Horn Book reviews Hereville: “Unique, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoroughly engrossing.”

On October 28, 2010 · Comments Off on Horn Book reviews Hereville: “Unique, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoroughly engrossing.”

From Horn Book Magazine:

Eleven-year-old Mirka Herschberg is not your average dragon-slaying heroine. For starters, she’s a Hasidic Jew. Then there are the crazy quarrels with her stepmother, Fruma, who defends one side of an argument, then, in a heartbeat, switches to the other. Case in point: “You want to slaughter innocent dragons? How could you?” quickly morphs into “Mirka! You mean you’d let a dragon devour me and the whole town? How could you?” With her ankle-length skirt and long-sleeved shirt, Mirka certainly doesn’t look like she’s ready to take on a fire-breathing monster.

And that’s a large part of this graphic novel’s charm: the very traditional versus the super fantastical. It’s a contrast that Deutsch plays with in both his story line and his illustrations. His Shabbat-observing protagonist (who first appeared in a shorter webcomic) soon finds herself up against a talking pig who vows: “I will rip the chupa at your wedding! I will take your firstborn child! I will knock over the casket at your funeral!” The source of all this porcine fury? Mirka stole a single grape from the pig’s garden. After besting this very non-Jewish foe, she’s in for another adventure. What’s involved? A troll, a knitting contest, and a sword fit for a dragonslayer.

Deutsch’s graphic novel is unique, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoroughly engrossing. Sequel, please!

—Tanya Auger, Horn Book Magazine

Information about purchasing Hereville can be found here.

Jewish women in pop culture #2: Cristina Yang

On October 27, 2010 · 6 Comments

Yes, Cristina Yang is Jewish. Plus, I’ve been a huge Sandra Oh fan since “Sideways,” so it was fun for me to sketch her.

Barry Interviewed By Publisher’s Weekly!

On October 27, 2010 · Comments Off on Barry Interviewed By Publisher’s Weekly!

Publisher’s Weekly just posted a medium-length interview with me about Hereville. Here’s a sample:

PWCW: Mirka is a very convincing character, especially in her moments of reflection and self-doubt. How were you able to get into the head of an 11-year-old Hasidic girl?

BD: Well, research helps, of course. I’ve read a lot of nonfiction about life in Hasidic communities, the most helpful of which was Stephanie Levine’s Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers. I also read novels written by women who had grown up in Orthodox communities, like Naomi Ragen. I read a lot of websites written by Orthodox Jews, especially websites by girls or women. But the most important thing to know is that people are people. Male writers who worry about “how women think,” as if women are a different species from men, make things needlessly hard. Research is important, but in the end, Mirka’s a person, I’m a person, and so we have a lot in common for me to draw on when I’m writing Mirka.

PWCW: Another thing that struck me was how well the characters deal with the gender roles of a traditional society. They don’t totally conform, but they aren’t all rebels, either. How were you, as an outsider, able to gain insight into that?

BD: Research! There’s a lot of information out there about gender roles in Hasidic communities, if you look for it. My own politics are pretty feminist, and as a kid I was lousy at fulfilling the “boy” gender role. So it’s natural that I’m drawn to a character like Mirka, a girl rebelling against her community’s gender expectations. That’s material I’m always comfortable writing.

But I also wanted to be fair in how I present the setting, and the truth is that most girls in a community like Mirka’s fit in better than Mirka does, and are happy to do so. I wanted to show that in the comic. So we have Rochel, who—to my mind—is one of those people with a talent for happiness, and is mostly comfortable with what the world expects from her. And we have Gittel, who is a more prickly person, and has well-founded worries about her future—but who is sincerely dedicated to her role as a girl, and really wants most of all to be a good mother someday.

My thanks to Brigid Alverson, the interviewer, who did a great job. There’s lots more, so go over there to read the whole thing!

Comics Related: Hereville is a “witty little gem” of a book

On October 26, 2010 · Comments Off on Comics Related: Hereville is a “witty little gem” of a book

Chuck Moore of Comics Related reviews Hereville:

I’ve always been excited by stories that take me into another culture or community that’s a bit outside my normal zone of experience. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (subtitled “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl”) may be written with a younger target audience in mind, but its wistful, relaxed air transports the reader into a very realistic world filled with Orthodox Jewish life and culture. I found it to be a welcome place to visit.

The story and art is by Barry Deutsch who has won the national Charles M. Schulz award for best college cartoonist (2000) and is part of the Portland creator community. The book is colored by Jake Richmond. The art and visual impact of the story is quite impressive. From the way this story is laid out to the use of detail as narrative cues, there is a simple quality here that I really respect. The more I look back through the book, the more detail and creativity I find to catch my eye. Visually, from the moment I saw it, I know it would be my next review as it’s a beautiful book to read. I can understand why Deutsch is award winning in his work.

Thanks, Chuck! Go over there to read the entire review.

The Official Hereville Premiere Event! November 4th, 7:30pm

On October 26, 2010 · Comments Off on The Official Hereville Premiere Event! November 4th, 7:30pm

When: Thursday, November 4th, 7:30pm
What: The official premiere of the Hereville graphic novel. Cartoonist Barry Deutsch will narrate a slideshow about Hereville, to be followed by a book signing. Colorist Jake Richmond will also attend.
Where: Powell’s on Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon.

“What do you get when you cross Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Isaac Bashevis Singer?”

The Washington Post on Hereville

Hereville, a new hardcover, color graphic novel is officially being released by Abrams on November 1st. The official premier event will take place at Powell’s on Hawthorne on November 4th.

Hereville is the story of Mirka, an 11-year-old girl being raised in an extremely traditional Jewish community. But all Mirka wants to do is fight monsters — which isn’t so traditional for a girl in her community. Hereville is about Mirka’s magical adventures (she meets a witch, a troll, and an extremely grumpy pig), and also about Mirka’s family and community. And reviewers are saying that Hereville is one of the best graphic novels of the year.

Hereville was originally a webcomic, and then a self-published floppy comic, with a first run of 100 copies. When the self-published comic was premiered at Stumptown Comics Fest, Hereville received serious interest from two different publishers and an agent. Two years later, the graphic novel of Hereville — much expanded and redrawn from the earlier comic — is finally in stores.

FOUR STARS for Hereville:

“Mirka is the heroine that girlhood dreams are made of… Hereville is pure enchantment.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

Undoubtedly one of the cleverest graphic novels of the year.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A terrific story, told with skill and lots of heart, that readers of all ages will enjoy.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An elegant, subtle examination into the gender roles, deep religious roots, and everyday cultural elements of an Orthodox Jewish society, while also being a witty, enormously clever adventure quest featuring a girl who will happily and firmly inform you that she is, indeed, hero material.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

For further information about Hereville… please explore this website.

Under Appearances

“Good Comics For Kids” Review

On October 25, 2010 · Comments Off on “Good Comics For Kids” Review

On School Library Journal’s “Good Comics For Kids” blog, Robin Brenner gives Hereville a very nice mention. This is from back in September, but somehow I didn’t see it until this week.

This past week I finally got my copy of the enchanting Hereville, from Barry Deutsch, following the troll-slaying, one-day-dragon-defeating adventures of Mirka, an eleven year old Orthodox Jewish girl. As with the recent Tower of Treasure, I’m a sucker for any story involving a kick-butt girl seeking adventure and defeating enemies with her smarts, and Hereville definitely falls into that category, but it is also gives a charming portrait of Mirka, her family, and her world. This is just the kind of book that allows for a look into Orthodox culture without feeling either instructional or full of infodumps: Mirka is determined to be a hero, but her being an Orthodox Jew informs how she goes about that. The art is inviting and stretches reality just enough to encompass Mirka’s magical adventures without losing its realism.

Preview: Page 107, before and after

On October 25, 2010 · 2 Comments

Here’s a preview page from “Hereville.” These preview pages can have spoilers, so don’t look if you’d rather not see!

This time I’m showing one of the pages that got redrawn between the first version of Hereville, and the graphic novel. I show both versions, so you can see how they compare.

(Info on buying Hereville is here.)

Page 107 from the graphic novel:

Compare that to page 27 from the earlier, self-published “Hereville”:

Mostly just a new inking and coloring job, plus I did a fair amount of redrawing heads and faces in minor ways. But I also made a big change, replacing four panels from the original with one larger, rewritten panel.

Why the change? First of all, the way the cut panels were written felt a little “out of character” for Mirka — that kind of over-the-top sarcasm doesn’t seem like her. Having her yell like Lucy yelling at Linus seemed much better.

Secondly, to me having lots of long narrow panels on a page indicates tension. But having that many long narrow panels on this page struck me as going over-the-top with the tension for this point in the scene, and didn’t leave much room for building up to more tension later on in this scene. Cutting down from 9 to 6 panels “relaxes” this page a lot, to my eye. (So did getting rid of the not-very-meaningful trailing of Mirka to the edge of the page in the bottom row of panels).

Plus, I love the “pushing Zindel with the word balloon” effect (something I swiped from Dave Sim’s comic book Cerebus, although many other cartoonists have done it — most famously Charles Schulz in Peanuts). The new panel is one of my favorite panels in the entire book.

Under CTA, Previews, Process

Jewish Women In Pop Culture #1: Kitty Pryde

On October 25, 2010 · 4 Comments

First in a series:

Kitty Pryde, from the X-Men, sneaking an orange onto the Seder plate.

LA Times Review: “The Perfect Bat Mitzvah Gift”

On October 22, 2010 · Comments Off on LA Times Review: “The Perfect Bat Mitzvah Gift”

In the LA Times, Sonja Bolle confesses that she’s never really liked graphic novels, but says that she’s now fallen in love with one for the first time. Yay!

The first tickle in “Hereville,” for me, came from the Yiddish words sprinkled throughout the text, which are marked with an asterisk and translated at the bottom of the page. Yiddish, a singularly nuanced and expressive language, lends itself to translation at many levels of speech; Deutsch introduces a new level, which I would call “comic-book speak,” so that “oy gevalt!” (a cry of suffering or frustration) becomes “sheesh!” It’s a perfect translation — le mot juste, indeed.

Deutsch elegantly explains the special atmosphere of shabbos (the sabbath) in Jewish tradition. The adventure in the story comes skidding to a halt at sundown on Friday night, because “troll killing, Mirka understood, was not a Shabbos thing.” For several pages, the pictures take on a leisurely pace, while the family lights candles, sings, prays, naps. But the moment “uvdin d’chol” — the weekday things — resume, Mirka is back at her mission. “Fruma, how do I kill a troll?” she asks her stepmother. […]

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but put the right few pictures together with the right thousand words, and you’ve got a great graphic novel…

(Read the whole review here.)

This is my first review in a really major newspaper, that I know of! Very neat. Hard to believe, actually. Plus, I’m glad she singled out the “sheesh!” translation, which is one of my favorite jokes in the entire book.

Information on buying Hereville is here.

Mirka in a Robin costume

On October 21, 2010 · 4 Comments

Quick sketch done in the book of some Robin fans.

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