Thursday, December 06, 2007

From Superman to Chat du Rabbin



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.

10 comments:

Oscar Grillo said...

Hugo was a real Pratt.

Vince M. said...

I love looking at Will Eisner pages in person. I'm always amazed at how much white-out paint is on them, probably a by-product of working with assistants. As a young man looking at the Warren Spirit reprints I was under the impression that every brush stroke Will made was carved in stone, it's reaffirming to know that the great ones struggled as we do.

As far as the large Jewish community of seminal comic book creators goes, it makes perfect sense, all oppressed people create heroes in their parables. Shuster, Seigel, Kurtzman, Kurtzburg, Leiber, et al... all heroes in their own right.

Thanks for sharing this experience with us, Mr. Jones.
Boy, I wish I lived in France.

M@ said...

Reportage par excellen monsieur fleur de cul.

Elliot Cowan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elliot Cowan said...

I think the history of Jews becoming cartoonists and comic book artists has almost nothing to do with repression and uprooted culture.
In fact I think that's a bunch of crap (although many Jews are delighted with the repressed label).
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Jews aren't supposed to be supposed to be creating grave images so when the European Jews found a new home far away in the United States they turned to lowbrow outlets to express themselves visually.

Matt J said...

Holocaust denier!!

Elliot Cowan said...

Jew lover!!!

Matt J said...

Happy Hanukkah!

Elliot Cowan said...

Bah, humbug...

Ale said...

Hey Matt, amazing work all over your blog! I love your sketches, you've got very fresh and storytelling lines.
Oh and by the way, your sketches of Milano and Ventimiglia brought tears to my eyes! :)
Bravissimo! Take care,
Alessandra