Jews and the Graphic Novel



Read the entire illustrated essay:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22

An Introduction to “Jews and the Graphic Novel”

Jewish books, you may have noticed, are getting more and more graphic. And no, gratuitous sex and violence haven't swarmed into our literature, the way they've occupied every other sphere of American culture: I mean “graphic” in the visual-arts sense. Since I took over as JBooks editor in March 2004, I’ve noticed a swarm of non-verbal images slipping in between the covers of our books. (Sometimes, graphic novels snuck onto the book covers themselves.) Historians of the graphic novel will rightly suggest that Will Eisner and Art Spiegleman kicked off this trend years ago, but it’s clear that talented pishers like J. T. Waldman and Joann Sfar have truly made the Jewish graphic novel a mainstream event.

I thought it would be interesting to have a veteran of the field look at the history of the Jewish graphic novel, and I asked David Gantz, author of Jews in America: A Cartoon History, to write an illustrated essay on the subject.


His “Jews and the Graphic Novel” knocked me for a loop. For six or seven loops. His work is a superb combination of visual narrative, cultural history, and autobiography (there are some great memories here, for instance, about DC Comics’ Stan Lee and Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffe). Gantz’s work response to the assignment was an unusual and valuable new thing. I hope you enjoy it as much we do.

—Ken Gordon, Editor,