Cel­e­brate Jew­ish Book Month with #30days30authors! JBC invit­ed an author to share thoughts on #Jew­Lit for each day of Jew­ish Book Month. Watch, read, enjoy, and dis­cov­er! 

Today, Lau­ren R. Wein­stein, graph­ic artist and author of Girl Sto­ries, writes an appre­ci­a­tion of Three Big Hogs and Daniel Manus Pinkwater. 

I was total­ly obsessed with Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s Three Big Hogs when I was a kid. First of all, the draw­ings weren’t metic­u­lous­ly ren­dered like Mau­rice Sendak’s Out­side Over There, they were col­ored with Mag­ic Mark­er that left a faint trail of col­or around the shapes which seemed to give them kind of an aura. I could almost see being able to do myself. Until then I didn’t real­ize that kind of illus­tra­tion was allowed! At about the same time I dis­cov­ered Pinkwa­ter, an art teacher had told me to draw a face the way the inside of your face feels…” Pinkwater’s draw­ings looked like that. Three Big Hogs spoke direct­ly to me, an awk­ward, slight­ly plump Jew­ish girl liv­ing in the semi-sub­urbs with a buzz cut and a tail down the back of my neck. The book is out of print now, and my old copy has dis­in­te­grat­ed, so I just reordered it and copied some of the draw­ings. Study­ing them has rein­forced what a mas­ter Mr. Pinkwa­ter is and how pro­found­ly his sto­ries have affect­ed my brain.

Three Big Hogs is about three pink pigs whose farmer leaves and nev­er comes back. This is unthink­ably sad. I remem­ber look­ing at the upside down heart of the cry­ing pig’s mouth and con­nect­ing with the intense fear of being orphaned. 

They wan­der on their own until they get to a stranger’s house where they have an impromp­tu dance par­ty, eat all his pota­toes, and go to sleep. When the guy whose house it is comes and sees the mess, he screams, Great Gravy!” and kicks them out. 

This is one of the three fun­ni­est draw­ings of all time. I don’t know how many times I have scru­ti­nized the way his head fills up his hat. Then the pigs wan­der into the city and freak out. There is an intense Jew­ish­ness to this illus­tra­tion that may or may not have been intentional. 

Then they go into the for­est where they meet a reg­u­lar toothy for­est hog who calls them babies, and says, Nobody takes care of me… I eat acorns and apples, and I sleep wher­ev­er I jol­ly well please.” Then he walks away. 

They decide to become hairy toothy for­est hogs too. I par­tic­u­lar­ly remem­ber the draw­ings of the pigs loung­ing in the for­est, becom­ing hairi­er and tooth­ier, because they are drawn with such unbri­dled joy. And when a weird kid who very dear­ly wants to be an artist and draw things that look like the way things feel sees a draw­ing like that she wants to be an artist for­ev­er. It’s that simple.Like some of my oth­er favorite Pinkwa­ter titles, The Big Orange Splot and Lizard Music, Pinkwa­ter opens the door for chil­dren to see this mag­ic crazy adult world, and to not be afraid of it. Lat­er I would see echoes of Pinkwater’s jubi­lant line and bold col­or in Matisse’s cut-outs, Josef Frank’s tex­tiles and Rousseau’s paint­ings. I would hear his voice in Dr. Demento’s weird radio show, and in SCTV. But I keep com­ing back to Three Big Hogs because it got me through the fear of lone­li­ness and non­con­for­mi­ty that comes with being an artist, and instead nudges me to embrace the hairy, toothy life in the forest.

Lau­ren Weinstein’s high­ly acclaimed com­ic strip, Normel Per­son, can be found week­ly in the Vil­lage Voice. Some­times her work can be spot­ted in the New York­er. She has pub­lished three books: Girl Sto­ries, Inside Viney­land and God­dess of War. Cur­rent­ly she is work­ing on a teenage mem­oir ten­ta­tive­ly enti­tled, Calami­ty, to be pub­lished by Hen­ry Holt and a com­ic about moth­er­hood for the pub­lish­er, Youth in Decline.