_From Krakow to Krypton_: The _Heeb_ Review

In his new book From Krakow to Krypton, Arie Kaplan, like wily Odysseus, skillfully navigates between the Scylla and Charybdis of writing about Jews and comic books (and now that we’ve made a reference to the classics–even if we read the classic comic book–Jewdar can proceed to discuss comics without fear of challenges to our smartyousity). On the one hand, you have the approach that takes everything at its face value and says that if there’s no yarmulke, there’s nothing Jewish. On the other, you have the school of thought that finds a Talmud in every panel.

To be sure, when we got Kaplan’s book in the mail, we were pretty afraid it was the latter and were expecting the usual "Batman, Superman and Spiderman…is it a coincidence that so many Jewish names end in man?" line of reasoning. Instead, what we got was a real history of Jews and comics, both inside and out, and ranging the whole chronological and stylistic spectrum of the industry. While he does at times veer towards deconstruction, and there are moments where his storytelling is clumsy, Kaplan–a MAD Magazine scribe, among other things–is savvy enough to know solid gold when he sees it, and in this case, it’s the wealth of interviews he did with numerous circumcised legends of the comic book industry. Because after all is said and done, even the best writer in the world can’t explain comics better than the likes of Stan Lee and Will Eisner.

Krakow to Krypton is essential for any comic book nerd, but is also a good read for anyone who is interested in the Jewish role in the creation of American popular culture. As for ourselves, like any self-respecting comic book nerd, we assiduously scanned the book hoping to find the errors and omissions. We couldn’t find any of the former, of course found the latter (How could he not mention and make fun of Sabra?!?!), but that was balanced by the things we didn’t know–and when you surprise Jewdar with Jewish pop culture tidbits, you know you’ve done your job.

What do you think?

About The Author


The Tel Aviv-born, Milwaukee-bred Jewdar has a bachelors' from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters from NYU, and an Honorable Discharge from the US Army, where he spent two years as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division. He's the co-author of "The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies", the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine, and a watcher of TV. Smarter than most funny people, funnier than most smart people, he lives on the Lower East Side with his wife and two sons.

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