German comics

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German comics
Earliest publications Mid 1930s - onward
Languages German
Related articles
European comics

German comics are comics written in the German language or by German speaking creators, for the comic markets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The German language comic market is not as large or strong in sales as in most other European countries: comics account for only approximately 3% of printed matter in Germany. The main publishers of original material are Schwarzer Turm, Weissblech Comics, Gringo Comics and Zwerchfell.

There continues to be a large presence of translated material in the German language market. Panini Comics holds licensing agreements to publish translated Marvel and DC Comics, among other things. Other comic publishers of licensed versions of foreign language material include Ehapa, Carlsen Comics, and others.

History[edit]

The German comic has many early forerunners. In the 19th century, the satire publication Simplicissimus featured many caricatures which became internationally well-known. At around the same time, Rodolphe Töpffer (Switzerland) and Wilhelm Busch (Germany) published many comic strips. They are now generally recognized as pioneers of the comic form, predating the development of the American comic strip. German born and influenced artists Rudolph Dirks and Lyonel Feininger brought the innovations to American Sunday papers.

For most of the post-World War II 20th century, the German-speaking comic market was dominated by translated importations like The Adventures of Tintin (German: Tim und Struppi), Asterix, and Donald Duck. Towards the end of the century, superheroes, manga, and Calvin and Hobbes began to have a large presence in the translated comic market. However, there were some successful German creations during this time.

Between 1934 and 1937, the silent comic strip Vater und Sohn (Father and Son) appeared in newspapers. It was one of the most popular German strips of all time. It was created by Erich Ohser, under the pseudonym e.o. plauen (which stands for erich ohser from plauen and was adopted by him after being blacklisted by the Nazis for his political cartoons).

Comic books never began to be published in Nazi Germany because such literature was banned under the Nazi party “Smut and Trash” decree of 4 February 1933.[1] The reaction of the SS towards the comic book character Superman was negative because the creator of Superman was Jewish, even though they regarded themselves as the primary representatives of the master race and were themselves trying to create a super race: "Jerry Siegel is a fellow who is intellectually and physically circumcised and has his headquarters in New York. He invented a colorful character that boasts a striking appearance, a strong body, and a red swim suit ... The creative Israelite named this pleasing character with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped brain 'Superman.'"—from the SS magazine Das Schwarze Korps - April 25, 1940 [2][3]

In post-war (the 1950s and 1960s) West Germany, comic books and strips were largely inspired by American models. Comic books for children and young people were developed, such as Sigurd by Hansrudi Wäscher (the complete works of Hansrudi Wäscher and new stories of Sigurd are published by Norbert Hethke). Despite dubious art quality and increasing resistance from educators, these comics were read in great quantities. Of somewhat better quality was the serial Jimmy das Gummipferd, which appeared for 25 years (beginning in 1953) in the magazine Stern.

In the 1950s, the series Nick Knatterton by Manfred Schmidt was published. The detective story strip was inspired by Schmidt's dislike of Superman, and was in part intended as a parody.

Comics in East Germany were less various in comparison to the west, but were more consistently of high quality. The most prominent publication was Mosaik, in which Hannes Hegen chronicled the adventures of the Digedags. When Hegen left in 1975, he took the characters with him. Mosaik continued without him and the characters were replaced by the Abrafaxe. The comic magazine Atze presented complete short stories with political contents, often depicting everyday life in the GDR, the history of the workers' movement or the communist anti-fascist resistance movement. More popular were the continuing stories of the two mice Fix und Fax that bookended every issue of Atze

Up to the beginning of the 1980s, German comics remained to a large extant limited to children's comics (such as Rolf Kauka's Fix and Foxi - not to be confused with Atze's Fix und Fax) and what few works were produced for older readers were generally formulaic. However, there are examples of exceptional children's comics, such as Walter Moers' Captain Bluebear and Kleines Arschloch. Much like in the American comic scene, creators interested in making more sophisticated comics have had to battle the prejudice that comics are a medium that is only suitable for children.

Since the mid-1980s, German speaking artists have been developing alternative and avant garde comics. This development was led by figures such as Brösel, whose character Werner captured the zeitgeist of young people in West Germany during the 1980s; Ralf König (Der bewegte Mann); or Matthias Schultheiss, who gained international acclaim (largely by working in the French market).

In 2000, Comicforum debuted on the web and acted as a hub for German comic creators. In 2004, it was recognized by the Interessenverband Comic, describing it as a factor the German comic landscape can no longer be imagined without.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ross, Corey. Media and the Making of Modern Germany. See chapter “National Socialist Restructuring of Media and Leisure”
  2. ^ "Justice League vs. The Mighty Thor (a parody created by this Third Positionist website):". National Futurism. 1940-04-25. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  3. ^ The SS and Superman--Das Schwarze Korps 25 April 1940:
  4. ^ "ICOM zur Verleihung des Sonderpreises 2004 an das Comicforum" (in German). Interessenverband Comic. Retrieved July 5, 2009. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Small Press Expo 2000 (CBLDF, 2000), pp. 253–259

External links[edit]