In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches ed. by Samantha Baskind and Ranen Omer-Sherman, and: Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land ed. by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle, and: Jewish Images in the Comics: A Visual History by Fredrik Strömberg, and: Superman Is Jewish? How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American Way by Harry Brod
  • Derek Parker Royal (bio)
The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches. Ed. Samantha Baskind and Ranen Omer-Sherman. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010. 328 pages. $29.95 paper; $29.95 electronic.
Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land. Ed. Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2011. 240 pages. $29.95 cloth.
Jewish Images in the Comics: A Visual History. Fredrik Strömberg. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2012. 424 pages. $26.99 cloth.
Superman Is Jewish? How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American Way. Harry Brod. New York: Free Press, 2012. 240 pages. $25.00 cloth; $11.99 electronic.

Over the past eight years, there has been a flurry of scholarly interest in comics and Jewish identity. In that time, there have been no less than eleven studies published [End Page 247] on this topic, including Simcha Weinstein’s Up, Up and Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero (2006), Danny Fingeroth’s Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero (2007), Paul Buhle’s Jews and American Comics: An Illustrated History of an American Art Form (2008), Arie Kaplan’s From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books (2008), Joël Kotek’s Cartoons and Extremism: Israel and the Jews in Arab and Western Media (2009), Thomas Andrae and Mel Gordon’s Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero, from the Creators of Superman (2010), and my own guest-edited special issue of Shofar on Jewish comics in 2011, besides the various biographies or interview collections focusing on a specific Jewish creator or group of creators. All of these texts have in common a desire to define Jewish comics through a series of critical interrogations, either explicitly stated or indirectly expressed. Are comics Jewish because of their content? Can a comic be considered Jewish even though its artists are not? Conversely, just because a writer/illustrator is Jewish, is the output necessarily defined as Jewish art or literature? And even if the creators are Jewish, what kind of experience—religious, cultural, observant, or secular—most qualifies as Jewish? These questions are posed in four recent titles, each engaging with the representation of Jewish history, identity, and cultural issues through comics.

Samantha Baskind and Ranen Omer-Sherman’s edited collection, The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches (2010 in paper; a cloth edition, no longer available, was published in 2008), comprises thirteen critical essays as well as interviews with two artists, Miriam Katin and Miriam Libicki, and an original short comic by Libicki, “Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy!” As the editors state in their introduction, the focus of the collection is on the major creative trends, critical developments, and creators defining the Jewish graphic novel. Baskind and Omer-Sherman’s choice of the graphic novel rather than comics in general as their locus of discussion reflects how academic engagement with the mixed image-text medium has privileged long-form narratives, particularly those treated with a level of gravitas. The vast majority of the texts discussed in this collection are books that one would expect to find on course syllabi and under examination in scholarly journals and monographs: Will Eisner’s A Contract with God (1978), To the Heart of the Storm (1991), and Fagin the Jew (2003); Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum (1979); Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (I: My Father Bleeds History [1986] and II: And Here My Troubles Began [1991]) and In the Shadow of No Towers (2004); Joe Kubert’s Yossel: April 19, 1943 (2003); James Sturm’s The Golem’s Mighty Swing (2001); Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat (2005) and Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East (2006); Katin’s We Are on Our Own (2006); and Bernice Eisenstein’s I...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1946-3170
Print ISSN
0163-755X
Pages
pp. 247-252
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-23
Open Access
No
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