Duke University LibrariesRare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Section 4

The Katzenjammer Kids created by nineteen year old Rudolph Dirks in 1897 is considered the first color comic strip. William Randolph Hearst published the strip in the American Humorist, the Sunday comic supplement in his New York Journal, on December 12, 1897. The mischievous twins, Hans and Fritz, were based on Max und Moritz, popular child characters drawn by German artist Wilhelm Busch in the 1860s.

TheKatzenjammer Kids is the longest running comic strip still in print and it has had a tumultuous ride. When Dirks left the New York Journal in 1912, he engaged in a legal battle with Hearst over copyrights to the strip. The court awarded Hearst the sole right to the title but granted both Dirks and Hearst the rights to the characters. Beginning in 1913, there have been two comic strips featuring the Katzenjammer twins, each distributed by a different syndicate. Dirks took the characters to The World, Hearst’s rival paper, where they first appeared under the title Hans and Fritz. The name changed to The Captain and the Kids when the United States entered World War I. At the New York Journal, Hearst hired cartoonist Harold Knerr from the PhiladelphiaInquirer to continue drawing The Katzenjammer Kids.

Today, Hy Eisman draws the strip for Hearst’s King Features Syndicate.

The Original Katzenjammer Kids Jimmy Happy Hooligans Honeymoon Rosie's Beau