A spirited Downtown block party marked the launch of the comic book “Chutz-Pow! Superheroes of the Holocaust,” a collaboration of ToonSeum and the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Celebrants walking Liberty Avenue between 10th and Smithfield streets Thursday evening could peruse parts of the exhibition that premiered at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in June, and enjoy music and food-truck fare (including BRGR and Mac & Gold).
On hand to sign the comics that sold for $3 were creators Wayne Wise, a local comic-book historian who wrote the text, and artists Christopher Moeller, Dave Wachter, Marcel L. Walker and Mark Zingarelli. The crowd included “Chutz-Pow!” project chairman Drew Goldstein; Holocaust Center director Joy Braunstein and Zach Zafris and Jenny Pelled of the center, plus board members such as Franco Harris with wife Dana and Yolanda Willis, a Holocaust survivor from Greece, with son Rob Willis. ToonSeum director Joe Wos and board president Rob Rogers, the PG editorial cartoonist, held court inside the ToonSeum, which included the VIP-Bar Marco Lounge. Moshe Baran, a survivor whose story is told in the comic book, was there with his daughter Avi Munro, her husband Paul Munro and their daughter Eliana. Polish-born Baran was a partisan fighter and his late wife Malka saved a child in the camps. He continues to speak about the Holocaust at age 93 to honor the memory of his wife and, he said, in hopes that no one will be a bystander to hate and discrimination. Other local “superheroes” represented in the book are Les Banos, Dora Iwler and Fritz Ottenheimer.