MINDY NEWELL: “Superman? He Must Be Jewish!”

Mindy Newell

These days Mindy Newell knows that if she could do it all over again she’d have gone to college for screenwriting and film editing. Instead she became a nurse to please her parents and pleasing your parents was what it was all about for nice Jewish girls who graduated from high school in 1971. But the creative larva was in her soul, and when the cocoon broke and the butterfly emerged, it flew to DC’s New Talent Showcase program. Under the auspices of legendary editors Karen Berger, Len Wein, Julius Schwartz, Paul Levitz, and ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger, Mindy learned the craft and art of writing comics, including Tales Of The Legion, V, Legionnaires 3, Amethyst, Lois Lane: When It Rains God Is Crying, and numerous other comics, including a Superman story based on a dream Mindy had as a child. She also worked on Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! and other independent comics. All this time Mindy continued to work as a nurse while being a single mom to her daughter Alixandra, until the late and dear Mark Gruenwald hired her as an assistant editor at Marvel, while writing stories of the Black Widow and Daredevil. She edited NFL Pro Action, a licensed kid’s magazine about football with the NFL until Marvel imploded in 1996. Returning to full-time nursing, she she also co-wrote a story for 2000 A.D. with her then-husband, British artist John Higgins. A few years ago Mike Gold called and asked her to join the team of columnists here at ComicMix, where her topics freely range from comics to pop culture to politics; she even wrote a piece about the great American thoroughbred Secretariat, which caused editor Mike to tell her that she had won the prize for the most off-topic column ever written ComicMix.

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10 Responses

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    This reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: How do we know that Jesus was Jewish?

    He lived at home until he was 30, he went into his father’s business, and his mother thought he was God.

  2. mike weber says:

    I dunno about Superman, but i never doubted for a moment that The Spirit was, despite hisWASPY name.

  3. Jess Willey says:

    I had a friend tried to convince that Superman was a modernization of the Christ story. (This was about five years after Reign of the Supermen.) I argued that with his creators being named Siegel and Shuster– he was probably a modernized Moses. Of course I’m sure Joseph Campbell would have said ‘You’re both right and you’re both wrong…’.

  4. George Haberberger says:

    Hey Martha, that’s one of my favorite jokes too.

    I’ve always heard the Superman/Moses parallel, which if it wasn’t intentional, is eerily analogous.

  5. El Hombre Malo says:

    I prefer Morrison’s interpretation of Superman as a socialist hero but then that doesnt prevent him from beign Jewish, much to the contrary.

  6. Jess Willey says:

    Superman the socialist is Siegel and Shuster again… They had an issue where he harassed tenement owners and tricked the national guard into bombing out rat infested apartments so he could build the people new better apartments.

  7. Mike Gold says:

    I don’t know how religious Siegel and Shuster were — particularly back in their teenage years, when they created the concept. But it is likely that one or both were raised in what we consider today to be a very religious environment. Cleveland had a significantly large Jewish community. Toronto, not so much.

    Will Eisner, on the other hand, was very aware of the influences of his spiritual upbringing. His stories (and Feiffer’s, for that matter) revolved around the world in which he grew up — The Spirit might not have been Jewish, but his Central City was very Bronx-Jewish.

    On the third hand, if it’s the Jewish mythological influence on storytelling you’re looking for, you need not go further than Jack Kirby.

  8. When I was a little kid and found out that Jewish kids got gifts for 8 days during Chanukkah I told my mom I wanted to be Jewish.

    EVERY Christmas since then I’ve reminded of that. Usually in front of a lot of people.