Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Circulation magazine – a Chat with King Features Syndicate, Inc.

[1] Sidney Loeb, the Editor of CIRCULATION magazine, is introduced to Little Jimmy's Lil’ Ole Bear! 

"The circulation of CIRCULATION MAGAZINE - subtitled: 'A Magazine for Newspaper-Makers' - is just 5,000 copies an issue. Because it is sent to every newspaper executive in the country, and to hundreds of advertising agencies and national advertisers, it is registered as third class mail. If you miss your copy write to us, and we'll mail one to your home." - Circulation Chat editorial, in #4, Sep 1921.

[2] King Features sold journalistic productions of all kinds, and notably comic strips in black-and-white and full-colour.
[3] Circulation #4, Sep 1921, cover by Joe McGurk. "Can you fancy Kayo Tortoni, the beautiful newsie of the skies, delivering your paper every morning?"
[4] Circulation #25, July 1926, "Bughouse Fables" by Paul Fung.
"King Features Syndicate, Inc. - the greatest family of circulation boosting comics on earth!"

[5] Circulation #3, July 1921, "Why Are Comic Pictures Necessary in Sunday Newspapers?" by Arthur Brisbane. 
[6] Arthur Brisbane.
[7] Circulation #18, Feb 1925, Happy Hooligan is hired to laugh, strip by F. Opper.
[8] Circulation #12, Apr 1923, Jimmy Swinnerton at work in Canyon Country.
"The COMIC-ARTISTS Show That They can DRAW!" Circulation #26, Sep 1926.

[10] Circulation #24, May 1926, Li'l Ole Bear M.D. - for which Jimmy Swinnerton pictures his editor who signed the article as "Noted Author and Critic" Beol Yendis.
[11] Circulation #25, July 1926, "The Newspaper Art Gallery" by Sals Bostwick.
[12] Circulation #3, July 1921, "To Laugh or Not to Laugh" by Alexander Black.
"King Features Syndicate, Inc. - the greatest family of circulation boosting comics on earth!" Circulation Chat editorial
[13] Circulation #18, Feb 1925 Harold H. Knerr - author of the strip "The Katzenjammer Kids" - was interviewed by Walter E. Sagmaster for Smart Set magazine.
[14] Circulation #3, July 1921, cover by Nell Brinkley.
[15] Circulation #3, July 1921, "Down on the Farm", a new strip by F. Opper. 
[16] Circulation #25, July 1926, R.F. Outcault writes about his friend Fred Opper, who's already making fun for half a century!
[17] "Mr. Opper has done his share as a grouch destroyer."
[18] Circulation #9, Sep 1922, "Mr. Frederick Burr Opper", by Penelope Clarke.
[19] Circulation #26, Sep 1926, announcement for Ad. Carter's strip "Just Kids".
[20] Circulation #19, Apr 1925, Happy Hooligan marvels at the Editors and Publishers Banquet, strip by F. Opper.
[21] Circulation #4, Sep 1921, "The Relativity of Art and Comic Art" is what Billy DeBeck and R.B., Jr. discuss.
"It is well known that George Herriman puts so much 'serious' art into 'Krazy Kat' that great painters and critics fight frantically for his originals." - Circulation #26, Sep 1926.
[22] Circulation #4, Sep 1921, "The Relativity of Art and Comic Art".  Barney: "Come on, Boss - I feel like a hoss in a garage!"
[23] PICTURE RHYME - Cover of The Saturday Evening Post, 13 Jan 1962, showing "The Connoisseur" by illustrator Norman Rockwell (b.1894).
[24] Circulation #11, Mar 1923, "Why Newsies Get Rich" by comic strip maker Fay King who pictured herself.

For most readers of YESTERDAY'S PAPERS this is just a first glimpse of CIRCULATION magazine, a promotional paper published at irregular intervals from 1921 to 1927 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. in New York City, NY. My present estimate is that at least 29 issues were published. The earliest I saw is from 1921, the latest from 1927. 

BUT UP TO NOW JUST 15 NUMBERS HAVE RESURFACED (11 full issues, plus from 3 issues only the covers, and from 1 issue only the interior).

Huib van Opstal

[ to be continued ]

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cartoonists of the Chicago Tribune

[1] Film Star Joe Murphy as Andy Gump, Dec 27, 1924 

THE Chicage Tribune billed itself as “The World’s Greatest Newspaper” and could boast many of the world’s greatest newspaper comic strip artists. The earliest staff cartoonists were John T. McCutcheon and Carey Orr. Later the line-up included William Donahey, Sidney Smith, Harold Gray, Frank King, Chester Gould, Frank Willard, Ferd Johnson, Gaar Williams, Carl Ed, Bill Holman, Martin Branner, Gus Edson, Ed Leffingwell, and Zack Mosley.

[2] “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” Jan 23, 1927
[3] William Donahey, 1919
[4] Gaar Williams, Feb 10, 1935
[5] Frank King, July 24, 1932
[6] Carey Orr, Dec 20, 1920
[7] Chester Gould, Feb 28, 1932
[8] Ferd Johnson, May 8, 1932
[9] Sidney Smith, April 8, 1928


Thursday, December 25, 2014

German comic research, Annual 10 (‘2014’)

[a] 1916, John Bull Nimmersatt, cover.
Deutsche Comicforschung annuals.
by Huib van Opstal

SAVORED with a pinch of salt these annuals are a treat. Under the umbrella title Deutsche Comicforschung, the results of research into German comics are made available in a series of hardbound books carrying the comicplus+ imprint. Each annual is punctually published around the first of December, well before the Christmas season.

The print-on-paper project now totals an impressive 1500 pages in eleven volumes subtitled ‘2005’ to ‘2015,’ a continuing labour of love which the ‘2014’ opening pages describe as “merry drudgery” and “unparalleled, worldwide.” Meanwhile, published since eleven years, it still remains a loss-leader.

STRIP. Storytelling in strip format has had many names. In English, strip had the bad luck of being combined with the word comic into the dire ‘comic strip’ and ‘comic book,’ shortened in their turn to ‘comics’ — most confusing labels, all three of them. ‘Comic books’ were basically slim magazines, not books, and often not comic at all. 

NOVEL. Some progress has been made with ‘graphic novel’ — a term used since the mid-1960s that sounds better and seems to be more on target too — a novel is simply “a long story written about imaginary events.” And dictionaries describe ‘graphic’ as sharp, clear-cut, well-defined, unequivocal, lifelike, explicit. The type of label to fall in love with. Reading strips in the bulkier graphic novel format may also give the same sensation as reading novels in the well-known text-only format.
COMIC. The ‘comic’ label — the one imported from the US, and first used on German and Dutch periodicals in the 1960s — is now widely used in Germany where it seems to be pasted on any other description of pictorial storytelling formats. The countless labels that the Deutsche Comicforschung 2014 annual is still buzzing with:

THEN. Bild-Erzählung, Bildgeschichte mit gereimte Texten, Bildleiste mit Versen, Bilderbogen, Bildergeschichte, Bildgeschichte, Bilderbuch, Bilder-Heft, bunte Bilderseite, Bilderzeitschrift, Bildliteratur, Bildroman, Bildwitz, Einzelbildwitz, Witzblatt, Bildfortsetzungsgeschichte, Bildfolge mit Untertexten, Bilderserie, Bildserie, Bildstreife, Streife… 

NOW. …Strip, Comic, Comic-Streifen, Comicstrip, Comic-Heft, Comicseite, Comiczeitschrift, Comicliteratur, Comicadaption, Pantomimem-Strip, Sprechblasencomic, Farbcomic, Fotoroman, Fotokrimi, Fotocomic.

In terms of terminology this is still nothing compared to the mumbo-jumbo in semiotics, “the study of signs and symbols.” The focus in the Deutsche Comicforschung project is clear: its focus is on German culture, German language, and pre-1960s subjects — which generates an overall nostalgic feel. Another side effect is that non-German speaking foreigners upon entering the project’s website are just stonewalled by a frosty disclaimer,
“Sorry, no translation. ‘Patrimonium Deutsche Comicforschung’ (German Comics Research) explores the German comics literature. To understand this literature, you should have a basic knowledge of German.”
No problem, born and raised in the neighbouring Netherlands, such basic knowledge is with me since secondary school. German books, papers, films and TV were, and are, readily available here. The same goes for our southern neighbour Belgium. But what about a worldwide public of enthusiasts that enjoys a German comic, translated or not? Answers are needed here.

Here’s my first overview of book ten, the ‘2014’ annual.
[c] 1915, “Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein!” (dear fatherland, may it be quiet), detail of illustration by Ernst Heilemann, in Lustige Blätter 16, 37th war issue.

Last year’s volume is produced by eight contributors — all born in the 1950s, all volunteers — and serves up a dozen topics in 144 pages, 233 notes, and 333 illustrations. Prominent features in it are a screening of propaganda comics from 1914-18, the secret life of Rolf Kauka — “…the German Disney…” — and a history of photocomics. 

The leading article in it is an analysis of the first decade of the Deutsche Comicforschung project itself.


[1] THE FIRST DECADE by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 7-19 (11 pages, 19 notes, 29 illus.), 2005 bis 2014 – zehn Jahre »Deutsche Comicforschung«

The eleven-page ‘2014’ leading article ‘Words of encouragement’ (Worte auf den Weg) turns into a long and daring exposé of ten years of German comic research. In blunt language. The output of ComFor members, once co-founders of the Deutsche Comicforschung annuals, now competitors, is sham (“Augenwischerei,” eyewash) jolly science (“fröhlicher Wissenschaft”) — “merely to give a work-shy group of like-minded individuals a network to rise in academia.” And other secondary works on German comics? “Still highly incorrect.” A place to bequeath your collection to? There’s none. The only option is the Institut für Jugendbuchforschung at the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, although it files comics under ‘juvenile literature’ and solely comics-with-balloons are collected there. The Busch museum in Hannover then? “It collects originals, but hardly any printed matter or ordinary comics anymore” (…), it “still has no digital catalogue of its modest library, bulging at the seams” (…), it “bombastically began to call itself the Wilhelm Busch Deutsches Museum für Karikatur und Zeichenkunst” but “lacks time, money and competence” (…), it “publishes next to nothing anymore” (…), “only accidentally are comics exhibited, collected and described there” in “insignificant picture shows and catalogues…”

The closing paragraph states that something has got to change.

[d] “Tornister-Humor.”
[2] WW I – LUSTIGE BLÄTTER by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 18-36 (19 pages, 24 notes, 34 illus.), Propaganda im 1. Weltkrieg: Lustige Blätter in »ernster Zeit«

By publishing ‘Kriegshumor’ (war humour) in wartime Germany, the salesmen behind a popular political-satirical illustrated weekly — Lustige Blätter (funny leaves), then known as ‘Witzblatt’ (funny paper) — hit the jackpot. 

Art editor and artist Georg Mühlen-Schulte (1882-1981) — “…an artistic chameleon…” — masterminded the 223 Lustige Blätter war issues in 1914-18, each one bannered ‘Kriegs-Nummer’ (war issue) and published by Verlag Dr. Eysler & Co. in Berlin. In 1914, at the start of the war the people’s enthusiasm for it was real. War and every aspect of it was pictured as romantic, comic or jolly good fun, supported by every German sweetheart, wife or family. A war to be won in heroic fights, lifting everyone’s spirits (with what is called Hurrapatriotismus here, hurray patriotism). False images that continued to be printed and spread to the bitter end. (War profiteers even continued to sell reprints of their many titles during the postwar years. “…The war was the paper’s co-worker…”) The author also explains that in sharp contrast with these WWI shenanigans, the Nazis in 1930s Germany ordered propaganda long before WWII broke out. 

In Lustige Blätter 1914-18 the often romantic and pretty full-page cover art and ditto interior illustrations came from Ernst Heilemann and others. Full-page strips — ‘Kriegsbilderbogen’ (war comics), now renamed ‘Kriegscomics’ — came from Georg Mühlen-Schulte, Walter Trier, Robert L. Leonard, Carl O. Petersen, Paul Simmel a.o. 
[f] “Tornister-Humor.”
Publisher Eysler & Co. launched another weekly in 1914, Der Brummer (subtitled: “Lustige Kriegs-Blätter,” named after the sound of a heavy type of grenade) and published series of popular booklets. The imprint for what would become one of its best-selling titles was ‘Illustrierter Tornister-Humor’ — inspired by the earlier ‘Taschenbuch’ (pocket book, zakboek) format and name. All Illustrierter Tornister-Humor volumes were small-sized war joke books that landed in every soldier’s bag or knapsack, their ‘Tornister’ — which was what the publisher wanted the public to believe.

Close-reading the pages 18 to 36, my questions are manifold. What type of material did German and English publishers send each other, up to mid-1914? What would a comparative WWI chronology of German and English publications (in any form) reveal about comic art? What did international armies find in each others trenches? What type of books or papers did they pick out of the bags of their prisoners of war? Was such printed matter just reused as toilet paper, or was it taken home, did it survive?
[g] 1916, John Bull Nimmersatt page.

[3] WW I – ARPAD SCHMIDHAMMER by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 37-45 (9 pages, 18 notes, 26 illus.), Arpad Schmidhammer bei Jos. Scholz: Der Krieg als Kinderspiel

Arpad Schmidhammer (1857-1921), among much other work, wrote and drew some war picture books in 1914-17, typeset in the old German ‘Fraktur’ black-letter type, and published by Kinderbuchverlag Jos. Scholz in Mainz, a publisher of juvenile books. In three books he pictured little children, young boys still, as victorious soldiers — the war as child’s play — with subtitles like Ein Kriegsbilderbuch mit Knüttelversen (a war picturebook in rhyming couplets) and Eine lustige Schützengrabengeschichte (a funny trench tale). More targeted at adults than children was his picture book John Bull Nimmersatt; Und wie’s ihm ergangen hat; Ein Trutzbüchlein von Arpad Schmidhammer (1916, John Bull Neverenough; And what he bit off; A thrustbooklet by Arpad Schmidhammer). Every picture full-page, not many pages, oblong, all texts as captions in rhyme. ‘Scholz’ Künstler Bilderbücher’ (Scholz’ artist’s picturebooks) was the imprint used on these books. Another, smaller book was Maledetto Katzelmacker; Eine wunderschöne Räubergeschichte von Arpad Schmidhammer (Maledetto Dagotinker; A killer cock and bull story), small-size, composed of full-page full-colour pictures, many pages (?), all texts as captions in rhyme, targeted at young patriots. 
[h] ca.1916, Maledetto Katzelmacker, cover.

[4] WW I – BUNTE KRIEGSBILDERBOGEN by Andreas Teltow, pp. 46-49 (4 pages, 5 notes, 4 illus.), »Bunte Kriegsbilderbogen« – zum zweiten

On various WWI propaganda strips and postcard spin-offs. Comic strip series had titles like Bunte Kriegsbilderbogen and Lustige Kriegsbilderbogen, and were illustrated by Walter Trier, Franz Christophe, Fritz Wolff, Franz Jüttner, a.o.

[5] WALTER SCHOLZ by Gerd Lettkemann, pp. 50-57 (8 pages, 27 notes, 17 illus.), Walter Scholz

Walter Scholz (18??-19??) is a forgotten author-artist, active in the years 1924-53; with comical, cute, lively full-page comics in the weekly Braunen Post (‘Nationalsozialistischen Sonntagszeitung’) for instance, in 1933-34. All his work he lettered in Sütterlin, the standard longhand method that every German school kid in 1915-41 had to master — weirdly undecipherable now.
“In 1932 Berlin had no less than 147 daily newspapers and 2486 periodicals!” — 1949, Privatinstitut fur Pressezeichnen, Berlin-Halensee
[i] 1924, Allerhand Koks (lots of nonsense), written and illustrated by Walter Scholz, with the cover lettered in Sütterlin longhand.
[6] CHARLOTTE SIMON by Eckart Sackmann, Harald Kiehn & Gerd Lettkemann, pp. 58-65 (8 pages, 10 notes, 15 illus.), Charlotte Simon

Female illustrator and author-artist of comic strips Charlotte Simon (Berlin, 1912-) was active in 1932-58 in newspapers, periodicals and books. Pechmarie (Mary Mishap) was one of her strips in 1941-42 in the weekly Berliner Hausfrau, a women’s magazine. Her usual signature was ‘CHARLOTT SIMON.’ (without an ‘e’ and always with a closing point, which made it sound less German); to children she was presented as ‘Tante Charlotte,’ aunt Charlotte.
[j] 1940-41, Pechmarie (detail).

[7] EAST BLOCK COMIC AUTHORS by Michael F. Scholz, pp. 66-78 (13 pages, 32 notes, 21 illus.), Comiczeichner in der SBZ/DDR. Eine Generationenübersicht

Some background information on artists and authors active in the Soviet Occupation Zone SBZ and the German Democratic Republic DDR in the post-WWII years. With names like Barlog, Horst von Möllendorf, Paul Rosé, Conny (Conrad Neubauer), Gerhard Fieber, Elizabeth Shaw, Herbert Reschke, and Jean Effel from France (whose work was promoted in the DDR, he worked for many communist papers in Europe).
[k] 1960, Der illustrierte Filmroman, photocomic composed of cuts from a feature film starring Gina Lollobrigida, Italian leading lady.
[8] PHOTOCOMICS by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 79-103 (25 pages, 32 notes, 87 illus.), Kino auf Papier – vom Film-Bild-Roman zum Fotocomic

An extensive dossier about photostrips or ‘Kino auf Papier’ (cinema on paper, a quote from Federico Fellini’s first solo feature Lo Sceicco Blanco, The White Sheik, Italy 1951). Subtitles and streamers on covers worded it as ‘Filme in Wort und Bild,’ films in words and pictures, or ‘ein gedruckter Film,’ a film printed on paper.
[l] 1949, neues Kriminal Magazin, cover.

[9] ROLF KAUKA by Eckart Sackmann, Klaus Spillmann & Klaus Wintrich, pp. 104-121 (18 pages, 34 notes, 53 illus.), Rolf Kauka – der lange Weg zu Fix und Foxi

How Paul Rudolf Kauka (1917-2000) — or Rudo Kauka, Rudolf A. Kauka, and finally Rolf Kauka, the so-called “German Disney” — in the wake of WWII lied and cheated his way into comic publishing. Kauka dabbled a bit in drawing when young; was a militairy soldier in 1938-44 (Wehrdienst, Flak Regiment, Luftwaffe, near war’s end as a Flakkampfgruppe Oberleutnant with the German Cross in Gold for repeated bravery in battle). Invisible in 1944-45 — “…Our liberators found me unworthy…” — he resurfaced in 1947 in publishing, but only officially founded his own publishing company in late 1951 (in his wife’s name; up to the late 40s the allied occupation forces demanded a publishing licence, which made him use another man’s licencing number). Kauka the writer, ‘Dr.’ and publisher with original contents, connections in high places, a publishing licence and high press runs: it all proved to be a pack of lies. 
[m] loose pants from Calvo (1944-45), and Kauka (1953).
Kauka Verlag (Kauka Publishing) tried out a range of periodicals and style mixes. In 1949 its neues Kriminal Magazin was a sexpaper disguised as thriller. Kauka’s Bill Rocky pulps (small-sized) were cut-and-paste copies of prewar American pulp stories, with changed, untraceable characters’ names. His comic strips were drawn by never mentioned artists — his name stamped over them as “Rolf Kauka zeigt:” (Rolf Kauka presents) and “Copyright Kauka Comic Production.” Among his earliest artist-assistants were Dorul van der Heide (b.1903) and Werner Hierl (b.1930). In the summer of 1951, the launch of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse in translation in West Germany as Micky Maus magazine made Kauka think of a comic series of his own. Till Eulenspiegel (a magazine title later shortened to Eulenspiegel) was his first. Two little foxes by the name of Fix und Foxi (Fix and Foxi) had their first strip adventure in it, in number 6, 1953; twenty-three issues later the retitled Eulenspiegel became Fix und Foxi magazine, a comic weekly with a cover price of 60 Pfennig (then worth a fraction of a penny). The two little foxes became the staple characters of Kauka’s successful comics empire.

Fix and Foxi’s first outfit — loose pants held up by attached suspenders — was inspired by a 1944-45 French comic strip drawn by Calvo, La Bête Est Morte!; La Guerre Mondiale Chez Les Animaux. (According to the memoirs of Werner Hierl.)
[n] 1955, Auf den Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins (detail).
[10] DER SONTAGSBRATEN by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 122-127 (6 pages, 7 notes, 8 illus.), »Der Sonntagsbraten« – eine Kundenzeitschrift

About the translated strips in Der Sonntagsbraten (the Sunday roast), a butcher’s paper, published in 1952-67. What the Germans label a Kundenzeitschrift, a paper to beef up customer relations. Published bi-weekly on newspaper stock size sixteen pages A4 it had a token cover price of only 10 Pfennig — was it ever paid by anybody? — and reached its public over the counter of German butcher’s shops. 

The back-page was for comics, under the header “Für das Kind und das Kind im Manne” (for children and boys at heart). In 1955 it was a series by German artist Heinrich Meyer-Mengede (aka: Heinz, sign.: Mey-Meng), a freestyle strip adaptation of a recent German full-colour feature film, Auf den Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins (1954) starring Hans Albers and Heinz Rühmann. Originally designed as daily strips with talk balloons, in a loose mix of the comical and the realistic. From the US came strips like King of the Royal Mounted (as: King der Grenzreiter, the dailies by artist Jim Gary), and Myrtle by Dudley Fisher (as: Unser lustiges Lottchen). From the Netherlands came captioned comics like Kapitän Rob (Kapitein Rob, Captain Rob) by Pieter Kühn (b.1910, who signed with the sound of his name, as ‘QN’) and Die Abenteuer des Piloten Sturm (Piloot Storm, the adventures of Pilot Storm) by Henk Sprenger (b.1919).
[o] 1957, Nick Knatterton.
[11] NICK KNATTERTON by Eckart Sackmann, pp. 128-131 (4 pages, 5 notes, 7 illus.), »Nick Knatterton«: die vier verschollenen Folgen

How four Nick Knatterton strips were changed in text and artwork; a comparison of different printed versions. The wacky comic strip character of master detective Nick Knatterton was a late German addition to the endless line of Sherlock Holmes parodies, a line illustrated best in Bill Blackbeard’s 1981 book Sherlock Holmes in America — ‘…a treasure-house of long-hidden or -forgotten Sherlockiana…’ 

Author-artist Manfred Schmidt (1913-99, sign.: M. SCH.) made a unique speciality of this strip, created in 1950 for Quick, a fresh, new postwar German illustrated weekly. Both magazine and strip with a risqué touch here and there, the strips always in tiny pictures — from giant originals — and in short serial doses, bristling with remarks, instructions and explanations, cliffhangers, deductions and sexy females. 

The German verb ‘knattern’ stands for rattle, and that’s what Manfred Schmidt’s little strips did: rattle on in endless graphic and lunatic invention. (The similar ‘knetteren’ in Dutch is also used in ‘knettergek,’ barking mad.) Knatterton’s staple phrase as a detective, obviously, was “Kombiniere…” — combine, deduct.
[p] 2004, At the Erlangen Comic Salon, Eckart Sackmann first unfolded his plan for what would become the Deutsche Comicforschung series of annuals; reportage drawing by Andy Konkykru.
[12] MAO’s COMICS IN GERMANY by Helmut Kronthaler, pp. 132-142 (11 pages, 30 notes, 28 illus.), Maos Comics in Deutschland

Mao Tse-tung (1893-76) in 1949 became chairman of the Chinese Peoples Republic, aka ‘Red China.’ This closing article in Deutsche Comicforschung 2014 is an extended overview of 1950s-80s German-language publications of Mao’s indoctrinary Chinese booklets. Publications that were cheap, small, thick but still magazine-like, printed on pulp paper, solely filled with communist propaganda stories, and all told in full-page drawings with bone-dry descriptive captions, spread by fanatics. These and other types of Chinese pictorial story are endlessly labeled ‘comics’ in this overview of comic brainwashing.

So far the twelve articles in the ‘2014’ annual. The rich content of this volume alone is sufficient for years of further research.
RESEARCH. Dictionaries describe research as “work that involves studying something and trying to discover facts about it.” A year is apparently too short for the finishing touches needed here. Textually, there’s little pleasure or sparkle to enjoy. Up to ten pages per volume remain empty, and every annual still has the same straightforward basic design and setupAren’t strips all about graphic invention, about graphic playfulness too? And no, the book isn’t “Wissenschaftlich akribisch” (scientifically meticulous) as it says on every annual back cover, in many places the ‘Akribie’ — die größte Genauigkeit, the greatest accuracy — isn’t sustained. Luckily, sorry mistakes are rare. (Missing that offsetprinting in WWI didn’t exist yet, or missing the clearly visible signature of Dudley Fisher.) But bibliographic standards are neglected and exact titles (those on a title page) or specifications of exact print size, printing method, printer or publisher, are not given. Navigation and readability of the checked ‘2014’ volume do suffer from the odd locations in which sidenotes and picture captions are placed, in far page corners or pages away. (Every annual is size A4 and hardbound.) Captions are hussled together without linebreaks and not very precise. The 233 notes seem unedited and too repetitive. The book has no index. Even the handy visual list of contents on the back has no page numbers. Overall, I spotted too much unfriendliness towards readers and users of this book. Where’s the pleasure and the enthusiasm?
 NOTICE  When you hate this type of evaluation, please, do never attend a get-together of professional editors and designers screening each and every inelegant or imperfect aspect of a design in order to do better in the future. — Van Opstal
[q] 1934, page by Walter Scholz, detail.
THE SCOPE. But in the case of Deutsche Comicforschung who needs perfection when there is so much to enjoy? This is a wonderful effort and an essential book. A book full of never-before-seen visual treats and plenty of unknown facts, scoops even, including unknown author-artists. I also like the old-style double quote marks, the ones Germans and the French still use, called Gänsefüßchen (goosefeet). The scope of the book is wide, no emphasis on token trendy topics here: in Deutsche Comicforschung seemingly every style, quality and early influence from German comic history is treated in reasonable detail to make you see what German style in strips is about. Hundreds of illustrations in full-colour bring it to life, and the sharpness in detail of most pictures is delightful. The ‘2014’ volume has a great choice of cover illustration too. The many pictures make this book and this series an ideal tool for teaching German comic history.

THE FOUNDERS. My compliments to the Deutsche Comicforschung series, published under the comicplus+ imprint of Verlag Sackmann und Hörndl, a small publishing company started by founding partners Peter Hörndl and Eckart Sackmann in 1985. Graphic designer Hörndl made the initial design and logo, and from the start Sackmann came to the fore as the spokesman of both the Deutsche Comicforschung project and the Patrimonium Deutsche Comicforschung website. 

I know him since his quarterly trade magazine RRAAH! reviewed my 1994 Hergé biography Essay RG, a book including among much else my research on Hergé’s German influences. In RRAAH!’s opinion, “The most fact-based book on Hergé to date, probably the best on the subject for many years to come.” Years later, since 2001, we both participated in Robert Beerbohm’s Platinum Age Comics List, ‘Discussing the earliest international origins of comic books and strips.’
[r] 1952, “Fröhlige Pfingsttour!” Detail of Pentecost page in Funk-Wacht 23, lettered in Sütterlin longhand, by Walter Scholz.
DR. Eckart Sackmann (b.1951), studied Art, English and German in Hamburg, Aberdeen and Paris, was active as translator, editor and publisher of comics, and received his doctor’s title in the year 2000 with a 320-page thesis titled Die deutschsprachige Comic-Fachpresse; Eine Bestandsaufnahme (The German comics trade press; A survey). 

Early in 2005, Sackmann was one of eight co-founders of ComFor (short for: Gesellschaft für Comicforschung), a club with a.o. Dietrich Grünewald and Heiner Jahncke. Five years later, dissatisfied, he quit ComFor, especially bothered by the influx of members whose knowledge and lust for research stop at their favourite comics. Members who, in his words, contribute little more than lip-service. 
[s] 1968-2009.
GERMAN CULTURE. Eckart Sackmann’s public stance is that of a sphinx it seems, but he recently told me in English, “Patrimonium (our cultural heritage) is the idea that we should be responsible for the culture we were born into. Germany means nothing to me, German culture a lot.” And, “I expect someone who is deeply interested in a foreign culture knows at least the language of the country or region he is interested in. I could never have judged comics had I not been able to read German, English, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.”

Begriffen. Understood. Compris. Capito. Begrepen. Entiendo. I am told Europe has one hundred million native German speakers. But isn’t one-way traffic practically obsolete in modern media? Some weeks ago, when I pleaded for a personal English translation of one of the statements made in the leading article of Deutsche Comicforschung 2014, Sackmann’s rebuff in English was “I hate to do translations in another language than German. You should only translate into your mother language.”
CHANGE. The German fad of pasting the ‘comic’ label on all other terms in existense is an exemple of the uncertain status of the strip format. Even Verlag Sackmann und Hörndl’s trade distributor offers his wares under two names, ‘Comics und Bücher,’ comics and books. Uncertain labels, both?

Sackmann’s opinion in 2006 is “I prefer Bild-Erzählung, but it’s no common term.” And in 2008, “Comics – I use this horrible word for every type of strip.” Statements he made directly in English. In his native German he now declares each and every pictorial story to be a ‘comic.’ 

“How did it all start? Where are we now? Where could we be in ten years time?” (Wie fing alles an? Wo stehen wir jetzt? Wo könnten wir in zehn Jahren stehen?) is the big question in the opening lines of last year’s leading article in Deutsche Comicforschung 2014. Something has got to change, indeed.

Huib van Opstal

[ to be continued ]

1 of 10. This is overview number 1 
of the first 10 annuals of Deutsche Comicforschung, 
German comic research.

Andy Konkykru
(see Andy’s Early Comic Archive HERE
and his Comicfestivals drawings HERE)

Platinum Age Comics List, 
Andy Bleck,
Ulrich Merkl, 
Karin van Wylick,
Joachim Trinkwitz,
CHEXX Stadtmagazin für Berlin, 
and Eckart Sackmann
(who kindly sent in a few lines
for this issue of Yesterday’s Papers)

The addresses and phone number shown

in illustration [s] are no longer valid,
in April 2014 Verlag Sackmann und Hörndl 
moved from Hildesheim to Leipzig.

Deutsche Comicforschung; Band 10 (2014);
Herausgegeben von Eckart Sackmann, 
Hildesheim/Leipzig: comicplus+, 
144 pp., hb, 39 euro, 
ISBN 978 3 89474 245 4

More about comicplus+HERE
Deutsche Comicforschung  HERE.