Weekly Kibbitz: Jewish Creators, Fans Feel Snubbed by New York Comic Con

General atmosphere on convention floor during Comic Con 2019 at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. (Photo by Sam Aronov/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images via JTA.org)

By Jacob Henry

New York Comic Con is one of the biggest pop-culture events of the year, where fans come to celebrate their love of comic books, graphic novels, anime and video games — and the movies and television shows based on them.
Stars like Oscar Isaac and Drew Barrymore show up to reveal new projects, while fans tend to dress as their favorite characters.
The event, which ran from Oct. 6-9 at the Jacob Javits Center, is also an occasion for dozens of panels, ranging from star-studded reveals of new projects to serious examinations of trends in the industry. Some panels talked about diversity in the comic world; this year’s lineup included separate discussions of Muslim, Asian and Latino representation in comic books.
There was not, however, any discussion of Jewish representation in the field. The New York Jewish Week learned that at least two panels with a focus on Jewish representation in comic books and the entertainment industry were rejected by New York Comic Con’s parent company, ReedPop, despite the success of similar panels at previous conventions and in earlier years.
For the proponents of these panels and some Jewish fans, it was a notable oversight for an industry whose pioneers included a number of Jews, especially at a time when the pop-culture industry in general is focusing on diversity in its portrayals and among its creators.
Michal Schick, one of three Orthodox women who host the podcast “Nice Jewish Fangirls,” said that her panel about discussing Jewish representation was rejected by New York Comic Con after holding successful panels at the event from 2017 to 2019, pre-pandemic.
“We filled the room,” Schick said. “It was a 200-person room. I think we were the only Jewish thing on the schedule then, too.”
After taking a break due to COVID, Schick said she was hoping to do another panel this year discussing how the entertainment industry can tell “respectful and exciting Jewish stories.”
“I understand it’s a very difficult thing to schedule panels at a convention,” he stated. “I think this is more likely just a lack of care than an intentional exclusion.”
Arnon Z. Shorr, an author and filmmaker who was featured in a panel called “The New Face of Jewish Comics” at the San Diego Comic Con in July, said that the same panel was rejected from this year’s New York Comic Con.
“That panel went really well,” Shorr said. “People seemed to respond very positively to it.”
He made it a point to add that the panel did focus on Jewish representation in ways “that break past a lot of the tropes that we get in popular media.”
“A lot of the people who came up to me after the panel said that this was really vital,” Shorr said. “The sense that I got was that there was a hunger for exploring Jewish identity as it’s expressed through comics in the way that we explore so many other identities these days.”


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