Meet the Katzies: The Katzenjammer Kids, One of the Earliest Ethnic Comic Strips

By | July 2, 2019

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The 'Katzenjammer Kids' cartoon children are the subject of this coloring book issued circa 1915 in New York City. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

One of the first ethnic comic strips, The Katzenjammer Kids, debuted in the funny pages of Sunday newspapers beginning in December of 1897. The comic strip followed the antics of German twins, Hans and Fritz, and their mother, Momma Katzenjammers. It may be viewed as offensive by today’s standards, but during its heyday, The Katzenjammer Kids was thought to be clever in its depiction of the German culture. Let’s take a look at this century old comic strip. 

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Rudolph Dirks, a German-born cartoonist. (

A German Cartoonist

The artist and creative genius behind The Katzenjammer Kids was Rudolf Dirks, a German born artist. As a young boy, Dirks moved with his family to Chicago. Dirks found moderate success drawing cartoons for local newspapers and magazines when he was a young man. Bolstered by his success, he moved to New York City in hopes of selling his drawings and cartoons to larger newspapers.