Tourist Tip #189 / It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's the Israeli Cartoon Museum

Israel's rich history of caricatures and comics are on display at Holon's Israeli Cartoon Museum. A new exhibition of long-time Haaretz caricaturist Ze'ev opens March 15.

Whiz, bang, pooowwww! Ever miss the comic books of your childhood? Still secretly adding to your Spiderman collection? When reading the weekend paper, do you flip first to the Sunday funnies? If so, Holon's Israeli Cartoon Museum should leap to the top of your must-see list.

The Cartoon Museum, founded in 2007, is part of Holon's efforts to rebrand itself as a family-friendly cultural center. As if to emphasize the point, when you arrive at the museum, you're greeted in the courtyard by cutout figures of some of Israel's better-known cartoon characters.

The museum is actually dedicated to caricatures and comics, two related, albeit different, art forms. While Israel's comic book scene only started to gain momentum in the 1980s, Israel has had a well-developed caricature culture going back to the 1950s and even earlier, buoyed in a large part by the countries once thriving print newspaper culture.

In the early days of the state, as mentioned in a recent Haaretz article, cartoons played an important and visible role. It was even common for every political party to have an on-staff caricaturist to create caricatures for electoral propaganda posters and pamphlets.

The museum regularly features special exhibitions culled from decades of Israeli caricaturists and comic artists. It also sponsors regular workshops to teach children between the ages of 9 and 12 about different aspects of comic book culture and how to draw super heroes.

The museum's latest exhibit, opening on March 15, features the work of Israeli caricaturist Ze'ev, the pseudonym of Yaakov Farkash.

Farkash, whose Hungarian surname, like his Hebrew pen-name, means "wolf," was born in Budapest, survived the Holocaust and was interned by the British in Cyprus after trying to illegally immigrate to Mandatory Palestine after World War II. When he eventually reached Palestine in 1947, before the establishment of the state, he fought in the Battle of Latrun during the War of Independence. He went on to have a fruitful career as a caricaturist for a number of newspapers, most notably Maariv, before he joined Haaretz in 1962. He continued to work here until just months before his death in 2002.

Holon's Israeli Cartoon Museum is a perfect stop for those who have overdosed on ancient ruins, biblical history and the obvious tourist sites. If you're looking for something a bit more playful, a lot more modern, but still historically significant, this is the place to go.

The Israeli Cartoon Museum is located at 61 Weitzman St., Holon. Opening hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 A.M. - 1 P.M.; Tuesday and Thursday 5 P.M. - 8 P.M.; Saturday 10 A.M. - 3 P.M.; on Sundays the museum is closed.

Regular admission: NIS 15. Students, soldiers and seniors: NIS 10. Children under 5: Free. Groups of 15 people or more are asked to call in advance at 03-652-1849.

Courtesy of Israeli Cartoon Museum