are a trio of kobold-like characters designed by artist Lona Rietschel and writer Lothar Dräger. They have been having adventures across time since their debut in January 1976 in the relaunch of the East German comic-book magazine Mosaik
, which netted them an entry in the Guiness Book of Records for the longest continuing comic-book story. They consist of dashing Abrafax, smart Brabax and chubby enjoyer of the fine things in life Califax. Since issue No. 200 they are accompanied by a nameless rat. With the Abrafaxe Mosaik
continued to go from strength to strength, reaching a maximum print run of a million copies in 1984 (the total population of the GDR then numbered 17 million); it also successfully mastered the transition to capitalism after 1990. They continue to appear in Mosaik
and various spin-offs, and since 2008 there is a quarterly spin-off series featuring their distaff counterparts, Anna, Bella, and Caramella. In both versions the protagonists get from one historical era to another via time portals for which they sometimes have to search a long time.
Both versions feature child-friendly adventures with a big helping of humour and education. Thus an issue of Mosaik
will always contain, besides the monthly episode of the saga, some illustrated text features that deal with aspects of the country and historical era it is set in, from biology to, e. g. the legal status and living conditions of slaves during the Roman Empire or Latin words that entered the German language.
The adventures of the Abrafaxe have been translated into a number of foreign languages including Catalan, Chinese, Greek, Hungarian (Hungary is the series' most successful market outside of Germany), Russian, and Spanish, but so far not into English. Two Abrafaxe graphic novels were published in Welsh, though. German-speakers can consult the Mosapedia
- Action Girl: Anna. Not that Bella and Caramella are shrinking violets.
- Alphabetical Theme Naming: Abrax, Brabax, and Califax, and their female counterparts Anna, Bella, and Caramella.
- Ancient Egypt: The Abrafaxe and their companion Sibylla arrive during the Amarna period and meet Queen Nefertiti (Mosaik No. 234-254). Much to Brabax' regret, Sibylla finds her Mr. Right in the shape of Jadu, a priest of Aton.
- Ancient Greece: Mosaik No. 218-233 sees the Abrafaxe in Athens, Delphi and elsewhere on the eve of The Peloponnesian War. In the end they and the former Pythia Sibylla travel to Egypt, where they are sent back in time.
- Australia: The two-part Austrialian series (Mosaik No. 430-458) first shows the Abrafaxe as part of the crew of H.M.S. Investigator during Matthew Flinders' circumnavigation of the continent (1802-1803) before a time-jump takes them to Sydney in 1847.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Abrax (blond), Brabax (redhead), and Califax (black hair) and their respective counterparts Anna, Bella, and Caramella. They do not entirely conform to stereotype as in both trios the blonde is the fiery one, the redhead the smart one and the brunette the one who cooks and to whom you turn for making and mending clothes.
- A Boy and His X: Califax and the Rat.
- Breakout Character: 16th-century Spanish villain Don Ferrando. He also travelled through time, and while travelling to Egypt during the time of Akhenaton the Abrafaxe discovered that he had become Pharaoh Odnarref Nod in another era, though he was (like Akhenaton) "erased from history" by later Egyptian rulers and priests. He also got a distaff counterpart in the form of his cousin Dona Ferentes.
- The Cavalier Years: A number of stories are set here:
- The very first arc (January 1976-December 1977) was set in Dalmatia and Venice in the 17th century.
- This was followed by an arc set in Hungary, Austria, Bavaria and France at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession (January 1978-December 1980).
- The Baroque series (No. 406-429) sees brainy Brabax as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's private secretary in the 1690s while Abrax and Brabax are stuck in the France of Louis XIV.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: While the Abrafaxe usually adapt their dress to the period they find themselves in, Abrax and Anna usually dress in red, Brabax and Bella in green, and Califax and Caramella in blue.
- Dating Catwoman: Bella with recurring antagonist and occasional helper Count Tenebroso.
- The Gay Nineties:
- The Orient Express arc (Mosaik No. 283-299) is set in 1895 and takes the Abrafaxe from Victorian London to Mesopotamia, where they see the beginnings of the building of the Bagdad Railroad.
- The Abrafaxe return to the era for an international race around the world in the year 1898 (No. 344-357).
- The High Middle Ages: An extremely popular period with the creative collective:
- The final third of the Don Ferrando arc took him and the Abrafaxe through Palestine, Egypt and Mesopotamia in the 1270s. After the Don's disappearance in time the Abrafaxe have further adventures in India, Malaya and Japan before reaching Yuan Dynasty China in 1282 (January 1983-December 1991).
- Following that a leap in time brings them back to 1176, around the time of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa's defeat in the battle of Legnano (No. 193-207).
- The Templars arc (No. 358-381) is set ca. 1118 and involves the beginnings of The Knights Templar and a search for the treasure of Prester John. It is followed by
- The Johanna arc (No. 382-405) set ca. 1250, in which the Abrafaxe meet Albertus Magnus and encounter Nicolas Flamel (who had appeared under a different name in the Templars arc).
- Historical Domain Characters: The heroes travel through time and it's a series that combines entertainment with education, so of course a number of supporting and background characters are taken from real life. This is not always immediately obvious, for instance in a story arc that took place in Germany and France in the middle of the 13th century (No. 382-405) it only emerged at the end that Johanna, the little girl who accompanied the Abrafaxe on their journey, would later become St. Gertrude the Great (she changed her name on taking her vows).
A partial list includes Albertus Magnus, Alcibiades, Francis Bacon, Nicolas Baudin, Napoleon Bonapartenote , Anne Bonnynote , Catherine the Great, Sir Francis Drake, Nicolas Flamel, Matthew Flinders, John Franklin (as a young midshipman), Frederick Barbarossa, Robert Hooke, Hugues de Payns, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Ludwig Leichhardt, Louis XIV, Queen Nefertiti, Isaac Newton, Peter the Great, MarcoPolo, Ferenc Rákóczi, Socrates, Sophocles, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Wilhelm IInote .
- Long Runner: The main story of the Abrafaxe has been appearing in monthly instalments in Mosaik since 1976.
- Marry for Love: The story arcs often involve a love story, which usually ends in this. A recent Anna, Bella and Caramella arc culminated with the historic wedding of Archduke Ferdinand (1529-1595) and merchant's daughter Philippine Welser.
- Meaningful Name: Often the domain of original supporting characters and villains, but also applicable in the case of Bella and Caramella.
- Meiji Restoration: The Abrafaxe spend the arc from Mosaik No. 323 to 343 in Japan in the year 1872. There they meet the Prussian engineer Heinrich von Himmelgut (on a mission to help build Japanese railways), who falls in love with Toshiko, the daughter of a former samurai.
- Overly Long Name: Don Ferrando's full name is Marchese Ferrando Esteban Carotto Ruinez Totales en des Tillas Randales Festos.
- Public Domain Characters: A number of characters appearing in the Abrafaxes' adventures are this. During their early years they for instance met many folkloric jester archetypes such as Hans Wurst, Harlekin (Arlecchino from the Commedia dell'Arte), Hodsha Nasreddin etc. They also encountered Don Quixote, Sancho Pansa and Dmitri Karamazov. In the 1996 graphic novel Mach's noch einmal, Robin!, they shared an adventure with Robin Hood and his Merry Men in a Shout-Out to Robin and Marian.
- Punny Name: Have been known to appear. For instance in the Meiji Japan arc, two prominent antagonists was a Ninja duo called Ori and Gami.
- The Renaissance:
- The original Don Ferrando arc (January 1981-December 1983) began in Spain in the early Siglo de Oro (in 1577, to be precise), before the Abrafaxe and the Don were sent back 300 years for the finale.
- In 1997 the Abrafaxe return to the year 1578, and Don Ferrando also makes a return appearance, this time searching for Eldorado. The adventure takes them on Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the Earth. (No. 255-282).
- Anna, Bella and Caramella's adventure featuring Philippine Welser is set in 16th century Augsburg and Bohemia.
- The Roaring Twenties: The arc from Mosaik No. 301 to 322 is set in America in 1929. Prohibition-era gangsters abound, Abrax is a G-man and Califax makes a fortune selling hotdogs, but as he invests his profits on the stock market he loses it all on Black Friday.
- The Roman Empire: The current Abrafaxe arc, which started with Mosaik No. 459, is set during the reign of Emperor Trajan. The Abrafaxe have to help bring two Germanic children (the son and the daughter of two chiefs who want to have good relations with Rome) from the Rhine to Rome. Which brought them to Carthage, where they found a statue of Bella (she, Anna and Caramella had passed through the place in an adventure in 25 B.C.).
- Sexy Spectacles: Bella is the only one with a recurring romantic subplot.
- Shipper on Deck: Caramella for Bella and Tenebroso.
- Spin-Offs: Many, including newspaper comic strips, various graphic novels, adaptations into audio play and an animated movie (2001). The quarterly series centring on Anna, Bella, and Caramella still continues today.
- Tomboy: Anna, who does not like to wear dresses. Also some of the ever-changing supporting characters.