Manga, madchen, mohammed

For everything and all kinds of people there are online communities. Only cartoonists have not yet had a platform. In Berlin two competing cartoon portals were founded at once

Toonpool is international, professional and in English language. ToonsUp, a still very small "free art community", Refuses commercialism and can only score with the cuddle factor. The aesthetic balancing act is rough with both: even amateur cartoonists can upload their works, not always to the amusement of all. stern cartoonist Til Mette is on an equal footing with mangaka Inga Steinmetz at Toonpool. A "Men’s limb care set" by Bernd Pohlenz is only a few mouse clicks away from the "blowjob" of the Berlin hobby cartoonist "shin kazama". At ToonsUp, on the other hand, things are more sedate; even the "The seven hours of death" of the user "Waterwing" would not upset any catholic.

Cartoons are a niche product; if you want relevant access figures and users, you can’t get around mangas – mass-produced goods and part of pop culture in Japan. The European political cartoon in the tradition of the French painter and sculptor Honore Daumier and the mangas, which in Europe appeal more to young people and refer artistically to Osamu Tezuka, do not fit together at first glance. Only a few artists manage to keep both in view.

manga, girl, mohammed

Images: Marie Sann

Toonpool’s glamour girl is Marie Sann, 22, one of Germany’s most talented young artists. The Berlin graphic design student with the henna hair and the professional starlet smile knows how to market herself cleverly: A blog of her own with a fan community and an online store are part of it, the presence at all events of the manga scene, and a surprisingly wide artistic spectrum between classical drawing and comic art.

But only Toonpool could realistically represent the tastes of users. The portal has features comparable to the photo community Flickr: Users rate, comment, create favorites – and the operator is happy about the profiles created. It is not surprising that the most viewed picture of Sann is a girl in dirndl and with beer mugs, but in the "Child scheme" drawn from the manga tradition. The tags are telling: "manga woman girl oktoberfest bavaria".

So why does a manga girl remotely reminiscent of "Heidi" but would also fit into a Japanese comic, so original and "attractive"? In this case, by two factors: two styles intertwine, which could not have been more different: The typical German cliche of the Dirndl girl is ironically "trivial" and pop culture manga tradition broken. What does not belong together grows together. But it is rather unlikely that the artist has theoretically conceived this beforehand. Marie Sann stands for a generation of cartoonists that builds on a solid education in the European art tradition, but on the other hand – challenged by the mass taste of manga teens – can – and must – experimentally incorporate entirely new drawing elements.

Osamu Tezuka was the first mangaka to create the "Child scheme" with the coarse eyes used. Today this style is considered to be the most important for Japanese mangas. The pattern has become widespread in Europe only in the last ten years, in France and Spain rather than in Germany. The anime films of Katsuhiro Otomo are now also known to the local audience.

manga, girl, mohammed

Marie Sann

The European tradition has created this style in cartoons and comics on its own – even without the influence of Walt Disney. "Sinbad the Sailor" as part of the cycle "Tales of the people" was drawn as a comic by Stefan Mart already in the thirties. There is almost nothing known about the artist, but it is certain that he has influenced generations of German cartoonists. In contrast to the U.S. tradition – for example, Captain Future from the forties – Mart largely dispensed with the childlike scheme and drew rather "realistic".

The stylistic elements of modern manga open a new door to the European tradition: the childish scheme appeals both to adults who associate cartoons with satire, humor and caricature, including serious political claims, and to young people who use the stories and characters to identify with them. Not coincidentally, there are gender-specific manga in Japan: shojo manga are drawn specifically for adolescent girls from about six to eighteen years old, while shonen are more action-oriented and aimed at boys.

The cartoon – on cardboard – was originally the "Gemalde" by artists who were too poor to afford canvas. In Germany, cartoons are mainly associated with political satire or humorous milieu studies – from the legendary magazines Kladderadatsch and Simplicissimus from the 19th century, to the more popular cartoons from the 19th century. from the nineteenth century to the Pardon from the sixties to today’s Titanic and the Eulenspiegel.

In England and the USA, the cartoon has also established itself in the classical media. In Germany, only a few cartoonists have achieved international success, Uli Stein being the best known. Only a few can live from their work, Bernd Pohlenz, one of the founders of, belongs to it. Ronald Markwordt, who initiated ToonsUp, is in the Star Wars fan community as a draftsman a rough, but in mainstream media rather unknown.

manga, girl, mohammed

It gets exciting when cartoonists from different cultures clash their humor and their understanding of politics. The Brazilian cartoonist Marcelo Rampazzo, for example, has published a Mohammed cartoon ("272 virgins") published, which is in no way inferior to the famous caricatures of the Danish newspaper Yllands post and conjured the operators of the portal a few Schweibperlen on the forehead. The collected Islam cartoons will not please everyone either. Karl Hermann, one of the makers of Toonpool, ex-editor-in-chief of the Berlin city magazine Tip, says: "There is no censorship." The general terms of use in the small print regulate more closely.

Afghan cartoonist Atiqullah Shahid, who now lives in Lucerne, Switzerland, can tell us about censorship. Shahid, along with numerous other artists from Third World countries, participated in the controversial About Danish Cartoons and Holocaust cartooning contest. The cartoons were exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran in 2006, and were considered to be "Payback" on the allegedly only "one-sided" Tolerance of Western culture. Shadid is not allowed to publish anything in Afghanistan, but every Afghan with internet connection can watch his cartoons at Toonpool.

Cartoons have a future: The larger the global audience becomes through the Internet, the more political statements must be understood across all cultural boundaries. Pictures say more than words – a visualized thesis is more likely to be perceived than long tracts.

What is more surprising is that the Germans, of all people, with their strong and still current tradition of censorship, came up with the idea of bringing cartoonists together worldwide. On Internet culture, they have also published the "Disclaimer", the "Internet message board" and the "Bielefeld conspiracy" not much contributed. Hosting Afghan cartoons, however, is probably still better for world culture than guarding the opium crops in the Hindu Kush.