Gallentstein by Gunther Mayrhofer

Günther Mayrhofer is a Austrian comic artist, best known for his humorous historical comics series 'Gallenstein' (1980-1983), scripted by Philipp Zippermayer. The similarities with Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix' were so blatant that Uderzo sued for plagiarism, which effectively terminated the series. Mayrhofer also drew the short-lived fantasy humor comic 'Quark' (1987-1988), scripted by Wolfgang J. Fuchs.

Early life and career
Günther Mayrhofer was born in 1949 in Salzburg, Austria. In 1979 Austrian comic writer Philipp Zippermayr teamed up with Mayrhofer under the pseudonym Ph. G. Wolff to create the comic book 'Gold in Eldorado'. Unfortunately they ran into legal trouble because the comic was published with 'Classic Comic' as its main title, which was trademarked by the publishing house Schwager & Steinlein.

Between 1980 and 1983 Zippermayr and Mayrhofer developed their best known comics series, 'Gallenstein'. Set in the 16th century, it stars the alchemist Gallenstein, who has an ongoing rivalry with another scientist, Pöplmann, to be first to turn lead into gold. In search for the correct formula, Gallenstein and his friends travel the seven seas, exploring places like Rome, Austria, Japan and the Inca Empire in Peru. Bavaria Comic Verlag published seven albums before Albert Uderzo, co-creator of 'Astérix', noticed the series and was struck by the many similarities with his own work. Gallenstein, for instance, has a bulbous nose, bushy moustache and his outfit is very similar to Assurancetourix (Cacofonix). In fact: many costumes of Gallenstein and the other characters look more like Celtic outfits than the actual era the series is supposed to take place in! Even the cover lay-outs were so similar that Bavaria Comic Verlag was forced to change the design after a juridic order. 'Gallenstein', which already sold badly, was eventually cancelled and sank into obscurity.

This wasn't the first time a German-language 'Asterix' rip-off was accused of plagiarism, by the way. After losing his license to the 'Asterix' stories in 1967 Rolf Kauka produced Fritze Blitz und Dunnerkiel' (1967-1969), drawn by Branco Karabajic and later Riccardo Rinaldi, with Peter Wiechmann as scriptwriter. Set in ancient Germany, with two Asterix and Obelix expies who were Goths, the similarities were so obvious that Goscinny and Uderzo sued, but lost their case. 

In 1986 an animated feature film, 'Walhalla', ran in theaters, based on Peter Madsen's eponymous comics series. The picture featured a side character, Quark the dwarf, 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 Wolfgang J. Fuchs and drawn by Günther Mayrhofer.

Animal welfare
Very fond of nature and animal welfare, Günther Mayrhofer became head of the animal asylum in Salzburg in 1991. He is also president of the local Animal Welfare Association.

Gallentstein by Gunther Mayrhofer

Series and books by Günther Mayrhofer in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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