Rabbi Harvey Comes To Comics
The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey
Written and Drawn by Steve Sheinkin
At Book Expo this year, I was surprised by the number of publishers producing graphic novels. Your classic comics publishers were there, your Marvel and your DC, your Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterliy your IDW, Dark Horse, Viz, TokyoPop and so on. There were publishers such as Simon and Shuster, Harry Abrams, Houghton Miflin and other literary publishers with an eye on a growing market.
Now, I know that Jews pretty much invented the comics business in general and super-hero comics in particular. I knew this even before I read Gerard Jones’ great Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book. And I’ve always felt this makes sense, that the Jewish people, with their history of hiding from exposure and keeping their identities secret, were the models for the genre.
Still, I never thought I’d see a Jewish publisher create original comics to tell religious stories. We’re the Chosen People. We don’t preach, nor do we attempt to convert. We are not Jack Chick. So I was surprised to see that Jewish Lights Publishing had a graphic novel in their line. What will the goyim think?
I need not have worried. The book, The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey, is adorable. The story of a Rabbi in the fictional Elk Springs, Colorado, during cowboy times, follows the rebbe in question as he dispenses his wisdom to his flock with "the best advice west of the Mississippi." Everyone (with one brief exception) is Jewish, including the outlaws, who have names like "Big Milt" Wasserman, Danny "The Lion" Levy and Moses "Matzah Man" Goldwater.
There’s no gunslinging, no cattle rustling, no showdowns at any corral. Instead, Sheinkin uses a very simple style to retell some of his favorite folk-tales of rabbinic wisdom. I loved these stories when I was a kid, and it’s wonderful to have these versions to share with the kids in my life.
Jewish Lights also publishes Stan Mack’s The Story of the Jews: A 4,000 Year Adventure.