Rudolph Dirks created The Katzenjammer Kids in 1897 for the American Humorist, the famed Sunday supplement of the New York Journal. Inspired in part by "Max Und Moritz," the famous German children's stories of the 1860s, The Katzenjammer Kids featured the adventures of Hans and Fritz, twins and fellow warriors in the battle against any form of authority. "The Katzies" rebelled against Mama (their own mother, of course), der Captain (the shipwrecked sailor who acted as their surrogate father) and der Inspector (dreaded representative of the school authorities).
The oldest comic strip still in syndication, The Katzenjammer Kids was adapted to the stage in 1903 and inspired countless animated cartoons. The U.S. Postal Service also saluted the Katzies with a commemorative stamp.
Hy Eisman was born March 27, 1927, in Paterson, N.J. He began his career when he created a comic strip for his high school newspaper. After a brief stint in the military, Eisman worked as ghost artist for the popular Kerry Drake comic strip.
He soon turned his pen to the comic-book industry, drawing for various publishers of such titles as Nancy, The Munsters, Tom and Jerry and Little Lulu. Eisman's career as a cartoonist took off in 1967, when he started to draw Little Iodine. He really brought the adventures of the bratty, pony-tailed Iodine to life.
He left that strip in 1986 to chronicle the adventures of those two more-famous brats, The Katzenjammer Kids, the world's oldest continuing comic strip. In 1994, Eisman added another comic legend to his repertoire when he started drawing the Sunday Popeye strip, which stars Popeye, the salty sailor man, and his crew of lovable co-stars: Olive Oyl, Swee' Pea, Wimpy and Bluto, all of whom were created by E.C. Segar for his comic strip Thimble Theatre in 1919. Popeye made his first appearance in 1929. He was an instant sensation who would go on to star in hundreds of cartoons, comic books, his own radio show and even a live-action feature film starring Robin Williams. King Features Syndicate distributes Popeye to newspapers worldwide.
Eisman received the Comic Book Humor Award from the National Cartoonists Society in 1975 and 1984. He lives in New Jersey and is an instructor at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, N.J.
The Katzies, as they are often called, are born troublemakers. Their neat clothes and innocent faces conceal their deep-seated ability to do mischief. These two juvenile anti-heroes were the original troublesome twosome. Katzenjammer in German literally means "the howling of cats," and it is also German slang for a hangover. A hangover would be a pleasure compared to the dire antics of Hans and Fritz, who play tricks on neighbors, pets, tradesmen, and any other available target, including their own mother.
Apparently a widow, this stay-at-home mom tries, vainly sometimes, to turn a blind eye to her mischievous offspring's brazen antics and blatant disregard for authority.
Der Captain is actually a boarder in the Katzenjammer household, and the perpetual butt of Hans and Fritz' pranks. Der Inspector is the local truant officer, but he seldom catches the ever-inventive brotherly twosome. All too often the grownups' plans to turn the tables on these two devilish kids come back to haunt them.