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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Jewish Side of NYCC on Sukkot

Today is the first day of the annual New York Comic Convention (aka New York Comicon aka NYCC). It is also the first day of the Jewish holiday Sukkos (aka the Festival of Booths). This is not the first time that NYCC has coincided with a Jewish holiday. In 2008, NYCC coincided with Passover.

Sukkot is one of the Jewish holidays which is divided into "yom tov" and "chol ha-moed" days. The yom tovim are days during which one may not do certain prohibited activities (e.g. use electricity, handle money), but one may do such activities during the "chol ha-moed" period.

The first 2 days of NYCC this year coincide with the "yomim tovim", while the third day is on the Jewish Sabbath (which has prohibitions, just like yomim tovim). However, day 4 (arguably the most fun day because it's also "kids day") is a chol ha-moed day, so Orthodox and observant Jews need not feel excluded this year.

Those who feel bad about missing out on Comicon while they're observing the holiday traditions may thematically combine their "Jewish self" with their "inner geek" by reading one (or both) of the recommended comics (which I'll plug at the end of this post) inside their sukkahs.

For those who will be attending NYCC, I'd like to point out the creators and publishers of Jewish-content comics who will be in attendance as well as recommended Jewishy panels.

The Panels

Fri. Oct. 14
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: 1B01
Will Eisner's The Spirit and Bob Kane's The Batman
Like their creators Will Eisner and Bob Kane, The Spirit and The Batman had an intertwined and complex relationship. DeWitt Clinton High School classmates, Will and Bob helped each other in their early comics careers. As fate would have it, each came up with an iconic non-superpowered costumed adventurer who owed a lot to the films noir of Orson Welles and other cinema pioneers. Investigating how these two masters interacted, interrelated, and worked is sure to be fascinating. Join Michael Uslan (producer of the Batman films), Paul Levitz (Legion of Super-Heroes), Dennis O'Neil (Batman writer and editor), Chris Couch (The Will Eisner Companion), and moderator Danny Fingeroth (The Stan Lee Universe and Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero) as they explore the similarities and differences between the characters and their creators.

3:45 pm - 4:45 pm
Location: 1A23
Joe Simon: My Life in Comics
What was it like to be targeted by the Nazi party? What was Stan Lee like as a teenage kid? How did it feel to have your comics torn apart by a Congressional committee--on live television!? And what was the real origin of the Red Skull? These secrets and more, revealed by the man who lived them--Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America, first editor at Marvel Comics, creator of Sick magazine, and a genuine living legend. Joe turned 98 years old on October 11, and this is his only appearance at a comic book convention. So come out and wish him a happy birthday!

Sat. Oct. 15
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: 1B03
Comics Studies Conference 3: Requiem for Weisinger: The Life and Work of Superman Editor Mort Weisinger
Comic book historian and illustrator Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) presents the work of Mort Weisinger, editor of the Superman line for 30 years (1940-70), through Weisinger's own words and artist Curt Swan’s images, with the participation of Mort’s son, Dr. Hank Weisinger.

Sunday, October 16
10:45 am - 11:45 am
Location: 1A15
MoCCA Presents: Michael Uslan, The Boy Who Loved Batman
Presenting the true story of Michael Uslan, and how a middle class boy from New Jersey grew up to be an executive producer of one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Uslan has been the executive producer, along with his partner Benjamin Melnicker, of the Batman series of films, starting with 1989’s landmark Batman to the most recent installment, the second highest grossing film of all time, The Dark Knight. He has written comic books, comic strips, a children’s book, a book on Rock and Roll with Dick Clark, graphic novels and most recently, his critically-acclaimed autobiography, The Boy Who Loved Batman. Signing to immediately follow at MoCCA Booth #2631

Note: Michael Uslan is also known for his lecture "Pow! Zap! Oy! How Jewish Immigrants Created Super Heroes".

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm
Location: 1A15
Spotlight on Chris Claremont and Paul Levitz: Superheroes: Fact and Fiction
Join the award-winning writers of The Uncanny X-Men and The Legion of Superheroes. Have your questions answered and learn the inside scoop on these two fabulous teams, how they came into their own in their 70’s, influencing comics, movies, videos, television. Chris Claremont is best known for his time on Marvel Comic’s X-Men, were he created such characters as Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, and Kitty Pryde. Paul Levitz is the long-time writer of The Legion of Superheroes for DC Comics.

Note : Paul Levitz gave Colossal Boy (Gim Allon) his Jewish background and scripted the 1-page story Tradition for DC's 9-11 book.


Abrams Comicarts - booth 1144
Published titles include Auschwitz, Hereville : How Mirka Got Her Sword and Yiddishkeit.

First Second Books - booth 1730
Published works include Klezmer : Tales of the Wild East, Resistance, Vampire Loves and Little Vampire.

NBM (Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing Inc.) - booth 1831
Published works include A Jew in Communist Prague, Brownsville and The Big Khan.


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

Ernie Colon (illustrator of Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography, as well as the second series of Mendy and the Golem comics)

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

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

Keith Giffen (author of the Ragman miniseries that reintroduced the title character as a Jewish superhero and also creator of the characters Dreidel and Rabbi Zone, who both appeared in the pages of the last issue of the series The Heckler)

Rebekah Isaacs (illustrator of the series Drafted)

Phil Jimenez (illustrator of a Heroes online comic featuring an Israeli Mossad agent named Hana Gitelman)

Joe Kubert (author-illustrator of the graphic novels Jew Gangster and Yossel : April 19, 1943, as well as the Sgt. Rock : The Prophecy miniseries)

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)

Stan Lee (Jewish comics legend who co-created the Fantastic Four, which has a Jewish character 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)

A. David Lewis (author of The Lone and Level Sands, a graphic novel adaptation of the story of Exodus) will be at booth #1546

Miriam Libicki (author-illustrator of jobnik!) will be at booth S9

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

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

Clifford Meth (author of the illustrated story "I, Gezheh" in Aardwolf #1).

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

Arlen Schumer (author-illustrator of Captain Israel)

Bill Sienkiewicz (illustrator of the story "Night Screams" in X-Men #159, in which Kitty is saved from Dracula by her Star of David necklace)

The 2 Sukkot-related comics which I made reference to at the beginning of this post are :

Jewish Hero Corps #2 (written by Alan Oirich ; illustrated by Ron Randall)
"The Secret of the Solar Succah"


The Escapists #2 (written by Brian K. Vaughan ; illustrated by Jason S. Alexander and Steve Rolston)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Yiddishkeit panel in New York City on Wednesday

Having just recovered from eating too much apples and honey during Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year, which was celebrated 2 days ago), Jews around the world will be preparing to ask G-d's forgiveness this coming Friday night (i.e. during Yom Kippur).

2 days before that, though, certain Jews (and interested non-Jews) will be gathering at The Graduate Center to listen to a panel of (mostly) Jewish people discuss Yiddish history and culture. Specifically, they will be discussing a new graphic anthology recently published by Abrams titled Yiddishkeit : Jewish Vernacular and the New Land. Yiddishkeit, edited by Paul Buhle and the late Harvey Pekar z"l is descibed as :

the last fully realized work by the late Pekar [which] unveils the lasting influence of Yiddish on American culture.

On the panel will be :

playwright and author Allen Lewis Rickman, National Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky (whose quest to save Yiddish is featured in one of the anthology's stories), cartoonist Ben Katchor, anthology contributor Danny Fingeroth (who authored the book Disguised as Clark Kent : Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero), Sabrina Jones, Jewish Currents editor Larry Bush, and anthology co-editor Paul Buhle.

Date : Wed., Oct. 5, 2011
Venue : The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street)
New York, NY 10016
Cost : $10.00
Tickets may be purchased online at

Yiddishkeit made Quimby's Top 10 Weekly list (at #6) for the week of Aug. 31st and its cover was chosen as the Book Cover of the Week by Jewish Book World's Naomi Firestone-Teeter on August 10th.

An excerpt by Neal Gabler may be found at

Original artwork (which is for sale) by Dan Archer may be viewed a

What have people been saying about Yiddishkeit thus far?

Choice review excerpts below (with links to the full commentary).

Gilles d'Aymery, Swans Commentary
"Neither pedagogic nor didactic, the scripts are superb, the drawings splendid, and as Paul Buhle wrote in his Editor's Note, 'the culture of Yiddish is so inherently vernacular that comics art provides a perfect venue for an exploration of issues and personalities.' A significant historical and cultural book not to be missed."

David from New York,
"a scholarly book, this isn't; a thorough and enjoyable book this is. Don't think Talmud; think The Wise Men of Chelm as if Chelm were the USA. I can't think of a better introduction to Yiddishkeit."

Sephora Markson Hartz, Secular culture and ideas, rethinking Jewish
"In the end, Yiddishkeit is worth reading not because Pekar is a dazzling storyteller, but because he is,as Buhle notes, an 'idiosyncratic' one. The force of Harvey Pekar’s personality has always been his greatest asset, as is his life-long interest in giving new life—and pressing new relevance—to seemingly marginal subjects. True, you may dispute some of Pekar’s assessments of Yiddish culture, but nevermind. You’ll find yourself blissfully enchanted by his eccentricities."

Steven Heller, Imprint
"Rich in lore and folkways, the book trace the influence of Yiddish from medieval Europe to New York's Lower East Side. Yiddishkeit means 'Jewishness,' as in a 'Jewish way of life.' "

Rick Klaw, Nexus Graphica
"Perhaps the most unusual and unexpected graphic work of the year, the impressive Yiddishkeit successfully peels back centuries of scholarship and dogma while revealing the nuances of the colorful language and its impact on contemporary society."

Paul Kupperberg,
"Yiddishkeit is an introduction to dozens of lost or forgotten Yiddish authors, and a compelling overview of just how influential the Jews and their particular way of seeing life were in shaping American pop culture (from MAD Magazine to Woody Allen)."

Josh Lambert, Forward
"Like the collection of kitschy coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets that Shandler analyzes as epitomizing that phenomenon, 'Yiddishkeit' aims to interact with and influence the relationship between Yiddish culture and people who don’t read or speak the language. Specifically, the book promulgates a familiar set of ideas about Yiddish: that it was 'focused on the here and now rather than on airy philosophical discourse,' as pop historian Neal Gabler says in his introduction; that it was an incubator for communists, socialists, anarchists and other leftists, which is what Buhle tends to emphasize, and that it was the medium for a rich and neglected modern literary and performance tradition and has indelibly marked American popular culture forever after."

David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee
"Yiddishkeit is by no means a comprehensive study of Yiddish film, Jews in Hollywood or the leavening effect of the Jewish sensibility on the dour culture of WASP America. But it's a fun and informed read—one that will make many of us search for more material on the various subjects it touches."

Mae "mes2000",
"The visual treatment of literary and biographical topics in 'Yiddishkeit' is fun, but very truncated: for example, it offers a 3-page summary of Aaron Lansky's memoir 'Outwitting History,' (which I think is actually a better treatment of Yiddish in America) and a 12-page 'retelling' in graphic form of the 1937 Yiddish movie 'Greenfields.' "

Laura Miller
"this fabulous rich volume has much to tell everyone about the roots of our national humor, drama and vernacular language."

Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
"There’s a lot of quality material here, though, including a series of concise, anecdotal one-pagers written by Joel Schechter and drawn by Spain Rodriguez. And Pekar fans will appreciate getting one more chance to read his impassioned, sometimes cranky opinions about the artists America embraces and the ones they unjustly ignore."

Allan Nadler, Jewish Ideas Daily
" The result is a stunningly colorful but dizzyingly messy comic bouquet to secular Yiddish culture."

Publishers Weekly
"The art is provided by a number of notables, including Spain Rodriguez, Peter Kuper, and Sharon Rudahl, every bit of it brimming with the charm and flavor of its subject and seamlessly meshing with the text to create a genuinely compelling, scholarly comics experience."

Tom Spurgeon, the Comics Reporter
"Its existence in comic shops is as wonderfully odd and potentially jarring in its own way as some of the weirder and more depressing stuff that shops offer up."

Happy (Jewish) New Year from Edge City

Terry Laban (and co-writer spouse Patty) once again wish their loyal readers a "Shanah Tovah"(good year) via a week-long themed storyline in their syndicated comic strip Edge City.

This year, the Ardin family considers attending a different synagogue for the high holy days (since Abby's parents will be in Florida).

To view the strips, go to the following links (each of which will be valid until 30 days after its publication).

Or read the compilation below (until / unless I get a "please remove" e-mail from the copyright holder).