Comic Strip: The Katzenjammer Kids

The Katzenjammer Kids is a classic newspaper comic strip created and drawn by German cartoonist Rudolph Dirks. It is the longest running newspaper comic in history, having run uninterrupted since 1897.

In 1914, after a series of nasty legal battles, Rudolph Dirks quit the Hearst organization and started a new version of his comic, featuring his same characters but renamed The Captain and the Kids, eventually distributed by the United Feature Syndicate. The original strip would continue under the pen of Harold H. Knerr from 1912 to 1949.

Tropes:

  • Alternate Continuity: One of the most bizarre examples in comic history; while The Katzenjammer Kids and The Captain and the Kids featured the same main cast of characters, they were technically considered separate series from each other and were actually competing with each other under separate artists. Both series would eventually introduce new characters distinct to their own series.
  • Animated Adaptation: There were at least three made:
    • There were at least 39 silent cartoons produced starring the Katzenjammer characters. Five of them were renamed The Shenanigan Kids to briefly coincide with the comics' own brief change to that name.
    • The second was a series of MGM cartoons adapting The Captain and the Kids, which ran for 15 shorts. It notably featured direction by greats such as Friz Freleng and Bill Hanna, and the voice talents of Mel Blanc and Billy Bletcher.
    • The third was produced by Filmation as part of Archie's TV Funnies.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Hans and Fritz, the two leading characters next to Der Captain.
  • The Dark Age of Animation: The second animated adaptation of The Captain and the Kids was made during this time, as part of Archies TV Funnies.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first years of the strip were drawn in a completely different art style than the more cartoony approach that the strip would settle into. The Captain was also absent for the first five years (with an unnamed father figure being in his steed, and even he abruptly vanished from the comic before the Captain's introduction) and there were three Katzenjammer Kids instead of two.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The series' main lead, the shipwrecked sailor and surrogate father to Hans and Fritz, is just called Der Captain.
  • The Golden Age of Animation: The MGM cartoon adaptation of The Captain and the Kids was made during this time (the late 1930's, to be exact).
  • Long Runner: To date, it is the longest-running newspaper comic in history—the original strip has run uninterrupted for 118 years!
    • The similar "Captain and the Kids" strip didn't run as long, but its run from 1914 to 1979 is nothing to snuff at, either.
  • The Silent Age of Animation: The original 39 Katzenjammer Kids cartoons were made during this time.