It’s the season for Jewish graphic novels!

On November 9, 2010 · 6 Comments

Scott McCloud very nicely mentions Hereville on his blog. (I’d urge y’all to read Scott’s comics, but I assume you already have, right? Right?)

One reader emailed me from a Therapy Center simply because she’d heard there was a comic explaining Crohn’s Disease (there is; it was a 24-hour comic by Tom Humberstone who suffers from the condition). Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America alone (thanks, Wikipedia). Why the Hell WASN’T there a comic about Crohn’s disease until now??

Whole markets can be created out of thin air when the right subject strikes. [...] The beauty of this kind of outreach is that it only adds to the base of comics readers, and rarely do these efforts cannibalize each other. Barry Deutsch’s fantastic orthodox Jewish adventure Hereville isn’t competing for readers with the Bertrand Russell stories in Logicomix, or with XKCD, or with Persepolis. Each one is its own little community of readers, some of whom may have never read a comic before, but ALL of whom are now one comic deeper into this medium we’d all like to see grow.

Interestingly enough, it turns out there are at least two comics about Crohn’s disease, as someone immediately pointed out in Scott’s comments. As Scott and everyone else knows, there are a number of famous Jewish-themed graphic novels. But I was surprised to discover that there are four five new Jewish graphic novels just in Fall 2010!

A reporter from The Jewish Journal emailed me about my appearance at the Miami Book Fair later this month, and one of his questions was what makes Hereville distinct from the dozen or so other Jewish books also being presented at the Miami Book Fair this year.

I was all set to answer “well, as the only graphic novel blah blah blah,” but fortunately I checked what the other books were first. Turns out Hereville is just one of three Jewish-themed graphic novels at the Miami Book Fair! The other two are Vanessa Davis’ Make Me A Woman (haven’t read it yet, but the sample pages I’ve seen are beyond fabulous, and I can’t wait to read it) and Anne Frank: The Authorized Anne Frank House Graphic Biography (haven’t heard much about it yet).

In addition, there’s Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel In Sixty Days Or Less, which is being released today. (I’ve read a chapter of this, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole book.)

A year ago, I would have agreed with Scott that a Jewish-themed graphic novel would appeal to an under-served market. But four five Jewish-themed graphic novels, all coming out not just in the same year but in the same season of the same year — that seems like a lot, doesn’t it?

Or are there always this many coming out, and I’m only noticing it now because one of the books is my own?

In the end, Scott is right. All four five of these graphic novels are very different, and have the potential to bring new readers to the medium. Although I hope there’s some crossover (i.e., I’d love it if their readers would check Hereville out, and vice versa), I very much doubt we’re poaching each other’s readers.

Still, I’m kind of surprised that no one’s organized a panel at some con featuring all four books. Sarah, Vanessa, Ernie, Aaron, Sharon, are you folks coming to Stumptown in April? Let me know, I’ll see if I can organize a panel for us. :-P

UPDATE: When I first posted this, I forgot about The Comic Torah! Sorry about that, Aaron and Sharon. So there are five Jewish-themed graphic novels out this season, not “only” four as I had thought.


6 Responses to “It’s the season for Jewish graphic novels!”

  1. Make that five: The Comic Torah by Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosenzweig reimagines the very good book with gorgeous artwork and an unorthodox sense of humore.

  2. Make that five: The Comic Torah by Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosenzweig reimagines the very good book with gorgeous artwork and an unorthodox sense of humore.

  3. Barry says:

    Whoops, you’re right! I’m sorry about that. I’ll edit the post to include The Comic Torah.

  4. Barry says:

    Whoops, you’re right! I’m sorry about that. I’ll edit the post to include The Comic Torah.

  5. I read about Jewish graphic novels in progress, but it’s hard to tell when they’ll be completed (or if).

    4 examples :

    The Dairy Restaurant by Ben Katchor

    Migdal David by Neil Kleid

    How I Lost Faith in Israel by JT Waldman & the late Harvey Pekar

    Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

  6. I read about Jewish graphic novels in progress, but it’s hard to tell when they’ll be completed (or if).

    4 examples :

    The Dairy Restaurant by Ben Katchor

    Migdal David by Neil Kleid

    How I Lost Faith in Israel by JT Waldman & the late Harvey Pekar

    Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

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