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Cartoonist Joscha Sauer Explores the German Sense of Humor

Joscha Sauer, one of Germany’s most beloved contemporary cartoonists, was the artist in residence at Middlebury’s German School over the summer. He visited classes, held cartooning workshops, and drew many impromptu cartoons to the delight of students and faculty alike.

Sauer started his cartoon series, Nichtlustig (Not Funny), in 2000, when he set up his website with the idea of posting a new cartoon every day as a form of occupational therapy. The site quickly became so popular that it came to the attention of the publishing house Carlsen Verlag, which started publishing his books of cartoons in 2003. Sauer has already created more than 1,200 cartoons, which reveal his penchant for the absurd and macabre. They often feature recurring characters, such as Death and his poodle, yetis, aliens, dinosaurs, scientists with time machines, and suicidal lemmings, to name just a few. People, animals, and extraterrestrials are confronted with everyday problems, albeit in absurd or grotesque situations. His cartoons and short stories have also served as the basis for an animated film series funded through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Two films have been released so far: Zeitreisende Enten (Time-Travelling Ducks) in 2015 and Octozilla in 2016.

In 2004, Sauer was awarded two of the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Sondermann Awards. One was for best newcomer of the year (for Nichtlustig 2), and the other was for best self-published cartoonist. In 2009, he received the Sondermann Award for best cartoon (for Nichtlustig 4). He lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.

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