Jordan B. Gorfinkel loved reading comic books as a kid, especially those featuring his favorite superhero, Batman. In the back of his head, he harbored the same dream shared by many other kids, of someday becoming a comic-book writer himself. The difference is that he carried that dream with him into adulthood, and made it a reality.
For nearly a decade Gorfinkel was an editor at DC Comics, where he managed the Batman franchise and created Birds of Prey, which was adapted earlier this year into the major motion picture “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).” One of his most successful works was “Batman: No Man’s Land,” a year-long storyline that was critically acclaimed by both fans and critics alike, and the basis for television and film productions.
“Whether I am working on a song, comics or production, everything always comes back to storytelling,” Gorfinkel shared with The Jewish Link. “Stories bring people together regardless of their age and backgrounds, and I’m always thinking about new ways to engage with my audience.”
It also comes back to his Jewish faith. As an Orthodox Jew, Gorfinkel draws on his religious experiences to ground his stories with morality and ethics, serving as his own superpower, if you will.
“My brand is all about educating and entertaining through a Jewish lens,” Gorfinkel said. “It’s an important part of who I am.”
Presently he runs Avalanche Comics Entertainment, and is planning an expansion of his nonprofit Jewish Graphic Novel initiative, launched with the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel. He’s also a founder and leader of the modern professional Jewish a cappella group Kol Zimra, inspiring Jewish harmony at simchas in the tri-state area, across the country and in Israel.
Now he will be contributing weekly comics strips for The Jewish Link as well.
Gorfinkel, who often goes simply by Gorf—“It’s frog spelled backwards, and now you’ll never forget it”—describes his career as living a dream. But it didn’t start out that way. For a while he worked through a series of temp jobs, during which he worked on his craft, specifically his storytelling.
With The Jewish Link, Gorfinkel is producing a weekly humor comic strip called @JewishCartoon, which he describes as an evolution of “Everything’s Relative,” the strip he has been producing for The Jewish Week for more than 25 years. The new strip will feature Gorf’s original characters and introduce some new ones.
“My main goal with my Jewish Link comics feature is to make it enjoyable and fun,” Gorfinkel explained. “Along the way, I intend to build satisfying arcs for the characters, so that readers connect and relate to them. Even so, each installment will be self-contained so that readers have all the information they need in the cartoon itself, without needing any footnotes.
“The evolution in the strip is to make it increasingly generational, by telling a loosely connected storyline with time passing for the characters, in order to feature milestones, simchas and of course challenges and losses, mirroring the real world,” Gorfinkel continued. “As my mentor Lynn Johnston (cartoonist, “For Better or For Worse”) instructed me, a comic strip needs to feature a greater ratio of gags to storylines in the beginning; as readers grow to know and love the characters, the ratio gradually flips. Within the content, the Jewish Link’s observant readership allows for more hameivin yavin insider gags and references that I’ll nevertheless strive to make understandable to the broader audience.”
For those superhero fans looking to follow in Gorfinkel’s footsteps, he has simple advice: “Get your work out there.” One advantage he cites for those starting out is the abundance of tools available for publicity that weren’t there when he was beginning.
“You need to get on places like social media and start making a name for yourself,” Gorfinkel said. “Most importantly, you have to have a strong drive to succeed and know not to take rejection personally. But if you love stories and have creativity in your blood, then you’ll find a way to make it happen. I did.”
To keep up with Gorfinkel, follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @jewishcartoon. You can also learn more about him at his website, gorfy.com. Kol Zimra Singers may be reached at KolZimra.com.
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.