Tibor, by Hansrudi Wäscher

Hansrudi Wäscher was born near St. Gallen, but grew up in the Italian part of Switzerland, reading comic books like 'Tarzan', 'Mandrake The Magician' and 'Flash Gordon', and Salgari adventure novels. His German father had a shop in Lugano, but the Wäscher family had to move to Hanover in 1940, because of hostilities against Germans. At the end of the war, his father was killed during the battle of Berlin. Hansrudi, now 17, became an apprentice window dresser. He studied graphic design from 1947 to 1950, while earning some money as a poster painter for Hanover cinemas. He also made illustrations for the weekly magazine Heim und Welt, where he met his future wife, Helga Bertelmann, who was one of the editors.

Wäscher entered the comic book field in 1953, with the heroic knight 'Sigurd'. He became one of the most productive authors for the publisher Walter Lehning, who had started publishing small-sized comic books with mostly Italian material in 1952. Wäscher drew, translated and wrote over 1,500 of these mini-sized comic books, published all over Europe. The tiny publications were called the "piccolo" series in Italy and Germany and the "liliput" series in the Netherlands.

Sigurd by Hanrudi Wascher

Apart from 'Sigurd', Wäscher was also assigned to steal the Italian character of 'Akim' from Pedrazza, and draw new booklets with this jungle hero for the German market from 1956. After several years of legal battles between Lehning and the Italian licenser, a new jungle hero called 'Tibor' was created to replace 'Akim' in 1959. Further "piccolos" by Wäscher starred the astronaut 'Nick' (1958) and the knight 'Falk' (1960). In 1954, Lehning launched a second type of "piccolo" comics, called the "Kolibri" series. Wäscher's Kolibris were 'Jörg' and 'Gert'. Other creations for Lehning were 'Bob und Ben' (1963) and the stuntman 'Roy Stark' (1967-68).

Akim by Hansrudi Wascher

By 1968, the market had changed, and Lehning went out of business. At this point, only 'Tibor' and 'Sigurd' remained, and Wäscher had already created 'Nizar' and 'Ulf' for another Hannover-based publisher called Kölling Verlag in 1964. From 1969, Wäscher found employment with Bastei Verlag, for which he anonymously drew pages for the comic books 'Buffalo Bill' and 'Gespenster Geschichten'. In the 1970s, comic bookseller Norbert Hethke started reprinting the old Lehning piccolos.

Nick by Hansrudi Wascher

Wäscher joined forces with Hethke, and created a new character called 'Fenrir' for Die Sprechblase in 1982, as well as new stories starring 'Sigurd', 'Nick' and 'Tibor'. In 1993, at the age of 65, Wäscher launched a new "Piccolo" series with 'Sigurd', in the same tradition as the classic Lehning publications. The author desired to kill off his hero and retire ten years later, but the publisher prevented him from doing that, and appointed the Argentinian illustrator Daniel Müller as Wäscher's successor.

A pioneer of German comics, Hansrudi Wäscher received the Max-und-Mortiz Prize in 2008 at the International Comics Festival in Erlangen in 2008. Wäscher passed away in Freiburg on 7 January 2016, at the age of 87.

Terry Stars, by Hansrudi Wascher
Comic art by Hansrudi Wäscher.

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