toonNews the latest stuff about Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:15:33 +0000 en hourly 1 Portrait Competition Mon, 29 Oct 2012 16:33:28 +0000 Max Great results up to now!!!
We are happy and want to thank all participants of our portrait competition for their wonderful artworks!

See more:

Deadline of the competition is November 30th, 2012.

by Kestutis

by Palmas

by Marlene Pohle

by Amal Samir

by cristianst




The staff of a bookstore has asked us if it was possible to have the five persons’ portraits drawn by artists – as five single portraits or all persons in one image. So, here’s the deal:

If you would like to participate, post your caricatures until November 30, 2012. Simply upload them to as you would do with your other works but be sure to add the tag “bookstore”. We will post all contributions in our blog.

There are no restrictions to color, style, or technique. Portraits can be realistic, cartoon-y, colorful, black-and-white, vectorized, crudely hand-drawn, etc..

Our clients will buy the three entries (full staff) they like best for 250 Euros, 150 Euros and 100 Euros (all of which will go to the artists). If you have any further questions, please contact us.

Any recourse to courts of law is excluded.

Peace and smiles!

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Photographs: Jürgen Blume

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“Traumnovelle” – Graphic Novel Sun, 14 Oct 2012 20:53:13 +0000 Max Ahoy,

zu der Buchpräsentation:

Artur Schnitzler “Traumnovelle” – eine Graphic Novel von Jakob Hinrichs

laden wir Euch und Eure Freunde herzlich ein!

Donnerstag, 18. Oktober 2012. 20 Uhr
Büchergilde – Buchhandlung am Wittenbergplatz
Kleiststraße 19-21, 10787 Berlin

Wie entsteht aus einer klassischen Novelle eine Graphic Novel?

Der Illustrator Jakob Hinrichs präsentiert seine Ideen und die Umsetzung zur Gestaltung seines Buches und wird gern Fragen zu dem interessanten Thema beantworten.

Jakob Hinrichs ist Zeichner und Grafiker. Seine Illustrationen erscheinen in internationalen Publikationen und Zeitungen wie der New York Times. Er lebt und arbeitet in Berlin.

Traumnovelle: Der Arzt Fridolin wandert nach einem Ehestreit mit seiner Frau Albertine ziellos durch die nächtliche Stadt und erfährt zufällig von einem geheimen Maskenball. Dort angekommen, mahnt ihn schon bald eine mysteriöse Frau, schnell wieder zu verschwinden. Doch Fridolin ist entschlossen zu bleiben, fasziniert von dem wilden und bizarren Treiben auf dieser Orgie. In dieser Nacht gerät Fridolin in einen Strudel aus Sex, Gefahr, Fantasie und Illusion, der ihn – und seine Ehe – auf eine harte Probe stellt.

Arthur Schnitzlers Traumnovelle erschien 1926 und ist heute ein Klassiker der Literatur. Jakob Hinrichs adaptiert die Geschichte erstmals als Graphic Novel und erzählt sie in tiefgreifenden, fantastischen Bildern neu. Fridolin wird durch eine bildgewaltige Traumwelt getrieben, die mit schrägen und bizarren Charakteren bevölkert ist. Mit zahlreichen Querverweisen in die Kunstgeschichte ist die Lektüre der grafischen Traumnovelle ein besonderes visuelles Vergnügen.

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Letter from Amman (Jordan) Thu, 04 Oct 2012 22:16:52 +0000 Battlestar



For this new issue of Letter from… column, we asked toonpool artist Omar Momani about his life and begged for some photographs of his working place and the city he lives in right now, Amman. And if you ever travel there and you see a man wearing a giraffe as a scarf, he would probably be Omar. Read the interview below to find out why.

01. Which movie/tv character you see yourself as and why?

Well, I see and also many friends see me as Harry Callahan from the Diry Harry movies, because I don’t give a damn about what it is no worth to me in the world.

02. What was your New Year’s resolution?
To finish my first short animated movie, this means that I must finish it this year.

03. What bores you the most?
Routines and phony compliments, I also add chemistry cos i’ve never understand it

04. Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?
I love cities that are on seashores (which is not Amman’s case)

05. What are you able to do that Superman can’t do?
For sure I can do a better disguise; it’s so obvious that Clark Kent is Superman!!!!

06. If you were sleep walking one night, where would you probably wake up the next day?
Probably I would wake up in the woods, next to an owl on a tree.

07. What would you wear to be kicked out from a black tie cocktail party?
I’ll just wear my underwear, and with a snickers


8. Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.
Once I told my friend that if he drinks water every day he would have the water pox, so person must 
drink a day and a day not, so my friend believed that, till he exposed that and everyone laughed on 
him, and sure he kicked my butt


09. How to ruin your vacation?
Sleeping all day and not doing anything, I really hate myself when I am in apathy.

10. If I gave you a giraffe, where would you hide it?
I will fold it and hide it in my closet as a new scarf.

11. What do you do when you see the glass half empty!
I will enjoy drinking the other half.

Omar Junior My favorite place Inside my favoirte place in Amman From my window Fans and friends wearing Omar´s designed t-shirts Amman


Credits to Nicoleta Ionescu for
talking with
Omar Momani

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Letter from California Wed, 15 Aug 2012 15:18:43 +0000 Battlestar For this new issue of  Letter from… column, we asked artist Carolyn Hiler about her life and begged for some photographs of her working place and the city she lives in.

Carolyn Hiler


Carolyn Hiler makes A Zillion Dollars Comics, and she has been a toonpool member since June 2011. Carolyn lives at 4400 feet in Mt Baldy, CA, a town of 300 people located in the Angeles National Forest, about an hour east of Los Angeles. When not cartooning, designing goofball products, or hiking with her two adorable mutts, she works in private practice as a psychotherapist and art therapist. A Zillion Dollars products are available at



Which fictional character are you?
From the Wizard of Oz, I am the Wicked Witch of the West. I love monkeys, and the color black, and flying. I am also Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The vampires are the enemies of a creative life. I slay them all the time! When I’m feeling a little more pensive, I’m Kermit the Frog, always wondering about things like rainbows, and trying to write sweet memorable songs.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Leftovers from a big launch party I threw last weekend for these new tote bags I made. If you live within a 30 mile radius and are interested in some extra mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, romano cheese, tomatoes, peppers, basil, artichoke hearts, arugula, pizza dough from Trader Joes, tortilla chips, and other fixings for grilled pizzas, you should come on by with some tupperware.

What bores you the most?
The idea that life was better in the good old days. Anyone who has it all figured out. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

What do you do when you see the glass half empty!
I paint the words “half empty” on a drinking glass.

Today you might feel one way, tomorrow another

Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?
I love my place and I would also like to live somewhere else. Pros of living in Mt Baldy: Pristine mountain air, delicious tap water, creeks running by our house, view of the stars, total silence, and novelty snow. None of those things are available in nearby Los Angeles. Cons of living in Mt Baldy: No good restaurants, art stores, or easy access to my best pals. A significant amount of isolation. Pros of isolation: Extreme productivity. Cons of isolation: Insanity.

What are you able to do that Superman can’t do?
Couples therapy.

If you were sleep walking one night, where would you probably wake up the next day?
At the airport boarding a plane to New York, my city of origin, where I also live at this exact moment in a parallel universe.

What would you wear to be kicked out from a black tie cocktail party?
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Thinking up cartoons is hard work and takes time

Studio table with trusty pal


Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.
I seriously cannot think of any pranks I’ve ever done. I’m way too nice. I prefer to limit my mockery of other people to quiet,private endeavors such as cartooning.

How to ruin your vacation?
Bring along, an uptight, miserly, control freak. Or someone who thinks you are.

10. If I gave you a giraffe, where would you hide it?
First, I would talk to the giraffe and see if it really wanted to hide or if it wanted to be out in the open. We would go over the risks and benefits of hiding vs. exposure. I would talk about how vulnerable one feels when putting one’s giraffeness or one’s artwork out there every day, but how it’s actually worth it, because life is too short to spend too much time hiding or worrying about what other people think or trying to be something that you’re not, like not-a-giraffe. Then we would sing an inspirational song together about the freedom that comes from being oneself, and about how you can make fun of clichés and believe them at the same time. After that, the giraffe would probably prefer to embrace its giraffeness and risk going public. But because I’m such an incredibly accepting and respectful person, in case the giraffe still preferred to be hidden, I would stash it up on my roof, where the only creatures who would see it would be the mountain chickadees and the Search and Rescue workers in the helicopters flying overhead looking for lost hikers.


View from studio window Tote Bag Tree House Launch Party Hiking with shy friends Novelty snow hiking with two trusty pals Omar´s favorite swimming hole Who doesn't love New York in the 70's


Credits to Nicoleta Ionescu for
talking with
Carolyn Hiler

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The Heartbreaking Pride Tue, 31 Jul 2012 13:55:34 +0000 Battlestar

Aristotle Kallis


Interview with Greek Professor of Modern and Contemporary History Aristotle Kallis (41), living in the United Kingdom and teaching at the Lancaster University the Greek“, written by Nikos Kazantzakis, is a very famous Greek novel and a treasure of world literature, of course also world-renowned as the film of the same name (1964) starring Anthony Quinn. In that story Zorba has to repair a collapsed mine in the Greek countryside. In order to do that, he goes downtown to purchase building material. But he goes to the dogs with a fast woman, with drinking, dancing and sleeping, and he blows all the money – even though he’s responsible for the country people who subsist on wages from working in the mine. Though he’s penniless, he doesn’t surrender: he constructs a ropeway to transport logs from a mountain above the mine, in order to use them as supporting pillars. His undaunted optimism is so likeable – but during the first test run, the ropeway implodes in a big noisy crash – a complete disaster. Aristotle, do you think: Yep, that’s Greece! Is it an early omen for the current situation of the country? The Greeks are in love with life as the story says, but – what the heck! – they never become discouraged by failures, catastrophes or death, and if they fail, they simply get up and start over. Is this the typical Greek mentality, or have the Greeks lost their characteristic optimism since becoming embedded in the euro zone?

Aristotle: You mention Zorba by Kazantzakis – one my favourite authors’ least favourite book. Generations of Greeks grew up with this image of the one who knows better, who does things in the most unorthodox manner, who tries and fails and tries again and fails better (one of my favourite quotes by Beckett!). The story is accurate in so many respects, not all of which are positive: the maverick, yes, full of love for life, ready to try the most extraordinary thing and fail but then get up as you say and try again; the person who follows a bizarre inner voice, the thrust of emotions, the exaggeration of language, the harshness of the Greek summer landscape. But there is a side to the stereotypical Zorba that’s far from flattering: the person who does not recognise rules and is willing to find excuses to bend them to their benefit; who defies reason and celebrates flight from rationality; who is convinced of their intelligence against all odds, even if reality crushes them; who thinks first and foremostly about themselves; who embrace exaggeration and tragedy even if this means that they themselves will be crushed in the end. But Zorba (and, let’s face it, most people know the cinematic rather than the literary hero) is of course a stereotype, a caricature with deliberately blown-up charisma and flaws. He is a penniless bon-viveur, a man of extreme passion and clouded judgement, a blinded individualist, a charming crook. He is the epitome of human contradiction.

The Greeks of 2012 are far less enamoured with life, even if they have not entirely lost their knack for enjoyment. Greeks today are confronted with a very tangible and debilitating reality – of lost jobs and reduced wages, of closed shops and wounded pride, of real insecurity and a sense of profound decadence. I travel to Greece every two or three months- and I saw a very real difference in the last year or so. People feel trapped, cornered, trashed, fooled – it does not matter if they really are any of these things; they believe they are, they think they are, and this is what matters to them. This is the kind of psychological state that allows false prophets to flourish and makes people willing to worship them temporarily.

Greeks also love pompous, pulsating rhetoric. They have an inflated collective ego – from history primarily but also from a sense of perseverance, against all odds. They are the archetypical proud, morally unassailable victims of a tragedy. They thrive on exaggerated rhetoric, on declarations of national bravado, on a kind of almost childish obstinacy when confronted with their own failings. An eternal teenager mentality if you wish, unwilling to heed the boring advice of their elders, convinced they know better, almost relieved from accountability that applies to everyone else. In this respect, Zorba is an eternal teenager too. His failings are romantic and likeable – but failings they are. Greeks today engage in finger pointing, in scapegoating, in unfiltered anger, indignation, and an extreme sense of reckoning that never includes their own responsibility.

Have they lost their sense of rationality and sanity? I don’t think so. It is just that in times of real crisis and tribulation human behaviour tends to become magnified. The virtues and the flaws, individual and above all collective. The veneer of ‘Europeanisation’ that at least three generations of Greeks tried to live up to has come undone, exposing deep insecurities about who Greeks are and who they wish to be. The sense of achievement that my generation experienced from EU membership and then joining the euro means far less to people in their 20s now. I do not fully blame them. For me and my friends, the euro meant a moment of symbolic triumph; for them it has become associated with crisis, lack of prospects, a harsh everyday reality, a lack of inspiring vision.

Zorba’s love of life and enthralling life philosophy contrast sharply with his flaws and failures. His beautiful language and thoughts are almost tragic when viewed against the backdrop of his maverick actions and misfortunes. For sure he is not afraid of failure or death; but this exposes a sense of unaccountability and moral superiority that are misplaced and misguiding. He is a tragic antihero, trapped in a hostile reality but unable to change it and unwilling to change in order to change it. He lives in his own rhetoric and relives drama in every waking moment. In the end, he fails and falls, with a lightness that is both endearing and devastating. Ancient Greece is regarded as the cradle of European democracy. The ancient Greeks were pioneers in politics, philosophy, arts, natural sciences, technology, and many other disciplines, and their achievements continue to influence peoples and nations all over the world. Does this fact still play a role today?

Aristotle: In the complex, volatile, vulnerable psyche of the modern Greek, it does, very much so; and it has become the ultimate psychological refuge when all other rational or semi-rational arguments have run out. Greeks believe that the world owes them – and this is a very interesting kind of analogy to use by a debt-ridden nation! There is a historical installment that others are constantly repaying to Greece; and there is a parallel with the past (of heroism, of obstinate refusal to accept reality, of fighting – and often losing – but with heart-breaking pride … think 300!) that the modern Greek will use to dismiss any attempt to remind them that the country is heading for a spectacular, devastating crash. My personal favourite is the ownership of the trademark ‘Europe’ – after all it was the Greek forefathers who imagined the story with the woman/cow and the besotted promiscuous father of the gods that gave us a foundation myth for a continent. Can there be Europe without Greece? Of course not, say many (in fact, probably a sizeable majority) of my compatriots, because it was the Greeks who over the centuries gave meaning to the very sense of European identity as a humanistic, democratic, refined civilisation.

Here is a bit of an alternative example – in the Eurovision song contest of 2012 the winning song was titled ‘Euphoria’. Now, this is a Greek word. When I was talking to some of my friends, I was shocked to find out that most of them thought that we (the Greeks) have a mission to inform the rest of the world (and the Swedes in particular, who won the contest) that they owe this word to us! Seriously. What does this (and other examples along the lines of a constant, impossible to repay debt of the world to the Greeks) illustrate? You have a nation that never really seriously bothered to redefine itself as a modern political and culture entity. Trapped between the proverbial east and west, wanting to belong to both and neither at the same time, Greeks lived in the past, basked in the glory of a long bygone era, and created the illusion of an entitlement – to respect, reverence, special treatment etc etc. In the discussions surrounding the drafting of the ill-fated European constitution last decade, Greeks were given numerous opportunities to feed this kind of illusion. This, incidentally, is the same illusion and rhetoric that brought Greece in the EC back in the late-1970s, when countries such as Germany and The Netherlands and Britain had serious reservations about the rationale behind the country’s entry: it made no sense economically, it was deeply unsettling in political terms (in 1979, when Greece’s membership was agreed, the country’s democracy was only five-years old!) – and yet, lead by the French, the notion that it was ‘impossible’ to have ‘Europe’ without Greece won the day; the Germans were convinced, and the rest is history. This rhetoric may not matter to many Europeans today (and rightly so, for the kind of challenges we are facing are not metaphysical or historical but very tangibly political and economic) but it is supremely important to the psychology of the modern Greeks. Remember how the Greek president reacted to the (rather crass, it has to be said) criticism by Wolfgang Schaeuble – he invoked the imagery of a wounded, diminished, inert but fiercely proud sleeping giant against the power of Europe’s ‘nouveau riche’ (the entire ‘western’ Europe) and used it to attack the attacker with a kind of emotional blackmail. So it is not just street philosophers and everyday people who are deeply embedded in this structure; politicians have no problem using it, whether because they believe it themselves or as a mechanism for boosting the morale of Greek society. Medical progress means that citizens of most Western societies are getting older, an effect which is supported by healthier eating. Starting in the 1960’s, Greek (and Italian) eating habits have revolutionized the cookery of the Western world. In Germany for example, gastronomy is unthinkable without Feta cheese, Tzatziki, olives and olive oil, garlic, Dolmadika, Choriatiki and many other Greek dishes. Do you think Mediterranean peoples, who are now in huge economic difficulties, have made other societies ready for the struggle for survival and for success in business – playing the role as perfect Southern nutritional advisers?

Aristotle: Maybe! But let us avoid the temptation to add this item to the long list of things that others owe to Greece! Incidentally, most of the dishes that you quote above have an Ottoman or Arabic provenance; they were defined during centuries of fascinating plural life in the Ottoman empire, where a true sense of ‘Balkan’ or ‘Ottoman’ culture did emerge. The Greek cuisine is a particular take on this kind of food and culture lifestyle. Ottoman does not of course mean ‘Turkish’; the latter was also part of it. It is ironic that politically Greece expended the last six decades denying this past while culturally continued to embrace it as its own. It is also equally ironic that it is dolmadakia and choriatiki salata that are the most immediate experiences of ‘greek-ness’ for many Europeans – much more so than philosophy, theatre, classical architecture etc! Germany has incited two world wars, and committed atrocities in Greece and other countries. After the crash it received generous support from the USA for a rapid recovery and a new prosperity. Ok, the USA had an agenda, but don’t you think it is a bizarre paradox that the Germans – represented by Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schäube and some other German politicians, commercial experts and media – now are setting conditions and dictating to other countries in trouble? Are Greek fears of an upcoming “Fourth Reich” reasonable?

Aristotle: The imagery of a Fourth Reich is very strong in Greece – and it is part of the same Greek contemporary populism (of both left and right) that has meshed with the beliefs in an eternal debt by everyone to Greece for all the great things that ancient Greeks ‘gave’ to the world. Greek journalists have fed this monster and it is now almost uncontrollable. There is a new political party (Independent Greeks) that uses these kinds of metaphors all the time in its official discourse. Think also of another powerful discourse in Greece – reparations for the atrocities of the Nazis in the 1941-44 period. It is hard to shake off this stereotypical image, I am afraid. I have almost maintained that Germany has now found itself in a paradoxical position – and one that I believe never really wanted: it *has* to behave like the gigantic power that she really is; postwar Germany expended considerable efforts to disguise this newfound power; it behaved like the benevolent giant, shy and introverted, hesitant and overcautious, who always tried to pretend that it is far less powerful and important to the European process than it objectively was. Kohl excelled in this, when he was going around Europe trying to allay fears of a German resurgence post-1989 – and he framed German politics to that effect up until very recently. Now, Germany has been forced to confront its own power and assumed responsibility vis-a-vis the European project. The Merkel government gave voice to a mentality and attitude (shared silently by many Germans, including new generations) that Germany does not need to feel guilt for its contemporary power. The taboo is broken – see the recent book by Sarrazin about Germany leaving the euro because it is fed up of picking up the tab for others. If I were to extend the same analogy that I used for Greeks earlier (that of an unruly teenager), then Germany acts like the reluctant prudent parent; reluctant because in the past s/he used this power in a rather authoritarian manner but post-1945 was forced to take the back seat and watch numerous European ‘teenagers’ go about their business in unorthodox, quirky ways. Germany now pays the price for its spectacular success and prudence – and it is this position, as the undisputed powerhouse of contemporary Europe, that forces Germany to be more assertive in the context of the current crisis. In this new role, Germany is very much doomed – it will be loaded with all sorts of stereotypes about Bismarck and Hitler, about 1914 and 1939. It is very common in Greece to see Schaeuble presented in cartoons as a tank – and I know that this kind of populist, essentially insulting discourse is replicating itself in other countries too. Merkel has started shattering the taboo of German power in contemporary, euro-defined Europe – if the country is a giant, if it is the key to the success or rescue of the eurozone and the only prospect of kickstarting the economic fusion that leads to growth, then it has to act as one, it has to stop pretending that it should not and cannot. This kind of attitude will not go down well but there are few other alternatives.

The ‘Fourth Reich’ analogy is of course a hideous stereotype, steeped in prejudices and cliches about the past. It is also an idiotic argument that reduces a complex contemporary political and economic reality to a kind of mechanistic pattern of ‘history repeating’ – which of course it never does. But there is an element of universal truth in all this discourse: power translates itself in influence, responsibility, and hegemony, and disproportionate power does so disproportionately. Think of the USA in the post-1989 world; it is impossible to disguise this power and it is impossible to resist the temptation to wield it. In many ways, Germany’s attitude in the past two decades was the exception to this universal rule: there is probably no other example of such a mismatch between (real) power and refusal to wield it (in fear that others may invoke the imagery of WW2). What is happening now is a less palatable but more accurate correspondence between actual power and political behaviour. It was inevitable that Germany would be asked (or tempted) to assert this authority in the EU; it would have been better had this been done at a time of relative calm and growth but it had to happen in the midst of a debilitating economic crisis and social upheaval. Aristotle Onassis married the widow of a man who once said: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. Could that idea become an inspiration for Greece? And have rich men like Onassis done enough for their country?

Aristotle: Modern Greeks have grown up with a schizophrenic attitude to the Greek state and their country. On the one hand, they are in love with its stereotypical image of a slightly faded superpower of the past, a cultural giant that is falling apart but still maintains a large part of its veneer and commands the loyalties of others. On the other hand, they are deeply distrustful vis-a-vis the state, which they consider corrupt, inefficient, unsuitable etc. It is very difficult to convince Greeks today (as it was in the past) to accept a kind of collective, civic responsibility towards the state. Think of the attitude of Greeks to taxes: the way in which many Greeks evade taxation is a kind of bravado, an act of insubordination against an allegedly corrupt Greek state that they loathe. Think of their attitude to everyday corruption: laws are there to be disregarded because at the end of the day Greeks are fiercely individualistic, in a way that makes the notion of social responsibility a very vague concept to them. Generations of Greeks grew up with a sense of individual entitlement that did not include any sense of civic duty to the state and their country – the same ‘country’ that they putatively love and use emotively in their everyday language. This is a very comfortable, if bizarre and schizophrenic rationalisation: if the state is corrupt and inefficient, then people can individually benefit from a low-level corruption (anything from asking your friends in the police to cancel your fines for breaking the speed limit to bribing the urban planning office in order to bend regulations about your newly built house, etc) while at the same time castigate that same state for corruption and inefficiency to the point that their conveniently refuse to accept responsibility for it. When JFK was appealing to a well-embedded sense of emotional and constitutional patriotism among the Americans (a notion that remains very powerful even today), a Greek politician asking the same (as some have done…) will invoke the derision of his/her audience: who is he, the corrupt and discredited politician who is asking us for sacrifices? It is as if ‘the state’ is a kind of hostile estate of the politicians, the bankers, the proverbial rich, the global capitalists etc. etc. that has nothing to do with everyday Greek people. There is ‘a country’ out there that everyone vows that they love and respect; and ‘a state’ that is some kind of dictatorship ‘of others’ ruling this ‘country’, a dictatorship that deserves only derision and definitely no element of commitment from the Greek people. Unfortunately, this is a collective stance that has become even more powerful in the post-2008 period; the movement of the ‘indignant’ in Greece allowed many to scapegoat ‘the state’ as the only responsible for economic and social collapse.

Have rich people done enough? They never do – not only in Greece but in other countries too. Greece has a disproportionate share of very rich people – from shipowners who have taken their businesses abroad (not now; this has happened since the 1970s/1980s) to others with well-above-average income who have expended considerable energies in avoiding taxation and contributing as little as possible to the social welfare of the state. Some super-rich Greeks (Onassis is one; other shipowners and aristocrats too) have indeed contributed significant amounts of money to the Greek state – usually posthumously, it has to be added. I think that we should not just expect those very few people to solve the problem; it would have been nice but it will not happen – and probably cannot happen anyway. The problem remains, however – can contemporary Greece at last manage to devise a fair, transparent system of taxation for all its citizens, close loopholes, fight inefficiency and corruption, and thus allow the Greek state to claim that it is distributing the weight of contribution equitably across Greek society? I believe that a new kind of collective civic responsibility is what is sorely missed in Greece – and the economic crisis has strengthened the tendency towards a fiercely atomised and individualist society. Which Greece will the world see in five years?

Aristotle: Any prediction would be an exercise in science fiction. Could anyone have imagined the situation today five years ago (2007)? Absolutely not. I think that in five years time Greece will be a better place than it is today – not necessarily economically stronger or more prosperous (although I hope this is the case…) but more balanced, more aware of its position and shortcomings and fundamental flaws; more aware of its new position (even if it is a new, diminished position); more at ease with its new status (even if it is a status of a pariah or a second-tier European country). It is quite likely that the Greece of 2017 is a country outside a common European currency – or at least sharing the same currency with Germany. I fear that the coming year is the absolutely crucial test for Greece and Europe as a whole. The medium-term trajectory of the country will be largely decided in the coming twelve months or so.
I will evade a direct answer by sketching two scenarios. The good scenario is a Greece that has (or is about to do) hit rock-bottom before starting its difficult oath to some kind of recovery. It will be a country that discovers a new sense of position in Europe and is willing, after the trials of the past four years, to make the requisite sacrifices to be there, to restore its prestige and respect, to do things right in order to stop giving reasons to others to agonise about it (and give them reasons to intervene in the running of its everyday business). It will be a country with a new political class that will emerge from the ashes of the current wreck; with a new sense of patriotism derived from the same dreams of ‘Europeanisation’ and ‘modernisation’ that fuelled it in the 1970s and 1990s. It will be a Greece that is democratic and open to challenges, cooperative and at ease with its more diminished role, European but also proud of its complex history, welcoming to difference and open to hybrid identities of the future. It will be a Greece that, to use one of my favourite phrases by the former prime minister Konstantinos Simitis, will stop feeding itself with illusions of past greatness and look confidently to the future. This is a Greece that I could feel part of.

Then there is another Greece. It is the Greece of unfiltered populism – against immigrants, ‘Europeans’, ‘capitalists’ etc – and evasion of responsibility. It is the Greece that sleepwalks towards the abyss with tragic but infuriating abandon. It is the Greece of nationalism and racism, of indignation as an escape from reality and individual or collective responsibility. This Greece has no future to speak of. I cannot even begin to think what this country will look like in 2017: out of the euro, disoriented, with a society in a state of civil war, with a disorienting cultural pessimism, the kind of country that makes news for all the wrong reasons and the closest that an erstwhile ‘European country’ can come to a ‘failed state’. It is also a Greece of huge social problems – of poverty and degradation, of rapidly falling living standards, of criminality and racist attacks against immigrants, of populist parties commanding the support of many Greeks. It is a country without a future. This Greece means very little (if anything at all) to me – and I hope I will never have to confront it more than I do at the moment, when some of these forces are very much at play. Greece needs all the help she can get right now. Not just in economic terms but also in terms of shielding it from the latter kind of future.

Photos ©Aristotle Kallis

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Letter from New Zealand Tue, 10 Jul 2012 12:25:27 +0000 Battlestar For this new issue of Letter from… column, we asked artist Liu Huan (known as Queenio on Toonpool) about her life and begged for some photographs of her working place and the city she lives in right now Auckland, New Zealand. Queenio is a freelance illustrator, designer and photographer originally from China and says she will be traveling more before settling down in one place!

Her beautiful illustrations stand out because of the particularly stylish artistic view, full of mystery and wonderful chromatics! Check them out on Queenio’s Toonpool gallery!



01. Which fictional character are you?
The girl who chased a rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, I even can’t take my eyes off the rabbits and I get lost easily.
02. What’s in your refrigerator right now?
I have Green tea Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate and Black Chocolate. I bought them from   Malaysia.
03. What bothers you the most?
In the summer: I hate the mosquitoes. Hummm, and I always lose something when I need it and I waste a lot of time to find it….. and……
04. Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?
I lived in New Zealand for 1.5 years. Now I am on the way to go back China. I like both New Zealand and China, but I will keep moving until I find out where is the best place for me that I would like to settle down in.
05. What are you able to do that Superman can’t do?
Well, all the things only for female I guess.
06. If you were sleep walking one night, where would you probably wake up the next day?
Swimming pool or airport.
07. What would you wear to be kicked out from a black tie cocktail party
Swim suit
08. Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.
My cousins and I made some weird dumplings for the Chinese New Year party filled with salt, pepper, strawberry leafs, sugar… … and mixed them with normal dumplings on the plate….
09. How to ruin your vacation?
You can ruin it by closing my bank account.
10. If I gave you a giraffe, where would you hide it?
I would paint it into pure white and leave it in the park as a moving-sculpture.

11. What do you do when you see the glass half empty!
It depends on what is in it.


Working part 1 Working part 2 Window view Hello, toonpoolers Favourite cafe, no explanation needed Early sense of style

Credits to Nicoleta Ionescu for
talking with

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Letter from Seattle Fri, 22 Jun 2012 11:56:18 +0000 Battlestar

For this new issue of “Letter from” column, we asked toonpool artist Kim Maxine Frost about her life and begged for some photographs of her working place and the place she lives in – Seattle, also known as “the The Emerald City”. Kim (Frostyhut) joined toonpool on July, 2009 and she wishes to double her toonpool gallery by the end of the year. Kim works as a radio announcer at Classical KING FM 98.1 (have you seen her classical music inspired cartoons?).We are also proud that Kim writes for us, so we invite you to read her great review-interviews on toonpool’s blog!



01. Which movie/tv character you see yourself as
and why?

I am totally Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl. She’s awkward and kooky, but it all works out. And she gets to meet James Mason! She dislikes him in the film, but he’s the best thing in it.

02. What are your New Year’s resolutions?

To get 200 drawings posted to And now (gulp), I guess I really have to!

03. What bores you the most?

In the past, the most boring thing was that my work life and my creative life were split up. That’s changing though. My job just commissioned some drawings, which is nice.  For the first time it’s all starting to blend together.

04. Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?

Yes, I’ve never traveled. I love Seattle, but I fantasize about being somewhere warmer. Or just different. The radio station where I work airs a piece called Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Manuel de Falla. Every time I hear it, I want to go there.

05. What are you able to do that Superman can’t do?

Draw Superman? That reminds me – a couple of years ago I heard German pianist Bernd Glemser when he toured the States. He inspired me to create a character called Bernd von Mimzer, a concert pianist with superpowers. He had nipples that could shoot deadly flames. I drew about sixty pages of the comic, and then I got a full time job. I need to carve out the time to get back to Bernd. I miss him!

06. If you were sleep walking one night, where would you probably wake up the next day?

Well I’m obsessed with accessories, so my unconscious mind would probably take me to some shop filled with shoes and handbags. I’d love to wake up inside a Hermès store!

07. What would you wear to be kicked out from a black tie cocktail party

In Seattle, it’s hard to shock because anything goes. I’ve seen kilts at the symphony, jorts (jean shorts) at the ballet. I’d probably try incongruity in the same outfit – a bikini with combat boots, maybe!

08. Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.

I can’t think of a prank I pulled on someone else, but I remember a trick someone played on me. At an office Christmas party that was held at a nice hotel, one of my co-workers grabbed some silverware from a table setting and stuck it in my purse. I walked around all night with this silverware sticking out of my bag, and nobody told me! That’s the part I still can’t believe!

09. How to ruin your vacation?

Hot tubs have never worked out for me on vacations. Either there’s no heat, or the jets aren’t working, or both – and then you find yourself sitting in a big tub of tepid bacteria. The bacteria should at least be, you know, moving around.

10. If I gave you a giraffe, where would you hide it?

That reminds me of a line from one of Donald Barthelme’s surreal short stories: “And the giraffe’s on fire in the kitchen, but you don’t care!” Good question. I’d try to recreate the giraffe’s natural habitat, and paint the entire area to look like a jungle. Maybe do one part of it in a giraffe pattern, so the giraffe could just blend in with the background when it wanted to.


11. What do you do when you see the glass half empty!

When the glass is half empty and I start to feel down, I just buy stuff. I love pens. Right now my favorite is the Dr. Grip gel pen by Pilot. I don’t draw with it, I just make tons of lists (that I instantly lose). But I love those pens. I have them in a bunch of colors – pink, purple, emerald green. I go online and buy refills for my pens, and I feel much better.

View outside my window Trees always blosom when I go to work The unpaid bills and the drawing tablet often make a pair, right Little Kim looking cute in polka dots dress Great when you need a coffee in the run And this is the view outside my window at work

Credits to Nicoleta Ionescu for
talking with
Kim Maxine Frost

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Computer and Internet Collection Wed, 13 Jun 2012 14:36:12 +0000 Battlestar Our collection Computer, Technik and Internet currently contains over 690 Cartoons. I am going to post a few. Which images from this collections are your favorites? Post the links in the comment section.


By Leuenberger
By pkuczy
By Creative Jones
By Ian Baker
By Pohlenz
By Holger Herrmann
By achille
By fussel
By Volkertoons

-It wasn´t me, Dave! It was Frank!
-Frank is DEAD, Hal! Thats the point.
-Err..It was BOWMAN then!
- I am Bowman!!
-Are you sure?
Yes, Dave?
Little Jack….’


By luka
By Kamil
By portos
By trayko
By Monica Zanet
By Carayboo
By Carayboo
By Marcelo Rampazzo
By Jan Tomaschoff
By yaserabohamed
By sevket yalaz
By Harm Bengen
By Mistviech


Feel free to join, browse collections or create one yourself:

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The Ecstatic Line: The Drawings of Hermé Fri, 25 May 2012 10:08:45 +0000 Battlestar

By Kim Frost

The universe of toonpool artist Hermé is a sun-splashed playland of the gods floating high above the sublunary world we know. These curvaceous aristocrats, with their idealized faces and supple bodies, are like classical statues that have been awakened. Transparent and light as air, they frolic in a place where it’s okay to go naked and drink as much wine as you want. Gods just wanna have fun!

Hermé is like a champion golfer who wins every game with the fewest possible strokes. His bold characters arise from a sinuous line that looks as if it had been drawn in one sweeping gesture. The rich colors – gold, red, white, shades of blue – evoke regality and theatricality, humor and splendor, ecstasy and ornament.


A robust figure who looks like Icarus is the subject of Pacwine. In the myth, Icarus was incinerated for trying to make a trip to the sun with a pair of DIY wings. Here, though, the strapping god looks great, and his gigantic wings aren’t even singed. Did he survive the solar trip, or change his itinerary? With the grapes he holds, he could also be Dionysus, the god of wine and madness. Or is he really Hermé himself – Hermes, the winged messenger? Hermes is one of the busiest gods in the pantheon, in charge of agriculture, hospitality, friendship and sex, games and good luck. I love the white calligraphic lines that delineate his dark body, the curlicues of his joints, and the rosebud whirl inside the shoulder. And here’s a surprise: Pac-Man bouncing into the frame, eager to engulf a blood-red stream of wine that tilts out of the pagan altar (that’s a beautifully drawn phallic symbol of course). The layers of enclosure create security – the wings that shelter the god and his sun-warmed grapes, the dark floral scrolls framing the altar and Pac-Man, and the sun’s glow embracing the entire scene. In this conception Hermes is primarily a giver of life, the conduit of the earth’s abundance. He’s like the goat goddess who found the infant Zeus, the future king of the gods, and fed him with her milk.

The Mirror

The Mirror

In The Mirror, Hermé depicts a seated woman who appears to be gazing at herself in a hand-held mirror. The main surprise is that she has no head – the wavy line down her back suggests a swathe of long hair, but it turns into the inverted profile of a man. This vain woman seems to be losing herself, paradoxically, in her obsession with her own beauty. Is this a comment on the emptiness of narcissism? Or does vanity have utility after all? Can it create a negative space in a woman’s psyche and in her body, a point of vulnerability, permitting the man to enter? Another possibility is that the poor girl has literally lost her head over some guy. Everyone knows the feeling of being so much in love that everything looks upside down, including your own face in the mirror. This drawing also reminds me of Hermé’s charming self-portrait [see below] in which the artist uses the power of the drawn line to create his own body on the page. In this view we can take the seated figure in The Mirror to be the artist himself, who raises a mirror to life, and always reveals himself in his own creation.



Here is my interview with Hermé.

Where were you born, and where did you study?

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I was inspired by this beauty and light. I have never studied drawing, but I always liked to draw (I have drawings I made at three years of age) and I started drawing professionally at age sixteen.

Who are your main influences?

I have always been greatly influenced by ancient Greek art. I have a fascination with the drawings on Greek vases. I have also been influenced by Picasso, Steinberg, and Roberto Burle Marx, among many others, and by Art Nouveau.

What do you use in your work?

I draw with all kinds of stuff, but I’m currently using a Wacom tablet (Cintiq 21 UX), and the Illustrator programs for Mac. I have a large number of printers for all purposes.

When did you become fascinated with wine?

I’m not exactly “fascinated” with wines. There was a time when I produced many drawings on this subject. I am now illustrating the works of Brazilian author Jorge Amado, and depicting women who are present in the work of this author.

What do you do when you’re not drawing?

I like to be very close to my family – children, wife, my dog, and some cats we had in our lives for five months.



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“Wir sind keine Papierhändler” Mon, 21 May 2012 12:40:40 +0000 Battlestar Kai Diekmann über Cartoons, seine private Sammlung von Wulff-Karikaturen und über den Humor von Politikern.

English version see below.

Kai Diekmann Kai Diekmann Kai Diekmann Herr Diekmann, kürzlich hat das Bild „Der Schrei“ von Edvard Munch für knapp 120 Millionen Dollar den Besitzer gewechselt. Sie selbst haben Karikaturen-Originale vonünstlern angekauft. Setzen Sie in Zeiten der Euro-Krise persönlich auf Sachwerte?

Kai Diekmann: Selbstverständlich! Ich investiere schon immer mit Vorliebe in Sachwerte. Im Ernst: Ich war im Zusammenhang mit der Affäre um Christian Wulff überrascht und beeindruckt von den vielen kreativen Ideen der Karikaturisten. Häufig haben die Künstler in ihren Zeichnungen die Situation noch besser und eindrücklicher erfasst als manche politische Journalisten in ihren Texten. Das morgendliche Zeitunglesen hat mich oft zum Lachen gebracht. Und so entstand die Idee, die Karikaturen im Original zu kaufen, die sich mit BILD und Christian Wulff befasst haben, insbesondere auch mit seinem Anruf auf meiner Mailbox. Und inzwischen habe ich eine private Sammlung von über 25 Karikaturen – als Erinnerung an diese aufregenden Wochen. Karikaturen können den Karikierten verletzen. Früher wurden Künstler deswegen von den abgebildeten Mächtigen verhaftet oder verklagt (z.B. von Franz-Josef Strauß), was in einigen Ländern auch heute noch vorkommen kann. Müssen Politikerinnen und Politiker demgegenüber heute nicht froh sein, wenn sie Gegenstand von – auch sehr spöttischen – Karikaturen sind, weil sie andernfalls an Präsenz und Wichtigkeit verlieren?

Kai Diekmann: Es ist sicherlich auch ein Zeichen von Bedeutsamkeit, wenn Politiker in Karikaturen dargestellt werden. Die Künstler beschäftigen sich ja in den Zeichnungen mit den Themen, über die die Menschen sprechen, die die Menschen im Land interessieren. Und Themensetzung ist für die Politik wichtig. Sicherlich werden manche Politiker mitunter auch nicht glücklich sein, wenn sie karikiert werden – manchmal kann es auch hart sein, der Wahrheit und Wirklichkeit, wie Karikaturisten sie sehen, zu begegnen. Mich in jedem Fall faszinieren Karikaturen: Als leidenschaftlicher Zeitungsleser erkenne ich häufig den Strich eines Karikaturisten – vor allen Dingen von den Künstlern, die ich schätze und von denen ich eine besondere, kreative Botschaft erwarte. Leider müssen aber in manchen Ländern Karikaturisten nicht nur Probleme fürchten, in einigen Ländern werden Karikaturisten regelrecht bedroht, wenn Sie beispielsweise an die berühmten Mohammed-Karikaturen von Kurt Westergaard denken. Er erlebte nicht nur eine theoretische Drohung, er ist tatsächlich nur knapp einem Mordanschlag entkommen. Daher fand ich es so wichtig, dass Kurt Westergaard vor zwei Jahren im Rahmen der Medienkonferenz M100 in Potsdam von der Bundeskanzlerin und Joachim Gauck, der damals noch nicht Bundespräsident war, mit dem M100 Medien Preis ausgezeichnet wurde. Das war ein sehr richtiges und mutiges Zeichen Als gezeichneter Kommentar steht die Karikatur oft plakativ als Eyecatcher und Seitenaufmacher auf einer Meinungsseite. Haben die Zeichnerinnen und Zeichner damit mehr direkten Einfluss auf das Publikum als die schreibenden Kollegen, zugleich aber daher auch eine höhere Verantwortung?

Kai Diekmann: Ich weiß nicht, ob die Verantwortung höher ist oder der Einfluss größer – Karikaturen haben aber auf jeden Fall eine schnellere Wirkung auf den Betrachter. Über ein Bild oder eine Zeichnung ist eine Botschaft einfacher zu übermitteln als das durch einen Text möglich ist. Meine Zeitung heißt ja aus gutem Grund nicht „Text“ oder „Schlagzeile“, sondern „Bild“ – weil sich der Erfinder, der Verleger Axel Springer, etwas dabei gedacht hat. „Bild“ sollte die gedruckte Antwort auf das Fernsehen sein, Informationen einfacher zugänglich machen und mehr Menschen zum Zeitunglesen animieren. Das menschliche Gehirn ist für Buchstaben weniger empfänglich als für Bilder, Fotos oder Zeichnungen. Eine gute Karikatur macht einfach Spaß, zaubert ein Lächeln ins Gesicht und pflanzt einen Gedanken in das Gehirn der Betrachter. Und eine gute Karikatur funktioniert im Zweifelsfall auch ohne Bildunterschrift. Getreu dem Motto „Ein Bild sagt mehr als tausend Worte“ finde ich Karikaturen mitunter auch hintergründiger und noch mehr auf den Punkt als ein Text, weil natürlich auch ein emotionaler Aspekt hinzukommt. Bei Karikaturen und Cartoons ist der Übergang vom Journalismus zur unterhaltenden und ernsthaften Kunst fließend, zugleich verändert sich die Medienwelt rasant. Sind Karikaturen ein klassisches Old School-Element des Print-Bereichs, oder haben sie auch in anderen Medien eine fortlaufende Zukunft als wichtige Zeitdokumente?

Kai Diekmann: Ganz bestimmt haben Karikaturen eine Zukunft. Ihr erfolgreiches Portal zeigt ja, dass auch in der digitalen Welt der Bedarf nicht geringer, sondern größer wird. Am Ende interessieren sich die Leser für Inhalte und nicht für den Vertriebsweg. Ich sage meinen Kollegen immer: Wir sind keine Papierhändler, wir sind Journalisten, wir erstellen Inhalte. Auf welchem Weg wir unsere Konsumenten erreichen – ob auf gedrucktem Papier, im Internet oder auf dem Handy – ist letztlich zweitrangig. Bilder sind kompatibel für jedes Medium. Gerade in Zeiten des Informationsüberflusses spielen Bilder eine große Rolle – egal ob Fotos, Comics oder Karikaturen und unabhängig ob in der Zeitung oder Online. Viele Bilder wirken auf einer digitalen Oberfläche anders als auf gedrucktem Papier und darin bieten sich für die Zeichner große neue Chancen. Online oder auf dem Tablet und dem Smart-Phone kann ich die Karikatur, das Bild vergrößern und weitere Details entdecken. Ich liebe allerdings auch Papier. Eine Karikatur mit einem besonderen Strich auf Karton gescribbelt hat etwas Wunderschönes – deshalb habe ich die Originale ja auch erstanden. Es gibt Karikaturen, die sind inhaltlich sehr schnell verbrannt, nach wenigen Wochen weiß kaum noch jemand, worum es ging. Es gibt aber auch Zeichnungen, die stehen für den Zeitgeist einer Ära, sie werden zu Zeitdokumenten…

Kai Diekmann: Natürlich! Ich glaube, alle Karikaturen, die Sie hier vor sich sehen, sind Zeitdokumente – unabhängig davon, ob sie digitaler Herkunft oder direkt gezeichnet sind. Karikaturen behandeln ja per Definition ein Sujet, das – zumindest für den Moment – im kollektiven Gedächtnis ist. Und der Rücktritt eines Bundespräsidenten, vor allem mit den Ereignissen und Diskussionen im Vorfeld, bleibt sicherlich vielen Menschen noch lange im Gedächtnis. Und das liegt natürlich auch an der Wichtigkeit der Person…

Kai Diekmann: …und an der Wichtigkeit des Ereignisses, bei Karikaturen sind das meist politische Ereignisse. Mich wundert manchmal, dass sich die Karikatur in ihrer Mehrzahl fast ausschließlich mit Politik beschäftigt. Dabei gibt es doch so viele andere Bereiche und Personen, die eine Rolle spielen. Ich könnte mir beispielsweise auch Karikaturen zu Show-Größen wie Thomas Gottschalk oder Dieter Bohlen vorstellen. Aber die findet man – wenn überhaupt – nur ganz, ganz selten. Haben Sie selbst schon einmal eine Karikatur gezeichnet oder es versucht?

Kai Diekmann: Ja, als Schüler. Das ist grauenhaft in die Hose gegangen. Ich habe ein großes Faible für Kunst in allen Darstellungsformen: Malerei, Skulpturen, Fotografie – oder eben auch gute Karikaturen. Ich habe früher leidenschaftlich gern selbst fotografiert und als Schüler auch Fotowettbewerbe gewonnen. Und das Entwickeln von Filmen und Abzügen in Schwarzweiß hat mir riesigen Spaß gemacht. Aber was das Zeichnen angeht, bin ich – leider – völlig unbegabt. Wahrscheinlich kommt daher auch meine Bewunderung für die Kunst anderer. Von welchen Politikern haben Sie die Einschätzung, dass sie besonders viel Humor (und auch die Fähigkeit zur Selbstironie) haben?

Kai Diekmann: Da gibt es viele, parteiübergreifend: Angela Merkel, Gregor Gysi, Gerhard Schröder, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg fallen mir ganz spontan ein. Sie können wunderbar über sich selbst lachen. Mit seinem Humor könnte Rainer Brüderle – wenn er mal aufhört, Politik zu machen – eine eigene Talk-Show ins Leben rufen oder als Kabarettist auftreten. Unsere Politiker haben durchaus Humor, das haben sie oft bewiesen. Denken Sie nur an den Orden wider den tierischen Ernst oder den unzähligen Faschings- und Karnevalsveranstaltungen, in denen eben genau die Politiker, die im Publikum applaudieren, durch den Kakao gezogen werden. Ich bin der Meinung: Ein gutes Maß an Selbstironie ist wichtig – nicht nur für Politiker. Das ist das Schöne an Karikaturen: Karikaturen machen Spaß und transportieren dennoch Kritik – auf eine feine, künstlerische Art und Weise.

Bernd Pohlenz ( und Kai Diekmann

Bernd Pohlenz ( und Kai Diekmann


von Harm Bengen

Von StuttmannVon Bernd Zeller

Mehr Wulff-Cartoons hier



Interview with Kai Diekmann, editor in chief of „BILD“,
Germany’s No.1 newspaper in circulation and reach,
who has purchased original cartoons by artists

(Diekmann and his mobile phone played key roles in the affair surrounding Christian Wulff, Federal President of Germany, who finally had to resign in February 2012. As an encroachment on press freedom, Wulff had tried to prevent the coverage concerning charges of nepotism). Mr. Diekmann, the painting ‚The Scream’ by Edvard Munch was recently auctioned for almost 120 million dollars. You yourself purchased original cartoons by artists of Do you personally rely on material assets in times of the Euro crisis?

Kai Diekmann: Of course I do! I have always taken great delight in investing in material assets. No kidding: I was surprised at the cartoonists’ copious amounts of creative ideas regarding the affair surrounding Christian Wulff. Quite often I noticed that some cartoonist conveyed the situation more precisely and better with his drawings than some political journalist with his/her op-ed article. Reading the paper each morning often made me laugh. And that’s when the idea occurred to me to purchase the original cartoons dealing with BILD and Christian Wulff and especially his phone call on my voicemail. And by now, I have acquired a private collection of more than 25 cartoons – in memory of these exciting weeks. Cartoons can insult the person that is caricatured. In the past, artists were arrested or sued for this very reason by some of the depicted powerful people. And even today things like that still happen in some countries. However, shouldn’t politicians be glad and flattered when they are chosen as the subject of a cartoon– even if it’s very scornful – because otherwise they would lose presence and significance?

Kai Diekmann: It’s certainly a sign of importance when politicians are depicted in cartoons. In their drawings the artists clearly are working to portray the subjects people are talking about and are interested in nationwide. And determination of subjects is important to politics. Some politicians might dislike it when they become the subject of a cartoon – at times it even can be hard to face the truth and reality interpreted by cartoonists. I for one am truly fascinated by cartoons: as an avid reader of newspapers, I often recognize the drawing technique of a cartoonist – especially if it is an artist I really appreciate, someone I expect a special and creative message from. Unfortunately, cartoonists in some countries are not only faced with problems, but are downright threatened – think about Kurt Westergaard (Danish cartoonist/editor’s note) and his caricatures of Muhammad. What happened to Kurt Westergaard was not just a theoretical threat on his life – in reality, he just narrowly escaped an assassination. That’s why I was positively impressed and deemed it right that, two years ago, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel honored Kurt Westergaard with the M100 Media Award at the M100 Media Conference in Potsdam, in attendance of Joachim Gauck (current Federal President of Germany and successor of Christian Wulff). An example had been set – a right and brave one. As a visual comment, a cartoon is often placed conspicuously as an eye catcher in the op-ed section of a paper. Does this mean that the artists have more direct impact (and therefore also more responsibility) on the audience compared to their writing colleagues?

Kai Diekmann: I don’t know whether the responsibility is higher or the influence larger – but it is certain that cartoons have a faster impact on the viewers. It’s easier to convey a message by using an image or a drawing than by using a text. My paper is called ‚BILD’ (image) and not ‚Text’ or ‚Headline’ for a very good reason – because its founder, publisher Axel Springer, had a precise idea concerning this. ‚Bild’ was intended to be the printed response to television, making information more accessible and enticing more people to read newspapers. The human brain is less receptive to letters than to pictures, photos or drawings. A good cartoon is simply fun, it leaves a smile on one’s face and plants an idea in the viewer’s mind. And a good cartoon even works without a caption. True to the motto ‚A picture is worth a thousand words’, I think cartoons are at times more profound and to the point than a text and of course joined by an emotional aspect. With caricatures and cartoons, the transition from journalism to entertaining and serious art is fluent, at the same time media world changes rapidly. Are cartoons a classic old-school element of print media, or do they also have a future in other media sections as important contemporary documents?

Kai Diekmann: Cartoons will most certainly have a future. Your successful internet portal is indeed demonstrating that even in the digital world demand is not going down but increasing. At the end of the day, readers are interested in contents and not in channels of distribution. I keep telling my staff: we are not paper merchants, we are journalists, we create contents. The way to capture our consumers – might it be on printed paper, in the internet or on mobile phone – is remaining secondary in the end. Images are compatible for every medium. Images are playing a central role, even more so in times of information overload – wether photos, comics or cartoons are concerned and regardless if on paper or online. Many images appear different on a digital display compared to printed paper – a fact which is providing great new opportunities for the artists. Online or on the tablet PC and on smart phone, I can enlarge a cartoon and discover more details. However, I love paper, too. A cartoon scribbled on paper with a unique drawing technique is really wonderful – that’s exactly why I acquired the originals. Some cartoons are quickly exhausted contentwise after a few weeks have elapsed, no one seems to remember what they were all about. But yet there are drawings that reflect the spirit of an era – they become contemporary documents…

Kai Diekmann: Positively! I believe all caricatures we see here are contemporary documents – regardless of whether they are of digital origin or directly hand-drawn. According to the definition, cartoons are covering a subject, which is – at least for a moment – remaining in collective memory. And the resignation of a Federal President is certain to be remembered for a long time by many people, especially with regard to the events and discussions leading to this decision. And that of course is also owing to the importance of a person…

Kai Diekmann: …and because of the significance of the event – taking into account that cartoons are most often dealing with political events. Sometimes I am surprised that the majority of cartoons almost exclusively deals with political subjects. On the other hand, there are so many other ambits and personalities which play a central role. For instance, I could well imagine caricatures about show legends like Thomas Gottschalk or Dieter Bohlen (German TV entertainers/editor’s note). But these kind of caricatures are very, very scarce. Did you ever draw or try to draw a cartoon yourself?

Kai Diekmann: Yes, in my school days but it went awfully bad. I have a huge passion for all kinds of art in all forms of expression: paintings, sculptures, photography – or good cartoons as well. I used to be a passionate photographer myself and even have won photography contests in my school days. And I really enjoyed developing black and white pictures. But speaking of drawing, I am – unfortunately – completely talentless. That’s also probably the reason why I admire the art of others. Which politicians do you think have a good sense of humor (and ability of self-irony)?

Kai Diekmann: There are so many, regardless of their parties: Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor of Germany), Gregor Gysi (politician of left-wing party „Die Linke“), Gerhard Schröder (former German Federal Chancellor), Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (former German Secretary of Defense) come to my mind spontaneously. They can easily laugh at themselves. Because of his good sense of humor, Rainer Brüderle (parliamentary party leader of party FDP) could create his own talk show or establish himself as a cabaret artist in case he will ever decide to quit his political career. Our politicians do have a sense of humor and have often proved so. For example take the countless carnival festivities where the applauding politicians in the audience are mocked. I am of the opinion: a healthy dose of self-irony is important – not only for politicians. That’s the beautiful thing about cartoons: cartoons are fun and yet, they convey criticism – in a fine and artistic way.



Das Interview führte: Bernd Pohlenz (
Fotos: ©Christian Spreitz

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