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Walter Moers

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Walter Moers
BornWalter Moers
(1957-05-24) 24 May 1957 (age 67)
Mönchengladbach, West Germany[1]
OccupationAuthor, comic artist and illustrator
GenreComics & Graphic Novels, Humor, Fantasy Literature
Walter Moers artist's mark

Walter Moers (German pronunciation: [ˈvaltɐ ˈmœʁs] ; born 24 May 1957)[1] is a German comic artist, illustrator and writer. He is the creator of the character of Captain Bluebear and became a best-selling author in Europe with his Zamonia novels.[2]


Captain Bluebear and Hein Blöd, characters created by Moers, on the Gera in Erfurt

Moers was born in Mönchengladbach. According to his own statements, he ended his school career prematurely[3][4] and initially supported himself by doing odd jobs.[1][5] He began a commercial apprenticeship, but did not finish it.[5] The odd jobs included his first drawing commissions, such as little bedtime stories for the "Sandmännchen".[6] Moers acquired his drawing skills through self-study.[7][8]

Walter Moers is married and has lived in Hamburg since 1992.[4][9] He is considered publicity-shy, does not make public appearances, gives his few interviews by e-mail and rarely allows himself to be photographed.[4] The only recordings of him that exist are older photographs and a short film in the NDR archives showing Moers at an exhibition in 1994.[10][11] Some of the few pictures also date from before 2000, and in the case of some of them it is disputed whether the person depicted is really Walter Moers.[12] His dealings with the public have meanwhile become a kind of trademark, so that he is often dubbed a "phantom".[13][11][14] Therefore, biographical information on Moers must be treated with caution, as there are few truly reliable sources.[12]


Zamonia series[edit]

Walter Moers's Zamonia novels are works of fantasy literature presented as literary fragments of the world of Zamonia.[15] In the course of the publications, Moers's authorship was fictitiously reduced further and further, from author and helper (The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear) to editor and illustrator (Ensel and Krete, The City of Dreaming Books) to second-tier editor (The Alchemaster's Apprentice).[15]

The books are characterised by their intermedial and intertextual presentation.[15] Thus, there are many references to other works of literature, film and music.[15] The parallels are sometimes so obvious that the Zamonia novels have been called "plagiarism poetry" and "art of copying".[16] However, the combination of maps, illustrations and texts in which the novels are written also contributes to the intermediality.[15] Both adolescent and adult readers are given as the target audience, although it can be assumed that Moers intended the works primarily for adults.[15]

Language and style[edit]

Moers' style is overall strongly influenced by the tradition of the grotesque. The Zamonia novels are in themselves easy to understand and partly influenced by everyday language, and therefore belong more to popular literature.[17] However, by repeatedly alluding to works that are usually considered "canonical" through intermedial and intertextual references, sometimes even whole set pieces, Moers blurs or negates the sometimes imaginary boundary between "high literature" and "trivial literature".[17]

Among the obvious references are the dedication of entire novels; with Ensel und Krete, inspired by the Grimm's fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, and Der Schrecksenmeister, behind which Gottfried Keller's novella Spiegel, das Kätzchen is hidden.[10] In addition, elements from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, William Goldman's The Princess Bride or Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 are evident.[10]


Walter Moers' works have already been translated into over 20 languages, including mainly the Zamonia novels.[18] Because of the many stylistic devices and word creations, translating Moers' novels is considered a particular challenge. For example, the translator of most of the works into English, John Brownjohn, describes how many names had to be Latinised and the large number of anagrams had to be re-imagined.[19] Several works dealt with translation problems based on Walter Moers' works and showed difficulties in translating neologisms and phrasemes.[20][21]


His best-known comic characters are:

  • Das kleine Arschloch (English: The Little Asshole), a precocious and irreverent little boy who constantly gets one over on the adults.
  • Der alte Sack (English: The Old Curmudgeon), a terminally ill old man in a wheel chair who makes sarcastic comments on what he sees.
  • Adolf, die Nazisau (English: Adolf, the Nazi Swine), an absurd interpretation of Adolf Hitler in today's world.
  • Käpt'n Blaubär (English: Capt'n Bluebear), a sea-faring bear with blue fur, who spins ridiculous pirate yarns, all of which, he claims, are true.

Works available in English translation[edit]

  • Little Asshole, 1991, Eichborn, ISBN 3-8218-2998-2
  • The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear, 2000 (UK) / 2005 (US), ISBN 9781441732552, including audiobook, 2010, ISBN 978-1441732590
  • A Wild Ride Through the Night, 2004, ISBN 9781585678730, including audiobook, 2012, ISBN 978-1441758064
  • Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures : a novel in two books, 2004, ISBN 9780099472223, including audiobook, 2010, ISBN 978-1441757982
  • The City of Dreaming Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58567-899-0, including audiobook, 2011, ISBN 978-1441757937
  • The Alchemaster's Apprentice, 2009 (English Edn), ISBN 9781590202180, including audiobook, 2011, ISBN 978-1441757845
  • The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books, 2012 (English Edn), ISBN 9781846556883


  • Die Klerikalen, 1985 (comic)
  • Aha!, 1985 (comic)
  • Hey!, 1986 (comic)
  • Das Tier (the animal), 1987 (story with pictures)
  • Schweinewelt (pigs' world), 1987 (comic)
  • Die Schimauski-Methode (the Schimauski method), 1987 (children's book)
  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch (congratulations), 1985 (comic)
  • Von ganzem Herzen (whole-heartedly), 1989 (comic)
  • Kleines Arschloch (little asshole), 1990 (comic)
  • Schöne Geschichten (beautiful stories), 1991 (comic)
  • Das kleine Arschloch kehrt zurück (the little asshole returns), 1991 (comic)
  • Schöner leben mit dem kleinen Arschloch (better living with the little asshole), 1992 (illustrated satires)
  • Es ist ein Arschloch, Maria (it's an asshole, Mary), 1992 (comic)
  • Der alte Sack, ein kleines Arschloch und andere Höhepunkte des Kapitalismus (the old curmudgeon, a little asshole and other pinnacles of capitalism), 1993 (comic)
  • Arschloch in Öl (asshole in oil), 1993 (graphical parodies)
  • Du bist ein Arschloch, mein Sohn (you're an asshole, son), 1995 (comic)
  • Sex und Gewalt (sex and violence), 1995 (comic)
  • Wenn der Pinguin zweimal klopft (the penguin always knocks twice), 1997 (comic)
  • Kleines Arschloch [de] (little asshole), 1997 (movie: script and song lyrics)
  • Adolf, 1998 (comic)
  • Feuchte Träume (wet dreams), 1999 (comic)
  • Adolf, Teil 2 (Adolf, part 2), 1999 (comic)
  • Die 13½ Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär (The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear), 1999 (novel)
  • Käpt'n Blaubär – Der Film (captain Bluebear – the movie), 1999 (movie: script; for children)
  • Ensel und Krete (the plot of which is loosely based on "Hansel and Gretel"), 2000 (novel)
  • Schwulxx-Comix (gay'xx comix), 2000 (comic, with Ralf König)
  • Wilde Reise durch die Nacht (A Wild Ride Through the Night), 2001 (novel)
  • Schamlos! (unashamedly!), 2001 (comics with additional material)
  • Der Fönig (the Fing), 2002 (story with pictures about a King who always mixes up the letters "F" and "K")
  • Rumo & Die Wunder im Dunkeln (Rumo : And His Miraculous Adventures), 2003 (novel)
  • Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher (The City of Dreaming Books), 2004 (novel)
  • Adolf. Der Bonker (Adolf. The Bunker), 2005 (comic, the truth about Adolf Hitler's last days in the bunker)
  • Das kleine Arschloch und der alte Sack – Sterben ist Scheiße [de] (The little asshole and the old curmudgeon – To die is shit), 2006 (movie: script)
  • Der Schrecksenmeister, (The Alchemaster's Apprentice) 2007 (novel)
  • Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher, (The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books), 2011 (novel)
  • Der Bücherdrache (The Bookdragon), 2019 (novel)
  • Die Insel der Tausend Leuchttürme, (The Island of a Thousand Lighthouses), 2023 (novel)

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Engelhardt, Dirk (2017), "Walter Moers", Kindler Kompakt: Märchen (in German), Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, pp. 199–203, doi:10.1007/978-3-476-04359-7_48, ISBN 978-3-476-04358-0, retrieved 5 July 2023
  2. ^ Kirby, Jane (1 August 2005). "The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers". publishers weekly. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  3. ^ Wolfgang Schütz (7 March 2020). "Walter Moers: "Früher war ich dümmer, aber auch furchtloser"" (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2022. Ich habe im letzten Jahr vor dem Abitur das Handtuch geschmissen und konsequent die Schule geschwänzt.
  4. ^ a b c Jochen Siemens (21 October 2006). "Süskind des Nordens". Stern (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Walter Moers - Der Allrounder im Literaturbetrieb". Buchnews. 29 December 2013. Archived from the original on 28 January 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  6. ^ Cornelia Laufer (24 May 2007). "Ein Arschloch geht um die Welt". Stern (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  7. ^ Claudius Prößer (25 November 2016), "Berliner Zeichner Fil: "Ich hatte nichts mehr zu sagen"", Die Tageszeitung: Taz, ISSN 0931-9085, retrieved 21 June 2022
  8. ^ "Wasserfarbenfeuchtfrisch". Die Zeit. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Zamonien - Autor | Walter Moers" (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Gerrit Lembke. "Walter Moers - ein großes Missverständnis?" (PDF). Literaturblatt. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  11. ^ a b Auf der Suche nach dem Phantom: Walter Moers, Bericht im NDR (online bei youtube).
  12. ^ a b Stoll, Isabel (2020), "1.2 Walter Moers", Das ist doch trivial! Wie Walter Moers mithilfe von Intertextualität mit der 'Grenze' zwischen 'Hoch- und Trivialliteratur' spielt [That's trivial! How Walter Moers uses intertextuality to play with the 'boundary' between 'high and trivial literature'] (in German), Knoxville: The University of Tennessee, p. 11
  13. ^ Wolfgang Schütz (4 September 2017). "Das Phantom ist zurück" (in German). Augsburger Allgemeine. Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  14. ^ Anika Riegert (8 January 2007). "Walter Moers, der Phantom-Star" (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Gerrit Lembke (2011), Walter Moers' Zamonien-Romane: Vermessungen Eines Fiktionalen Kontinents, V&R unipress GmbH, pp. 18–21, 26, 76, ISBN 978-3-89971-906-2, retrieved 22 June 2022
  16. ^ Gerrit Lembke. "Walter Moers - ein großes Missverständnis?" (PDF). Literaturblatt. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  17. ^ a b Isabell Stoll (December 2020), "5. Fazit und Ausblick", Das ist doch trivial! Wie Walter Moers mithilfe von Intertextualität mit der 'Grenze' zwischen 'Hoch- und Trivialliteratur' spielt, vol. Master Theses, Knoxville: The University of Tennessee, p. 79
  18. ^ "Zamonien - Romane | Walter Moers" (in German). Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  19. ^ "John Brownjohn on Walter Moers and Translation". Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  20. ^ Jule Zenker (2014), Neologismen und deren Übersetzung ins Englische. Walter Moers' Zamonien-Romane, GRIN Verlag, ISBN 978-3-656-61419-7, retrieved 23 June 2022
  21. ^ Natalie Unger (2020), Die Äquivalenzbeziehung zwischen Phraseologismen in Walter Moers' Roman "Die 13 1⁄2 Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär" und der norwegischen Übersetzung "Kaptein Blåbjørns 13 1⁄2 liv" (PDF), vol. Master Theses, Universität Bergen

External links[edit]