Last weekend I was invited to talk on the process behind my 50+ page collaboration with the late, great Harvey Pekar on Yiddishkeit, a comics anthology that collects and celebrates the forgotten gems of Yiddish culture, published by Abrams Comics Arts in September (from which the above pages is taken). Many thanks to Paul Buhle for organizing the event, and for fostering my involvement in the project from the outset! Paul is a one-man non-fiction comics powerhouse, responsible for other comics histories covering topics as diverse as the history of the SDS, The Beats, Studs Terkel’s Working and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of American Empire. I had no idea about the historical connection between Yiddish and marxism in the early twentieth century – Paul’s reasons for initially studying the language and its literature in the first place was to gain access to the wealth of material on working class movements in the US, which were predominantly written in yiddish. If such things pique your curiosity, then I recommend “the unrepentant marxist” blog, which features one of the most insightful reviews of Yiddishkeit out there.
If you scroll down to the “news” section of this site, you can watch a very brief video (you’ll need to pause it, as each slide only pings up for a few seconds in the “convert to movie” mode of powerpoint) that’ll give you a visual journey of the process I went through in turning Harvey’s script into print-ready comics pages. Plus some other Kickstarter-based drives to honour the beloved everyman of comics. Here are just a few of Harvey’s handwritten script pages, so you can see what I started with. I especially love the “jewish man” and “horse” labels on the last page.