ComicMix Review of “Hereville”

On May 22, 2008 · Comments Off on ComicMix Review of “Hereville”

My pal Elayne Riggs has posted a nice review of “Hereville” on ComicMix, a major comics website. Really interesting stuff. Here’s a sample:

I don’t think we’re meant to derive a specific setting as much as a general feeling, and on that count Hereville succeeds marvelously. We become privy to a whole culture — one with which, given my upbringing, I could pretty easily identify — and family interrelationships, as well as universal experiences like bravery, ambition, cleverness and dreaming big.

Our protagonist, Mirka Herschberg, doesn’t seem to crave too much of the outside world anyway. We know she wants to vanquish evil in the way of the knights of eld — first she decides she wants to slay dragons, and then later her aim is to battle a troll — but what she doesn’t want to do seems ambiguous. She dislikes the “womanly arts” her stepmother (not an evil stepmother, by the way, a very welcome change from the usual in these sorts of stories) attempts to teach her, skills which, naturally, she will grow to need as the narrative reaches its climax. On the other hand, she accepts unquestioningly the bigger picture, that of the severe gender separation within the Jewish culture as a whole.

And I think back to when I was an 11-year-old tomboy, and I think, “So did I.” Sure, I wanted to play baseball and have lawn-mowing as one of my chores instead of doing the dishes or vacuuming, but I hadn’t yet arrived at the point where I’d find myself in a couple of years, finally questioning the morning prayer where men thanked God for not making them female and women substituted that prayer with one which thanked God for “making me as I am” (i.e., dutifully and even joyfully accepting second-class citizenship). Mirka’s not meant to be a bigger-picture “why don’t we have a feminist haggadah” and “heck with it, women should be on the bima and maybe, just maybe, God isn’t actually male” revolutionary yet. She’s still navigating the treacherous waters of pre-adolescent adventure.

At the same time, she’s able to participate in and marvel at what she considers to be a pretty comforting lifestyle from her point of view. Sure, she may not wish to sew or cook, and she cleans the house and polishes the candlesticks somewhat grudgingly, but she absolutely delights in observing the Sabbath with relatives and friends. She enjoys the community it brings her, the intellectual opportunities, the specialness. There’s a lot of the 11-year-old me there, except Mirka doesn’t seem to fall asleep in the pews at the Shabbos service the way I always did.

Elayne also has an interesting discussion of the art, which I always appreciate. But to read that, you’ll have to go read the whole thing.

Comments are closed.

School Visits
I love doing author visits, either in person or over the internet via Skype! Click here for information about having me speak at your school.