Monday, May. 17, 2010

The Katzenjammer Kids

Rudolph Dirks' The Katzenjammer Kids debuted in 1897 in William Randolph Hearst's Sunday edition of the New York Journal. At 113 years and counting, the strip is the longest-running newspaper comic in history. Kids revolves around two boys, Hans and Fritz, who get into trouble and fight with their parents and school officials. Dirks was the first cartoonist to use speech balloons to indicate dialogue.

After a series of legal battles, Dirks threatened to stop drawing the comic in 1913. Hans and Fritz were so popular that Hearst hired a second man, Harold Knerr, to replace him. Lawsuits ensued, and in 1918 Dirks started a new comic, The Captain and the Kids, that was almost identical to his original Katzenjammer creation (the spin-off ceased publication in 1979). Hans and Fritz have been drawn by Hy Eisman since 1986.