Graphic Novel

Everyday situations from a certain distance – Tim Dinter

Copyright: Tim DinterCopyright: Tim Dinter

Comics by Tim Dinter

While studying Communication Design at art school in Weißensee, Berlin, Tim Dinter got together with fellow students Jens Harder, Kathi Käppel, Ulli Lust, Mawil and Kai Pfeiffer to form a group to work on comic projects, from publications to exhibitions. At that time Dinter also became a member of the very active Berlin comic group Monogatari. His comic tales reflect his considerable practical experience with graphic design, illustration and animation: he puts this to seasoned use on both a practical and narrative level. The comic debut of the Monogatari group, Alltagsspionnage (2001; ‘Everyday Espionage’), garnered much attention from the comic scene and the arts pages of newspapers.

The autobiographically conceived contributions by the artists gave rise to a trend of comic reportage, or comic essays, within German comic culture. In the anthology Dinter depicts a typical weekend for Berlin hipsters in real locations in the Berlin neighbourhood of Mitte. Giving it the title ‘From Disco to Disco’, a song by the German band Whirlpool, he offers a distanced perspective laced with veiled criticism of the weekly quest of young people for the ultimate secret clubbing tip.

Together with fellow artist Kai Pfeiffer, Dinter produced a comic full of suspense called Alte Frauen (‘Old Women’)which is peppered with all manner of mysterious conspiracy theories. They also created a unique comic figure for a newspaper inspired by Walter Benjamin’s ‘flaneur’. The strip Der Flaneur bears the hallmark of the author and artist and adheres to the genre of classic reportage with the individual gaze of the reporter on his experiences in present-day Berlin at its centre. This particular form of comic storytelling proved of interest abroad, too, and the Monogatari group were invited to Basel to produce a local comic reportage. The resulting publication Operation Läckerli and the eponymous exhibition portray the collected impressions of the flaneur and his particular take on a foreign town and culture.

The Goethe-Institut in Tel Aviv sponsored a joint project between the Monogatari group and the Israeli comic collective Actus Tragicus. As part of the exchange three members made their way to Tel Aviv, or Berlin respectively, to capture the peculiarities and impressions of the other culture in comic reportages. Dinter gave voice to the myriad of impressions in comic frames, his protagonists’ words, images and movements merging. On his walks he met cosmopolitan Jews who grew up in New York, live in Tel Aviv but whose family roots are in the Ukraine or Poland. For Dinter ‘Israel is a melting pot and Tel Aviv its most tolerant place.’ He reports on typical Israeli dishes and meets a German living in Tel Aviv – they discuss the differences between the two cultures, chaos and order, saving and consumerism. And the constant fear of bomb threats and how to live with them.

The comic strips Lästermaul (i.e. slanderer) and Wohlstandskind (i.e. child of prosperity), which appear once a month in the Berlin daily newspaper Tagesspiegel’s Sunday supplement, deal with a comic artist’s every day life in Berlin. Here, Dinter humorously works through his experiences as a young father, the transformation of the Berlin metropolis and the difficult working conditions of a free-lance artist.

His realistic, almost photographic style lends an authenticity to locations and people that allows Tim Dinter to convey everyday situations from a certain distanced perspective. His subjective choice of motives and situations benefits from his extremely sensitive observation skills that subtly expose hidden and forgotten social and cultural nuances.

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
January 2013

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