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 article is basically a paired down version of the one on Hebrew Comics, concentrating purely on the sections on superhero characters.
There are some "comics experts" in Israel who had claimed that over history the Jewish peoples had never shown much interest in art and comics, and that, in their opinion, the reason why till the last few years, the comics medium was not very popular in Israel. In fact, this claim show a complete ignorance of American comics which over much of its history has been 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 field . 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. By their very nature they had been thought to be fit only for children.
There was however from the 30s to the 1970s an industry of original Israeli Tarzan published from the 1930s to the 1970s. There were some 1000 (!) original Israeli stories of the Man of the Jungle, many of which are science fiction or fantasy. There are stories about Tarzan battling space invaders, and going to other planets. There are stories of horror, monsters, and the supernatural (vampires, mummies, etc.). Some stories tell of Tarzan's encounters with well known characters such as Flash Gordon (who had many adventures in space together with Tarzan and Boy), Captain Marvel ( on whom there was another series of original stories in prose at Israel at 1962), Dracula, Frankenstein, Doctor Fu Manchu, and many others.
For more on that see:
Another comics hero which was much translated to Hebrew was the Phantom. See:
and about the Hebrew stories of Captain Marvel see article with pictures
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. However with those exceptions the genre of super heroes was utterly unknown in Israel till the 1970s.
However the most famous Israeli super hero was not in a comics but in a prose books series. In fact, he is probably the most famous creation of Science-Fiction in Israel. "Dani-Din HaYeled HaRoe VeEino Nireh" [Dani-Din the Invisible Boy] (1961 - 2001) is a series for young children by veteran writer Shraga Gafni under the pseudonym "On Sarig"
Gafni is one of the most prolific and best known writers for children in Israel. His fame rest especially on this series which is the tale of invisible boy Dani Din who fought many criminals, pirates and evil Arabs and particularly Arabs leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Nasser. Over the years his adventures have become more and more fantasy-like; Dani Din even went into space where he fought an invading race of aliens. The latest book is Dani Din HaRoeh v'Eino Nireh baJoongel [Dani Din the Invisible Boy in the Jungle] (M. Mizrahi, 2001) (drawings by M. Aryeh), in which Dani Din goes to Africa where he meets an Israeli jungle man.
This series (totalling 29 volumes to date) are a part of the collective memory of most Israelis the way "Superman" is for Americans. Art for it was drawn by Arye Moskovitz (who signs his works M. Arye). Moskovitz is probably the foremost illustrator in Israel both in popularity and productivity). Moskovitz has done many thousand of books over a period of more than 50 years, perhaps more than any other illustrator in history. His illustrations for Gafni's Dani Din series, and for Tamar Borenstein Lazar's two series about talking intelligent apes Kofiko and Chipopo, as well many other famous children's series and books, are considered definitive, and are again part of the collective memory of almost all Israelis.
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.
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. The stories continued in a children's magazine and then stopped in mid plot. Uri On had vanished .
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 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.
But there was no more serious suoer hero at least until recently at 2003 when there was published by Modan an imaginary book by Eli Eshed (this writer) and Uri Fink
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.. It serves as a kind of "last word" about the Israeli comics super hero.
The GOLEM site :
The Golem Clip
the Golem book :
Back to Israeli Superheroes
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