On December 12, 1897 Rudolph Dirks’ comic Katzenjammer Kids appeared for the first time in the New York Journal. The longest running comic in history features the antics of brothers Hans and Fritz who often rebel against authority and receive whippings for their misbehavior. Dirks, a German immigrant, was the first cartoonist to use speech balloons to indicate dialogue and quite a few of the characters speak in a German-accented broken English. In 1898 the Katzenjammer Kids characters appeared outside of comics in a handful of live-action silent films. Between December 1916 and August 1918, a total of 37 Katzenjammer Kids silent cartoons were produced. The series was retired in 1918 because of the growing tension against titles with German associations after World War I. One of those cartoons can be seen in two parts below. Enjoy.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
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