Originally published on JewishBoston.com.
Tomorrow, August 28, is the first ever International Read Comics in Public Day. Since the American comicbook industry was largely built by Jewish immigrants, the book generally considered to be the first “graphic novel” was all about Jewish life on the Lower East Side, and even today many of the luminaries of the field are Jewish, I think it’s fair game to claim this as a Jewish holiday of sorts.
The day is being sponsored by comics blog The Daily Cross Hatch, prompted by a joke between editors Sarah Morean and Brian Heater. You see, despite deacdes of news articles “discovering” that comics are for adults, all sorts of book awards including the Pulitzer going to comics, and a string of high-grossing and Oscar-winning films based on comics, there’s still some stigma attached to reading them. So Morean & Heater put out the call to comics lovers everywhere – be proud of what you’re reading, and let others see it.
The date of August 28th was chosen because it’s the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, one of the most influential artists of the last century. You’ll note I didn’t just call him an influential “comics artist,” although comics were his medium. His work on Captain America, The Fantastic Four (both of which he co-created) and dozens of other titles helped establish a visual vocabulary that persists in art, television, film, and the internet today. It’s no surprise he was one of the artists included in the Jewish Museum’s Masters of American Comics exhibit last year.
While I wouldn’t recommend whipping out your comics in place of your Bible during the Torah service — at least, not before the publication of Ben Yehuda Press‘s upcoming Comic Torah — perhaps you’ll find some time tomorrow afternoon to enjoy the weather and read some comics in a park. There’s a gathering planned on Boston Common starting at 2:00 in the afternoon if you’d like to meet other readers.
Not sure where to start? The Read Comics in Public organizers have prepared two handy charts on how to proceed – one if you’re planning on buying comics, the other for people who prefer the library. Either way, don’t be shy about asking for recommendations from the folks behind the counter.
Or you could follow the lead Liz Polay-Wettengel (JewishBoston.com’s Community Manager) and I set in the pictures we shot of us reading comics around Faneuil Hall. Liz is reading Moon Knight (written by Gregg Huritz, art by Bong Dazo & Jose Pimental), a superhero book about a rabbi’s son with multiple personalities, one of which is a hero whose power comes from an Egyptian God. I’ve got Young Avengers (written by Allan Heinberg, art by Jim Cheung & Mark Morales), about super-powered teens who form a team when they discover unexpected connections to more famous heroes. In the picture with the statue of Mayor Curley below, we’re reading The Unwritten (written by Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross), a series centered on the adult child of a popular author of a Harry Potter-like fantasy series who starts to question whether he too was simply one of his dad’s fictional creations.
What will you be reading for International Read Comics in Public Day? Let us know in the comments! And if you have pictures of yourself reading comics in public, send them along and we’ll add them to this post!