• born in 1976 in East Berlin
  • Abitur (school-leaving exam) in 1995
  • 1996-2002 Certification course of study in communications design at the Weißensee School of Art, Berlin.
  • 2006 Comic series and albums, including a regular comic page in the Berliner Tagesspiegel, which four artists (apart from Mawil Flix, Tim Dinter and Arne Bellsdorf) create on a rotation basis
  • Starting in 2008, instructorship for comic workshops at the Leipzig Summer Academy
  • lives and works in Berlin

Awards and prizes:

  • 1998 ICOM Independent Comic Preis / Funny (Adventure 0815)
  • 2003 ICOM Independent Comic Preis / Funny (Strand Safari)
  • 2004 ICOM Independent Comic Preis / Funny (Wir können ja Freunde bleiben)
  • 2007 ICOM Independent Comic Preis / Independent Comic (Meister Lampe)
  • 2014 Max und Moritz Prize in the category „Best German-language comic“ for Kinderland

The Berlin comic artist Markus Witzel, alias Mawil, has succeeded in doing what very few people have done before him. Within the shortest period of time and with his very first works, he has rapidly conquered the hearts of the comic-reading community and convinced all the critics. One of the reasons for this is certainly to be found in the charming and honest way that he relates his autobiographical experiences.

After taking a very dynamic approach and publishing his stories in fanzines and with small publishers, Mawil decided to do a course in Communication Design at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee. There, together with similarly minded fellow students, he founded the ‘Monogatari’ comic group, a Japanese word that means ‘telling stories’. As a studio community, the glorious six published their comics themselves and explored new narrative possibilities for the medium of the comic. For the themed album Alltagsspionage (2001), they each produced their own personal Berlin comic report with words and pictures. Mawil’s tutor liked his tale, Wie wir uns mal `ne 3er WG suchen wollten, so much that he accepted the comic as a dissertation without a problem. Wir können ja Freunde bleiben (2003) marked the end of Mawil’s studies and rang in his future as a comic artist. In four episodes he relates, in a humorous and self-mocking way, the unhappy, unrequited romantic relationships that have dogged him from an early age.

He produces his extremely personal stories in a skilful and fluent manner with masterful page layouts, which he cleverly arranges with changing perspectives. Mawil’s everyday stories of adolescence are the portrait of a generation in their early twenties who are in search of their identity. In his comic Die Band (2004) he tells the story of his youthful experiences with music as a bass player in various schoolboy bands. In a brashly entertaining and charming way, he portrays the dream of becoming an independent pop star, played out between the rehearsal room and the youth club. In his Supahasi comic, Mawil entertainingly depicts his clumsy protagonists – as his alter ego or as a fox and a rabbit – in an original artistic style, making faithful observations of real life.

Time and again, this comic artist is won over for unconventional actions as well: sometimes he takes part in a 24-hour comic project, sometimes he travels abroad to hold workshops, or he appears in a “comic battle” – drawing with an overhead projector in competition with other artists.

Matthias Schneider
is a cultural scientist, freelance cultural journalist and curator of film programs and exhibitions about comics.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
March 2013

Related links