William Eisenberg in the Bronx in 1921, was a comic-book artist who perhaps best epitomized the essence of the legendary Mad Magazine’s zany humour and irreverent parody and satire. Filmmaker Gary VandenBergh (who also happens to be Elder’s son-in-law) brings his exciting documentary-in-progress to the TJFF, with a fascinating, entertaining look at the man, his times and his work. Elder was best known for his frenzied and painstaking method of filling every inch of the page with hilarious things going on in the background — the “incidentals,” described lovingly by Elder’s colleagues as “chicken fat.” The preview includes terrific interviews with Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman, Jerry Garcia, Terry Gilliam, writer/cartoonist Al Jaffee and others who comment on Elder’s incredible talent, humour and influence, as well as his work on humour magazines Mad, Trump and Humbug, and the Little Annie Fanny comic strips in Playboy.

Special guests at the screening will include director Gary VandenBergh and Nancy VandenBergh (Will Elder's daughter)

Tickets are required for ALL TJFF events, including those that are free.

To order / purchase Toronto Jewish Film Festival tickets, go to

To purchase comics work by any of the writers / artists whose works are highlighted at the Festival, I would personally reccommend going to The Beguiling at 601 Markham St. Besides being one of the best comic stores in the city (if not the country), it's conveniently located very close to Bathurst and Bloor, a short walking distance from the Bloor Cinema and about a 12 minute walk from the Al Green Theatre.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Comix Autopsy at the Yeshiva Universitty Museum - a tweeter's report

"mobius1ski" attended the "Comix Autopsy" event at Yeshiva University Museum last week and took the time to post "tweets" (aka Twitter posts) during the event.

Although anyone with access to public Twitter postings (i.e. anyone with Internet access and a browser) could read the posts, Twitter seems to make older posts unavailable over time. Since those posts were - at the time they were available at Twitter - "public domain" and subject to reproduction under the "fair use" clause of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, I am considering it appropriate to reproduce them here. Nonetheless, if "mobius1ski" objects to my reposting them, I will immediately remove this post from the blog upon receipt of his (polite) request.

Below are the tweets in chronological order :

apparently only 5 people care about comics and being jewish -- oh well

and so it begins #comixautopsy

crowd has multiplied by 5 #comixautopsy

.@elivalley: "i'm often accused of perpetuating antisemitic tropes." @thekvetcher (from the audience): "i feel you brother!" #comixautopsy

i could listen to @elivalley and miss lasko-gross talk comics all day #comixautopsy

lots of talk about racism, self-hatred & the other -- an obsession of jews or comic nerds? #comixautopsy

.@peartree4 "i depicted memuchan like a hiphop gangbanger [...] because they're always puttin' down the hos and the bitches." #comixautopsy

this event is like a 5-way chevrusa dissecting various pages of comic books. they project a page & the panelists analyze it. #comixautopsy

@aharonium there's a hashtag: #comixautopsy

.@peartree4 and @elivalley want to know: how much does persepolis author marjane satrapi dote on her panels? (not fans) #comixautopsy

.@cpere and lasko-gross stump for satrapi but differ on just how oppressed she was #comixautopsy

panel takes a moment to explain indie comics to epic beard man's doppleganger -- "no, they're not for kids" #comixautopsy

everyone agrees: the league of extraordinary gentleman movie SUCKED #comixautopsy

.@jahfurry does a great harvey pekar impression #comixautopsy

@TheJewishDream You're at the Center for Jewish History. You expected a hip crowd? This is where Jewish culture gets embalmed. #comixautopsy

.@elivalley "To quote Charles Bukowski and Jay-Z, you don't pick your craft. Your craft picks you." #comixautopsy

@kungfujew18 I did at first but eff it. Contributors can be anonymous. Publisher is not.

Show's over. A collector is pushing @elivalley to part with his originals. #comixautopsy

.@yudel brought the galleys for @bestdayofmylife's upcoming comic

The panelists

inside pages of The Comic Torah

cover of The Comic Torah

Washington University in St. Louis course is close to the end

Though it's obviously too late in the semester to take this course (or even to audit it), it's not too late to get a sense of what the course is like, thanks to online course guides.

The wonderfully detailed online guide to the course The Graphic Novel and the Jewish Experience at has tabs for Books, Films, Author Podcasts [and Interviews], Author Websites and Additional Jewish Graphic Artists, as well as the obligatory syllabus.

Here's what the syllabus looks like :

Focus 178 / JNE 178: The Graphic Novel and the Jewish Experience

Spring 2010

Course Info:

Instructor: Dr. Erin McGlothlin

Class time: M W 4-5:30

Location: Eads 212

Telephone: 935-4288

E-mail: {suppressed by moderator}

Office: 421 Ridgley

Office hours: W 11-12, F 4-5

Intern: Tracy Graves

Telephone: 935-4885

E-mail: {suppressed by moderator}

Office: 418 Ridgley

Office hours: TBA

Course Description:

This seminar will examine the graphic novel in the context of global Jewish culture of the last half century, focusing on two primary aspects. First, it will look at the historical and aesthetic development of comic art and the graphic novel, endeavors in which Jewish graphic novelists in particular, who bring a rich tradition of Jewish storytelling to a hybrid literary and artistic form, have played a critical role. Second, it will study the ways in which Jewish artists have utilized the narrative possibilities of the graphic novel to explore Jewish identity and the Jewish historical experience, concentrating on such diverse topics as the Holocaust, Sephardic culture and Jewish-American life.

Course Goals:

To introduce students to the genre of the graphic novel and explore its development

To read some of the most critically acclaimed autobiographical and fictional graphic novels of the past several decades

To explore the ways in which Jewish culture is represented in graphic novels

To develop students’ critical vocabulary and analytical skills of texts and images

To focus on students’ ability to write discursively about literary and visual texts


All texts for the course are available at the bookstore or from electronic reserve (ARES) To access and print texts from ARES, go to and click on “search classes.” You can then search for the course with either my last name or the course number. When you see the course password prompt, type in the word “comics”. This will give you access to all the texts that are marked “reserve.”

Texts from Bookstore:

Michael Chabon The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Will Eisner The Contract with God Trilogy

David Gantz Jews in America: A Cartoon History

Ben Katchor The Jew of New York

Miriam Katin We Are On Our Own

Stan Mack The Story of the Jews: A 4,000-Year Adventure

Josh Neufeld A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Joann Sfar The Rabbi’s Cat

Steve Sheinkin The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey

Art Spiegelman Maus I and II

James Sturm James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems

J. T. Waldman Megillat Esther

Michael Wex The Adventures of Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist

Please note that we will not read Will Eisner’s The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even though the bookstore has ordered it for the course.


Two Tests 35% (20% each)

Two 3-5 Page Essays: 45% (25% each)

Two Close Readings: 10% (5% each)

Participation: 10% (includes attendance, preparedness, participation in discussion)


Attendance is mandatory. I expect you to come to class having read the assignment and thought about the study questions. Unexcused absences will be recorded and will affect your participation grade. If you wish to be excused because of sickness, family emergency or religious holiday, you must contact me by phone or e-mail before you miss the class in question.

Writing Assignments:

In the two 3-5 page essays (due March 15 and April 19), you may address a particular aspect of one of the texts we have read or you may compare two of the texts. The papers will be graded based on content, organization, style and basic grammar. Be aware that I place a premium on organization. In other words, I expect your essay to have a well-crafted introduction (­with a clearly-formulated and interesting thesis) and a conclusion. You do not need to consult additional secondary literature for the essay. I will give you a handout detailing requirements a couple of weeks before the first paper is due. You are welcome to come and talk to me about your papers beforehand. If you are not satisfied with your grade on an essay, I will accept a rewrite anytime within two weeks following the date the essay is returned. I will then average the two grades.


There will be two tests. Test I (March 1) will be an in-class examination that covers the first half of the course. Test II will be a take-home examination (due by May 5) that covers the second half. There will be no cumulative final exam. Both tests will include short term identification and essay questions. I will give you a handout with the essay questions in advance so that you can prepare for the exam.

Close Readings:

Over the course of the semester you will be asked to give two short, informal presentations in which you will perform a close reading of a particular image or series of images from that day’s reading. You should not do any outside research for these brief presentations; rather, you should pick a panel or a set of panels that you find particularly compelling and spend some extra time thinking about and analyzing it. You’ll want to consider both its visual aspects (panel design, drawing style, connections between panels) and its verbal/textual features (dialogue balloons, narrative boxes) along with its overall narrative development and its place in the larger story. In order to get an idea of what I mean by a “close reading,” we will read an excerpt from an article I’ve written in which I perform a close reading. I will pass out a sign-up sheet for these presentations during the second class meeting.

Focus 178 / JNE 178

Spring 2010


Wednesday, January 20 Introduction to the Jewish Graphic Novel; What Is a Graphic Novel?

Monday, January 25 What Is a Graphic Novel? (Part 2); History of the Graphic Novel; History of the Jewish Graphic Novel
Read: Wolk, Reading Comics (ARES), 11-16, 29-48, 60-64 ; McCloud, Understanding Comics (ARES), 2-23 ; Chute, “Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narrative” (ARES), 452-457 (not entire article) ; Pekar and Waldman, Foreword to From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books (ARES), 1-4 ; Gantz, “Jews and the Graphic Novel,” 1-22 (

Wednesday, January 27 How to Read a Graphic Novel
Read: McCloud, Understanding Comics (ARES), 24-117, 138-161 ; Wolk, Reading Comics (ARES), 118-134 ; McGlothlin, “In Auschwitz We Didn’t Wear Watches: Marking Time In Art Spiegelman’s Maus” (ARES), 66-69 (not entire article)

Monday, February 1 Jewish History in the Graphic Novel
Read: Mack, The Story of the Jews: A 4,000-Year Adventure

Wednesday, February 3 American Jewish History in the Graphic Novel
Read: Gantz, Jews in America: A Cartoon History

Monday, February 8 Will Eisner’s Dropsie Avenue
Read: Eisner, A Contract with God, 3-121

Wednesday, February 10 Will Eisner’s Dropsie Avenue II
Read: Eisner, A Life Force, 181-321

Monday, February 15 Jews in New York
Read: Katchor, The Jew of New York

Wednesday, February 17 American Myths I
Read: Sheinkin, The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey

Monday, February 22 American Myths II
Read: Sturm, The Golem’s Mighty Swing ; “Golem” from Encyclopedia Judaica (ARES)

Wednesday, February 24 The Bible in the Graphic Novel
Read: Waldman, Megillat Esther ; Esther from the Tanakh (ARES)

Monday, March 1 Test I

Wednesday, March 3 Comics in Jewish-American Literature I
Read: Wex, The Adventures of Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist

March 8-14 Spring Break

Monday, March 15 The Holocaust in the Graphic Novel I
Read: Spiegelman, Maus I, 1-127

1st paper due

Wednesday, March 17 The Holocaust in the Graphic Novel I
Read: Spiegelman, Maus I, 129-159 ; Maus II, 9-74

Monday, March 22 The Holocaust in the Graphic Novel II
Read: Spiegelman, Maus II, 75-136 ; Katin, We Are On Our Own, 3-28

Wednesday, March 24 The Holocaust in the Graphic Novel II
Read: Katin, We Are On Our Own, 29-129

Monday, March 29 American Traumas
Read: selections from Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers (ERES) ; Neufeld, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, 1-79

Wednesday, March 31 American Traumas
Read: Neufeld, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, 80-193

Monday, April 5 Sephardim in the Graphic Novel
Read: Sfar, The Rabbi’s Cat, 1-94

Wednesday, April 7 Sephardim in the Graphic Novel
Read: Sfar, The Rabbi’s Cat, 94-142

Monday, April 12 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II
Read: Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 3-122

Wednesday, April 14 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II
Read: Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 123-256
Monday, April 19 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II
Read: Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 257-380

2nd paper due

Wednesday, April 21 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II
Read: Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 381-512

Monday, April 26 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II
Read: Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 513-636

Wednesday, April 28 Comics in Jewish-American Literature II / Wrap-up

Test II (take-home exam) is due PER E-MAIL {SUPRESSED by moderator} by Wednesday, May 5 at 9 a.m.!

Loyola Marymount University course cancelled for Spring 2010

Hopefully, the course will be offered again (without being cancelled).

Here are the details about the course-that-wasn't, as published at :

Jewish Graphic Novels
Course Status : Course Cancelled
Course Code : CNTX915.0181309

Description :
This course addresses themes related to representations of Jewish history, culture, identity as evidenced in graphic novels. In addressing these themes, will read and discuss graphic novels, and create—both individual and collective—representations of the themes. These representations will be in traditional analytic “papers” and in graphic depictions using sequential art (e.g., “comics”).

This course is cross-listed with INDA 498.04; graduate and undergraduate students please register through PROWL.

Required Text: Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; Art Spiegelman, Maus, Vol 1 & 2; Neil Kleid and Jake Allen, Brownsville; Joann Sfar, The Rabbi’s Cat; Will Eisner, Fagin the Jew; The Golem’s Mighty Swing; Miriam Katin, We are on Our Own.

Location : LMU Campus
Session : Spring 2010
Days : Tu
Dates : 1/19/10 - 5/04/10

Times : 7:15 PM-10:00PM
# of Classes : 15
# of Weeks : 15

Prerequisites : None.

Teachers : Scheibel, PhD, Dean
Greenfield, David
Teacher Bio :
Dean Scheibel, PhD is Professor and Chair of Communication Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Professor Scheibel teaches a variety of courses including public speaking, research methods, and organizational communication. His area of research is organizational communication. Research topics include sororities, graffiti, rumors, faking identity, rock music, and surfing. Scheibel’s articles have been published in major communication journals including Communication Monographs, Text and Performance Quarterly, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Western Journal of Communication, Southern Communication Journal, and Communication Studies. His research has won a top award from the National Communication Association, and has been discussed and cited in numerous textbooks on organizational communication. He plays bass guitar and sings for Back Pages, a rock-and-roll cover band that play “covers” from the 1960s. He also plays tenor sax.

Format : Classroom

Tuition : $370

London (UK) School of Jewish Studies course starts in 1 week

Jewish Graphic Novels

from the course website at

Date: 20/04/2010 To: 04/05/2010
From: 08:00 PM To: 10:00 PM
(3 evenings - 20 April, 27 April and 4 May)

Course fee: £25.00

Course description :
Comics and graphic novels are an exciting, essentially Jewish medium. They illuminate Jewish identity past and present in extraordinary and moving ways. Open to enthusiasts and complete beginners, this three-part course will explore comics and novels created in Israel, Europe and America. They present powerful modern myths of the Jewish experience and act as a form of contemporary midrash.

Instructor bio :
Ariel Kahn is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Roehampton University, and teaches comics to scriptwriters at Ealing Film Studios. A graduate of Yeshivat Hamivtar (Brovender’s), he is a contributor to The Jewish Graphic Novel, and regularly reviews comics and Graphic novels in the press.

The People of the [Comic] Book: A Discussion of Jews and Comics

Unfortunately, I learned about this event days after it happened.

Fortunately, someone decided to record the event and has uploaded the video to

Date/Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Admission: Free to Institute for Comics Studies attendees or free with Museum admission.
Venue : The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

A roundtable discussion about the connection between Jews and comics, both past and present, with Miriam Libicki (jobnik!) and Michael Aushenker (Cartoon Flophouse), as well as scholars Craig Kleinman, Joel Schechter, Lou Schubert, and Rabbi Harry Manhoff.

The roundtable was done in connection with the 2010 WonderCon and Institute for Comics Studies, and in collaboration with the Cartoon Art Museum.

The Pajama Diaries and Yom HaShoah

A recent (April 10th) Pajama Diaries comic strip by Terri Libenson showed Grandma Sophie talking to Amy Kaplan (her granddaughter) about the Holocaust and the members of her family who perished.

The strip may be seen online at

Please note that the JS website only keeps comic strips online for 30 days.

Haas (Do not read if you are offended by lots of violence, lack of nudity and references to the Greek fish)

Another guest post by Theodoor Westerhof.


Looking back at the first story of the series, and the rather un-Jewish prequel in Eppo 23a/23k/the Eppo special for the thing with the trees (which was packed together with the regular #23, which had a Haas cover), things become clear: Haas is the most controversial series published in the Dutch comics magazine Eppo (v2) and the Jewish character Rabbi Ben Eli could be considered the most central character. The death toll is very noticable - and that for a series published in a magazine which also features a SF-series with an assassin of “the empire” hunting the hero on a planet where chess and an extremely lethal form of gladiator combat are the ruling passions, a western series in which detective agencies are in some state of deadly war, a series about an ex-convict millionaire and his partner-in-adventure discovering that his friend/servant/chief executive/caddy tries to sell a drug which changes soldiers into suicidal warriors for nasty governments and the like and one of the most popular series is about a female P.I., involving a handful of murders too. “Haas” is to a degree the comics equivalent of “Zwartboek” (Black Book, the movie by Paul Verhoeven), but it contains much less nudity.

The first story (chronologically) is the prequel from the thing with the trees special. It’s titled “Kerstgedachte”, (literally: “Christmas Thought”, but it should be translated as “Christmas Spirit” or “Meaning of Christmas”). Roman Catholic Church of Drimmelbergen, Christmas Eve 1941. Haas, who is the priest of the church ends the service with a prayer. Everybody leaves the church, but Simon Donkersloot needs to talk with Haas. Somebody has been arrested, but a German soldier has fallen asleep in the church and may have overheard part of the conversation. Simon wants to take him to the Biesbosch (think Everglades, but smaller and colder, no alligators either). The soldier shows he is a pious and loving housefather. Haas believes him and Simon agrees to let the German soldier go. The soldier promises to tell nothing, but Erik has entered the church and accuses the soldier of being the Butcher of Huijbergen, guilty of the executions of dozens of innocents. The soldier protests but Simon and Haas agree that he has to go the Biesbosch. In the Biesbosch the soldier has to dig a grave and Simon executes him. In the boat, Simon thanks Erik for warning them. Erik confesses to Simon that he has falsely accused the soldier, as no opportunity to kill a kraut should be wasted. “Happy Christmas, Simon”. “Happy Christmas, Erik”.

This is the world of Haas. This story was the #1 story in getting strongly negative reactions, but the literary and the artistic qualities of this 4-page prequel and the running series have been defended in reaction to that. It should be noted that in Eppo #23, shipped/sold in a bag with the special, Erik is executed by the Germans and avenged by Rabbi Ben Eli Yisroel.

The regular series starts in the Biesbosch 1942, (September). Simon Donkersloot, Ben Eli, David and David’s daughter Esther flee through the Biesbosch. Esther’s mother has just been killed by the Germans and David is seriously wounded. Using Simon’s gun he remains behind and fights the Germans to the death, giving the others the time to go to Haas. David called Ben Eli Yisroel. They hide in the confessional and Haas gets the Germans searching the church to leave before they look in the confessional. We see Mrs. Brouwers - the priest’s housekeeper - for the first time too. She has not been taken into confidence by Haas and the resistance. Haas, Simon, Ben Eli Yisroel and Esther talk. Ben Eli does his most typical Jewish thing in the series so far ; he says “lechajiem”. Simon tells Haas that Ben Eli Yisroel and Esther escaped the 11 September Antwerp Razzia with Esther’s parents and that they would have gone to Werkendam with Simon as their guide, but they were spotted by the Germans, who immediately started shooting at them. Ben Eli wants to return Esther to an aunt and uncle in hiding in Antwerp. On the other hand, he also tells that Haas’ true name is Vanderlinden and that he calls Vanderlinden’s car “Mata Hari”. The car, a Renault Celtaquatre, is specially prepared for transports. Haas tells Mrs. Brouwers that Donkersloot has arrived to bring him for the last sacraments to Jorritsma’s grandmother, but Mrs Brouwers thinks that she thought that said grandmother had already passed away (it does not occur to her that normal people have two grandmothers). They drive away, but as Mrs. Brouwers’ presence made them hurry, a part of Esther’s coat is still visible if one takes away the spare wheel. On their way, they get a flat tire and a helpful German military motorist discovers the two hidden Jews. Haas hits him in the head with a car jack, which knocks him unconscious and wounds him, but does not kill him. His motorbike, a BMW, is thrown in the water.

The German is put in the back of the car and the Jews ride as normal passengers. They get to a German road block, but they seem to be lucky and succeed in getting through. A German truck, having discovered what happened with the BMW, crashes through the blockade. The German soldiers have a lot of guns and shoot at Mata Hari. Ben Eli reveals he is a rabbi and has no experience with guns, so Simon shoots back and Ben Eli tries to drive and is wounded in his arm. Haas takes over the driving.

Then the impossible happens. The German truck crashes into a Tiger I tank (Yes, those things existed in 1942, but they were NOT driving around on country roads near the Biesbosch ; either they were still a sort of secret weapon or they were needed against the USSR, depending on the date. The magazine blamed deadline issues for the unhistorical tank). They go to the farm of farmer Dirk Sterk in Dorst, where Stella Sterk and Boris, a dog, greet them. Stella provides medical care to Ben Eli and Dirk Sterk starts beating up Simon. Dirk Sterk’s reaction to Esther shows that he is a nice and friendly man, who must have a reason to hate Simon that much. While the German in the back of the car is buried (probably killed probably by the bullets of his countrymen), it turns out that Simon and Stella have been lovers. Afterwards Dirk Sterk tells Simon that Antwerp is full of traitors and that there is no chance to reunite Esther with her family. They can go along with a group smuggling English pilots back to England. Ben Eli’s wound has to heal first, but Esther can go along. Erik has to lend his BSA to Simon. He is willing to do so, but gives him a black eye first. Haas will return to Drimmelbergen, but Erik warns that two German patrols are coming.

Erik and Simon fight to give Stella time to hide Haas and the Jews. It all works until one of the soldiers looking for a locality to use as little boys room discovers Mata Hari. The Germans put Dirk, Erik, Stella and Simon on their knees and threaten to kill all of them if the hiding ones do not show themselves. Dirk and Erik have already been killed when Haas and Esther appear. Ben Eli stays hidden. Simon has to dig up the dead German, Haas claiming that he is the third man. In doing so, Simon digs up his handgun and forces the two Germans to put their weapons down and executes them. The other Germans mistake the shots for the ones terminating Simon. Ben Eli shows up as a diversion.

Simon uses the rifles of the Germans he executed to kill two more. Haas kills a German with a rifle butt. Ben Eli draws a handgun from bandage and shoots two Germans claiming them for Farmer Sterk and Erik. The girls run to Simon. Of the Germans, only Feldwebel Larkin is still alive. He pretends to surrender, but places a dagger in Haas’ abdomen. He surrenders, but Haas dies slowly. Haas asks Simon not to murder his murderer. Simon promises not to murder Larkin, sees that Haas has died and says: “Ben Eli, this Kraut is for you. My hands are bound, alas.” Larkin starts to argue, begging for his life, but Ben Eli reminds him that he has promised nothing and finishes Larkin. The four, well five, Boris the dog is still alive too, move back to Drimmelbergen. Simon continues life as usual. Ben Eli takes over the Haas'position. It is suggested that it is because he promised Haas to do so, but the promise is not shown, as a Roman Catholic priest in the resistance and Boris, Stella and Esther live hidden somewhere on an old boat deep in the Biesbosch.

Now a very interesting situation has been created - a rabbi pretending to be a Roman Catholic priest, to do as much as possible in the fight against the Nazis. It may seem far fetched, and the story is fully fictional, but if we take into consideration that there has been at least one Jewish actor pretending to be a monk, i.e. to belong to Roman Catholic clergy, and there has also been a Jew who became a (sort of National Socialist) mayor during the occupation and served the resistance and allied cause very well in that position, the situation becomes clearly one in the realm of the possible, if not the historical. Of course, the important thing to realize is that we are not talking about a real conversion here. Ben Eli Yisroel merely pretends to be a Roman Catholic priest Doornbosch (Thornbush), and yes, that is a real Dutch name, but it may be a clue. Danger comes from many sides. He has no episcopal support or recognition at all and there are Nazi sympathizing clergy members around. He can be exposed as a Jew. He may know too little about Roman Catholic rites to convincingly fake his priesthood. His resistance membership may be discovered, but it's not at all that different from the real Jewish mayor, is it?

The masquerade pays off, though. In October 1942, there is a traitor on one of the people smuggling routes, and pretending to be a priest Ben Eli could talk to people on Nazi death row (where he is addressed as “Haas” by a resistance member on death row) and learn about that leak. The resistance takes action. I am not fully sure yet whether Rabbi Ben Eli Yisroel is participating in this too. There is somebody in the group resembling him, but he is beardless and blonder. In the most recent issue, the four resistance members talk about witnessing German soldiers shooting at horses(!) and one protests violently. The man (who may be Ben Eli in disguise) smooths things out in time and the horses are saved. It rather reminds me of the February Strike, a heroic, brave, but ineffective protest in defence of the Jewish part of the population against a much more powerful occupying force. Not to equate Jews with horses, of course.

Haas as a series paints a picture of WWII, which is not in black and white, but in dark greys and varying shades of black. It seems that not everybody can appreciate that. It’s a highly surprising series, in which almost nothing can be taken for granted. That a Jew takes an important, dangerous part in the resistance fits both real history and Dutch WW II fiction, though making that Jew a big, strong rabbi in the physical sense is fairly new.

I am wondering how you would judge Ben Eli Yisroel and am also wondering whether anybody unfamiliar with Dutch protestantism, but interested in “The (Jewish) Netherlands in WW II” could help me to compose a footnote explaining a statement in the text I am translating about the denomination of the family that a Jewish couple hid with. It’s not that I lack knowledge, but it is a complex issue and I have to give as little information as possible, but not too little. “A protestant denomination” would be way too little, considering that the current chief rabbi of the Netherlands reading that confession in a daily newspaper would be way too much.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Neil Kleid and Emily Steinberg at MOCCA Fest this weekend

As mentioned in my previous post :

This weekend (April 10th and 11th), the annual Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art Festival will be held at the Lexington Avenue Armory (Lexinton and 25th) in Manhattan (New York), between the hours of 11 AM and 6 PM.

One little detail I neglected to mention was the price.

Advance prices
Weekend pass : $15
Members weekend pass : $12
Saturday only : $10
Sunday only : $10

I also left off the names of 2 of my favorite cartoonists who will be appearing in person at the Festival. In my defense, neither of their names appeared in the list of exhibitors, which I read through - in its entirety - last night.

Details below.


* Neil Kleid (author & illustrator [though not always at the same time], whose ouevre to date includes Stable Rods, Pilgrimage : Two Weeks in G-d's Country, Brownsville, the short piece "Shomer Negiah", The Big Khan and [in the near future?] Migdal David)

* Emily Steinberg (author-illustrator of the autobiographical Graphic Therapy : Notes from the Gap Years, which is being sold at


If anyone knows of other guests who should be mentioned and who somehow weren't detected by my Jewish-comix-dar, please let me know ASAP and I'll attempt another last-minute posting.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Jewish Side of MOCCA Festival 2010 (Apr. 10th & 11th)

This weekend (April 10th and 11th), the annual Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art Festival will be held at the Lexington Avenue Armory (Lexinton and 25th) in Manhattan (New York), between the hours of 11 AM and 6 PM.

Among the creators of Jewish comic stories / art who will be in attendance are :

* Neal Adams (illustrator of "The Ventures of Zimmerman" [parody of Bob Dylan] and "Son O' God", which appeared in the pages of National Lampoon)

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

* Josh Bernstein ("Mitzvah 4" in Royal Flush Magazine)

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

* Willow Dawson (the talented Canadian artist, who has illustrated the anthology No Girls Allowed : Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure, written by Susan Hughes & published by Kids Can Press). The anthology includes the story of Esther Brandeau, the first Jewish person to immigrate to Canada.

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

* Dean Haspiel (illustrator of Harvey Pekar's autobiography The Quitter)

* Al Jaffee (cartoonist best known for his work in Mad magazine, who also contributed artwork to Moshiach Times)

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

* Miss Lasko-Gross (author-illustrator of the graphic autobiography Escape from "Special" and A Mess of Everything)

* Dylan Meconis (author-illustrator of the webcomic Family Man, about a Jewish academic named Luther Levy, who was unable to defend his dissertation because he was not Christian)

* Josh Neufeld (author-illustrator of A Few Perfect Hours)

* Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, Heeb)

* Paul Pope (author-illustrator of the story "Berlin Batman" in The Batman Chronicles #11 [reprinted in Batman : Year 100] in which Batman is a Jewish painter named Baruch Wane)

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

* James Sturm (author illustrator of The Golem's Mighty Swing and Market Day)


Sessions that may be of interest to Jewish visitors

Saturday, April 10th

11:30 AM
Titans of Comics: Living Cartooning Legends
Humor comics geniuses Al Jaffee (Mad Magazine – creator of the “fold-in”), Arnold Roth!(Humbug, Trump, National Lampoon), and Gahan Wilson (New Yorker, Playboy)! We dare you to keep a straight face during this panel! Moderated by the moderately amusing Danny Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch, Rough Guide to Graphic Novels)

Sunday, April 11th

10:30 AM
A Special Holocaust Remembrance Day Presentation: Disney and Neal Adams Take on the Holocaust
Legendary comic book artist Neal Adams (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Avengers: Kree Skrull War), Disney Educational Productions chief Lisa Clements, and Holocaust historian Dr. Rafael Medoff unveil their new collaboration: "They Spoke Out: American Voices of Protest Against the Holocaust," a stunning series of motion comics that will revolutionize Holocaust education. Featuring the premiere of the first two episodes in the series.

11:30 AM
James Sturm and Paul Karasik in Conversation
James Sturm (The Golem's Mighty Swing) and Paul Karasik (City of Glass)conduct an overview of Sturm's comics work as well as the founding of The Center for Cartoon Studies, culminating in a look at the creation of Sturm's latest graphic novel, Market Day.

Jewish Comix Panel: Drawing Conclusions- A Comix Autopsy - Apr. 8th, 2010

April 8, 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Yeshiva University Museum
15 W. 16th Street
New York, NY
t : (212)294-8330

Join host Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, Heeb) and comic book creators Miss Lasko-Gross (A Mess of Everything), Chari Pere (Of Biblical Propoertions), Eli Valley (EV Comics), and JT Waldman (Megillat Esther) as they dissect comic book images related to themes of oppression, authenticity, and depictions of the OTHER. Marvel at their witty banter and self-deprecating analysis. Laugh at the awkward comments. Gather with other Jewish geeks!