Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

On Thursday, Nov. 3, West Chester University hosted graphic novelist and comic book artist JT Waldman, during which he lectured classes. Waldman is the author of “Esther” and “Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me.” A group of English students caught up with him during lunch and had a chat.

The students talked about everything under the sun. They asked him about his inspirations, living in Spain and Israel and about his likes and dislikes. They soon learned he was a huge Dolly Parton fan, and the students in the room connected with him on a deeper level. Waldman spoke to the students as if they were his friends, having a casual conversation.

Waldman’s career has brought him all over the world. He is a Philadelphia native; however, he studied at the University of Michigan and periodically lived in Israel and Spain.

While living in Israel from 2000 to 2001, he realized it to be much different than the U.S.

“Everything was more intense,” Waldman said. “The conversations were more intense; the food was much more intense.”

Upon graduating college with a degree in sculpture, he took on many part-time jobs to pursue his passion.

“By studying sculpture, I became a better illustrator, because I had to understand how to create forms in three dimensions,” he said. “It helped me understand how to render them into a two-dimensional form.”

Waldman was eventually discovered by Harvey Pekar of Oscar-nominated American Splendor fame. The two collaborated to produce “Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me.”

What makes his book “Esther” so unique is that it is written in both English and Hebrew. The middle of the book contains an illustrated page where the languages switch and the dominance of language changes.

Waldman inspired a small group of students that afternoon in Main Hall Rm. 200. He exemplifies the mantra of following one’s dreams. In that room, he enlightened students about the power of art, religion and passion.

Amanda Saleh is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in journalism and Arabic. She can be reached at

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