In Amsterdam, a museum exhibit titled Superheroes and Schlemiels shows how Jews turned to graphic novels to tell their stories


Reuters News Agency

April 29, 2008 at 3:28 AM EDT

A large part of the exhibition, titled Superheroes and Schlemiels, is devoted to artist Will Eisner, showing his comic strips and large-scale drawings as well as pages from his later graphic novels.

Eisner co-founded the first American comic strip production studio in 1936 and created the masked crime fighter the Spirit in 1940, but he is also credited with creating the first long-form comic in 1978, which he termed a “graphic novel.”

“That created a cultural space,” said Couch, helping to gain the graphic novel respect in the 1970s and launching a canon of works in that format exploring Jewish history and personal experience.

By printing “graphic novel” on his 1978 work, Eisner also gained access to the U.S. public library market, then closed to comics.

The exhibition, which shows the work of about 40 comic-strip artists, also includes pages from Spiegelman’s 1986 graphic novel Maus, an award-winning book exploring the generational conflict between Holocaust survivors and their children, and where the Jews are drawn as mice and the Nazis as cats.

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