In December 2008 a conference entitled 'Between the Personal and the Political: local Comics and Caricatures' took place in Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. It has turned to be one of the most colourful and extravagant conferences incorporating a wide array of participants – academic scholars, cartoonists and caricaturists, as well as a handful of amateurs debating comics and caricatures from each and every possible angle. The lectures as well as the portfolios exhibited have proven that along its role as a political-critical medium, comics and caricatures take a vital stand in unveiling social stereotypes, gender issues as well as historical and traumatic national events, and that comics and caricatures are no less reflective than other arts. It was one of the rare conferences attracting a huge number of students, colleagues and a variety of people who filled Bezalel halls to their limit.
The papers and portfolios gathered in this issue rely mostly on the material presented in the above mentioned conference. In the first section of this issue we have included seven academic papers treating comics and caricatures as a reflective media. Most of the papers refer mainly to the Holocaust, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to Terror and to the question of molding new historiography and collective memory. Dani Filc takes a stand towards the concept 'populism' treating it with Superman showing that it represents real tendencies in the development of American culture. In this vein one should approach Ory bartal's paper who eloquently discusses the role of comics in depicting traumatic events such as the Holocaust, Sabra and Shatila massacre and the atomic bomb dropped during Second World War on Japan. The same goes with Ben Baruch Blich's paper who treats comics as a source of knowledge, as in the case of the Jewish Holocaust during the Second World War. Frank Moller goes a step further connecting comics with what is labeled in the paper as 'the theory of security' meaning that both security and comics require audience participation, the one to render decision making whereas the other involves animating story lines. Dana Arieli-Horowitz collaborating with Efrat Golan, both contributed a paper analyzing Trauma vis-à-vis comics such as Palestine (Joe Sacco), The shadow of no Towers (Art Spiegelman), Exit Wounds (Roto Modan) and others.
Two papers are dedicated to caricatures. The one written by Orly Rachimiyan in which she debates the role of Iranian caricatures depicting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The other paper was contributed by Gal Ventura who takes us to the 19th century's caricatures rendering the new approach of breast feeding.
In the sections to follow we have included personal insights of artists presenting papers and portfolios of their own work and views, reviews on books and exhibitions.
No doubt, it is an issue endowed with rich, original and interesting materials, none of which has been published elsewhere.