Dab and Flounder, by Walter Goetz
'Dab and Flounder' (1947).

Walter Goetz was a German-British cartoonist, best known for his pantomime newspaper comic strips 'Colonel Up and Mr. Down' (1934-1949) and 'Dab and Flounder' (1934?-1954). He often signed his work with his first name: Walter. Goetz is also known as the illustrator of Pierre Danino's 'Major Thompson' novels. He should not be confused with German historian and politician Walter Wilhelm Goetz (1867-1958). 

Early life and career
Walter Goetz was born in 1911 in Cologne, Germany, as the son of a German-Jewish father and French mother. His trilingual education would later provide great advantages. After the First World War, Germany fell into poverty and political turmoil. As antisemitism grew, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Walther Rathenau (who was of Jewish descent) was assassinated in 1922. Goetz' parents feared for their son's safety and sent him to Bedales, England, He spent the majority of his life in England. The only exception being two years spent in Berlin between 1929 and 1931 to study art, and some time in France to make landscape paintings. Between 1931 and 1951 he lived in England permanently; he was naturalized as a British citizen in 1934. Around this time his comics and cartoons ran in magazines like Bystander, Harper's, Lilliput, Night and Day, Punch and Vogue. 


Cartoon by Walter Goetz, published in Punch magazine in 1957.

Colonel Up and Mr. Down
In 1933 Goetz created the pantomime comic 'Colonel Up and Mr. Down', which ran in the Daily Express under his pseudonym "Walter". The series revolved around two people from different social classes who nevertheless looked almost similar. Colonel Up wore his bushy eyebrows and moustache upwards, while Mr. Down wore them downwards. It's interesting to compare them to Dupond & Dupond (the Thompsons) from Hergé's 'Tintin', who debuted the same year and also look identical except for their moustaches. 'Colonel Up and Mr. Down' ran in papers for 15 years, the final episode was published in 1949. 

Dab and Flounder
Also for the Daily Express, Goetz made a similar long-running pantomime comic about a comedic duo: 'Dab and Flounder' (1934-1954). Some online sources mention the starting year as 1934, other say Goetz launched his second strip after World War II.


By 1954 'Colonel UP and Mr. DOWN' still ran in the Sydney Morning Herald (10 June 1954).

World War II
In September 1938 a new world war was looming, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Munich to hold a peace conference with Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Édouard Daladier. Chamberlain held a BBC radio broadcast afterwards, which would be translated in French and German. On 27 September, Goetz was rushed in to provide the German translation. By lack of experience, he just started talking into the microphone, trying to translate without an advance text and deciphering Robert Ehrenzweig's handwritten transcriptions. There were many awkward pauses. Some listeners at home were annoyed by the amateurism, while others thought the Nazis had taken over the airwaves. People gathered around the radio station to protest and Goetz had to be smuggled out for his own protection.  

During World War II he worked for the British propaganda service, the Political Warfare Executive, making leaflets to be airdropped over Germany. He also studied German newspapers to provide Sefton Delmer with material for his propaganda broadcasts. Later he became editor of the magazine Cadran, which was distributed all over liberated France. After World War II, Goetz accompanied journalist Alan Moorehead to provide illustrations to his reports about the ruins of post-war Germany. 

Final years and death
In 1951 Goetz moved to Paris, France, where he became an art dealer and opera costume designer from 1958 on. He remained active as an illustrator too, providing cartoons for Punch and illustrating Pierre Daninos' humoristic novels, 'Les Carnets de Major Thompson' (1954-1957). They told the witty adventures of a stereotypical English aristocrat. The books were popular enough to sell a million copies. Wax figures of the characters were installed in Musée Grevin in Paris. By 1972 (some sources claim 1980) Goetz moved back to England where he stayed until his death in 1995. He was a member of the Garrick Club and the Society of Industrial Artists. His first wife Gillian Crawshay-Williams later married Labour politician Tony Greenwood. 


From: 'The Secret of Major Thompson' (1957)

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