Comics in Luxembourg, Part One: Luke Haas and The Pioneering M. Pitche

Comics from Luxembourg! Can you find Luxembourg on a map? Can you name the countries that surround it? Are you sure you’re not thinking of Liechtenstein instead? Or have you always thought Luxembourg was a fictional place, like Ruritania, the Grand Duchy of Fenwick, or Flin Flon? (Okay, one of those places is real; you’re online, look it up.) Continue reading

Who Is Götz von Berlichingen, and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things?

Your average humour or satire magazine has a pretty straightforward title. JudgePunchMadCrackedNational LampoonCharlie HebdoTitanicThe Onion. So you might wonder why, in post-World War I Austria, somebody thought it would be a good idea to give a satirical paper the tongue-twisting title Der Götz von Berlichingen. Continue reading

In Which Fritz Gareis, Jr. is Briefly Resurrected–But Such Things Never End Well

Well, I thought that I was all done with Fritz Gareis, at least for the time being; but then I discovered the Illustrierte Wochenpost (“Illustrated Weekly Post”). The Wochenpost, or as it liked to style itself, the Illwo, was one of Vienna’s most entertaining newspapers from late 1928 to mid-1939; it proudly bore on its masthead the subtitle Unterhaltungsblatt für Jedermann (“entertaining paper for everyone,” though literally “every man”). Continue reading

Fritz Gareis Puts Himself In the Picture

On 5 September 1924, “Frau Riebeisel,” leading lady of the comic strip Bilderbogen des kleinen Lebens, “has herself painted.” This is Vienna in the 1920s, after all; the place is crawling with artists, some of them quite famous. Gustav Klimt would have been just the ticket, but he was six years dead at this point, and probably well out of the Riebeisels’ budget either way, so someone less prominent will have to do. Continue reading

Upstairs, Downstairs, Inside, Outside: Fritz Gareis Breaks the Third Wall but Leaves Social Hierarchies Intact

Fritz Gareis Jr.’s Bilderbogen des kleinen Lebens is an innovation, insofar as it seems to be the first regularly appearing continental European comic strip with speech balloons, but otherwise it isn’t particularly innovative in formal or aesthetic terms. As noted earlier, the strip always consisted of six discrete panels—three rows, two columns—from its very first appearance in Götz von Berlichingen to its final appearance under Gareis’s hand less than two years later.

There was, however, one exception. Continue reading

A Mysterious Lone Comic Strip in the Fliegende Blätter

1924 was a big year for one of Germany’s longest-lived satirical tabloid magazines, the Fleigende Blätter (1844-1944; Blätter rhymes with “better”). The title literally means “flying leaves,” by extension “loose leaves, or sheets of paper.” Printed weekly by the Munich firm of Braun & Schneider, the Fliegende Blätter had a pedigree that included having published such renowned artists as Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908) and Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885). Continue reading

The European Continent’s First Comic Strip?

Fritz Gareis Jr.’s Bilderbogen des kleinen Lebens (literally, “Broadsheet of the Little Life,” but a better loose rendering might be “Scenes from ordinary life”) may well be the first regularly appearing continental European comic strip with speech balloons, and is almost certainly the first in German. Continue reading