A new comic book spotlights Toronto’s Ward—with a supernatural twist

Wardens is a new comic book that blends the supernatural with Jewish philosophy and the history of The Ward in Toronto. (Image courtesy of Ari Gross)

Ari Gross has never written a comic book before. But when he decided to try making one, he found his background came in handy. A machine learning engineer by day with a background in data science, Gross completed his PhD on the history and philosophy of science and technology—a perfect fit for writing a comic that brings 20th-century Toronto and Kabbalistic ideas onto the printed page. Add in the math required to map out a comic book by word count per panel, then panels per page, and you have a passion project that’s coming to fruition after years of prep and planning.

His forthcoming comic debut, Wardens, follows a 20-year-old Jewish woman living in The Ward, the popular immigrant neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. After a tragedy befalls her family, a creature called “The Schmata” rises to cause chaos. The comic is peppered with Yiddish, deeply nostalgic and steeped in Jewish ideas, based on significant research into life in The Ward.

Having recently launched his Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to complete the project, Gross joins our Culturally Jewish podcast to discuss the origins of this supernatural tale and what research went into its creation.


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