Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Diss a System?

Milt Gross's name may not be as well remembered as a Rube Goldberg or an Al Capp, but with all dues respect to those men, his impact was larger. Gross changed cartooning, American language, Jewish identity, and the way we perceive the immigrant experience.

In other words, a pretty big deal.

There's a new book on Gross out from NYU press edited and introduced by Ari Kelman. There's also a good review in the New Republic by Jenna Weissman Joselit. Ms. Joselit does an excellent job putting Gross's use of language in historical and cultural context. She fails to mention, however, that Gross's masterwork contained no Yiddish whatsoever. Nor any English for that matter. It was the 1930 graphic novel He Done Her Wrong (subtitled "The Great American Novel and Not a Word in It — No Music, Too").

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