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Super Granny takes on Wonder Woman at Animix Festival
By HANNAH BROWN
15/08/2011
Painter, sculptor Arona Reiner, 70, discusses influences for her comic series "about the empowerment of the elderly, but in a fun way."
 
"I turned to comics to tell a story about a superhero – my mother,” says artist Arona Reiner, who will be lecturing this week at Animix 11, the 2011 International Animation, Comics and Caricature Festival, that will take place from August 16–20 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

Reiner, a 70-year-old painter and sculptor, born in the US but raised on Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan in Israel, says her Super Granny series, which will be published soon in America, is for readers of all ages.

“Twenty-five percent of all adults read comics,” she says.

“Super Granny is about the empowerment of the elderly, but in a fun way. It’s full of Jewish jokes and Yiddish humor.”

The Super Granny character is also based on her late mother’s best friend, Reiner says.

Reiner is one of the many comics artists, animators and cartoonists who will appear at the festival. Now in its 11th year, Animix is a highly anticipated event among Israelis of all ages who love animation and comics. Other festival guests this year include Denis Walgenwitz, President of AFCA (Association Française du Cinéma d’Animation) and French cartoonist Plantu (Jean Plantureux).

Animix will open with Asif 2011, an awards ceremony for Israeli animation.

There will be screenings of films by Israeli animators and animation students. Israeli animator Noam Meshulam, an animator and director, among other local talent, will be honored. Israelis will enjoy an exhibition of caricatures and cartoons of David Ben-Gurion, among many other features, screenings and exhibits. For parents who are looking for activities for their children at this point in the summer, Animix offers screenings and workshops for children and teens.

Although Reiner has had a long and distinguished career as an artist, she is thrilled to be a presenting her Super Granny series at Animix.

“I grew up on the kibbutz reading Archie comics,” she says.

“I also read Wonder Woman. She was softer than she is today and more feminine.”

SHE IS conscious of being something of an anomaly in the comics/graphic novels world, being an older artist and a woman.

“There are still more men out there in the comics world,” she says. “Spider Man, Superman, a lot of it is still about powerful men.”

Initially, though, Super Granny was a project intended for her family. “I started creating it for my children, about their grandmother who passed away on the kibbutz,” says Reiner.

“She was born about 100 years ago and she grew up in the States. She was very involved in Zionist movement in the US. She was close to Golda Meir, and then she decided to make aliya.”

Eventually, Reiner realized that she had created a character who transcended the boundaries of her family. “I was looking around at comic books and found there was nothing about or for older people,” she says. “And I realized she could be like a superhero. I started to create stories where she fights bad guys. She tries to reform some of them, to get them to help her.”

But actually making the leap from fine art to comics didn’t happen overnight. “I’m not a writer,” she says. “But I read a lot of comics. I studied animation about seven years ago. I did a story board for the comic like they do in movies. I took pages and stuck them on the wall. And I tried to figure out, how do you match the words to the pictures?” She got help from a son in London who was studying to be a doctor who is “very into film. He helped me. My other kids edited it, too... Working in a different graphic field was fascinating but very difficult.”

“Time or the number of your age doesn’t really matter,” says Reiner. "It matters if you are healthy and if you can learn new things.”

For more info about Animix and to order tickets, go to the festival Website at http://www.animixfest.co.il/bindex.html
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