'Die Erscheinung weißer Kreuze über drei Kirchen in Konstantinopel' (1572).

Hans Rogel der Alte (Hans Rogel the Elder) was a 16th-century German teacher, engraver, printer and publisher. Two of his engravings, 'Die Erscheinung weißer Kreuze über drei Kirchen in Konstantinopel' ('The Appearance of White Crosses above the Churches of Constantinople', 1572) and 'Riesenwalfisch bei Antwerpen' ('Giant Whale in Antwerp', 1577) are notable for their use of sequential illustrations. Together with Hans Burgkmair the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Jeremias Gath, Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Holbein the YoungerBartholomäus KäppelerCaspar Krebs, Georg Kress, Rogel's own son Hans Rogel the Younger, Erhard Schön, Johann Schubert, Hans Schultes the ElderLukas Schultes and Elias Wellhöfer, he is one of the earliest German prototypical comic artists who left us with a signature.

Early life and work
Hans Rogel was born in 1532 in Augsburg, back then part of the Swabian Imperial Circle, one of the ten imperial circles of the Holy Roman Empire. Working as a school teacher, he published a 1548 textbook on writing and a 1551 booklet on arithmetic. He was active as a bailiff for the local court too.

Augsburg mileage disc
Between 1560 and 1563, Rogel created a scale model of the city of Augsburg. He used his research to prepare a so-called "Augsburg mileage disc", showing Augsburg in the center of the page, with all neighboring cities and villages around it. Travellers could then measure the distance between Augsburg and other cities. It also pointed out the closest roads to these locations. Rogel based much of his information on Jörg Gail's 1563 travel guide 'Raißbüchlin' ('Travel Booklet').

Augsburg mileage disc.

Rogel also enjoyed fame as a woodcut engraver, making woodcuts for book illustrations, calendars, leaflets and maps. Like many other woodcut artists, Rogel also made illustrations based on then-current events, such as the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and a comet observed above Augsburg (October 1580). Between the 16th and 18th century, such woodcut engravings, named 'Geschichtsblätter' ("Pages about Events"), were a forerunner of today's newspapers. They portrayed battles, massacres, public executions, natural disasters and other atrocities. He was just one of several artists who made such drawings. Other creators include Johannes van den AveeleJeremias GathFrans Hogenberg, Romeyn de Hooghe, Bartholomäus KäppelerCaspar Krebs, Georg Kress, Der Prager Meister von 1609, Hans Rogel the Younger, Erhard Schön, Johann Schubert, Hans Schultes the Elder, Lucas Schultes and Elias Wellhöfer.

Like most art from that era, the historical accuracy of these graphic "news reports" should be taken with a grain of salt. No eyewitnesses were consulted and all information was based on descriptions from messengers, travelers or hearsay. Unavoidably, anecdotes were sensationalized and used for propaganda purposes. The printers couldn't print opinions that could get them in trouble with the authorities. Audiences wanted to be awed as well. As a result, huge public festivities were made more bombastic, and scenes of death and despair were heavily dramatized. The prints were distributed all over Europe. Once the events became old news, the drawings were bundled and compiled into collectable picture albums.

Prototypical comics
In 1572, Rogel made 'Die Erscheinung weißer Kreuze über drei Kirchen in Konstantinopel', an engraving about a supposed strange phenomenon observed in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). According to eyewitness reports, three white crosses were seen floating above the Hagia Sophia, St. Patriarch's Church and St. Andrew's Church on 16 February 1572. Rogel depicts this incredible event in two sequential illustrations. The first image shows the three crosses appearing above the buildings, while people point at it or fall on their knees in religious devotion and fear. The second image provides a view of the city and the local river, while a heavenly light shines above.

Rogel's engraving of a beached whale in Antwerp in 1577, 'Riesenwalfisch bei Antwerpen', is also interesting for comic historians. It depicts the sea mammal from two different perspectives, divided in two sequential illustrations. The first panel shows the enormous beast from the back, while people are taking measurements. The second panel has a front view.

Hans Rogel died in 1592 in Augsburg. His son, Hans Rogel the Younger, was also active as a wood engraver and incidentally also made a prototypical comic strip.

'Riesenwalfisch bei Antwerpen' (1577).

Hans Rogel the Elder on zeno.org

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