Children's Comics

A style both familiar and disturbing – Ulf K.

Ulf K.Articles, discussions and commentaries about Ulf K.’s work always describe his comics as ‘poetic’. And rightly so, because his minimalist, filigree drawing style, using simple lines to sketch sets and characters, and his dreamy, romantic narrative style lend his melancholy stories a fascinating aura, from which it is hard to tear yourself away. Ulf K. was initially inspired by both the classic ligne claire of the clear, severe drawing style of a master like the Belgian Hergé and also by current exponents of the nouvelle ligne claire, such as Stanislas and Joost Swarte. However, Ulf K. has long ago reinterpreted his idols and developed his own original and unmistakable style.

Long renowned in other European countries, it was not until 2004 that Ulf K. was awarded in Erlangen with the 'Max-und-Moritz prize' for the ‘best German-language comic artist’. Ulf K. devises and creates his comics with a great deal of love for detail and always places particular importance on layout and printing. His publications are gems for book-lovers, with the drawings demonstrating a high degree of graphic skill and having a most vivid character when viewed individually. These include, for example, his picture book Sternennächte (2004), which he created for melancholy lovers, and the wonderful children’s book Der kleine Herr Paul (2004), which was created in collaboration with Martin Baltscheit. One of his most beautiful stories is Floralia (2002), a comic without words. Instead of words, Ulf K. uses pictograms in the speech bubbles to tell the story of a clown’s tragic love for a flower.

Ulf K.’s clear artistic and narrative style evokes a feeling of familiarity in the reader, as though he is relating something that you remember from your childhood, and yet he also knows how to disturb the reader. As, for example, in Tango de la Mort (2000), when he turns to the surreal theme of death, or in Der Exlibris (2000), when he relates a fantastic and thrilling series of murders involving a bookworm. The pictures, in black and white or with only one additional colour, match the romantic narrative style of his melancholy and dreamy stories, with which he succeeds in captivating in equal measure young and old, lovers of art and illustration, people who are interested in literature and comic fans.

Matthias Schneider
is a cultural researcher and freelance cultural journalist.
He also designs film programmes and exhibitions on the theme of comics.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut Stockholm
Mail Symbolinfo@stockholm.goethe.org
March 2005

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