Correction: A photo caption and some of the references in an earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of the German artist who created the cartoon foxes Fix and Foxi. He is Rolf Kauka. This version has been corrected.
“When I was a boy growing up in Germany, all the kids loved Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Fix and Foxi,” said Ruediger Lentz. “Now, American kids can see why we loved both.”
For the grown-up Rudy, who today is director of the German-American Heritage Museum in downtown Washington, the fun kicked off earlier this month at the opening of an exhibit at the museum devoted to his cartoon heroes, the two zany foxes named Fix and Foxi created by German artist Rolf Kauka ( pronounced cow-ka).
“There were Fix and Foxi fan clubs everywhere, and all the kids would trade comic books until you read them all,” said Lenz, who has two grown daughters and lives in suburban Virginia. “Kauka was a Walt Disney in Europe, with millions of comic books, and cartoon shows, and even a cartoon movie.”
From the 1950s until he died in 2000, Kauka created dozens of characters and stories that were translated into 15 languages, including English. Fix and Foxi, Bussi Bear (the German words for “Kissy Bear”) and other goofy Kauka-created characters continue to delight kids in Europe, and there’s even a theme park being built in Austria based on the Kauka characters.
Kids visiting the exhibit can expect to be greeted by Fix and Foxi (really college interns dressed up in costumes) and to see some of Kauka’s original cartoons.
Kids can watch videos of the original cartoons and explore how German artists influenced American cartoons through history. There are also workshops on how to create a cartoon, as well as games and contests in which kids can fill in the bubble over cartoons and win a T-shirt. For younger kids, there are also coloring books, cut-outs and connect-the-dots activities.
“What we want to share is that Germany had a comic history like America,” Lentz said. “It’s connected to America and, really, made all of us a little bit happier.”