Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Making Survivors into Superheroes

CHUTZ-POW!, a comic series based on stories of survivors of the Holocaust, brings together inspiration and education for future generations. Volume 3 will be released this month with an accompanying art exhibition.






photos by Marcel L. Walker

 

When we think of superheroes, figures like Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman and Batman come to mind. But, thanks to an initiative of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, real people could also be included in that category. “CHUTZ-POW!,” a series of comic books designed by a team of artists and writers throughout Pittsburgh, features real-life stories of Holocaust survivors; the third volume is being released this month. 

“The survivors trust us with their stories,” says Zachary Zafris, former Holocaust Center development manager and past editor of “CHUTZ-POW!” 

The series name is inspired by the Yiddish word “chutzpah,” meaning boldness. Volume 3 focuses on Holocaust survivors who were children during that time and later settled in Pittsburgh. 

“This is more than just a project — this is a piece of them that they are telling,” Zafris says.

The idea for the series stemmed from a committee that was formed at the Holocaust Center to use comics art as part of efforts to revamp Holocaust education. That committee featured Wayne Wise, lead project writer of “CHUTZ-POW!,” and Joe Wos, founder of Toonseum, the Downtown museum dedicated to cartoon art. Committee members eventually decided to produce a comic book, plus an accompanying traveling art exhibit. The first art component debuted at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2014; since then, the project has expended so much that Marcel Walker, current “CHUTZ-POW!” editor, lead artist and book designer, has taken on a more permanent role at the Holocaust Center, becoming the project coordinator to oversee future volumes.
 


 

“Typically, the works that are used in classrooms when talking about the Holocaust weren’t created with the educational components in mind,” Walker says, referencing works such as “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Night” by Elie Wiesel. “‘CHUTZ-POW!’ is different because it was created with the understanding that they will be utilized in classroom settings.”
Walker notes that while comic books are stereotyped as being for children, they are actually literature and primarily purchased by adults. “CHUTZ-POW!” itself is designed to be accessible to everyone middle-school aged and older.

​Zafris says that choosing which stories to include is difficult, because everyone’s narrative is powerful and meaningful.
“Ultimately, we decided to use a mix of different stories throughout the Holocaust, because people think of the camp experience, but there’s a lot of other experiences that make up a survivor,” he says.

The art exhibit at the Holocaust Center, “CHUTZ-POW! The Art of Resistance,” opens on Feb. 11 (running through late May). The opening will celebrate the release of Volume 3 as well as a teacher’s resource guide to continue the educational goals of the series. 

An accompanying exhibit at the American Jewish Museum at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, “CHUTZ-POW! Superheroes of the Holocaust: Volume III, The Young Survivors,” runs through April 20.

While the comic tells stories of events past, Walker says the importance of the series is in its relevance to the present.

“It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when average people turn away from their neighbors when the latter faces persecution, and when the persecuted are disavowed based on geography, religion, politics, etc.,” he says. “At the same time, CHUTZ-POW! shows us amazing examples of average people answering the call to heroism by accepting a social responsibility to aid others, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. This is happening every day, all over the world, including on our own shores.”

Walker hopes the comics will make readers aware of the world around them and inspire them to act like the superheroes they’re reading about. There is a quote on the back of the first volume by Holocaust survivor Fritz Ottenheimer, who is featured in that issue, that embodies CHUTZ-POW!’s ultimate goals:

“When you’re acting as a superman, you’re teaching your children to be supermen,” Fritz says. 

Holocaust Center Director Lauren Bairnsfather says the educational component allows for students to connect reading the comic book with meeting actual survivors who are featured, something that is going to be harder in the coming years. 

“At the heart of the challenge moving forward is that we’re going to lose them,” Bairnsfather says. “We have to be looking toward the future and thinking of ways that we can build those connections without those incredible people.”  

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh
826 Hazelwood Ave. Greenfield
412/421-1500, hcofpgh.org

American Jewish Museum
Jewish Community Center
5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
412/521-8010, jccpgh.org

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Waste Not: Kelly Lane's Fashion Designs are Eco-Chic

After noting how much fabric ends up in landfills, Pittsburgh designer Kelly Simpson-Scupelli found a way to incorporate the unused scraps into her fashion line.

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Comments

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Comments

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

The owners of the Bloomfield vegan eatery introduce a limited run of whole sunflower heads that you can eat like corn.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

Ah, the good old days. They may be gone, but there are still a few places where you can get a blast from the past.

Comments

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments


Revisiting Fat Head's

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

Comments

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

The new driving-range game is way over the top, but the game it's offering is fun and they'll ensure you have a good time.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
In Ben They Trust

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

Comments

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Ryan Shazier's battle back from a paralyzing injury last season and his subsequent rehabilitation from spinal stabilization surgery is a more compelling saga than the Steelers’ quest to reach Super Bowl LIII.​

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Comments

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

These proposal faux pas serve as a reminder that sometimes things have to go wrong to end up right.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

Comments

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Comments