Four questions for: Christian Moser

Anger and despair, boredom and unpunctuality, drunkenness or dismay: no human feeling is alien to the Munich artist Christian Moser (born 1966) any more. In 2011, his book “Gesammelte Schrecken der Monster des Alltags” (i.e. collected terrors of everyday monsters) climbed to 6th place on the German comic industry’s list of top hits.

How do the monsters arise?

Christian Moser: Monster des AlltagsIn close cooperation with my co-author Carolin Sonner, who also designs the books’ typography. We select a theme, analyse it in a kind of two-person group therapy, and work out the core of the phenomenon. It varies with the drawings: sometimes I have an image of the monster in my mind right away; sometimes lots of sketches are needed before the concept takes coherent shape. The book’s structure and dramaturgy for the most part then emerge towards the end of the process. And there are always a few monsters that are dropped and wait in the drawer for the next volume. Carolin cultivates a classically elegant design style that harmonises with my humorous drawings and enhances them better. The graphics, after all, are an integral part of the whole in my monster books, an indispensable aspect in postcards, cups and calendars too. Apart from this, I basically prefer to work in a team than alone.

The monsters are a kind of “compendium of human moods” - your moods? ?

Christian Moser: Monster des AlltagsThe monsters have to do with psychology, one can deal with one’s own negative traits and those of other people in a humorous way. People recognise themselves in the monsters: Carolin and I always like to say that we no longer have the negative qualities in our books because they were driven out in the course of our researches. But naturally it isn’t as easy as all that. There are a few monsters that still stubbornly bug me – perfectionism, for instance, which drags the work out endlessly over and over again, or inconsistency, which regularly scotches my positive resolutions (that’s a monster, too). There’s scarcely a monster that is totally unfamiliar to me – then I could hardly describe it, for that matter.

You also draw biographies – for example Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Karl May. How did that come about?

My publisher at the time wanted me to do something fun for the 1999 Goethe Year. At first, nobody thought of a biography, but as I was looking more closely into the life story of the “prince of poets,” it quickly became clear to me what the book would have to be: Goethe’s life and works, told by Mephisto. And that was so much fun for me that I simply had to continue. .

Christian Moser: Karl May It’s an exciting challenge to develop your own story within the narrow framework of established facts. The biographies should be both fun and true. I don’t bend facts; at most I shift the emphasis so that nice points are accentuated. And I want people to understand the person. Although my books about Goethe, Freud and May are sometimes ironic, they are never cynical or insulting. And I could never deal with a person so long and intensively if I didn’t like him in some way or other. Apart from that, the research is really fun for me as well – maybe I’m compensating here for the fact that I never really studied properly ...

You are a “Münchner Kindl” – do you love or hate the capital of Bavaria?

I am actually so very much at home in this city that I accept its shadow aspects almost as much as I enjoy its good points. The beer gardens, the lovely surrounding areas, and the “gemütlichkeit” – all this is real. And of course, Munich with its inevitable glitterati and celebs, and the continual presence of CSU conservatism (the Christian Social Union, Bavaria’s dominant political party, trans. note) in the face of all modernity, can really get on one’s nerves. But recently the city’s popularity is itself becoming a major problem: the tourists are now besieging us year-round and the unlimited influx of the rich and super-rich is making life here more and more prohibitively expensive for people with normal earnings. Sooner or later this will be the death of any subculture. I can only hope that Munich will absorb all this in a tolerable way.
Rieke Harmsen conducted the interview.
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
August 2012
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