(photo credit: Courtesy)
For years, comic writers have tried to produce an Israeli super hero. Michael Netzer's Uri On, Uri Fink's Sabra Man and even X-Men's own Sabra, are a few examples. Yet none of them really took hold. In Uri Fink's opinion, even though this country is really in need of a super hero, we're just too cynical to allow someone who prances around in tights to save us all.
As far as the 1930's go, however, Israel had quite a number of heroes - even if they weren't super. This is the subject of the new exhibit at Holon's Israeli Comics and Caricature Museum, titled: Hebrew Comics Part I - The First Years 1935-1975.
"Looking through the exhibition, we show more than 40 past heroes, most of them children, who represented the spirit of Zionism in their struggle to help the growing Israeli community," says Galit Gaon, manager of the museum and curator of the exhibit. "Finding the materials for the exhibit was difficult since there is no single source for this material. We had to sift through vast amounts of material to compile this history," she says.
Over the years, many great Israeli writers have contributed to the local comics culture. For example, the first classic Israeli comics character, "Uri Moori", was created by Lea Goldberg and Aryeh Navon. "Comics were never taken seriously," Gaon says, but, "By looking at those early strips, you can see that Goldberg and Navon tried to instill in young people values such as giving and resourcefulness, in addition to Israeli propaganda such as 'only buy Israeli made products!'."
Furthermore, since comics had more of an underground nature, it was one realm where it was possible to discuss taboo topics. One such example is Pinchas Sade's story about a James Bond type agent, the story of which was set in a nuclear reactor - something that had yet to be breached in wider Israeli society. But, because Sade was a well known writer, he signed his comics with a pseudonym.
Part of the exhibition's curriculum includes meetings with the curators, participating comics writers and comics researchers, too. The second installment of this exhibit will be devoted to the post-Yom Kippur war, when Israeli comics became much more cynical.
The exhibit runs through July 30 at the Israeli Comics and Caricature Museum, located at 61 Weizmann Street, Holon. For more information, visit www.cartoonmuseum.org.il
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