by Abe Novick
While books that are made up of critical studies can often seem overly academic, this collection is one that even a kid could kvell about. It brings out the child in us.
The graphic novel has been around since cave paintings, but in the last few decades it has found a resurgence and developed a distinctly Jewish connection, with roots in the era of the comic book. However, it distinguishes itself from its dime-store lineage by often carrying weightier subjects and a full-length story within its covers.
This anthology highlights a number of recent authors who have used the medium, such as Art Spiegelman, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his graphic novel “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale,” recounting his father’s ordeal as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust, and his book about Sept. 11, “In The Shadow Of No Towers.” What may appear to be child’s play has taken on some of the most compelling issues of modern times.
Historically, the story of The Golem has provided comic fans with many modern twists, as readers of Michael Chabon know, as it played such a significant part of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.” Several of the essays focus their lens on his influence.
The foreword is written by J.T. Waldman, who just recently had an exhibit of his “Megillat Esther” at the Jewish Museum of Maryland; he creatively infused the Purim story with remarkably insightful black-and-white drawings and text that create “a dialectic synergy that stimulates the brain.”
While the art on the pages of the books described in this anthology are beautiful to see, reading these essays reveals deeper meaning behind the imagery and provokes thought on a subject that has become an outlet for Jewish ideas and lore.
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