Friday, November 28, 2008

From Krakow to Krypton

Normally I avoid the books the missus is working on at her desk, not because I'm not interested but because I don't speak Yiddish or Hebrew so I've no idea what they're about. But in the middle of a daring pencil stealing raid on her stuff this morning I noticed a book she was reading called From Krakow to Krypton by Arie Kaplan which is "a history of Jews and comic books." It had lots of pictures and illustrations and was written in a breezy style. This is about my level, I thought, opening up a packet of Hob Nobs and subsequently wasting my entire "writing day" reading it from cover to cover. The book starts well with a forward by the great Harvey Pekar and it continues well, explaining not just the well known Jewish origins of Superman and Batman but also looking at the original funnies, The Spirit, The Shadow, Mad Magazine and of course Marvel Comics' resident creative genius Stan Lee who gave us Spiderman, The Hulk, Silver Surfer, X Men et. al. The book also examines more serious comics, looking at the work of - the bard of Cleveland - Harvey Pekar himself, as well Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and bringing us all the way up to Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon. This could be the perfect Bar Mitzvah gift for a 13 year old geek or a 40 year old shut in like myself. On his website Arie Kaplan tells us that he works for Mad Magazine (lucky bastard) and he gives us his home phone number, cell phone number and email address, so if you want to talk to someone who has talked to Stan Lee, this is your chance (but at least read the guy's book first).