The Jews behind the Comic Books https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/arts-culture/2019/05/the-jews-behind-the-comic-books/

May 17, 2019 | John Podhoretz
About the author: John Podhoretz is the editor of Commentary. His movie criticism appears regularly in the Weekly Standard.

Currently Avengers: Endgame is set to make more money at box offices worldwide than any other movie; it is only the most recent of the wildly successfully series of movies—22 so far—based on Marvel comic books. As John Podhoretz notes, the business decision that resulted in these films was made by three Jews. But the Jewish involvement in comic books goes back much farther:

Like so much of 20th-century pop culture, the comics business was the creation and handiwork of first-generation and immigrant Jewish businessmen, writers, and artists whose outside-inside position in America gave them a peculiar and useful vantage point. . . . The Jews who made the comics told contemporary folktales about powerful people often forced by circumstance to pretend to be relatively powerless even as they contested with external evils that wished above all else to destroy them and the society around them—the very society that these stiff-necked people sitting in the culture’s cheap seats felt hard-done by.

The creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were kids from Cleveland who sold their intellectual property for $130 to a company called DC run by two immigrants named Jack Liebowitz and Harry Donenfeld. DC’s chief rival was a company that would eventually be called Marvel; it was the property of one Martin (né Moe) Goodman, who brought his nephew Stanley Lieber on board to help out. Lieber eventually changed his name to Stan Lee and became the public face of the business—and, in his own prose contributions to the comic books he wrote and edited, introduced the self-mocking jokey tone of the Borscht Belt to boys across America and helped form their understanding of what humor was.

Just as Izzy Baline wrote “White Christmas” after changing his name to Irving Berlin, and foreign-born Hollywood chieftains like Szmul Gelbfisz (later Sam Goldwyn) and Carl Laemmle helped create the ideal of America for Americans, the all-but-unknown and mostly Jewish writers and editors of comics gave metaphorical power to American adolescent anxieties about strength and weakness and public exposure.

Read more on Commentary: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/marvel-and-the-jews/

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