Mischa, by Rolf Kauka

The German artist, writer and publisher Rolf Kauka was the creator of the popular Fix und Foxi animal universe, which was published in the eponymous magazine, in a fashion similar to that of Walt Disney. Kauka, whose family was originally from Scandinavia, published his first illustrations at age seventeen in publications like the Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten and Weissenfelser Tageblatt. In 1937, after his economics studies, Kauka was drafted into the German army. Demobilized in 1945, he settled in Munich and starting editing juridical papers. He founded his own publishing house in 1950, which published some books by Hedwig Courths-Mahler.

He teamed up with the publisher Heinz Ullstein, and pursued a venture in animated cartoons for the American market. But when this didn't work out, Kauka focused on comics. He adapted 'Eulenspiegel' by Charles De Coster to comics, and published it in the magazine of the same name in 1952. The artwork was done by Dorul van der Heide, who also illustrated the backing stories 'Dagobert' and 'Münchhausen'. In the sixth issue, Kauka and Van der Heide first introduced the foxes 'Fix und Foxi', who soon became the leading characters of the magazine. (Therefore, Eulenspiegel changed its name to 'Fix und Foxi' in 1955).

Fix und Foxi, by Rolf Kauka

Fix und Foxi, initially based on German fairy tales and fables, soon became Germany's biggest comics property, competing only with Walt Disney's Micky Maus magazine. A large merchandise line was set up, and the Fix und Foxi world was expanded with characters like the wolf Lupo, Oma Eusebia, Onkel Fax and Professor Knox. The magazine also had several back-up comics, such as 'Hops und Stops', 'Pauli', 'Tom und Klein-Biberhart' and 'Mischa'. In addition, it featured reprints of comics from the Belgian magazines Spirou and Pilote.

Although the comic appeared under his name, Kauka never drew the series himself. He assembled a large team of artists around him, consisting of among others Werner Hierl, Ludwig Fischer, Helmut Murek, Franz Roscher, and Kurt Italiaander, as well as the Eastern-European artists Walter Neugebauer, Branco Karabajic, Vlado Magdic and Vjekoslav Kostanjsek, the Greek Charilaos Theodorou and the Turks Öktemer Köksal and Mehmet Gülergün. In addition, Italian, Spanish and Belgian artists were assigned to illustrate stories with Kauka's characters.

Kauka also took on animating again, which resulted in the feature-length animation cartoon 'Maria d'Oro'. In the 1970s, several of his artists broke with Kauka over copyright disagreements, including art director Walter Neugebauer. In 1975, Kauka founded the Kauka Comic Akadamie, an institute to educate young illustrators. Kauka eventually sold his company, but kept the copyrights to his characters. He emigrated and settled in the USA in the early 1980s.

The sales of the Fix und Foxi magazine stagnated in the early 1990s. When the editors decided to include editorials aimed at teenagers (Madonna was even featured on the cover once), Kauka was not amused and used his copyright ownership to forbid further publication.

After Rolf Kauka passed away on 13 September 2000, his wife, Alexandra Kauka, became his successor at Kauka Promedia (Kauka Verlag). Fix & Foxi has been broadcast as a TV series since then, and the Fix & Foxi magazine and comics are now also being published again in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Last updated: 2012-04-13

Series and books by Rolf Kauka in stock in the Lambiek Webshop: