Comic Con-ukkah! Crown Heights synagogue hosting Jewish cartoon fest • Brooklyn Paper

Comic Con-ukkah! Crown Heights synagogue hosting Jewish cartoon fest

Dynamic duo: Congregation Kol Israel president Fred Polaniecki and comic artist Fabrice Sapolsky are joining forces to create the first ever Jewish Comic Con.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s super-mensch!

More than a dozen of God’s Chosen comic book artists will converge at Congregation Kol Israel in Crown Heights on Nov. 13 to present and discuss their work at the first ever Jewish Comic Con. But the event isn’t exclusively for Jews — gentiles are most welcome to come and learn about the Semitic roots of the graphic literary medium, according to organizers.

“I’m not interested in doing a Jew-centric comic con,” said comic book artist and convention organizer Fabrice Sapolsky. “This industry was created by Jews for everyone, and we have to keep that message alive.”

Fifteen contemporary Jewish comic artists — including “The Red Hook” creator and Carroll Gardens resident Dean Haspiel and veteran New York cartoonist Mort Gerberg — will appear at the St. John’s Place synagogue.

Many of the attending artists are practicing Jews, though some say they can’t tell their mezuzahs from their menorahs.

“I’m Jewish with a side of bacon,” said Josh Neufeld, who’s best known for his work of graphic journalism “AD: New Orleans After the Deluge.”

Convention patrons will be able to chat with artists and purchase books on Kol Israel’s upper floor, before shuffling downstairs for panels that deal with a number of mainstream topics given a Jewish twist, said Sapolsky.

“It was very important for me to keep it mainstream, because that’s what people read,” Sapolsky said. “We have a panel on the Batman universe, called ‘The Jewishness of Batman,’ whose creator, Bob Kane, was Jewish.”

Cos-players are encouraged to attend the event dressed as their favorite hero or heroine, although they should be careful of showing too much skin at the con, which is, after all, being hosted by a house of worship.

“Do not try to come dressed as Conan or Witchblade, we’d be very sad but we couldn’t let you in,” the event website reads, referencing two particularly scantily-clad characters.

Many of the artists were skeptical of the event before signing on, according to Sapolsky, but that just goes to show the lack of recognition of Jews for their role in pioneering the industry and its legions of spandex-clad superheroes — including Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk, among many, many others — he said.

“At first I got some strange reactions, like ‘is there a Comic Con for religion now?’ ” he said. “And I said ‘you don’t get it. Ninety percent of the people who started the industry were Jewish.’ ”

Wear tasteful spandex and buy comics at Jewish Comic Con at Congregation Kol Israel [603 St. Johns Pl. between Classon and Franklin avenues in Crown Heights, (718) 638–6583, www.jewishcomiccon.org] Nov. 13. Passes begin at $15.

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