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Heroes, Freaks, and Super-Rabbis

The Jewish Dimension of Comic Art

Milt Gross: "That’s my Pop!" in: The Sunday Mirror, 12 May 1941
© Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme, Paris

Superman was the work of Jewish artists—so were Batman, Spiderman, and other superheroes of the era. Ever since the comic strip was invented in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York, Jewish artists played a key part in developing the medium. In the postwar period, Harvey Kurtzman and his MAD magazine established a new, ironic and self-deprecating style. A whole generation of comic-strip artists was inspired by MAD’s biting satire of politics and middle-class life, and its pastiche treatments of well-known comic-book heroes. In the 1970s, Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman expanded the sequential art form. Their graphic novels opened up a new form of narrative capable of encompassing historical material and autobiographical memory. They have helped the comic book to gain literary recognition.

The exhibition presents the Jewish dimensions of this popular-culture medium and its history through 300 objects and more than 45 artists. Among these, featuring many original drawings, are old masters like Will Eisner, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and Harvey Kurtzman along with contemporary artists like Art Spiegelman, Rutu Modan, Joann Sfar and Ben Katchor.

Exhibition opens

29 April 2009, 7 pm


30 April 2009 - 8 August 2010

This exhibition is co-produced by the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme, Paris and the Joods Historisch Museum in Amsterdam.


Inside the Jewish Museum Berlin. Axes of Holocaust and of Exile and Emigration.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Thomas Bruns

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