This morning, I have hard time finding words to describe what happened this week-end at the first Jewish Comic Con in Brooklyn. This new convention that nobody thought could exist, DID happen yesterday. And it was an outstanding success. We wanted to honor the founders of the comic book industry and help an old synagogue getting back to its most glorious times: Mission accomplished! Driven by passion, Fred Polaniecki and myself managed to get this event off the ground, with the help of a small group of volunteers and the participation of a stellar cast of creators. I want to thank Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld, Isaac Goodhart, Ben Khun, Julian Voloj, Will Torres, Alex Teplish, Jordan Gorfinkel, Israeli Defense Comics, Mort Gerberg, Sholly Fisch, Greg Pak and Rabbi Friedman for believing not only that a man could fly, but also that a Jewish Comic Con could become a reality. It’s not easy to trust people with no prior experience in con organization to pull it off. But they did. They put their faith in Fred Polaniecki, the President of the Kol Israel synagogue in Brooklyn, and myself. I want to give a special shoutout to the moderators of the panels, Danny Fingeroth and Arie Kaplan. You were fabulous. I couldn’t have made it without you.
I want to thank the volunteers too and the audience for showing up! A very diverse and intelligent audience. Who asked questions. Who bought content from our talent and bid at the Silent Auction.
I’m totally underwhelmed today.
One of the members of Kol Israel came to me after the show and said: “thank you, you put our synagogue on the map”. I couldn’t be more pleased. The Jewish Comic Con was as much another love letter to comics as it’s a personal journey to reconcile my identities. I’m French. I’m Jewish. I’m a comic book creator. And if I had sometimes doubts about staying in this industry, I’m now more motivated than ever to stick there and open new doors for myself and the talents around me.
There are a lot of glass ceilings to break. There’s a lot more diversity to bring to our industry, not just in ethnicities or gender, but also in culture and ideas. I’m glad that the initial idea to bring different people together under one roof, a temple, stuck until the end.
I’m proud that there was a Christian creator and a muslim woman came to talk about comics and faith under the guidance of my old friend and hugely talented creator Jordan Gorfinkel.
I’m thrilled that whatever you define yourself as, there’s room for you in a Jewish Comic Con.
A lot of journalists came. I never thought in a million years that I’d see my face in the international press. In the Wall St Journal. Then in one of the major Israeli outlets, Haaretz. ME… The little kid from Paris, France. I feel so humbled. Gizmodo, ComicsBeat, Newsarama, Jewish Week, New York Magazine, Time Out, Channel 12 and more… This convention opened doors and minds. Suddenly, everything became possible.
All of them asked the same question: “Why a Jewish Comic Con?”.
Beside the obvious answer that I’ve been giving for months (honoring the Golden Age creators, helping the synagogue), there’s also an interesting phenomenon. The convention took place a few days after a major election which will impact the United States and the world.
Comics were created in times of great turmoil. 1938. One year before World War 2. And from their inception, comics have carried a message of unity and hope.
We’re 2016. Division is everywhere. It reminds me of that Prince song from 2004, “the United States of Division”. He sings:
“A united state of mind will never be divided
The real definition of unity is 1
People can slam their door, disagree and fight it
But how U gonna love the Father but not love the Son?
United States of Division
Walkin’ down the street, no flag in hand
No stars and stripes, no claim 2 land
No crescent moon, just a holy man, holy man
How far from heaven must we go
Before the winds of change will blow and show
This world how it’s supposed 2 be
Land of peace and harmony?
Everybody stop fighting
Everybody make love
Everybody stop fighting
United States of Division”
The Jewish Comic Con brought comics full circle this weekend. We humbly organized our small event with a big heart. Staying faithful to the message the founders delivered: unity and hope.
Can comics change the world? Not alone. But we’ll never stop trying.
Thanks to everyone who came and talked to me. Thanks to those who wanted to come but couldn’t.
JEWISH COMIC CON WILL BE BACK IN 2017!!!!
That’s the end? No. I’m going to back to write INTERTWINED and develop all kinds of new projects.
To be continued.