The answer to this is Jordan B. Gorfinkel, AKA Gorf. Or frog backwards, as he likes to remind people.
Gorf is a comic book creator, newspaper cartoonist and an animation and multimedia entertain-ment producer. He was an editor at DC Comics where he managed no less than the Batman franchise.
Now, geek out on this: In 1999, Gorfinkel conceived and directed the critically and commercially acclaimed Batman: No Man’s Land which was the inspiration for the film Batman Begins. And Birds of Prey, the most successful comic book series starring women since Wonder Woman, was also one of his projects.
As a cartoonist, he writes and illustrates Everything’s Relative, the weekly comic-strip published internationally. In 2007, the Munich Jewish Museum commissioned a series of Everything’s Relative to be featured in their permanent collection, making Gorfinkel the first cartoonist in the world to be so honoured in a Jewish museum.
But when asked for his CV, he likes to say, “Born, barmitzvah, Batman!”
Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot? Well, this year your seder can certainly be different, as last year Gorf conceived and wrote the world’s first Passover Haggadah graphic novel. It is illustrated in colour by Israeli artist Erez Zadok, a graduate from Bezalel Academy of Arts, Jerusalem. If you are a fan of Bored Panda or spend time on Instagram, you will be familiar with Erez’s illustrated series about his family and his dog, Bundle of Joya, which went viral last year.
The Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel integrates a new modern English translation alongside the unabridged traditional Seder service text in Hebrew, with sophisticated sequential art that brings our epic founding memory to life.
The text is on the right-hand pages, while the left-hand pages contain the action-packed frames of the graphic novel telling the Passover tale, moving between modern and ancient times to show the continued relevance of the story. It is accompanied by ‘how to’ instructional cartoons depicting all the rituals celebrated every year for the last 4000 years or so in Jewish homes around the world.
A further element that was important to the duo was including something about every tribe of the Jewish people. For example, the inclusion of Operation Solomon, the 1991 exodus of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. This is used as a comparison between leaving Egypt and leaving Ethiopia.
The Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel draws on the universal themes of freedom, memory and faith to immerse every generation in the timeless celebration of Pesach.
Now for the Limmud connections, Firstly, the suggestion of working with Erez Zadok was given to Gorf while he was standing in a Limmud supper queue. And the second Limmud connection… Jordan B. Gorfinkel will be a presenter right here in Cape Town at Limmud 2020. (We promise to have no supper queues!)
He speaks entertainingly and energetically on a range of topics around the intersection of religion and pop culture, e.g, how everything he learned about Passover he learned from Batman, and about Moses and superheroes, and might even offer a Jewish cartoon workshop.
His Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel will be on sale at Limmud, but if you can’t wait until August, it can be ordered on Amazon.* Bring it along to Limmud to be signed by Gorf himself!
Limmud Cape Town 2020 will take place from 21 to 23 August. For more information visit www.limmud.org.za
*Matzah sold separately!
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