Al Wiesner was born on July 2, 1930.
Albert S. Wiesner didn’t jump into the comics scene as a youngster. He served in the U.S.A.F. and then earned a living as a women’s hairdresser. But always having an itch for cartooning. Finally, in the mid-1980s, Al took the plunge.
“I had said to my wife, ‘I really would like to get back to my artwork.’” The time seemed right given Israel’s place in the world. “With Israel becoming a country and a powerful country for its size, I felt that now people could envision a Jewish superhero that has strength as well as intelligence.”
After a few exchanges with a DIY comics place in Norristown, Wiesner started on the first of 42 issues that would feature his Jewish superhero: the Man of Stone, or Shaloman. He formed his own comic book publishing company, Mark 1 Comics, named for his son, and Shaloman debuted in 1988.
Wiesner created an origin story for Shaloman: A trio of men in Israel named Justice, Equity and Wisdom (or JEW) sheared the top off of a mountain with lightning and turned it into the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter of shalom.
The first edition appeared in 1988, but it took a few years to gain a foothold in the cartoon-publishing world. From then on, he usually printed 3,000 copies of each issue and sold 2,000 of them, primarily in Judaica stores and synagogue gift shops.
After 22 years and more than 40 issues, the super-human Shaloman has saved Purim, Passover and Chanukah and confronted baddies who took an airplane’s passengers hostage and seized the Statue of Liberty. He has served President Derek Montana – who coincidentally resembles President Obama – and taken on a villain much like Osama bin Laden.
Al doesn’t create comic books anymore, though he has still been creating comics.
For at least ten years Al had contributed a panel cartoon to The Villa’s Voice, a monthly neighborhood newspaper. His comic continued until March of 2020 when the community newsletter took on a different manner of publication due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wishing Al a happy 90th birthday and we welcome him to the Senior Strippers club.