Wednesday, 16 December 2020
Friday, 5 June 2020
Following on from my previous post, about the British journalist who ended up becoming a hit crime author in East Germany, but also continuing the series of articles I began earlier this year about comics around the world.
I am indebted to the German language website ddr-comics.de for much of this information and to online translation tools for helping me understand it.
Atze was the
name of a children’s adventure comic in the GDR. The small-format comic magazine was published monthly from 1955 to 1991 by Junge Welt-Verlag, under the
direction the national youth organisation the FDJ (in English: ‘Free
German Youth’), and was aimed at the members of
the Ernst Thälmann Pioneers (an East German version of the Boy
Scouts or Woodcraft Folk). It’s first editor was Klaus
Popular themes included the October Revolution, the communist resistance against Nazism, or partisan stories, but also stories about voyages of discovery.
However, not all of the comic strips drew upon events from labour or partisan history for inspiration. Jürgen Kieser (1921-2019), who created the title character Atze, a boy from Berlin, also created the popular comic strip about two mice named ‘Fix and Fax’ in 1958. An animated version of this comic strip with puppets was produced by DEFA in 1969. Although ‘Fix and Fax’ was discontinued in 1991, the comic strips have continued to be published in various collected editions since 1994.
The series ‘Pats
Reiseabenteuer’ (in English: ‘Pat's Travel Adventures’), which
ran from 1967 until 1991, was about a wandering journeyman travelling around Germany in the 19th century,
often meeting famous historical personalities, and the episodes
always contained a competition where readers were asked to spot the
modern item hidden within the panels. It was written by Atze’s
editor Wolfgang Altenburger and drawn by Harry Schlegel. The artist
Günter Hain also created ‘The Bells of Novgorod’ in the
In many primary schools in the GDR, the Working Group "Junge Brandschutzhelfer" (Young Fire Safety Helpers) was founded in the 1960s, which were known as the "Atze fire brigade" until 1990. The Atze editorial staff promoted fire safety for children and young people through regular reports on the groups’ activities. The television network of the GDR also addressed the work of the Atze fire brigades, commonly in its holiday programming.
The magazine FRÖSI (short for "Fröhlich sein und singen" or “Be Cheerful and Sing”, which does sound a bit coercive within the context of a one-party state) was aimed at kids between 6 and 14 and also featured some comic strips, among other content about interesting crafts and scientific and cultural stuff. From the 1960s it also published comic strips from places like Italy and Hungary. Jürgen Günther (1938-2015) created a comic strip for the magazine about a fat orangutan named Otto, which later became ‘Otto and Alwin’ in 1976 with the addition of a penguin who escaped from a zoo and became Otto’s friend.
The ruling Socialist Equality Party of the GDR struggled with what to do about comics throughout the countries' 40 year existence, which I suppose explains why the East German comics scene was quite small. Most of those that were published, like Atze and FRÖSI, seemed to strike a balance between popular strips featuring characters like Fix and Fax and more propagandistic offerings that promoted the SEP's socialist worldview. Both its small size and the fact that East German comics have been almost entirely ignored in the west means that for many years I remained oblivious that the GDR had any comics, hence the reason for this article.
My other articles about comics around the world:
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Nine short novels, six of which belong to the crime and detective genre, the aforementioned two children's books and four travel books about China and Asia have also been published in English at some time or another. Yet despite this diverse oeuvre it appears that Slaves of the Cool Mountains remains the only one of his books currently still in print in the English language, and he currently has no English language Wikipedia entry.
Friday, 1 May 2020
The Longford River flows through south west London. Its path is not entirely natural, having been canalised at various stages and engineered to flow downhill in order to feed the majestic Diana Fountain in Bushy Park. It flows through various landscapes on its journey, including skirting the southern edge of Heathrow Airport and making its way through Feltham and Hampton.
So many local artists use Bushy Park as a source of inspiration for their landscape art that I wanted to focus some attention on the more overlooked landscapes through which the river passes, like this stretch of the river as it flows from Bedfont towards Feltham town centre, hinted at by the buildings on the horizon.
If you like it there are a variety of forms for you to own it available through my Red Bubble page.
Thursday, 30 April 2020
Puede leer la versión original en inglés aquí: https://thefreakydoodlesofrussmcp.blogspot.com/2018/11/how-i-reached-adulthood-without-ever.html
Saturday, 28 March 2020
I haven't been to Morocco since 1994, but for a brief moment in time it almost feels like I have left the streets of southern Paris behind and I am deep in the Casbah of Tangier.
According to Mrs McPherson, during WW2 this majestic building was used as a makeshift school for Jewish children, whose families were being sheltered from the Vichy government of Nazi collaborators by Algerian partisans involved in the French Resistance.
As a counter-balance to the intense history associated with the Grand Mosque is the cafe which occupies one corner of the site, where beautiful mint tea again transports me back to a Tangier of the mind.
Friday, 27 March 2020
The second part of our new series of web tutorials teaching the raw basics of drawing that pretty much anyone should be able to master.