Wolfgang J. Fuchs was a German journalist and writer, best known as the co-author of 'Anatomie eines Massenmediums' ('Anatomy of a Mass Medium', 1971) and 'Comics-Handbuch' ('Comics Manual', 1978), along with Reinhold Reitberger. Both works were the first standard works on the subject of comics in the German language and were translated as well. Fuchs was editor of the comic magazines Panel, Peanuts and Garfield and a prominent translator of several foreign comics series. He was the scriptwriter of two advertising comics, namely 'Super Kevin' (1979, art by Themistocles Kannelakis) and 'Berry der Plantagenbär' (1985-1990, with Reinhold Reitberger). For this latter title Fuchs helped with the drawings too. He also wrote stories for Günther Mayrhofer's comic strip 'Quark' (1987-1988).

Early life and career
Wolfgang J. Fuchs was born in 1945 in Unsleben, Lower Franconia. As a child he was an avid reader and cinema goer. Among his favorite comics were Hal Foster's 'Prince Valiant', Carl Barks' 'Donald Duck' stories and Floyd Gottfredson's 'Mickey Mouse' strips. Together with his childhood friend Reinhold C. Reitberger he shared, read and drew comics together. He studied civil engineering, but dropped out after only one semester, eventually graduating as a journalist with a minor in American and English studies. Fuchs also took a distance drawing and graphics course and in 2005 he obtained his university degree as a Magister Artium. In 1965 Fuchs went to the 1st International Traffic Exhibition in Munich, because he heard that Walt Disney and his wife would visit the event. He managed to meet him and spent the whole day in his presence.

The cover of 'Comics - Anatomy of a Mass Medium' is a parody of Rembrandt Van Rijn's 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp'. We recognize from left to right: Chester Gould's Dick Tracy, Bob Kane's Batman, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant, Chic Young's Dagwood, Lee Falk's The Phantom, Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America, Siegel & Shuster's Superman, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's The Thing and below Charles M. SchulzCharlie Brown & Snoopy and Walt Disney's Donald Duck.

Books about comics
In the 1960s and 1970s comics became subject of more academic interest. In various countries fans published essays, articles, books, encyclopedia and guides about the history of the medium. However, in the German language there was no equivalent, despite the fact that the Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer and German artist Wilhelm Busch were important pioneers in comic history! Like in most other countries, many people considered comics to be pulp without artistic value. Fuchs and his friend Reitberger had written a colloquium about comics for a series of lectures at the LMU America Institute. The professor who oversaw the project told them that, since they had done so much work, they really ought to find a publisher. Thus 'Anatomie eines Massenmediums' ('Anatomy of a Mass Medium', 1971) hit the stores. It became an instant succes and was also translated in English, Dutch and Spanish. A funny anecdote about the first edition was that Carl Barks' last name was originally misspelled as Carl Barx, bringing up a funny analogy with Karl Marx, the German economist who invented Communism. Reitberger and Fuchs only found out that the name was misspelled when the book was ready for printing. It took until the third reprint before the mistake could be corrected. The 1982 reprint, 'Das Grosse Buch der Comics' ('The Big Book of Comics') came with a vinyl record with sound recordings.

Fuchs and Reitberger later followed it up with 'Comics Hand-Buch' ('Comics Manual', Rowohlt Publishing, Reinbek, 1978), which was closer to a genuine reference book. Fuchs also wrote 'Compact mini Lexicon - Comic Helden von Asterix bis Zorro' (Compact, 1984). Fuchs furthermore made contributions to Maurice Horn's 'The World Encyclopedia of Comics' and Jerry Bails' and Hames Ware's 'The Who's Who of American Comic Books' (1973-1976).

Fuchs and Reitberger published a quarterly comic fanzine in 1971 titled Panel, but it was cancelled after only one issue. Between 1974 and 1975 gvm Gesellschaft für Verlagsmanagement published a comic magazine titled Peanuts, which wanted to cash in on the broadcast of the animated 'Peanuts' TV specials on ZDF, based on Charles M. Schulz' comics series. Peanuts was mostly inspired by the Spanish-language equivalent Carlitos. Fuchs was an editor for Peanuts, translating and lettering comics like 'Peanuts', but also Russell Myers' 'Brunnhilda' and Rudolph Dirks' 'Captain and the Kids'. He also wrote and illustrated articles about baseball, labyrinths and made his own comics. Unfortunately Peanuts didn't last long, because the 'Peanuts' specials weren't broadcast often enough on TV as expected. Apart from that, the 'Peanuts' license holders didn't want more monthly episodes in the magazine than in U.S. publications.

Between 1987 and 1994 Fuchs was editor-in-chief of Garfield magazine, based on Jim Davis' popular cartoon cat of the same name. The magazine not only appeared in German, but parallel in seven other European countries as well. Rolf Kauka's son-in-law Uli Pohl was in charge of the concept.

Comics events
In 1979 Fuchs curated a comics exhibition in Vienna, the first of its kind in the Austrian capital. In 2017 he and Heiner Lünstedt co-organized the Comics Festival of Münich.

Berry #12, the only story written and drawn solely by Wolfgang Fuchs.

Advertising comics
In 1979 Fuchs wrote an advertising comic for BP to promote energy saving, titled 'Super Kevin'. It starred British association football player Kevin Keegan in the title role, making it a celebrity comic at the same time. The artwork was done by Themistocles Kannelakis.

Between 1985 and 1990 Fuchs and Reitberger worked for the cocoa drink brand Kaba, which used an anthropomorphic bear, 'Berry der Plantagenbär' ('Berry the Plantation Bear'), as their mascot. Fuchs wrote stories for a series of advertising comics starring Berry and a group of children, which he lettered as well. Reitberger drew the stories while Fuchs inked the drawings. The twelfth episode of 'Berry', however, was completely written and drawn by Fuchs himself. About 45 episodes were published.

In 1986 an animated feature film, 'Walhalla', ran in theaters, based on Peter Madsen's comics series of the same name. The picture featured a side character, Quark the troll, who was so popular with viewers that Swan Film Production created an animated TV series, 'Quark' (1987) around him next year. Bavaria Comic Verlag launched a series of comic books about Quark in 1987-1988, written by Fuchs and drawn by Günther Mayrhofer.

Fuchs was also a notable translator of foreign comics series, such as Hal Foster's 'Prince Valiant', Jim Davis' 'Garfield', Marvel Comics' 'Fantastic Four', René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix', George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat', Lyonel Feininger's 'The Kin-der Kids', Winsor McCay's 'Little Nemo', Brian Fies' 'Mom's Cancer' and various Disney comics. He wrote the forewords to the German-language editions of Carl Barks' 'Donald Duck' comics, 'Barks Comics & Stories'. While Dr. Erika Fuchs is the most well known Disney translator in Germany, Wolfgang wasn't related to her, though they did meet each other at times. He also attended her funeral.

Other writings
Outside his comics work, Fuchs wrote several articles for radio, TV (Bayerischer Rundfunk) and magazines (the German edition of Playboy, for instance). Most were about the subject of film. He wrote articles for the cinematic guide 'Filmnotizbuch 1978-1979' and published books about Hollywood legends such as Humphrey Bogart ('Humphrey Bogart. Cult Star, Taschen, 1988'), James Dean ('James Dean. Spuren eines Giganten', Taschen, 1988), Woody Allen ('Die vielen Gesichter des Woody Allen', Taschen, 1988) and... Mickey Mouse ('Mickey Mouse – Das ist mein Leben', Unipart-Vlg, Remseck, 1991).

Fuchs' translation of Brian Fies' 'Mom's Cancer' (as 'Mutter hat Krebs') won the 2007 Deutschen Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth Literature Award).

Wolfgang Fuchs passed away in 2020 at age 74.

Wolfgang Fuchs drawn by Jack Davis in 1980.

Interview with Wolfgang Fuchs on comicoskop.com

Series and books by Wolfgang J. Fuchs in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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