Sisterhood Blog

Jewish Women and the Art of Over-sharing

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share
Miss Lasko-Gross
This self-portrait of Miss Lasko-Gross will adorn the logo of ‘Graphic Details.’ (click to enlarge)

Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, an exhibit opening October 1 at San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, almost ended before it began.

About two years ago, as I was walking through the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art’s annual expo at the Puck Building, I noticed a lot of tables where young women artists with Jewish last names were presenting their work. Most of the cartoons were confessional, raw and pretty revealing. They were also beautifully rendered, sharply written, and completely engaging.

A few days after interviewing seven or eight of the cartoonists for a story on Jewish women cartoonists for Jewish Living magazine, the publication folded. Luckily, the Forward’s arts and culture editor accepted the pitch. After the article ran I received an email from a doctoral candidate named Sarah Lightman, who is researching autobiography in comics at the University of Glasgow. Had I considered turning the story — “Graphic Confessions of Jewish Women” — into an exhibit of some kind?

I hadn’t, but I loved the idea. Since I collect original cartoons and comic art, mostly by alternative artists and editorial cartoonists, I already had the stuff on my own walls. But the chance to share the work with an audience got me excited. Despite its growing mainstream cred — “American Splendor,” the Crumb documentary, etc. — comics remain a most underappreciated art form. People I knew who claim an affinity for “edgy” literature or visual art tended to dismiss comics, or worse, to consign them to “kid-lit” shelves. In fact, comics often speak more truth in one panel than most books do in hundreds of pages. And the ability to weave multiple threads and levels of storytelling — visual and verbal — seems to me like a pretty spectacular achievement for an artist.

All of those qualities shine through in the work we selected for Graphic Details, which includes pieces by Vanessa Davis, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Miss Lasko-Gross, Laurie Sandell and Ariel Schrag, among others. After its stay in San Francisco It’ll travel to Toronto after that, where the Koffler Centre of the Arts will present Graphic Details at the Gladstone Hotel galleries on February 17.

There are straight lines you can draw between the artists in the show — similar subjects, congruent styles, shared boldness and insolence — but each of them brings a point of view and execution of it that merits multiple viewings and spirited discussion.

It’ll sound like a cliché to say I love all the work in the show equally, but it’s the truth. I’d been following some of these artists for a couple of decades, and even bought their work long before I started my writing career. All of them are fearless about revealing their weaknesses and personal failings. All of them recognize that sacred cows are useless, and that everything’s fair game for a laugh. Every one of them seems to realize the ownership and power that comes from being able to share parts of yourself without hypocrisy, dissembling or airs. And all of them know that the most powerful way to confront pain is to laugh in its face.

It’s something I appreciate as a Jew. It’s something I prize as a comics fanatic. And it’s something I hope everyone gets some joy out of as they get to know the work of these remarkable women.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sarah Lightman, Graphic Details, Comics, Carton

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.