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Biographies of the Stars

Rudolph Dirks

Rudolph Dirks was born in 1877 in Heinde, Germany. His family came to America in 1884 settling in Chicago. His cartoons appeared in Judge magazine as early as 1894, and Life magazine shortly thereafter. In 1897 he found his way to Hearst's Journal American where the story goes he was asked by editor Rudolph Block to create a strip that would compete with the Yellow Kid at Joseph Pulitzer's "the World", and Block reportedly recommended he fashion the strip after Wilhelm Busch's "Max und Moritz". The strip called "the Katzenjammer Kids"made it's debut in Hearst's new comic suplement called the American Humorist with Swinnerton's Little Tigers, founding the basis for the comic strip in the process.

Having reaped the considerable fortune of the Katzenjammers, Dirks in 1911 asked Hearst for a leave of absence that he might travel to Europe for one year. Hearst would have have none of it. After all, the Katzenjammers were the stars of his paper and if Dirks left, Hearst would have another artist draw the strip.

Dirks left anyway, but he did'nt go to Europe. He instead went to Hearst's rival the World, leading to yet another court battle between the two publishers and in 1914 a landmark decision wheras Hearst was allowed to publish the strip uder it's original title illustrated by Harol Knerr, while Dirks drew the strip under the name "the Captain and the Kids" for the World.

He would draw the strip until 1958, after which having drawn the strip for 61 years he handed it over to his son John Dirks.

Dirks is recognized as the most important of the founding comic artists due to his use of a panelized continuity and in-panel dialogue. He died in New York on April 20, 1968.

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