NEW 2015: Mawil, Kinderland. Reprodukt, 2015, 292 pages.
This nearly 300 page graphic novel offers potential instructors and students versatility to study language, culture and the visual arts.
For example, the first several pages (11-16) could be read as a stand alone mini-story: an elementary school student takes the bus to school only to panic and arrive late because of many detours caused by the constant construction throughout Berlin. The graphic novelist emphasizes sights and sounds, really emphasizing the visual elements that make up this wordless mini-story.
On a literary and historical level, Mawil tells the story of the last days of East Germany from the perspective of a young school child who is mercilessly bullied, but finds magic in a ping pong paddle from the West.
Sample Text: from the first pages: Mirco (the protagonist) and an older student.
Older student: Schwänzt du? Du bist doch auch Wonne TaBu oder?
Mirco: Ja, aber der Bus fährt plötzlich ganz anders weisst du.
Older student: Wennde schwänzen würdest, würdst ja nicht flenn!
Mirco: Ich heul doch gar nich! Bist du neu anna Schule?
Older student: Umgezogen. Bei web hast’n Erste?
Mirco: Russisch bei der Kranz.
Older student: Na, da hast’n Grund zum Heuln!
The reader can find some similarities between Mawil’s and the East German digedags comic books.
Review from Zeit Online.
Buddenberg, Susanne and Thomas Henseler. Berlin: Geteilte Stadt: Zeitgeschichten. avant, 2012.
Berlin: Geteilte Stadt contains five true stories about life in Berlin and around the Berlin wall. The artists present in comic form the stories of five individuals or families whose personal lives were influenced by politics and the presence of the Berlin Wall.
The stories: “Wie der Mauerbau fast mein Abitur verhindert hätte,” “Das Krankenhaus an der Mauer,” “Mit der Seilbahn über die Mauer,” “Die andere Seite,” “Mein 18. Geburtstag.”
Sample Text: First page “Wie der Mauerbau..:” “Regina Zywietz (19). Die Ost-Berlinerin geht eigentlich im Westen zur Schule und steht kurz vor ihrem Abitur. Doch seit 4 Tagen sind die Grenzen dicht. Treffen mit meinen Lehrern, die mir zur Flucht nach West-Berlin verhelfen wollen.”
Another valuable added feature is the addition of historical explanations and the melding of graphic art and other forms of media, such as print media in the form of a newspaper page from August 1, 1965.
Flix. Da war mal was: Erinnerungen an hier und drüben. Carlsen, 2009.
This book collects in one place a series of full page stories that appeared in Berlin’s Tagesspiegel.
With remarkable humor the stories relay the personal memories and impressions of the author’s friends and acquaintances from the east and the west.
Flix is one of Germany’s premiere comic artists.
For German instruction, this is a great text to supplement other literature or discussions about East German history and East-West relations. The short length of each entry makes for manageable reading assignments.
Da war mal was Trailer
Short Reportage: Flix explains the ideas behind the book and his inspiration
Schwartz, Simon. Drüben. avant-verlag, 2009.
In an unsentimental and humorous tone, Drüben tells the story in flashback of a family’s difficult decision to leave the GDR. The story is also told in autobiographical form. The artwork, displaying bold comic lines and no colors, matches the lightly humorous and straightforward tone of the book.
Text is often consistently matched with picture, which would support comprehension and language acquisition. Captions often directly correspond to pictures. The illustration also offer a lot of nice comic depictions of sites in east and west Berlin.
Ulrich, Johann, Thomas Henseler and Susanne Buddenberg. Grenzfall. Avant, 2011.
ISBN 13: 978-3939080480
Sample Text: First few pages: A conversation between two youth in East Germany, 1982: ,,Was ist mit deinem Aufnäher passiert?” ,,Die Bullen haben mich deswegen auf Revier gebracht.” ,,Ich habe mich geweigert, ihn selber vor ihren Augen abzutrennen. Nach fünf Stunden habe ich die Jacke dann ohne Aufnäher zurückbekommen. Werde ich noch mal mit sowas erwischt, muss ich mit härteren Konsequenzen rechnen.”
East Berlin, 1982. High School student Peter Grimm rebels against the dictatorship and finds a group of like-minded people. Then he is prevented from taking his abitur and is expelled from school. He eventually publishes an underground newspaper, Grenzfall, but later finds out that someone in his circle of confidants has been giving the Stasi information.
This text offers some “extras” that would make it well-suited as a supplementary text in a course about German history or in discussions of East/West relations. For example, it intersperses “newspaper articles” and other non-fiction material, such as biographical information about prominent East German figures. It also includes a glossary of GDR-specific terms and references in the text such as ,,Biermann-Ausbürgerung” and ,,IMB.”
The text does contain some more complicated text (as compared to Drüben for example) because protagonists are older and politically engaged. The illustrations have a simple black and white look that could be the graphic novel equivalent of a documentary film.