Hey everyone! Thank you for being patient for me during my recovery from surgery. Everything went well and I’ve recovered pretty fast. Except for beginning to get some bouts of nausea (it has something to do with how I cannot digest fats as well anymore), I’m doing quite well. Also, thank you to Kris and Angel who contributed two excellent blog posts during my absence.
A few posts ago, I told you that I would probably pick up a few new webcomics to talk about from APE and I did! I met the creator I’m about to introduce to you there while my boyfriend was chatting with a friend at the booth next door.
Let me show you what first caught my eye…
Turns out, Michael Jonathan is Jewish is about the author’s trip to Israel on a birthright trip. (If you are a Jewish kid of a certain age, you can get a free trip to Israel if you’ve never been before. The point is to teach you about Israel, your heritage, party with other kids, etc.) Michael Jonathan also has a webcomic, Eros Inc., about a Jewish girl who becomes the cupid (read: matchmaker) of a Los Angeles neighborhood. I’m going to talk about both in this post.
Eros Inc. predates Michael Jonathan is Jewish, so we’ll start there. At first, I was a little turned off by the early artwork for the webcomic. It’s not very pretty to look at and I found it a little hard to read. Having read Michael Jonathan is Jewish, however, I knew that the art had improved with age and practice. Story-wise, it’s pretty charming. Mot Fleischman becomes the new cupid of Silverlake after her predecessor gropes her before bursting into a million hearts. That’s the kind of special comic it is.
After gaining the power to point people in the right direction (cupid-ing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to strike a life-long match), Mot also gains a whimsical, but rather annoying manager, a ton of cats, a demanding boyfriend and a mustachioed Czech colleague. There are lots of zany adventures in match-making, personal romance and general WTF-ery. Turns out when you’re a cupid, sassy little cherubim deliver your assignments in cheesy hallmark cards and you get paid in candy hearts which you can trade for prizes at the local kiddie arcade.
What I like so much about Eros Inc. is the little human dramas and the kind of awful puns of the aforementioned manager, but also the acknowledgment that Mot is Jewish (and therefore does occasional Jewish things) and all the references to random spots in LA like the supermarket that is walking distance from my apartment. It all just comes together for me. (Although I understand if you don’t get the LA references.) Since Michael Jonathan lives in Silverlake and is Jewish himself, it kind of is like writing what you know, but it’s so charming I don’t care.
On the other hand, Michael Jonathan is Jewish hasn’t quite hit it’s stride for me yet. Unlike other travelogue comics I’ve read like Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle, there’s nothing automatically interesting about the narrative, like a sarcastic attitude towards oppressive politics or truly remarkable encounters. Michael Jonathan does struggle with a disconnection from being religious, but his attention is largely focused on giving us a rundown of everything he does on the trip. I cannot really fault him for this approach because a short birthright trip obviously doesn’t have as much material to choose from as a year spent living in a foreign country, but I’m still waiting for the sweet spot to come around. Still, there are other aspects that are of interest, like learning about different aspects of Judaism in layman’s terms and the interesting Israeli artists the creative group of travelers meets along the way.
Either way, I’m planning to continue reading both Eros Inc. and Micheal Jonathan is Jewish because I really enjoyed them both and he put up with my ramblings about being Jewish for a few minutes at APE. If nothing else, check out Michael Jonathan’s store filled with adorable buttons, greeting cards and mini-comics.