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Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Source: Susan Karlin, Using Comics to Educate about the HolocaustCo.Create, July 19, 2013.

For several years, legendary comic illustrator Neil Adams and Holocaust historian Rafael Medoff have partnered on projects that use comics and animation to teach about the Nazi genocide.

Their first DVD–They Spoke Out: American Voices of Protest Against the Holocaust–debuts at San Diego Comic-Con with an exclusive July 19 screening and panel discussion with Adams and Medoff. Episodes can be viewed at TheySpokeOut.com, and the DVD will be on sale at booths 1709 and 1829, where Adams will be signing copies.

“We’re not throwing the Holocaust at you,” says Adams. “We’re offering a way to help American kids experience the Holocaust through these videos, so they can make their own decisions as to how deeply they want to go into further study.”

Created by Disney Educational Productions and the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studiesin Washington, D.C., it features six 10-minute motion comic episodes illustrated and mostly narrated by Adams–best known for his dynamic style and work on Batman and X-Men–and written by Medoff, the Wyman Institute director and author of 14 books. The episodes blend traditional animation and comic book-style illustrations with newsreel footage, photographs, and historical documents.

“Teens raised on YouTube, video games, and other visual media are likely to be more receptive to comic books about the Holocaust than heavy textbooks about the Holocaust,” says Medoff. “This presents today’s educators with a whole new set of challenges.”

One episode, Messenger from Hell, is narrated by former Marvel Comics chairman Stan Lee, cocreator of Spider-Man, Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.Messenger tells the story of a Polish courier, Jan Karski, who smuggled himself into the Warsaw Ghetto and the outskirts of the Belzec death camp, then risked his life to bring the news of the Holocaust to the free world. The DVD release coincides with the 70th anniversary of Karski’s meeting at the White House with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Another episode is The Dina Babbitt Story about a teenage cartoonist and future Warner Brothers animator who survived Auschwitz by painting prisoner portraits for Josef Mengele. Before Babbitt died in 2009, Adams and Medoff (along with the late comic legend Joe Kubert) attempted to retrieve her art from The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland, by auctioning original artwork by noted comic illustrators to earn money for her legal bills.

“My work with Neal Adams began when I approached him about Dina Babbitt’s struggle–she was an artist fighting for the return of her original art,” says Medoff. “Neal had led the courageous and successful fight in the 1970s to convince comic book publishers to return original art to the artists. As Neal and I were talking about ways to help publicize Dina’s cause, he said, ‘Let’s do a comic strip about it.’ The strip was called The Last Outrage and was published by Marvel. That brought a tremendous amount of attention to Dina’s plight. Then Disney Educational Productions suggested making The Last Outrage into a motion comic, which led to the They Spoke Out series.”

Read the full article.

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Sam Glanzmans comic There Were Tears in Her Eyes

Sam Glanzman, “There Were Tears in Her Eyes”, in 9/11 The World’s Finest Comic Book Writers and Artists Tell Stories to Remember, Vol. 2, Jennete Khan (ed.), New York, DC Comics, 2002, pp. 207-210. In this four-page graphic story, the Holocaust is evoked to support America’s War on Terror. This and other examples have been keenly analyzed by Juanjo Bermúdez de Castro in his article Nine-Elevenismo (L’Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques, 7/2011. The article is in Spanish). We thank Prof. Bermúdez de Castro for the image.

“One memorable image from Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah eventually acquired the status of the film’s visual ‘logo’, or signature. It is the smiling face of Henrik Gakowski driving a locomotive against the backdrop of a railroad sign proclaiming ‘Treblinka’. He looks back to the imaginary wagons behind him and slashes his finger across his throat in a gesture of ‘warning’. During the war this warning gesture was used by the Polish man, who worked for the Germans as a locomotive driver, to signal to the ‘ignorant’ Jews crowded in the transport trains leading them to extermination what kind of fate awaited them. (…) Almost a decade later a similar image was used in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. This time, however, the image of warning bore Spielberg’s auteuristic vision. The performer of the warning gesture was not an old Polish man but a small child, and the disturbing ambivalence invoked by Gakowski’s facial expression was replaced by an explicitly sadistic expression. In addition, in Spielberg’s film the trains full of Jews rumble not toward Treblinka but toward Auschwitz, ‘the most significant memorial site of the Shoah'”. (Yosefa Loshitsky, Holocaust Others. Spielberg’s Schindler’s List versus Lanzmann’s Shoah, in Id., Spielberg’s Holocaust, p. 104).

The same gesture returns, ten years later, in Pascal Croci’s graphic novel Auschwitz (2002). Croci is a French comic artist born in 1961. He has worked on the Auschwitz project for five years, doing extensive research and interviewing several Holocaust survivors.