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)
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.