5 great German comics to help your language learning

5 great German comics to help your language learning

by Leona Quigley

Updated August 17, 2022

For language-learners of any age, comic books, cartoons and graphic novels can be a fun and relaxing way to practice and maintain their language skills. If you’re studying a new language, there is much to be learned from the intriguing stories and hilarious situations featured in any foreign-language comic — from the colorful pages of a comic book to the lively animations of a newspaper comic strip. So for German learners who have acquired a basic level of comprehension, we’ve found some of the best. Here is our list of five comic books and comic strips that will amuse, inspire, intrigue and most importantly boost your German language learning.

1. “Don Quijote” (Don Quixote) by Felix Gordon
2. Nick Knatterton by Manfred Schmidt 
3. Berlin by Jason Lutes
4. Die Wolke by Gudrun Pausewang and Anika Hage
5. Katz & Goldt Comics by Stephan Katz und Max Goldt

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1. Don Quijote by Flix (Felix Gordon) 

This adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s masterwork, Don Quixote, was commissioned by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper from the comic artist Flix as a unique modern retelling that nevertheless preserves the spirit of the original. This comic brings to life the adventures of Alonso Quijano, a man whose obsession with chivalric romances drives him to become a knight-errant, and his sensible squire, Sancho Panza. Readapted for a modern German audience, certain changes may irk Cervantes purists, but the clever restyling is far more likely to please and beguile modern literati. 

2. Nick Knatterton by Manfred Schmidt 

The Nick Knatterton comics were first published in the German magazine Quick in the 1950s. Starring the Sherlock-esque private investigator Nikolaus Kuno Freiherr von Knatter, this charming old comic is layered with political satire, innuendo and a few jabs at American popular film culture. You can find in the pages of the old collection, and its subsequent film adaptations, an emblematic snapshot of West Germany in the postwar Adenauer era.

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3. Berlin by Jason Lutes

Set in the German capital in the waning years of the Weimar Republic, from 1928 to 1933, Jason Lutes’ momentous work of historical fiction is sure to intrigue even those without any particular historical inclination. Through beautifully written characters, like the art student Marthe Müller and the disillusioned journalist Kurt Severing, Lutes brings life to the city of Berlin a century past. Though originally published in English, the German version is now widely available and gives a wonderful glance at the German capital at the brink of the catastrophic rise of the Nazi party.

4. Die Wolke by Gudrun Pausewang and Anika Hage

This jarring manga is based on a classic novel written by Gudrun Pausewang. The original story was written in 1987, a year after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine and the story follows fifteen-year-old Janna and her little brother as they try to reach safety in the wake of a similar disaster in Germany. Following the rise in popularity of Japanese manga comics in Germany, and the burgeoning of a domestic German manga industry, Anika Hage’s beautiful illustration brings this old classic a new lease of life.

5. Katz & Goldt Comics by Stephan Katz und Max Goldt

The artistic partnership of Stephan Katz and Max Goldt, formed in 1996 have produced a litany of whimsical comic strips, mostly published in the magazine Titanic and the weekly magazine Die Zeit, as well as on their own website. Touching on many topics, these are some of the best-known comics made in Germany. Their humor is very, well, “German” but if you enjoy a dry joke with a touch of whimsy, this is the comic for you.


Comic Kultur

Not only are these comics great for language learning, they also give a real insight into German life and culture. Yet beyond these great German comics, many classic comic book series, from Superman or the X-Men, to the more whimsical adventures of Tintin or Asterix and Obelix, are also now available to read in German and many other languages. There is even a German comic con and many related conventions where you can celebrate these and practice your German. With so many fun resources there’s no excuse not to get learning!

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Leona has her roots in the South of Ireland, where she grew up on her family farm. She went on to study World Politics at Leiden University College, The Hague and then completed her MPhil in International History at Trinity College Dublin. Leona has now settled in Berlin, having fallen in love with the city. In her spare time she is working on perfecting her German in anticipation of her doctoral studies, during which she plans to study modern German social history. Her hobbies include bouldering, dancing and reading a healthy mix of history books and corny fantasy fiction. You can find more info about her on LinkedIn.

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