Heroes, Freaks, and Super-Rabbis
The Jewish Dimension of Comic Art
Heroes, Freaks, and Super-Rabbis: The Jewish Dimension of Comic Art
The exhibition presented the Jewish dimensions of the pop-cultural medium of comics and its history by way of around 300 objects and more than 45 artists. Among these, featuring many original drawings, were 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.
The Background of the Exhibition
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 have 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 cartoonists 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.
This Jewish Museum Berlin exhibition was co-produced by the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme, Paris and the Joods Historisch Museum in Amsterdam.