Sisterhood Blog

'Graphic Details' Q&A: Miriam Katin

By Leah Berkenwald

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Miriam Katin
A page from Katin’s “Eucalyptus Nights,” featured in “Graphic Details.”

“Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women” is the first museum exhibit to explore this unique niche of autobiographical storytelling by Jewish women. The touring exhibit, sponsored by the Forward, features the work of 18 Jewish women artists. The Jewish Women’s Archive — whose Jewesses With Attitude blog partners regularly with The Sisterhood — is interviewing each of the artists about their work and their experience as a female, Jewish graphic artist. This week’s interview is with Miriam Katin, author of “We Are On Our Own,” a story of a mother and her daughter’s survival in WWII and a number of other other works.

Leah Berkenwald: How did you get into cartooning?

Miriam Katin: I am doing comics and it is different from cartooning. I think. During my work in animation I met artists who did comics and I felt that with this method, much drawing and not much text, I can tell my stories.

How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

In every way since all my work is coming from being Jewish. My place in history, relationships, my faith or the lack of it etc.

Do you think the experience of being a cartoon artist is different for men and women?

I don’t think there is any difference, only today women are well accepted in the comics world which is pretty new. By the time I started my work (2000) it was a fact.

Tell me about your piece in the “Graphic Details” exhibit. What’s its story?

My four page story is about an incident from the time I served in the IDF. The time was 1960-1962. The story was commissioned by the very excellent Jewish publication “Guilt & Pleasure” for their “Fight Issue”. (2006) The subject is about the tension between the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews of that period.

What’s next?

Hard to say. I hope it will be a graphic novel. What ever it is, it is a real struggle.

Leah Berkenwald is the online communications specialist at the Jewish Women’s Archive, and a contributor to its Jewesses With Attitude blog, which cross-posts regularly with the Sisterhood.


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