Slightly Belated 110th Birthday, Hans und Fritz
Our favorite role models, The Katzenjammer Kids, turned 110 years old yesterday. In case you weren’t aware, the newspapter strip is still being published each Sunday.
Created by Rudolph Dirks and first appearing in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal on December 12, 1897, the strip was among the very first to be regularly published and endure. It also helped establish the language and format of the comic strip and, therefore, the comic book.
The Katzenjammers also helped establish intellectual property copyright and trademark law. Dirks left Hearst to work for the even-scivvier Joe Pulitzer and his New York World, taking his characters with him. Hearst sued. The courts ultimatey ruled that Dirks had the right to continue his feature, but so did Hearst. However, only Hearst owned the name "The Katzenjammer Kids."
Dirks renamed his feature The Captain and the Kids, and was quite successful in both newspaper syndication and in animation. But it passed on in 1979, leaving only Hearst’s (and King Features’) Katzenjammer Kids on the four-color pages. Today the strip is being produced by journeyman cartoonist and Kubert School instructor Hy Eisman.