Relaunch of the Comic Foxes: The New “Fix & Foxi”
Fix: “Man, that rocks”. Then Foxi: “Cool how the thing goes down!” Back in 1953, when the foxes sprang from the pen of their creator Rolf Kauka, they didn’t have such patter in stock. The pair had about 2,000 adventures before demand finally sunk to the extent that, in June 2009, the series had to be discontinued and the then publisher Tigerpress had to declare bankruptcy.
Yet in January 2010 Fix and Foxi already reported back, now with the Berlin publisher New Ground Publishing. The new publishers have relaunched the foxes on a large scale.
The “edutainment” approach
Mr. Jones and Mr. Söffker, how can you inspire children to read printed comics adventures in an age of animated computer game?
Steve Jones: Unlike computer games, which offer only entertainment, the new Fix & Foxi offers entertainment combined with interesting things to know. With this “edutainment” approach, we want to appeal not least to parents who know the comics from their own childhood and appreciate the value of educationally worthwhile entertainment.
Martin Söffker: We want to impart knowledge to children with a fun factor. For example, in the comics part of the January issue Das Licht der Tiefe, Fix und Foxi join the raven Professor Knox on an adventurous journey to the South Seas. The knowledge section, which we developed together with the Berlin Museum of Natural History, supplements the story with information about the South Seas.
Fix and Foxi google
How have the foxes changed their outfit?
Martin Söffker: They don’t wear new clothes. The basic equipment is still the same. That has to do with the style guide, which lays down that Fix and Foxi have to be red. Rolf Kauka stipulated this in 1953 and so it will remain. What is new, however, is that Fix and Foxi now use an iPhone and google, have an Xbox and a PlayStation: all the things that kids have today. This enables them to identify with the characters.
Have the characters also changed somewhat?
Martin Söffker: Certainly. In the February issue Monströse Maskerade, Lupinchen enters the digital world through the Internet. She’s no longer the well-behaved little girl that the society of the 1950s liked to see. Today Lupinchen is tough, plays football and is fully equal to Fix und Foxi.
Following the language of the kids
And the language?
Martin Söffker: That, too, of course. Language, especially the language of the young, has moved on since the fifties. We go along with the changes and have Fix and Foxi also say: “Wow, is that crass!”
How do you know how young people talk?
Martin Söffker: We’re a young team; at 34 I’m the oldest. Our chief editor is 29; our two draftswomen are 24. The younger generation isn’t so far away from ours. And we also regularly supply a small group of children between the ages of six and twelve with stories and want to have their opinions.
Lupo, the grind
One thing hasn’t changed since 1953: Fix and Foxi are still as clever and courageous as ever.
Martin Söffker: ...and responsible and socially competent. They treat their environment rationally, are open-minded and unbiased – two great guys who reflect a lot of good things.
Isn’t there the danger that children will think: “What a pair of grinds!”
Martin Söffker: No, after all there’s also Lupo. He bunches together several negative characteristics; for example, he’s pretty selfish.
The digital fox’s den
The new media play a major role in the “relaunching” of the foxes. The current issue is not only available at the newsstand but can also be downloaded from the Net.
Steve Jones: The foxes now have a digital den at fixundfoxi.de. Sales of the Web editions of Fix & Foxi take place at the Internet platform. They can be read on almost all terminals as PDF, ePub or LiveBook. We’ll soon also be offering a separate application for the iPhone and iPad. And later this year Fix & Foxi should be readable on various game consoles.
You’re currently building up an online archive. Will all the Fix and Foxi-material since 1953 be available there?
Steve Jones: The licensor has made available to us about 1,500 issues. Since 1953, however, all together 2,000 issues have been published. With the help of comics readers, we want to search for the remaining 500 issues. Maybe there’ll be some issues that will remain missing and never find their way into the archives. Our goal is make 90 per cent of the total number available online by the end of this year.
She is a freelance author and editor living in Munich.
Translated by Jonathan Uhlaner
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
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