Eli Valley is an acclaimed political cartoonist who caters to the wider audience of satire in the modern era. He’s been drawing comics for the majority of his life. Covering hot topic issues during the Donald Trump era, he’s been featured in many different publications such as The Nation, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The Nib, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Gawker, along with many others. Furthermore, magazines and news sites like Popula and Vulture have ran articles on him.
At the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Center for the Studies of Humanities, Culture, and Society brought Valley to talk to about his work in social justice and the Jewish-American experience. With a 2 p.m. start, Professor Rachel Rubin introduced the comic to the audience. “Valley’s cartooning and illustrations have taken up a number of important issues—both current ones and historical ones—Israel, Palestine, issues with the United States elections, political approaches to the Armenian Genocide … Vulture [an entertainment magazine] recently called him, and I quote, ‘The angriest cartoonist in America.’”
Valley started off his presentation with pictures of a small, yellow Labrador retriever puppy and himself as a baby to ease the crowd into his speech. He first began with by talking about childhood, but gave a preface to his part on self-hatred, as well as the damaging effects of self-hatred in the Jewish community. “Because I don’t want to talk so soon about Nazis, I’ll just start off with puppies and I’m going to talk about my childhood [referring to a stock image picture of puppies and children]. Actually that’s not my childhood, neither was the puppy, that’s Google image search—this is my childhood; marching to save Soviet Jews. With the sign reading, ‘Nazis Killed the Body...Soviets Kill the Soul!’”
Not only did he talk about the outside troubles Jewish people face but the issues he faced in his own life while growing up with divorced parents. His father being a Rabbi played a large role. “My father lived 100 miles away from us … We stayed with him for about three weeks, then we’d go back to my mom and my dad would be in sort of a panic to legislate religion from afar; which is needed if you’re a Rabbi when the book of so many of your sermons is about assimilation and intermarriage [powerpoint slides showed pictures of different books of sermons from the mid-20th century].” He went further into what his father’s sermons said, such as, “He had a book-magazine from 1964 talked about how ‘by year 2000, Jews would comprise of a tiny, tiny, tiny minority of America as opposed to a tiny, tiny minority before then.’”
Although satire is the main channel to get the message across, his comics have deeper meanings in order to break down modern issues. Some of his work are Jewish interpretations of classic superhero comics, such as Batman & Robin and The Incredible Hulk, but interpretations are not his only work; Valley has many originals as well. His most recent comic book is a collection of his work so far and features the character ‘Diaspora Boy,’ full title being: “Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel.”
He shared with the group his interactions with the Orthodox Jews who support President Trump and the number of conservatives requesting to be taken off his public relations email list. What Valley got across was that there is still anti-semitism in the world and satire is one way to address it. His comics rub some people the wrong way but all in all he will continue his work to open the eyes of anyone reading his pieces and Twitter account.