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Putzwunderlich (Wondrous)

Graphic Novel Episode (in German)


Anna Faroqhi

In a graphic novel episode, the highly famous and extremely whimsical poet, illustrator and painter Wilhelm Busch skips his 70th birthday party. Instead, he goes to a lonely place to be left in peace with a good cigar in his mouth. All of a sudden, however, a very strange little box appears in front of him. Busch’s own comic characters jump out; they confront him with his life story and the blanks in his critique of his own time. 

The episode pays tribute to Wilhelm Busch as a pioneer of the comic strip in a humorous way. Already from 1900 on, during the illustrator's lifetime, picture stories of cheeky little boys à la "Max and Moritz" caused a sensation in American newspapers' weekend supplements; the "Katzenjammer Kids" by Rudolph Dirks in New York; the "Kin-der-Kids" by Lyonel Feininger in Chicago. All these funny characters spoke with a German accent, because at those days a real comic had to have a German element.

"The graphic novel episode makes free use of the biographical data of the illustrator Wilhelm Busch. He actually did avoid the big public celebration of his 70th birthday, but in the end was proud when even the Kaiser sent him a congratulatory telegram. The "wondrous little box of memories" is a word created by Wilhelm Busch himself in one of his short stories.

In the graphic novel episode, I read Busch as an eccentric old man who can only deal with his feelings by distancing them from himself through fantasy figures. The questions that the characters ask - his "Negro", the Jew Schmulchen Schievelbein and the Beautiful Helene - are my own questions about Busch's drawings and picture stories." (Anna Faroqhi, January 2023)

Commissioned for the exhibition "Wilhelm Busch - A real painter, clever and industrious, always carries a sharp pencil with him" at exhibition place Schloss Britz, Berlin-Neukölln, with drawings by Wilhelm Busch, Anna Faroqhi and Friederike Feldmann, 28. 01. 2023 - 30. 04. 2023

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