Monday, December 17, 2007

Jew Smash!

It's not exactly the Hulk, X-Men, Superman or the Justice League, but Alan Oirich, a 50-year-old New York entrepreneur, Jewish educator and comic book illustrator this week cracked BusinessWeek's Top-5 list of small businesses with the success of his six-year-old, Jewish Superhero funny pages strip – The Jewish Hero Corps.

He's got five part-time staffers and has a yearly revenue of $119,000 US.

Oirich founded his company, Electric Comics, back in 2001. As reported in the article, Oirich says his comic books are dedicated to using "the American cultural mythology of superheroes to teach kids about their Jewish identity and values."

Here's what Oirich told BusinessWeek about the endeavour:

The Jewish Hero Corps, our first book, has seven main characters including Menorah Man, who grows eight arms and shoots flames; Dreidel Maidel, who can spin at incredibly high speeds; and Kipa Kid, who has a belt of trick yarmulkes. They fight against the bad guys, Fobots, who are robots that do whatever they can to make people forget about Jewish traditions. I have been a Jewish educator for a long time, and I was using these characters in my teachings when a publisher approached me in 1997 about doing more with them. I bounced around to a couple of different publishers before founding Electric Comics. Now I also license the characters to Jewish camps and to some kosher brands, and sell kids’ costumes.”
I think it's a great idea. But wouldn't it also be nice if this concept was fleshed out a bit and brought into the more adult and/or adolescent realm? Because heroes with names like Dreidel Maidel and the Kipa Kid, while probably catchy and fun for 5 to 8-year-olds, probably won't (ahem) fly with the older crowd.

Personally, I think it'd be cool to see what Alan Moore, Frank Miller or Neil Gaiman could do with the concept.

And for all the current, once and future comic geeks who are interested in this sort of thing, there's a fantastic site that compiles comic book heroes by their religion. You can find all the Jewish heroes in popular comics at the Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters site. Check out all the heroes you might not have known were secretly "of the tribe." It may surprise you.


Jorge said...

This is great! Children should grow up with Jewish role models. Even fictitious Jewish action heroes.

Gone are the days of the little Jewish kid getting beat up on the corner (except in France, perhaps). Now he has Menorah Man to come to his rescue!

Are they available in Spanish?

Jorge said...

Blintz - I posted a reply to your question on the JUMP posting.

I for one would really like to know who the Heebonics bloggers are.

Jorge said...

Blintz -- I posted my response on the Facebook entry, not the JUMP story.

FrumDaddy said...

My son loves "Shalom Man". A comic book geared towards Orthodox youth.

Blintzkrieg said...


See my response in the Facebook post.

And Frumdaddy... I never heard of Shalom Man. That's cool!

Steve Bergson said...

Shalom, eh? (my Canuck-Jewish greeting)

Those who have been reading my (rather outdated) Jewish comics bibliography or my (more up-to-date, but still getting a backlog of material for entries) Jewish comics blog already know about Shaloman (only one "m", no space), the Jewish Hero Corps, Rabbi Harvey and a host of other Jewish heroes and characters that have graced the comic book, comic strip, and graphic novel pages.

Officially launched just last month (and still being worked on a tiny bit), Israel in Comics is a blog I created to serve as an online version and addenda to the in-person Powerpoint presentation I gave in Cleveland in late June. A nice look back (& forward) at how Israel & Israelis have been depcited in this special 60th anniversary year (which is also the 75th anniversary of the American comic book).

I also have most of the comics whose pages or covers I scanned for the blog, but I don't think anyone in Canada is interested in using them for an exhibition.