Rethinking the Jewish-comics connection

Sammanfattning: The publication of Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) brought the Jewish–comics connection to popular attention. The novel illuminated the fact that many of the pioneers of American mainstream comics were Jewish. Owing to this history, and to the fact that there today exists a large and growing library of self-consciously Jewish comic books and graphic novels, much has been written about the meaning of the connection. Engaging in a critical dialogue with extant writing on the subject, this thesis argues that much of the popular and scholarly writing on the subject of Jews and comics is historical in the sense that it is a product of its own time, rather than in the sense that it critically investigates the past. Rethinking the Jewish¬–Comics Connection presents three studies of commonly cited mainstream comics texts written by Jewish Americans: the character Superman from his first appearance in June 1938 until America’s entry in the Second World War in December 1941; comics writer, artist, and advocate Will Eisner’s The Spirit (1940–1952) and long-form comics (1978–2005); and the first and second series of X-Men comic books (1963–1970 and 1975–1991). Situating these texts in their respective contexts and offering alternative interpretations, the thesis suggests that the historical Jewish–comics connection most clearly emerges as an expression of what it meant, for the writers, to be Jewish Americans in relation to their own time.

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