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Comic Book / Mosaik

Mosaik is a German comic magazine. It was founded in East Germany in 1955 to counter the "bad influence" of capitalist comic books, which before the building of the Wall could still reach East German readers fairly easily. Mosaik thus became the affordable alternative which supplied not comics, but Bildergeschichten (picture-stories) to the children of the republic of workers and peasants.

For 223 issues the main feature told the continuing saga of the kobold-like Digedags - Dig, Dag, and Digedag - in different periods of world history. These creations of the Hannes Hegen (pen-name of artist Johannes Eduard Hegenbarth, 1925-2014) were a huge success in the German Democratic Republic and were also exported to West Germany, Austria, Hungary, Finland and the Netherlands. However, when Hegen left the magazine in 1975 the feature had to be continued because he owned the creative rights to the characters (a somewhat different situation to the one of many comics creators in the "Free West"). The stories continue to be available in reprint produced by other publishers.

Since 1976 the numbering started anew and the Digedags have been replaced by the rather similar trio of the three Die Abrafaxe - Abrax, Brabax, and Califax - who were designed by Lona Rietschel. With the Abrafaxe Mosaik continued to go from strength to strength and even successfully mastered the transition to capitalism after 1990. The Abrafaxe 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.

German-speakers can consult Mosaik's own wiki, the Mosapedia.

Tropes to be found in Mosaik during the Digedags era and in general:

  • The Ageless: As kobolds, both the Digedags and the Abrafaxe do not visibly age and are apparently immortal.
  • Alliterative Names: Dig, Dag, and Digedag, obviously. Also their most successful supporting character, Ritter Runkel ("Knight Runkel" or "Sir Runkel").
  • Antebellum America/The American Civil War: The America series (Mosaik vol. 1 No. 151-211) starts in New Orleans in 1860 and proceeds through various locations until the summer of 1861. Together with the Ritter Runkel series this is considered the high point of the Digedags era.
  • Berlin: A significant part of the Inventors arc is set in 19th century Prussian capital, around the time that August Borsig built the first German steam locomotive.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Digedags consisted of black-haired Dig, blond Dag and red-headed Digedag. The pattern continued with Abrax (blond), Brabax (redhead), and Califax (black hair) and their respective counterparts Anna, Bella, and Caramella.
  • Breakout Character: The 13th-century knight Ritter Runkel von Rübenstein, famed for his rhymed "rules of chivalry", who debuted in No. 90.
  • Cold War: The Digedags appeared since 1955, but the only story arc where the politics of the day were to some extent reflected was the space series (Mosaik vol. 1 No. 25-44).
  • The High Middle Ages:
    • The Ritter Runkel arc (Mosaik vol. 1 No. 90-151) is still the longest in the history of the title. Covering the years 1284 to 1286 it takes the Digedags and their friend Runkel to Italy, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East and back to Germany.
    • The era was also visited more than once by the Abrafaxe, see their page.
  • Historical Domain Characters: These were especially noticeable in the Inventors arc (Mosaik vol. 1 No. 45-89, with a few breaks), which took the Digedags through several eras to visit various inventors in a series of loosely connected stories, including a history of steam power from Heron of Alexandria to the building of the first German locomotive by August Borsig. Others appearing in that series included Wilhelm Bauer, Simón Bolívar, Otto von Guericke, Edmond Halley, Robert Hooke, Christian Huygens, Ktesibios, Thomas Newcomen, Denis Papin, Werner von Siemens, and James Watt.
  • Ottoman Empire: The final Digedags arc (vol. 1 No. 212-229) is set in the Ottoman Empire in 1835.
  • Punny Name: Runkel von Rübenstein roughly translates into English as Mangel of Wurzelrock.
  • Roman Empire: The second major Digedags arc (vol. 1 No. 13-24) is set in Roman times ca. during the 3rd century A.D.
  • Spin-Off: While after 1975 no new Digedags stories were published, there have been four text novels about Ritter Runkel and his brother Bodo (2002-2012) written by his co-creator Lothar Dräger and illustrated by Ulf S. Graupner.