Earlier in the week I saw this exhibition at the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris. It traces the history of the comic book medium through the influence & experience of Jewish culture during the last century. From Milt Gross & Al Capp to Joann Sfarr via Kirby, Eisner, Kurtzman & of course Art Speigelman's 'MAUS'.
The exhibition is thoughtfully laid out with countless fascinating examples on show; vintage Kirby Fantastic 4 comics, original Eisner pencil roughs, early Milt Gross funnies, Joe Kubert rough sketches, Kurtzman's MAD covers, Pratt colour sketches of Corto Maltese. Of particular interest was a series of roughs by Joann Sfarr demonstrating how he lays out a page.
I had no idea of the extent of the influence of Jewish experience on the comic book medium. In the early 20th century the cartoon 'funny pages' reflected the day to day struggle of Jewish immigrants adapting to life in America. Then came WW11 and the second half of the century gave rise to much more serious comic books tackling the holocaust & anti-semitism.
I learnt a lot from this show; it portrays the comic medium as a profound means of expression where Jewish comic creators such as Will Eisner could not only flourish professionally but also find an outlet to create a new identity for their uprooted & abused culture.
The exhibition runs through the end of January.