People from Brooklyn have a seriously warped self-image. They swear Brooklyn is the greatest place on earth, but give no rational justification. If you bring up the other outer-boroughs in NYC, they will insist that the Bronx sucks, Queens is lame, and Staten Island is a disgusting toilet. There is nothing more infuriating than when a Brookynite screams the name of their borough with that annoying cockiness that gives you the urge to vomit, immediately.
As much as I despise much of Brooklyn, I have a love/hate relationship with the borough.
For every overpriced entertainment venue, there is a free cultural event. Even though I often have to ride a standing room only train for an hour, there is free entertainment in the form of the best people-watching in all of America. Although every time I ride the B82 there is a schmuck blasting his music so everyone has a free concert, I am glad that the bus is often taking me to visit my cousin Ari. Despite the fact I get extremely sick of eating street meat and digesting hot dogs, I know my girlfriend’s got Jamaican food cookin’ at her apartment. Most importantly, like all of NY, Brooklyn bleeds comic books.
Comics have a deep history in Brooklyn. Many characters lived in the borough including Captain America, who lived in Brookyln Heights, Thor, who resided in Bay Ridge, and Jean Grey…
Welcome to With Great Chutzpah Comes Great Responsibility, your bi-weekly dose of Jews and comics.
I want to wish my Jewish brothers and sisters a sweet New Year, and my other readers a happy day. Today, I am going to teach you about the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and how they relate to comics. I know many are wondering how I am going to make sitting in temple for hours and eating delicious noodle Kugel (yes, I capitalize Kugel, out of respect to its awesomeness) relate to the amazingness of comics. The themes of the holidays contain the same values our greatest heroes live by. The High Holy Days are about taking responsibility for our actions, recognizing our power, learning from our mistakes and trying to be the best person we can be in the future.
Jews are like the Avengers on the High Holy Days, we come from near and far to assemble. “Christmas and Easter Jews”, AKA Avengers reserve members, are the Yids who do you never see any other time of the year but who attend services only on the High Holy Days. They are like Batman, they seem to pop out of no-where and then disappear without your seeing them leave.
In an interview with the radio station Fresh 102.7, Justin Timberlake stated that he wants to play The Riddler in a future Batman flick. Warner Brothers needs to make this happen! Say Bye, Bye, Bye to that has-been Jim Carrey’s version of the classic villain, because Timberlake would bring SexyBack to the Batman Franchise.
I want Warner Brothers to cast Timberlake as The Riddler so I can watch the nerd community riot. The moment the news hit about Affleck being cast as Batman was the highlight of my year; 99% of the geek community had a panic attack in unison- it was a beautiful sight. I gain power from other’s suffering, and the soulful N’Sync-er staring in a DC flick would give me enough energy to become invincible!
I come from an era in comic collecting where the Marvel/DC war resembled gang violence. You had to pick a side; I chose Marvel. I could care less who they cast as Batman or the Riddler. I do not give two craps if DC is attempting to destroy their own franchises (which they seem to be doing).
Here is exactly what Timberlake said:
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Schmuggling Booze for Gangsters! Printing Socialist Literature! Distributing Contraceptives AND Soft-Core Porn! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! There are many controversial facts that most comic fans do not know about original DC Comics publisher Harry Donenfeld.
Information of Donenfeld’s early childhood is sketchy at best, but it is believed that he was born on October 16, 1983 in Romania before his family moved to America and settled in the Lower East Side. He was a street Yid who became one of the biggest publishers in America.
Donenfeld became a salesman and the fourth partner of his brothers’ printing company, Martin Press. He could schmooze people from all walks of life and seal deals his brothers never could. After helping the family business reach a new level of success, Donenfeld became the majority owner of the company.
Donenfeld may not have created DC Comics, but after its creator became indebted to him and then declared bankruptcy, Donenfeld bought the entire shebang.
Prior to entering the comic business, Donenfeld was involved in many risky business endeavors, including:
Printing Socialist Literature!
Donenfeld was the main printer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. This is how Donenfeld met the man who would control DC’s finances and later become a co-owner, Jack Liebowitz (also a Jewish immigrant who moved to the Lower East Side). That is right, the co-owner of DC was a former raging socialist whose father was actually the main organizer of the union!
Schmuggling Booze for Gangsters!
Donenfeld always loved the fast life- booze, woman and gambling. He looked up to mobsters and modeled himself after their flashy lifestyle. He also loved that they crossed class lines. Like him, they were poor folk who defied the odds and found success amidst the old impenetrable upper class. During prohibition, Donenfeld was able to work with the mobsters as part of the booze distribution network. His paper trucks would smuggle booze from Canadian paper mills into America. He would use his printing warehouses to store the liquor and then distributed it to newsstands where the alcohol was sold under-the-counter.
Let’s all wish Jack Kirby a big Happy Birthday on Wednesday, August 28th! Kirby is the creator/co-creator of many of the great heroes, including Captain America, The X-Men, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, and many more incredible characters. I can honestly say that I would not be the man I am today without the influence of Jack Kirby. His creations were my mentors growing up- shaping my morals and values. His creativity allows my imagination to travel to other universes and escape reality when life is too dull or stressful. We fanboys and fangirls owe so much to “The King”.
This year would have marked Kirby’s 96th birthday. To commemorate the event, his youngest granddaughter Jillian is giving us the opportunity to celebrate her grandfather’s legacy through charity. She had launched the Kirby4Heroes campaign to collect donations for the Hero Initiative- the only non-profit organization “dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need.”
Each year, on Kirby’s birthday many comic stores throughout the US donate a portion of their sales to the Hero Initiative. Some stores will even hold “birthday parties” for “The King”, which include original artwork auctions as well as other fun activities. If your store is not participating it would be great if you could harass them and tell them to get on board.
You also can help out by
donating to the Hero Initiative online through their website. The Hero Initiative is also holding a Wake Up and Draw event where over 100 artists will create original artwork on Kirby’s b-day. The art will be auctioned off via HeroInitiative.com. So far,Kirby4Heroes has raised over $6,000 to help creators in need, and this year’s fundraising goal is $10,000!
Want to know more about the Hero Initiative? Sure you do- “The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit over 50 creators and their families with over $500,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.”
I am a proud member and supporter of the Hero Initiative. Many comic creators are not given the respect they deserve from the industry. They give us their greatest creations, and then, while publishers continue to profit from their properties, many can no longer support themselves. The Hero Initiative gives these amazing creators emergency medical support, financial support for day to day living, and help finding work to support themselves.
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Who the heck is M.C. Gaines, and why is he so important to comics? Gaines’s name is affiliated with almost every major event in early comic history. Helaunched the first comic book, and was influential in the birth of Superman,Green Lantern, Hawkman and Wonder Woman, shaping the entire superhero genre. Additionally, he created Education Comics, which later became the controversial and innovative EC comics that spawned Mad Magazine.
Maxwell Charles “Charlie” Gaines, AKA M.C. Gaines, was born Max Ginsberg in 1894. He was a nice Jewish boy from NYC. Like many individuals involved in the early comic industry, he never wanted to work in comics. He was a school teacher, but he lost his job in the 1920s and ended up in a period of life suckitude (I just made that word up!) Down and out, he had trouble supporting his wife, Jesse, and two kiddos, Elaine and William. Gaines was a smart cat, but a pissed off one who limped because of a childhood injury that left him in constant pain in his leg and lower back. He tried all kinds of crazy get-rich-quick schemes, but none worked out. He even ended up selling painted neckties with anti-prohibition statements such as “We Want Beer” written on them. Now do you understand what life suckitude means?
His condition grew worse and worse until he hit bottom. Broke as heck and close to 40 years old, he moved his family into his mother’s house in the Bronx. Around this time, Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany, America was deep into the Great Depression, and the world was darker than ever. In order to escape his dark reality, Gaines retreated into his momma’s attic to read the Sunday funnies. Finding joy in comics, Gaines realized others might yearn for the same escapism. Being a savvy businessman, he also realized the marketing potential of comics.
While Gaines did not technically invent the “comic book,” his format and marketing created the comic industry. The phrase “comic book” was first used in 1917, and by the late 1920s reprint collections were common for popular strips such as Little Nemo and The Yellow Kid. Companies such as Eastern Color Printing and Humor Publishing had attempted to market various periodicals featuring comic reprints in different formats, but none succeeded. Gaines was the man who struck gold by figuring out the format to make big business out of comics.