Headlines: Exhibits explore role of Jews in comic book genre

Source: The Globe & Mail

Associated Press
January 14, 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In the 1930s, amid the Great Depression and Nazi Germany, Cleveland writer Jerry Siegel and Toronto artist Joe Shuster conceived an iconic superhero with rippling biceps, long-flowing cape, impeccably coifed hair and a virtuous calling to stamp out evil.

Superman may not be Jewish like his creators, but some scholars, comic book historians and rabbis see the superhero and his introverted alter ego Clark Kent as subtly influenced by the authors’ heritage and informed by themes of assimilation and conflicted cultural identities.

Two related exhibits at Brown University explore the seminal role of Jews in the comic book genre, including the founders of satirical Mad magazine and the creators of Superman, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Batman and Captain America. The displays also include contemporary illustrators such as Art Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his Holocaust-inspired comic Maus.

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