Comic Review – Max und Moritz by Wilhelm Busch

By Wilhelm Busch – extract from original an book, Public Domain,


#3 on “1001 Comics to Read Before You Die”


From wikipedia, “Max and Moritz: A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks (original: Max und Moritz – Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen) is a German language illustrated story in verse. This highly inventive, blackly humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, was written and illustrated by Wilhelm Busch and published in 1865. It is among the early works of Busch, nevertheless it already features many substantial, effectually aesthetic and formal regularities, procedures and basic patterns of Busch’s later works.[1] Many familiar with comic strip history consider it to have been the direct inspiration for the Katzenjammer Kids and Quick & Flupke. The German title satirizes the German custom of giving a subtitle to the name of dramas in the form of “Ein Drama in … Akten” (A Drama in … Acts), which became dictum in colloquial usage for any event with an unpleasant or dramatic course, e.g. “Bundespräsidentenwahl – Drama in drei Akten” (Federal Presidential Elections – Drama in Three Acts).”

My Thoughts

By Wilhelm Busch – Digitised book, Gutenberg Project, Public Domain,

Max Und Moritz is a German comic that was first published in 1865. It became a turning point for children’s literature which was created to moralize rather entertain. As far as what kind of entertainment this is, that is up to the reader. I found the two little kid, max and Moritz, to be absolute shits. However the end of the story is just as or more vulgar as the actions of the boys, they get ground up into grain and devoured by ducks. Wow. That is some dark children’s literature. Very much like Grimm’s original stories. Cinderella’s original story ends like this, “When the wedding with the prince was to be held, the two false sisters came, wanting to gain favor with Cinderella and to share her good fortune. When the bridal couple walked into the church, the older sister walked on their right side and the younger on their left side, and the pigeons pecked out one eye from each of them. Afterwards, as they came out of the church, the older one was on the left side, and the younger one on the right side, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye from each of them. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.” Also somewhere in there, they chop off their toes… Must be a thing for early children’s literature.


By Wilhelm Busch – Digitised book, Gutenberg Project, Public Domain,

I may not like the content, I am not a huge fan of grimdark, but I can understand and appreciate the importance of it as a piece of literature. It is one of the forerunners of the newspaper comic strip and a very important story in Germany culturally. The image of the two boys has appeared in everything from comic books, schools, to hot dogs. They even have an award for Best Comic from a German writer called the Max-und-Moritz-Prize. I don’t get it, but who am I to judge?

The below is a sample of the original text and English translation of the comic. I found it on if you are interested.

Erster Streich / First Trick

Mancher gibt sich viele Müh’
Mit dem lieben Federvieh;
Einesteils der Eier wegen,
Welche diese Vögel legen,
Zweitens: weil man dann und wann
Einen Braten essen kann;
Drittens aber nimmt man auch
Ihre Federn zum Gebrauch
In die Kissen und die Pfühle,
Denn man liegt nicht gerne kühle.
To most people who have leisure
Raising poultry gives great pleasure:
First, because the eggs they lay us
For the care we take repay us;
Secondly, that now and then
We can dine on roasted hen;
Thirdly, of the hen’s and goose’s
Feathers men make various uses.
Some folks like to rest their heads
In the night on feather beds.



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