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"Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics" opens at the Rubin Museum of Art

Six things to do at the museum's latest exhibit.

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    Green LamaScript by Richard Foster, art by Mac Raboy, 1945

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck "Uncle Scrooge in Tralla-la"Writer, Penciler,...

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    "Bugs Bunny's Dangerous Venture"

  • Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

    Buddha, He Lit the Path (Amar Chitra Katha)By S.K. Ramachandra, art by Souren...

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    Creepy "King Keller"By Nicola Cuti and Syd Shores, 1971

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    MilarepaCourtesy Eva van Dam

  • Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

    Weird Wonder Tales "The Man Who Found Shangri-la"Writer: Stan Lee; Penciler:...

Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

Green LamaScript by Richard Foster, art by Mac Raboy, 1945

It's hard to imagine Mickey Mouse, the Buddha and Tomb Raider Lara Croft ever sharing the same space. Yet they're all featured in the graphic novels on display at the new "Hero Villain Yeti: Tibet in Comics" exhibit, which opens at the Rubin Museum of Art this month. Featuring more than 50 comics from around the world dating from the 1940s to the present, the show lets young museumgoers discover Tibet as a land roamed by yeti, inhabited by wise men and full of dark magic. "We want kids to simultaneously learn about Tibet, get to know comic books as an art form and be inspired to make their own comics," says Martin Brauen, the Rubin's chief curator emeritus and the exhibit's creator. Need an extra incentive to go? Admission to the show, which is housed on the museum's lower level, is completely free. Here are six things not to miss.

Kids get a life-size view of the emerald-hued crime fighter—the star of numerous comic books and radio broadcasts—hanging from the museum's ceiling. The backstory of the 1940s hero: He changed into a man of superhuman strength by chanting a mantra he learned during years of devoted meditation in Tibet.

Along one wall, kids can check out first-edition, 3-D likenesses of characters who traveled to Tibet in comic books, including Donald Duck, Porky Pig and Dr. Strange.

The heart of the exhibit is a reading area where children can sit at tables and peruse dozens of comic books—some translated into English for the first time—that depict Tibet as a place where people go in search of unknown creatures, to find the promised land or to hide from the law. Kids will get a kick out of discovering a faraway place through the eyes of their favorite characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Tomb Raider Lara Croft and the Abominable Snowman.

Nonfiction books tracing the historical roots of the Tibetan myths and legends that figure into comic book plots are on display for families to look at. Point out the cover of T. Lobsang Rampa's The Third Eye. Children will be intrigued by the protagonist's mystical power to see into the past, present and future.

Some of the comics on display date back more than 60 years, but the Tibetan storytelling tradition is actually centuries old. Little ones will easily see the similarities between comics and a Tibetan narrative scroll from the 1700s, which shows life scenes of the saint Milarepa. "It's like a comic book, but you can't flip the pages," Brauen says.

On their way out, kids can catch a short film that summarizes the exhibit by animating some of the most popular comics it features (Mickey Mouse in High Tibet, Bugs Bunny: Dangerous Venture, Tintin in Tibet and The Twilight Zone: Hamilton's Creature).

"Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics" is on view from Dec 9 through June 11, 2012, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

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