Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Story Happens in Music – A commission for a cantor

Last night I got to celebrate my buddy Yonah's 45th birthday, and make a special presentation on behalf of his wife Sydnie. Yonah and I have been friends since junior high, so when Sydnie commissioned me earlier this year to make a new papercut to mark his birthday, I was pleased and honored to accept.

This papercut is called “My Story Happens in Music”and it measures 24" x 18". Yonah lives his life at the center of his family and community, and has literally done so at Dodger Stadium when singing the National Anthem — and so this papercut’s structure is based on Dodger Stadium, and includes elements from Yonah’s life, all taken from comic books. He is a cantor and singer and a father and a husband and a friend... and I tried to represent all of this in the papercut.

The title comes from a bit of text taken from a Daredevil story; as well, the papercut features cheering crowds and engaged congregations; it includes the characters Black Bolt (known for having the most powerful voice in the universe), Dazzler (who transforms music into powerful beams of light), and Ragman (one of the first openly Jewish super heroes). Obvious and subtle references abound, alluding to music and spirituality, family and community, humor and joy. There’s a dove, in reference to the Hebrew meaning of “Yonah”; soccer, a sport close to Yonah’s heart, which he shares with his children... and more than a few inside jokes between Yonah and the artist, whose friendship dates back to junior high school.

And of course, multiple references to the home and family that Yonah and Sydnie have made — the “4” from the Fantastic Four uniform, and a quote from the 45th anniversary issue of their comic... spoken by a certain postman... and comics from each of their birth years. The sheet music at the center is an interpretation of the book of Psalms, from A. Z. Idelsohn’s 1967 book, Jewish Music in its Historical Development. A listing of the comics used in the making of this papercut is on the back of the papercut, and includes:
  • Action Comics #903 (Sep 2011)
  • Astonishing X-Men #26 (Oct 2008)
  • Automatic Kafka #4 (Dec 2002)
  • Billy the Kid #88 (Dec 1971) — Yonah’s birth year
  • Bullseye: Perfect Game #2 (Feb 2011)
  • Daredevil #51 (Nov 2003)
  • Dazzler #4 (Jun 1981), #38 (Jul 1985), #41 (Jan 1986)
  • Fallen Angels #1 (Apr 1987)
  • Fantastic Four #59 (Feb 1967), #273 (Dec 1984), #543 (Jun 2007) — 45th anniversary issue
  • Green Lantern: Fear Itself #1 (Apr 2011)
  • Gwenpool Special #1 (Feb 2016)
  • Justice League #33 (Oct 2014)
  • Justice Society of America #11 (Feb 2008)
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes #300 (Jun 1983)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: The Legend of the Blue Knight #1 (Apr 1997)
  • Mutopia X #3 (Nov 2005) — daughter’s birth year
  • Nevada #1 (May 1998)
  • Ragman #3 (Dec 1991), #5 (Feb 1992)
  • The Ringo Kid #5 (Sep 1970) — Sydnie’s birth year
  • Shadowpact #6 (Dec 2006)
  • Stadium Comics: The All-Star Story of the Dodgers #1 (Apr 1979)
  • Superman #205 (Jul 2004)
  • Superman/Batman #44 (Feb 2008) — son’s birth year
  • Thor #394 (Aug 1988)
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #4 (May 2004)