In 1967, the Danish comics publisher Carlsen wanted to branch out and received the licence to publish Hergé’s Tintin comics in Germany as well, thus introducing Germany to the great European comics culture. Even though at that time, comics were starting to receive accolades as the Ninth Art all over Europe, in Germany they were considered trash.
In an interview with the German site Mopo, Carlsen’s comics editor Klaus Schikowski tells how churches would organize comics burnings and brand comics as uneducational and “bad for kids”.
Thanks to a keen eye for quality and good editorial choices, Carlsen was able to turn the tide, introducing Germany to well-established titles from Belgium and France (predominantly from Dupuis, Dargaud and Casterman), but also by publishing German editions from early graphic novels, starting with Will Eisner’s A Contract With God, in 1978.
It was mainly editor Andreas Knigge who would further expand the publisher’s program, by including superhero comics from the US, but also by cultivating home-grown talent (such as superstar Ralf König). In the 1990s, however, the big sellers came from Japan, as they did all over the world. Dragon Ball and other long-running series currently make up the largest part of Carlsen’s catalog and, according to Knigge, can be considered the only genre that is able to withstand the onslaught from digital media.
In an effort to cultivate a native manga scene, and probably also attract young talents, Carlsen has also founded Mangaka, a site “by artists for artists”, offering tutorials, showcases and interviews. The site currently boasts more than 50,000 registered users.