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A girl walks into a comic book store. Four geeks gawk. This clichÃ© scenario is from a recent episode of the unoriginal sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Aside from fortifying this comic-equals-geeks stereotype, it does little to further embed the importance of comics in mass pop-culture.
Hugh Jackman on the other hand, a hunky movie star most popular for portraying the Wolverine in the X-Men movies (one of which premieres this week), filmed a public service message for Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). In it, he calls on all good citizens to come pick up their free comic in the fight against illiteracy. "We all know comic books are fun," he says, "but they are also a fantastic way to captivate the attention of young readers and send them on a lifelong love of reading."
And who's to argue with this positive message from People Magazine's sexiest man alive for 2008?
In Israel, there is the added opportunity to develop one's English. "Many parents come to our store to purchase comics hoping they'll help improve their children's English vocabulary," says Danny Amitay, owner of Comics and Vegetables (CNV), one of two local stores participating in the event.
Comics are also interesting for the psychological mirror they hold up to the human mind - as well as offering a glimpse into the time in which they were published. Take, for example, the recent Hellboy comics. The plot revolves around forest creatures that are at peace with humans, until, "in their infinite greed" the humans decide to capture the forest. Thus, the story depicts Earth's most contemporary villain - us (as in you and me).
"The great thing about comics," says Amitay, "is that there are thrillers, comedies and dramas."
Besides the special edition free comics, both CNV and Comikaza (the other participating shop) are offering discounts on many other comics. Comics and Vegetables will host Israeli comic book artists the likes of Dorit Maya-Gur, creator of Falafel Man, to autograph their sketches.
FCBD is today, Friday, May 1, from 10 a.m. Comikaza is located in Dizengoff Center - (03) 620-5682; comikaza.co.il and CNV at 40 King George St., Tel Aviv - (03) 620-4847; cnv.co.il