The Arty Semite

Q&A: Comics Writer Danny Fingeroth

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share
Peter Nelson

At Marvel Comics, where he spent years as a group editor on “Spider-Man,” Danny Fingeroth worked closely with the costumed character’s conceptual father — the legendary Stan Lee. Fingeroth, now senior vice president of education at New York’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, recently released “The Stan Lee Universe” (TwoMorrows Publishing). Part fan letter, part obsessive portrait and part research treatise, the book — co-edited with longtime Marvel writer Roy Thomas — serves as Fingeroth’s tribute to “the co-creator of some of the most significant popular culture characters in existence.” Fingeroth talked to The Arty Semite about Jews, Superheroes and the golden age of comics.

Michael Kaminer: The coverline of your book says Stan Lee “changed comics and pop culture.” How?

Danny Fingeroth: Stan and his creative collaborators invented a unique way of telling superhero stories that enabled them to develop characters and utilize humor in ways that the genre hadn’t done before. They struck a chord with the baby boom generation, and their mode of storytelling was profoundly influential not just on comics, but on action-adventure storytelling.

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber to Romanian-Jewish immigrants, but he seemed to disavow any kind of Jewish element in his comics. How would you say his background influenced his output?

Stan wrote the foreword to my book “Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero.” I don’t agree that he’s “disavowed” anything. It wasn’t his obligation — or his job — to make specifically Jewish comics. His writing is full of allusions to ethnic Jewish New York and peppered with Yiddishisms. Ultimately, of course, he and his peers were trying to write stories with the widest possible appeal that people of any background could relate to.

Do you feel Lee’s received as much attention and acclaim as he deserves from the non-comics culture?

He’s certainly the most well-known person that I can think of who comes from the world of comics. Most people with any interest in pop culture have at least an inkling of who he is. I think he was as influential as Walt Disney, and yet his name isn’t as widely known. I think many people still have a hard time with the very concept that someone writes or edits comic books. So Lee, like everyone else in comics, has that prejudice to work against.

Is there still the same kind of Jewish presence in comics these days as there was in the so-called Golden Age?

The talent pool for comics creators is more diverse ethnically and culturally than it was in the 1940s. Some Jewish indy creators focus on issues around that Jewish identity, others don’t. And mainstream creators have more freedom to deal with issues of ethnicity, including Jewishness. Both Marvel and DC are giant, publicly held corporate entities and have ethnically diverse corporate staffs. With a couple of exceptions, the days of family-owned publishing companies with owners in some way giving their own ethnic flavor to the publications are pretty much over.

Is there anyone you’d consider a Stan Lee-type character in today’s comics world, either corporate or indie?

Nope. He’s one of a kind. His admirers and his detractors agree about that.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Stan Lee, Spider Man, Roy Thomas, Interviews, Michael Kaminer, Comics, Danny Fingeroth, Comic Books

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.