Berry by Reinhold Reitberger

Reinhold Reitberger is a German writer, illustrator and comics artist. He is best known as the co-author of 'Anatomie eines Massenmediums' ('Anatomy of a Mass Medium', 1971) and 'Comics-Handbuch' ('Comics Manual', 1978), two standard works on the subject of comics in the German language. He co-wrote them with Wolfgang J. Fuchs, with whom he also made the advertising comic 'Berry der Plantagenbär' (1985-1990) for the cocoa drink Kaba. Reitberger also gained fame with his 1979 biography about Walt Disney and various joke books. He is furthermore notable as a comics translator, mostly of Disney titles, and a pioneer in German-language webcomics with his daily online series 'Wally und die Comics' (2001).

Early life and career
Reinhold C. Reitberger, nicknamed "Reiti", was born in 1946 in Munich. As a child he already loved reading comics and he and his childhood friend Wolfgang J. Fuchs often shared the latest albums and issues, while drawing their own comics as well. His favorite cartoonist is Wallace Wood. Reitberger studied American Studies and Communication Science.


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, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's The Thing and below Charles M. Schulz' Charlie Brown & Snoopy and Walt Disney's Donald Duck.

Writings 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 comics history! Like in most other countries, many people considered comics to be pulp without artistic value. Reitberger and Fuchs 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.

In 1979 Reitberger published 'Walt Disney in Seibstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten' (Rowohlts Monographien, Reinbek bei Hambug 1979), the first German-language biography about Disney published since the artist's death in 1966.

Magazines
Fuchs and Reitberger published a quarterly comics fanzine in 1971 titled Panel, but it was cancelled after only one issue.

Berry der Plantagenbär
Between 1985 and 1990 Reitberger and Fuchs 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. About 45 episodes were published.

Comic art by Reinhold Reitberger
'Wally und die Comics'.

Wally und die Comics
On 8 November 2001 on Reitberger launched the webcomic 'Wally und die Comics' (2001) for the website Comicradioshow.com. The series is set in a comics store and follows the life of Wally, an employee who has to deal with his co-workers and obsessive clients and comics collectors. Reitberger named the character after Wally Wood, but most of the setting is inspired by his own experiences as a comics salesman.

Translator
Reitberger has translated several Disney comics over the years.

Joke books
Since 1993 Reitberger has compiled a large amount of joke books for young audiences. He not only collects the jokes, but illustrates them too. Among the available titles are 'Die Lachbombe. Witz zum Losplatzen' (1993), 'Die Lachparade. Witze am laufenden Band!' (1994), 'Das Buch der 1000 Scherzfragen' (1998), 'Schülerwitze. 1000 Sachen zum Lachen' (2003), 'Das megadicke Buch der Superwitze' (2004) and 'Witze für die Schultasche' (2006).

Series and books by Reinhold Reitberger in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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