Germans are, generally speaking, considered to be quite rational and lacking in humor. But, obviously, that wasn’t always the case. If we are to believe the Chicago Tribune, then the American comic strip has its origins in 19th century Germany. “Germany is the true home of ‘humorous art,’ ” is how the paper put it on May 6, 1906. In fact, there are many indications that the development of the American comic strip was significantly influenced by German caricaturists and illustrators.
One such illustrator was Rolf Kauka. An artist, writer and publisher, he was the creator of the popular “Fix & Foxi” animal universe, which was published in the eponymous magazine, in a fashion similar to that of Walt Disney. After the war, Kauka teamed up with the publisher Heinz Ullstein, and pursued a venture in animated cartoons for the American market. But when this didn’t work out, Kauka focused on comics. He adapted “Eulenspiegel” by Charles De Coster to comics, and published it in the magazine of the same name in 1952. In the sixth issue, Kauka first introduced the foxes “Fix & Foxi”, who soon became the leading characters of the magazine leading to a name change in 1955.
It quickly became Germany’s biggest comics property, competing only with Walt Disney’s Micky Maus magazine. In 1975, Kauka founded the Kauka Comic Akadamie, an institute to educate young illustrators.
He eventually sold his company, but kept the copyrights to his characters. He emigrated and settled in the USA in the early 1980s. The sales of the Fix und Foxi magazine stagnated in the early 1990s. When the editors decided to include editorials aimed at teenagers, Kauka was not amused and used his copyright ownership to forbid further publication.
Kauka died in 2000, and his wife, Alexandra Kauka, became his successor at Kauka Promedia (Kauka Verlag). Fix & Foxi has been broadcast as a TV series since then, and the Fix & Foxi magazine and comics are again published in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.