Following his Black Images in the Comics and The Comics Go to Hell, this square shaped tome is the third one in the reference treasury created by Fredrik Stromberg. Following the physical format and internal structure of the first two volumes, the author begins with several pages of introduction explaining his rationale for putting forth such a volume and the organization of the chapters. The first chapter on history features comics that focus on various elements of the history of Jews to the present time. Subsequent chapters explore the depiction of Jewish traditions and religious ceremonies, Antisemitism, the Holocaust, Israel, Jewish household names through their literary, scientific, cinematic and musical creativity, and the folklore of the Golem. Other chapters explore how Jewish comic book creators, editors, and publishers have influenced comics and comic culture, comics created specifically for a Jewish reading audience, and the evolving treatment of Jewish characters in comic books internationally. This package is effectively completed with an annotated list of sources, a list of copyright credits, and a comprehensive index.
Stromberg provides concise but adequate background information on Jewish history, laws, and culture for those who may not be familiar with the topics and issues. The bulk of the book is his presentation of one comic pages, panels, or images from over 150 comic books from international sources to exemplify and accompany his one page essays. These crisp essays offer erudite commentary on both the comic book example and the wider topic of the chapter in which the essays have been organized. The visual examples not only span numerous countries, languages, and eras, they offer a wide compendium of artistic styles.
The book can easily be dipped into at any point and savoured over time, although this reviewer enjoyed the perspective gained from following the author’s organization and commentary while reading it chronologically. As with the first two books, I was impressed with Stromberg’s wealth of knowledge, research, organizational skills, and ease of articulation.