April 14, 2005
How Funny Is Passover?
Passover is not primarily known for being a funny holiday, but don't tell that to Terry and Patty LaBan. The creators of "Edge City," who have brought contemporary Jewish American suburban life to the funny pages since 2000, are giving the Ardin family the ultimate seder storyline -- four panels at a time.
From April 11-30, the Ardins will confront a situation loosely based on something that happened one Passover to Terry and Patty LaBan, cartoonist and plot/character developer, respectively, when Patty's mother decided to take a break on hosting a seder.
When responsibility for Passover shifts in the comic strip from Abby's mother to Abby herself, she frantically copes with the numerous preparation tasks -- such as paying her kids, Colin and Carly, $5 each to rid the house of chametz. Meanwhile, husband Len -- a technophile -- madly researches the Internet for how to lead a seder.
While Jewish comic characters have been around for decades, Terry LaBan said there's a reason why there aren't enough in today's papers for a minyan.
"Syndicates have always wanted strips with characters that the maximum number of people will identify with, so there hasn't been a lot of incentive to do a strip with characters who are Jewish," he said. "We didn't intend at the beginning they'd be explicitly Jewish, but having them celebrate Christmas just because it was the standard thing to do just didn't seem right.... When we decided that our characters would be Jewish, we realized we had an opportunity to show how Judaism can be a normal -- and positive -- part of people's lives."
And if the feedback from their Jewish readers is any indication, the Ardin family might just start a two-dimensional trend.
"Many people have spoken or written, thanking us for portraying characters ... in a way where their Jewishness isn't always the main point, but just another aspect of their lives," LaBan said.
To see what happens to the Ardins, visit www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/edgecity/about.htm.