'Mord in Itzenhausen' (1602).

Hans Rogel the Younger was a late 16th/early 17th-century German engraver. He made a notable prototypical comic titled 'Mord in Itzenhausen' ('Murder in Itzenhausen', 1602). The engraving is based on a real-life filicide affair. 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 father Hans Rogel the Elder, 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.

Life and work
Hans Rogel the Younger was the son of Hans Rogel the Elder. Just like his father he lived his entire life in the city of Augsburg, earning his bread as a wood engraver. This city is nowadays located in Bayern, Germany, but back then a part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was born in 1560 and passed away in 1612.

Murder in Itzenhausen
Like his father, Rogel also made engravings based on then-current events. 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 HoogheBartholomäus KäppelerCaspar Krebs, Georg Kress, Der Prager Meister von 1609, Hans Rogel the Elder, Erhard Schön, Johann Schubert, Hans Schultes the ElderLukas 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.

In 1602, Rogel made the engraving 'Mord in Itzenhausen', about a murder case in Itzenhausen. On 2 November 1602, the farmer Bernhard Kuntz killed his three sons. He was arrested, tortured and executed afterwards. Rogel illustrates the events in five separate scenes. This makes his engraving very reminiscent of a modern-day text comic, with the story written underneath the images. However, the lay-out can be a bit confusing to follow. The storyline begins in the upper left corner, when Kuntz is awakened by the Devil to perform his ghastly deed. The narrative then has to be read clockwise. In the next panel Kuntz runs to the woods, carrying an axe with him. He murders one of his children in bed, hacking down the two others on the floor. In the final panel Kuntz is executed on the breaking wheel.

Series and books by Hans Rogel the Younger you can order today:

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