Hebrew Comics - A History
by Eli Eshed
Please note that with the exception of this text in italics, all of the information on this page is Eli's work. I am not Eli, so don't go e-mailing me about what you like, don't like, agree with or don't agree with in the article below. Also, if you want to use any of this for other sites, in whole or in part, please make sure to credit him. Okay?
This is the English version of an article about Israeli comics. The article gives the complete history of comics in Israel. It reviews the different magazines, which published both original and translated comics, introduces Israeli comics artists, some of whom are relatively well known, such as Uri Fink and the group of ACTUS, while others are more obscure but still of some interest.
History of comics in Hebrew
There are some "comics experts" in Israel who claim that for historical reasons the Jewish peoples had never shown much interest in visual arts, and that this was the reason why, until recently the comics medium was not very popular in Israel. In fact, this claim shows a complete ignorance of American comics industry, which over much of its history was totally dominated by Jews, both in the management of companies such as MARVEL, D.C and E.C. which were all originally created or owned by Jews, and in the creative side of comics production. The most popular comics genre, that of superheroes, was developed by Jews, such as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster the creators of Superman, or Stan Lee and Jack Kirby who created the Marvel universe. These names are just the tips of the iceberg. It can be said that in the US, the influence of Jews in the comics field was even stronger then their influence in Hollywood.
But in Israel, in contrast to the US, for years comics had been a marginal phenomenon. They had been thought to be fit only for children.
Nevertheless, the history of Israeli and Hebrew comics (not necessarily the same thing as there were Hebrew comics also in the US and Europe) is far older and more varied then it usually thought.
Many people have seen the German artist Wilhelm Busch as one of the founding fathers of the comics medium. His famous story "MAX AND MORITZ " about two children and their pranks had influenced the earliest comic strips in the US.. This story was also the first comics story to be translated into Hebrew as far back as 1898 by A. Loboshitski (under the name SIMEON AND LEVI). However the translator apparently didn't like the idea of story in pictures as he was careful to translate it without any of the pictures whatsoever! And so the story completely lost its charm in Hebrew. This was the first case of the prejudice against comics but most definitely not the last.
Still it was not long before the first comics stories had appeared in Hebrew. That was at the beginning of the 20th century in the children's magazine OLAM KATAN (SMALL WORLD) which appeared in Warsaw.
After that there was a long pause in the publication of comics in Hebrew (in contrast to the publication in Yiddish, which thrived).
Hebrew comics returned in the 1920s and the 1930s when some of the earliest original Hebrew comics stories appeared. Unsurprisingly, this happened not in Palestine but at the center of comics publishing in the U.S.A. There Hebrew comics appeared in children's journals like EDEN and NOAR (YOUTH) in the form of short humoristic stories which dealt with Jewish subjects. Their purpose was to win Jewish children's hearts away from the gentile comics, but they were all short lived.
In Palestine, the center of Hebrew culture, the first comics stories appeared in 1935 in the children's journal ITONENU LEKTANIM (OUR PAPER FOR CHILDREN ) which published a semi-comics series called "MEORAOTH DUBON" which was a translation of the well known British series about the bear RUPERT. That was the first comics translated into Hebrew complete with pictures.
Alongside with it ITONENU LEKTANIM published the first original comics series in Palestine MIKI MAU VELIYAU (MIKI MAUS AND ELIYAU), written and illustrated by Immanuel Yafe. It was quite successful.
ITONENU LEKTANIM began the comics age in this region. Its relative success in this field caused the most successful children's periodical of the time DAVAR LEYLADIM (SOMETHING FOR CHILDREN) to publish on its last page, beginning from 1936, short comics stories by well known poetess, playwright and children's writer Lea Goldberg, illustrated by Arye Navon
They wrote a variety of humorous comics for children. Many had a fantasy plot; for example "Ori Mori" about a child who builds a settlement at the bottom of the sea, and "Olam Hafuch" ["Upside-Down World"] (1938) about a boy who reaches a world in which everything is upside down. . Those short and simple comics stories became more and more complex with years.
The first adventure comics story appeared in 1940 in a short lived children's magazine called HADACHLIL (THE SCARECROW). The story was called MASAOT GAD VEYOSI (THE JOURNEYS OF GAD AND YOSEY) and described the adventures of two children on a ship hijacked by criminals. Since the story stopped at a mid point as a result of the magazine's demise, it is not known if they succeeded in defeating the criminals....
Some people claim that the first true comics magazine in Hebrew was MIKI MAOZ which was published in 1948 (actually the same claim can be made for the earlier HADACHLIL). That magazine was edited by a well known poet of the time and included comics stories of Walt Disney (usually without giving him credit) alongside some other comics stories. But like most other comics magazines in Hebrew it was short lived (though well liked by its young readers). It died after only 9 issues. The time of successful comics magazine in Hebrew was still very far away.
Hebrew comics in the 1950s and the 1960s
A new stage in the progress of comics in Hebrew begun with the appearance at the beginning of the 1950s of a new children's magazine HAARETZ SHELANU (OUR COUNTRY). On its pages were published, for the first time regularly, relatively long adventure comic strips, in contrast to the short, humoristic stories which DAVAR LEYLADIM ["Davar for Children"] used to publish up to that time. Seeing the success HAARETZ SHELANU had with this form of comics, DAVAR LEYLADIM had borrowed the format and begun to publish adventure comics as well.
At this period both DAVAR LEYELADIM and HAARETZ SHELANU began publishing stories about what can be called (though admittedly with much stretching of the concept ) the first Israeli "super heroes". Among those was Gidi Gezer ["Gidi Carrot"] whose adventures were published in the 1950s in HAARETZ SHELANU. Gidi was an Israeli youth at the time of the War of Independence who had super powers as a result of eating carrots, and with these powers he battled the British and the Arabs. Another super hero in the 1960s "Yoav Ben Halav" ["Yoav son of Milk"] was a super-powerful hero of comic-strip advertisements for milk drinking. With time, these strips became quite intricate adventure stories. Yoav was a boy who got his powers from drinking milk, and used these powers to fight criminals, terrorists, and an evil wizard. Eventually he even reached another planet and fought with the residents there. However, with those exceptions the genre of super-heroes was all but unknown in Israel until the 1970s.
Other comics in the same magazines described the discovery of lost Jewish tribes in remote lands in Asia and Africa, and of ancient cities from the Biblical period that miraculously survived in the Land of Israel and still practiced human sacrifices to the Canaanite gods. Other stories told of Israeli youths' travels to other planets.
Meanwhile, other children's magazines such as ETZBEONY and HATZOFE LEYELADIM (a magazine for religious children) began to publish comic strips as well. More and more original comics begun to be published every year.
But for years the best comics were in HAARETZ SHELANU.
Artist Dani Plant in 1959 wrote and drew for this magazine a comics story "HaMabul HaSheni" ["The Second Flood"] about an invasion of aliens from Venus, with their army of robots; the defenders of the Earth destroy them using bacteria. Plant also published original comics about "Tarzan of the Jungle". In the 1960s he wrote a comic-strip series about the travels of a boy to various prehistoric periods, which appeared as a book in 1972, illustrated by the author.
In the 1960s the best and most prolific comics writer, who wrote practically all the comics stories published in HAARETZ SHELANU, was a well known writer and poet Pinchas Sade. Sade, who is one of the most gifted Israeli authors, published all of his comics under pseudonym "Yariv Amazya".
Many of Sade's comics had a science fiction content. In 1960 he wrote the story "Taglitoh HaGoralit shel Dr. Yosef K." ["The Fateful Discovery of Dr. Yosef K."] about a scientist at the atomic reactor in Dimona who discovers ants that have grown to a giant size as a result of exposure to reactor radioactivity. He develops a cure for cancer made from the flesh of these ants. Using this cure, he persuades the leaders of the great powers, Kennedy and Khrushchev, to agree to peace between them, and even Egyptian leader Nasser agrees to sign a peace treaty with Israel. (The story today seems unbelievably naive.)
In 1964 Sadeh wrote a story "El HaYareah b'Chadur Poreah" ["To the Moon in a Balloon"] (illustrated by Elisheva Nadel) based on a science fiction story by Edgar Allen Poe, which continued the tale of a Dutchman who travels to the moon in a balloon. There he encounters an advanced civilization of midgets, descendants of escapees from Atlantis, who are served by giant spiders.
Here is a Hebrew site about Pinhas Sade's comics:
The most talented comics artist in Israel in the 1960s was Asher Dickstein, who wrote and illustrated two excellent science fiction comics. "Hallalit HaZman" ["Time Ship"] (1964) was about a crew of scientists and two youths who travel to a prehistoric period where they meet a two-headed alien. "Meistarei HaYabeshet HaAvuda" ["Mysteries of the Lost Continent"] (1965) was about the discovery of the remains of the continent of Atlantis under the sea by a crew of Israeli researchers (and two youths as well). There they discover a beautiful princess who falls in love with a brave Israeli researcher. The researcher fights evil among the people of Atlantis. Asher Dickstein frequently collaborated with Pinchas Sade in comic-strips, but some of his best stories were written by himself , and had a strong flavor of the American science fiction comics of Alex Raymond (creator of Flash Gordon) and of other American comics artists.
Various pictures by Dickstein of Tarzan can be found here:
At the same time translated comics also began to appear in Hebrew, in magazines like NIMROD, which appeared in 1954, and its continuation OLAM HAPELE (WONDER WORLD) which appeared in 1956. Those magazines published well known comics series of the King Features syndicate such as Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Brick Bradford, Mandrake the Magician, Jungle Jim, and others, but they were both short lived (and are today among the rarest of all Israeli comics).
Several years later there began to appear comics magazines that translated comics from European sources, principally British and French, with the hope that they would curry more favor with the Israeli audiences. These were such magazines as PAM PAM (established in1960) and OLAM HANOAR (YOUTH WORLD) established in the same year, but they too survived for only a short while. In 1964 a new publisher "Neurim" tried a new approach, and began a semi- colored comics magazine about a single hero DENNIS THE MENACE. Originated abroad, the character was called in Hebrew DAN HAMSUCAN (DANGEROUS DAN). Alongside that series they published in the same format a translation of SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON.
The relative success of those efforts caused DAVAR LEYELADIM which till now published only original comics stories, to start publishing translated strips about Flash Gordon. It also adopted the series TIM TAYLER'S LUCK (called in Hebrew "PARASHEY HAJUNGLE"), whose anemic stories it had inexplicably persevered in featuring on its pages for many years. The magazine even presented those stories for a time in color before it giving it up and returning to black and white.
Another important publisher of comics in Hebrew in the 1960s was "Ramdor" which specialized in paperbacks of westerns and spy novels, mostly written by Israeli writers under "foreign" pen-names. Ramdor began a concerted effort to bring more comics, both original and translated, to the Israeli audience.
In 1965 Ramdor published the first magazine which was devoted to ORIGINAL COMICS ONLY, HARPATKOT LANOAR (ADVENTURES FOR YOUTH). This was the effort of one man, Asher Dickshtein. At the same time Ramdor published another comics magazine for smaller children, BAMBI, which was again entirely the work of Dickshtein. They both were very short lived and their failure convinced the publisher that the Israeli market could not yet support original comics stories.
But the publisher did not give up on comics and tried another way: that of translation from French. Ramdor published a new series AMITZIM (BRAVE) translated from the French, which survived for 13 issues, and also another French series ZEMBLA about a Tarzan-like hero, which survived for only 2 issues. This attempt too was a failure, as was an attempt to publish a comic-strip about the Italian westerns hero Ringo, despite the fact that Ramdor had previously had some success with text-only stories about this character.
Only in one, unexpected place did Ramdor's attempts in the comics field win success. That was in a magazine for football fans PENDELL, which published British comic-strips about the adventures of football players such as "Roy of the Rovers". The magazine was very successful and survived for 213 issues.
Besides PENDELL the most successful comics magazine of all time was BUCKI which was published from 1967and 1971 and survived for 170 issues, almost a miracle of longevity by Israeli standards. BUCKI published stories from many sources, American, British, French and Australian. It included stories about well known heroes, such as Buck Rogers (from whom the magazine's name was taken), Flash Gordon, Superman, Thor (called in Hebrew "Reshef "), the X Men, Iron Man (two heroes, one American, one British, each called, on their original publication, "Iron Man"), British super criminal cum hero Spider, Australian hero Jim Hawk, French space heroes "the pioneers of hope", and many others too numerous to mention. Unfortunately despite its relative longevity by Israeli standards, BUCKI was never a great success economically speaking and eventually it was canceled. That was a serious blow to the field of comics in Israel.
Here is a Hebrew site about BUCKI:
And a site in English about translations to Hebrew of comics Hero the Phantom
And another site in English about original and translated comics and stories about Tarzan :
Israeli comics in the 1970s
In the 1970s there were new developments in the comics field in Israel. Readers were becoming accustomed to longer and more complex comic-strips than in the past. That was particularly due to the efforts of the publisher Meir Mizrachi who took the place of RAMDOR as the chief supporter of comics in Israel.
Mizrachi published mainly Italian western stories such as Tex Willer and Zagor, as well as other series such us Tarzan , Belgian comics like Tin Tin, and strips about Popeye and WALT DISNEY characters.
Other publishers competed with Mizrachi in the translated comics field and published series like the American Swamp Thing, the Italian Diabolik and others. But none came close to the relatively long run of Mizrachi and all the competing experiments were short lived failures.
Original comics stories continued to be published in the children's papers Davar Leyladim and HAARETZ SHELANU and the stories there became longer and more complex than in the past
The most talented comics artist in Israel in the 1970s was Giora Rotman, who brought realistic comics adventures to their peak and is probably the best adventure comics artist of Israel ever. He was the regular comics artist and sometimes writer of adventure comics stories for HAARETZ SHELANU from 1970-1980, producing some 14 of the best, longest, most complex and most realistically drawn adventure comics in Israel -- till then or since.
One of his longest and best-known comics (50 pages) was "Melisalda", whose story was written by Pinhas Sadeh. This story, which was serialized in 1971-1972, describes the travels of a boy to Venus looking for a girl from Venus who has fallen in love with him. He has adventures on various planets as he aids the Venusians in their battles against their enemies. His adventures continue on Earth where he uses devices provided him by the Venusians to fight criminals on Earth. In many ways this is the first "Graphic Novel" to appear in Hebrew.
Rotman drew several very interesting comic-strips with historical themes such as YOSKE MAYOR which appeared in 1972-1973 in HAARETZ SHELANU and is the longest Hebrew comics story of all time (81 pages!), written with Dov Zigelman, about the adventures of heroic fighters against the British and the Arabs in the War of Independence of 1948. This is a very realistically and accurately done story, full of well researched historical details.
Another such excellent historical comic-strip was ABIREY HAKOTEL HAMAARAVI (Knights of the Western Wall) in 1974, which describes the adventures of a Jewish crusader at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem in the first crusade.
Another good war story drawn by Rotman and written by Pinchas Sade as his final comics story was CHOLOT ADUMIM (Red Sands) which also appeared in 1974. It describes the terrible experiences of two soldiers (heroes of earlier stories of the creators) who got lost behind enemy lines in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. It is still one of the best war comics stories in Hebrew, a genre of which, surprisingly, there are very few examples.
An Hebrew article with pictures from this story is here:
Unfortunately, after this story Sade left comics to concentrate on his career as one of Israel best known writers of philosophical and autobiographical fiction, and non-fiction.
Rotman continued to write and illustrate comics stories with science fiction elements: "Malkodet b'Mtzulot" ["Underwater Trap"] (1974) in which an Israeli mission discovers an undersea base of Martians, and "HaEmek HaKadum" ["The Ancient Valley"] (1991) about the discovery of a lost city in Africa, founded by Jewish fighters during the Great Revolt against the Romans, who battle a parallel city of evil Romans. This latter story was the final one in a genre that for a while was very popular in Israeli comics: the discovery of lost Jewish cities. In every respect Rotman is the best adventure comics artist in Israel.
Israeli comics in the 1980s
In 1978 there began a new period in Israeli comics when a young comics fan Uri Fink began to publish the adventures of Sabraman, an Israeli original super-hero who had fought among others the Nazi Dr. Mengale. The stories were published in both Hebrew and English, but were not very successful. For a short time, though, there was a short strip about that hero in the Israeli English newspaper "The Jerusalem Post".
This site has a picture of Sabraman:
Since then, Fink has become the most successful (in fact the only successful) and best known Israeli comics artist thanks to his ZBENG comics series. This series is about the zany adventures of a group of schoolchildren, a series, which became a national craze in Israel and created in its wake a successful TV series and a book collection which are among the best sellers of Israeli children's books..
The Hebrew site of Zbeng is:
Fink creates humorous comics, but is also a big SF fan. He has done a series of humorous super-heroes. SuperShlumper is a short hero, dressed in pajamas, who fights various ridiculous threats from outer space. Hartzulei HaHalal [Space Hartzuls] is a parody of Star Trek.
His book Zbeng La'Mchashef HaMathil [Wham to the Beginning Magician] (Modan 2001) is a wild parody on the Harry Potter series in which Fink's standard characters from his Zbeng [Wham!] series, a group of bizarre high school students, play the characters from Harry Potter. With his wide knowledge of SF, Fink regularly introduces into his comic-strips science fiction scenarios and parodies based on such series as Star Trek and X-Man, as well as original SF ideas of his own
But his best works can be quite serious. Fink's best work yet is Profil 107 (Modan 1998), a sort of cynical alternate history of Israel in which super-heroes aid the Israeli government to achieve its political objectives, something like an Israeli WATCHMEN. This is one of the masterpieces of Israeli comics.
Recently Fink published a comic book in English, FINK. In this book he deals satirically with the current situation in Israel, but also includes a story in which Captain Kirk battles his own his starship Enterprise, which shows clear signs of turning into a smothering Jewish mother.
Uri Fink in English:
Another comics artist, much better known than Fink, Michael Netzer (better known in the U.S.A as Mike Nasser), who had worked in the States with Neal Adams, created a series about another super-hero URI ON in 1987. Uri on was a kind of super Israeli soldier which had fought invading aliens and monsters with the symbol of the Jewish temple lamp on his chest. But it was no more successful then Sabraman. Much criticized for its "rightist" orientation, the series was canceled after only 4 issues.
More on Netzer:
Since then there were no more attempts to create in Hebrew a "serious super hero" though were plenty of attempts to create a satirical or humorous hero.
A blow to the field of the traditional comics stories in the children's newspapers was caused by the demise of the three oldest and most important children's papers in Israel: Davar Leyladim, HAARETZ Shelanu, and Mishmar Leyeladim in 1985. In their place there was created a new children's paper "Kulanu" which gave much emphasis to comics, but with time stopped publishing continuing adventure comic-strips, as the older magazines had in the past, preferring to use instead short humorous comic-strips . This trend is almost universal now in the comics for children and young adults in Israel today.
In the 1980s there began developing a new field of comics, adult comics, which till then had been unknown in Israel where comics had traditionally been identified with children's literature. The first example of this trend was, unsurprisingly, in English, in the English-language paper Jerusalem Post. Dry Bones by Yaakov Kirshen is a wry look at Israeli problems, which sometimes are presented from a biblical perspective of the time of King Solomon who has the same kind of problems as Israel does today.
Dry Bones site is:
Another attempt to create adult comics, which described the Biblical age from a completely modern and utterly irreverent perspective, was LICHYOT MEHATANACH (TO LIVE FROM THE BIBLE ) by Efraim Sidon and Avner Avrami . This comics has broken every possible record in its mad humor and its lack of "respect" for the biblical characters, one of whom was God, who is presented in an unflattering way indeed. This comics, which originally appeared in the political weekly "Coteret Rashit", was under constant attack from religious circles and eventually was stopped at mid-point at the time of the Judges (it was supposed to describe the history of the whole Biblical period).
A well known adult comics painter was Dudu Geva who created many comic-strips, such as those about the minor clerk Joseph, two detectives Ahalan Vasalan and many other characters, in which there is a black but very funny description of the crazy Israeli reality. Geva created a very original comics language which came to a climax in his master piece "Rav Sha'anan Neged B'no shel Godzilla [Mighty Sha'anan Against the Son of Godzilla] (Sifriyat Ma'ariv, 1993). This wild humorous comic book tells of the battle of an unfit Israeli super-hero against a family of dinosaurs who threaten to destroy the universe after they have taken over a nuclear base on another planet. This is one of the classics of Israeli comics, a parody of science fiction literature, comics and just about everything else under the sun. At another time Geva run afoul of the Disney organization when he created a series about the adventures of a duck, which Disney claimed was an imitation of their Donald Duck. Disney won their suit against Geva and since then he doesn't create many comics; which is a pity.
Another comics artist who appeared at the time was Michele Kishke whose best comics work appeared in the young-adult periodical "Mashehu". There he had a series about the adventures of the kid "Mister Ti" who has super powers thanks to a special tea (though actually those powers had very little relevance to the stories themselves). The masterpiece of Kishke in that series was "Mister Ti in the Wild East" in which the hero takes time trips to various periods such as the crusaders' attack on Jerusalem, the Wild West, and Israel in the 1950s where he meets then prime minister Ben Gurion, who wants to use the time machine for changing history for Zionist purposes .... (Somebody should publish this long story as graphic novel as this is one of the peaks of Israeli comics.) Since then Kishke has become a spokesman for the Israeli comics world and written much about comics in the world, but has not really duplicated his success of the 1980s.
Another comics artist who is decidedly for adults is Zeev Engelmayer. He is an artist who combines nostalgic themes and use of well known pictures by other artists in his works with adult, and even highly erotic, subjects for a great effect. His best known comics character is SHOSHKA, a naked highly sexed woman who finds herself always in the most impossible situations.
The comics of the 1990s
In the 1990s comics had become a familiar medium in Israel and appeared in practically every children's magazine as a central feature, particularly thanks to the huge success of Uri Fink and his Zbeng series.
Comics had also won a new respectability due to the efforts of Israel's best known young writer Etgar Keret, a great fan of comics who published several volumes of critically acclaimed comics stories. Some of those stories he published with the group of comics artists Actus tragicus, "a collective" who publish adult comics in a very individual style. Unfortunately for economic reasons they have to publish those stories in English only. They are probably the best known Israel comics artists in the world, and publish new works every year. Their works are very experimental in nature, often with an SF or fantasy flavor, and are quite different from what is done elsewhere. Because of their subject matter and the adult handling of their themes, their work is atypical of Israeli comic-strips.
Actus site is:
Other comics artists quite successful in other countries are the brothers Hanuka, one of which, Tomer, is successful in the U.S.A. and the other, Asaph, published several graphic novels in France. In Israel they collaborated several times in with writer Etgar Keret, and for years published comics stories in the Israeli army magazine BAMACHANE, which had a very good comics section. Some of these were quite interesting, such as PLITA (EMISSION) by Asaph, published in 1994, about attempts to get the army to bring alien immigrants to Israel from Mars. Another quite long story by Tomer and by Boaz Lavi HATZALAF (THE SNIPER) which appeared in BAMACHANE in 1997 described a soldier who, because of an accident, develops telescopic sight, and as a result he becomes the perfect sniper and is sent by the army after dangerous Arab terrorists. It is a very good story which is quite exceptional in its subject matter and its seriousness.
Recently the brothers collaborated again with Keret both in an American Magazine BIPOLAR and in Hebrew adaptations of Keret Stories. Tomer's site is:
Illustrator Shai Tsirka is one of the outstanding comics illustrators in Israel, together with Fink and Geva. He does not avoid representing his Orthodox Jewish religious beliefs in his work. In his new book Masah HaTzaid shel Babah [Babah's Hunting Trip] (Modan, 2001) his usual hero "Babah", a man of the Mishna and the Talmud (a sort of Jewish "Astrix"), goes hunting for various fantastic animals mentioned in Talmudic tales, such as the "shamir" and the "leviathan".
At 2003 Tsirka produced the first collection of the adventures of YEHOTZAFAN (Modan, 2003) a detective who solves various mysteries in various biblical periods .
Comics in Magazines
There were several magazines which specialized exclusively or partially in comic-strips.
One of the best such was the Israeli army magazine BAMACHANE, which published many comics stories (some of which quite good) in the 1990s by well known comics creators such as Ruto Modan and Yermy Pinkus, and by beginners. Only few of the stories dealt with army life and only very few actually dealt with war.
There appeared magazines for older readers (though not necessarily adults) such as STIYOTH SHEL PINGVINIM (PERVERSIONS OF PENGUINS) which caused much comment because of the "anti establishment" content. It was also almost pornographic.
Meanwhile, there was for a time one comics magazine devoted solely to original comics efforts and called predictably Comics. It was in the main a vehicle for Uri Fink but gave space to other good comics artists such as Simon Wasserstein who revived on its pages the almost forgotten art of the continuing adventure comics, as well as to the newcomers to the genre. But it lasted for only some 20 issues.
Some very sophisticated science fiction comics have appeared in the computer magazine "Zombit". This magazine for computing and computer games has always given space to science fiction. Avner Friedman, who at the age of 15 founded the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, got his start in "Zombit" writing for its special section on Star Trek. (Avner is now a pilot in the Israeli Air Force.)
Another figure who stood out in "Zombit" was comics artist Koren Shadmi, later Uri Fink's assistant in the "Zbeng" series, who illustrated one of the stories in Fink's Profil 107 [Profile 107]. Shadmi stands out as a writer and illustrator of complex adventure stories with a science fiction background. In "Zombit" number 9, a special issue devoted to comics, Shadmi began a new long comics story in color, "Gavish" ["Crystal"], about the world in 2025. The story stopped for no clear reason, and in its place a new and more complex story began, "Ice" (no connection to the science fiction novel of this name by Assaf Gavron), about a battle between two alien races on Earth, in which a hero by the name of "Ice" finds himself involved. Shadmi also published a parody in "Zombit" of the TV series The X-Files, called "T'kuim b'Afela" ["Stuck in the Dark"] (the name is a pun on the Hebrew name for The X-Files series, Tikim b'Afela [Files in the Dark]).
Another interesting story that appeared in "Zombit" was "Pearl Harbor", which began in issue 52 in 1999. The author was Sh. Koren. This complex and twisted story as about a young woman who fights a satanic intelligent computer. The surprising end has the forces of evil victorious, with the woman declining into an ideal life in a virtual reality. A very sophisticated story.
Harpatkaot shel Zoë [The Adventures of Zoë] by Dan Hofrat and Ofrah Amit appeared in the magazine "Masah Aher l'Yeladim" ["A Different Voyage for Children"] from issue 21 in December 1999 to issue 45 of December 2001, in 25 parts. These are the adventures of the girl Zoë on the isle of Crete who discovers that the ancient civilization of Crete stills exists underground. There she aids the good-hearted Minotaur (who has the head of a bull) in his struggle against King Minos and his evil followers. The story ends somewhat disappointingly when the Minotaur goes into the depths of the sea to meet with Poseidon, King of the Sea. The adventures of Zoë and her friend Zoom continue from issue 47 with a new story by Hofrat and Amit in which the two are sucked into a well-known painting by Claude Monet, and there meet the painting's figures, and the painter himself. This second story had great potential for the future because of its strength of the imagination. But, alas, it ended too quickly, probably because of the audience's lack of interest .
Avi Katz is a science fiction and fantasy illustrator. He does the covers for the magazine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, "HaMeimad HaAssiri" ["The Tenth Dimension"], and did the covers for the translations of Douglas Addams' books in Israel. Katz also did a science fiction comics series for children, "Virtuela", about the adventures of a girl in a variety of fantastic virtual worlds inside a computer. But the series, which appeared in the magazine called "Comics", died with the magazine.
The series can be found in Avi Katz site:
Comics are now in a period of flowering in an unexpected place: children's magazines of ultra-orthodox Jews, where they publish many comics about the adventures of famous rabbis and the adventures of children who are threatened by Arab terrorists, Christian monks, and other "powers of evil" ... who knows perhaps in the future there will be a whole magazine in the ultra orthodox world devoted to such stories.
Attempts to produce continuing series of comics stories about such Marvel heroes as Spiderman and the X Men published by Contact Point won more success and had greater longevity than similar attempts in the past, which shows that the audience for those stories is growing. But by now all those series have been canceled and at the moment the only translated series of comics in Israel is a series of Disney stories OLAMO SHEL DISNEY (THE WORLD OF DISNEY).
Comics of the 2000s
New series of 4 issues written by Aviv Ohr and illustrated by Eran Aviani, Arinaa (Komikum 2002), appeared recently. This is a Tolkien-style story about the battle of the forces of good against the forces of evil, in a world of men and elves. The story is well-drawn, but the content is conventional. However this is a return to the almost-lost tradition in Israel of serious adventure tales such as those that were written and illustrated by Pinhas Sadeh, Asher Dickstein, and Giora Rotman. Let's hope that this book presages a new wave of such traditional adventure comics.
The site of Arinaa publishers :
the issues of Arinaa :
Also there is a new interesting comics group called Dimona whose site is :
and new comics groups appear all the time. Actuse are now not alone.
In parallel to all this, comics fan and collector Alon Itzkowitz has prepared a CD-Rom of older Israeli comics which are almost impossible to obtain today, from the decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. In this way he has preserved comics which would otherwise be unavailable.
And recently at 2003 there was published by Modan an imaginary book by Eli Eshed (this writer) and Uri Fink about the history of a comics series in alternative Israel, an Israel in which there was a fully developed comics industry since the 40s. The series and the book are called THE GOLEM and the hero is a Hebrew super hero to finish all Hebrew super heroes by that name . The book describe the history of the series since the 40s when it was created by, among others, a Jack Kirby who had immigrated in that alternate universe to Palestine like many other Jews, through to the year 2003, and it describes many stories in which the Golem is collaborating with various real well known Israeli personalities such as Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon as well as imaginary ones such as a version of his fellow super hero Danidin the Invisible boy from famous book series with that name. There was a song and a clip with limited animation about the Golem adventures created for the book.
Though imaginary, the book is based on real events and personalities of Hebrew popular culture peoples such as Pinchas Sade Asher Dickstein and Giora Rotman who are presented as writers and artists of the series in the alternative world, and imitations of their stories and art (as a "Golem artworks") were specifically and successfully made by Uri Fink. The book has won a great success in Israel and has something of a cult following.
The GOLEM site :
The Golem Clip
the Golem book :
The comics world in Israel is growing all the time, more and more children learn how to draw comics in special courses both in schools and outside. The future of comics in Israel looks bright, with new writers and artists joining it all the time. Now if only several more comics magazines were started, and there were more buyers for them....
More Links in Hebrew :
Articles with pictures in Hebrew about the history of Hebrew comics :
A list in Hebrew of the best of Israeli comics:
Article with picture about Israeli war comics :
A site about Jews in comics:
More about Jews in comics:
Back to Israeli Superheroes
All images and characters depicted on this site are copyright their respective holders, and are used for informational purposes only. No infringement is intended and copyrights remain at source.