29 February 2012

Friend of The Helpless

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.
                                                -Joyce A. Myers

This above quote held true for the comic creators of Superman and it’s true for all the other comic creators of today who may have a dream, but may lack the means to bring it to fruition. Just remember, all you need is a vision, lots of perseverance, and a whole lot of #2 pencils and the possibilities are endless…

In the introduction of Up, Up, And Oy Vey, we behold a shocking revelation about the famous superheroes we all know and love.  Superman, Batman, Spider Man, Captain America, have a few underlying things in common.  One, there creators are Jewish. And two, all these superheroes have some type of connection to a hero of the Bible, or to Jewish tradition.  In the first chapter of this book entitled Superman: From Cleveland To Krypton, we get an in depth look at the iconic Superman.  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a comic that embodied not only Jewish cultural hardships during World War II and the hardships of their own personal experiences, but also one that contained hints of their religious background.  This chapter sheds light on the fact that this comic became controversial when World War II was in full swing.  This comic inspired American patriotism and gave the Allied Forces a boost in morale, but it also upset Nazi Germany because of Jewish ethnic factors, thereby creating Nazi propaganda.  We are also made aware of the similarities between the storyline of Superman and certain Old Testament Biblical stories such as the story of Moses, and Samson.  This religious connection doesn’t stop here however; even the original name of Superman “Kal-El” contains a suffix that is an ancient Jewish name for God. Lastly this chapter shows us how superman evolved from comic to radio, cartoons, movies, and TV shows, but even after all these metamorphoses, the connection to Jewish culture still was not lost.

A comic contains a richer form of content when they are influenced by the culture and experiences of their creators.  In the first chapter of Up, Up, And Oy Vey, we saw that the comic Superman, has strong cultural ties to its creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.  This comic not only portrays the Jewish culture and religion of the creators, but also the anti-Semitic sentiments and history of American life during the depression and World War II, which is why this comic is so iconic today. Scott McCloud points out the importance of this cultural experience among writers in his second book Reinventing Comics when he talks about one of the twelve revolutions, Minority Representation.  This revolution states that a person from a particular ethnic group can tell a story about his particular culture better than someone from a different ethnic background.  Superman isn’t just a story about a hero from the planet Krypton; it’s a story about two men who had a love for comics, their culture, and a desire to have their voices heard.  


  1. I never knew all of the struggle of history behind Superman! I thought you being able to tie in the reinventing comics to superman was great!

  2. Great connections, Mike!

    I think you're timeline's a little off, though. Superman came out before America's involvement in WWII; Weinstein argues it had more to do with the Holocaust.

    Still, great work!