In the mid-1990s, amidst the melodious clangor of euro-dance and electronica, a couple of German techno ravers named Jens Bringmann and Karl Valentin Kopetzki began drawing scenes from their miscreant lifestyle on flyers for a local club called Stammheim, located in the city of Kassel outside of Frankfurt.
The comics, the topics of which ranged from drugs and sex to music, partying, and friendship, were an immediate hit and a refreshing change from the cheesy futurism of mid-90s techno. "When we started in 1994, every techno flyer was in 3D. If it wasn't in 3D, it wasn't techno," laughs Bringman from Berlin, where the duo now reside. "We started by making flyers with freaked out, drugged out people on them...We were illustrating our personal experiences."
Within a couple of years, the duo had graduated to making comics in Groove Magazine, a storied German print editorial covering electronic music culture. There, they conceptualized a main character, a personification of all their madness. His name was Hotze, a DJ with a head shaped like a palm tree and a penchant for stimulants, techno, and fast women.
Although the comics have long since achieved cult status in Germany, Hotze has not been translated into English until now. Have a gander through some of our favorites:
Hotze on staying in:
Hotze on: love in the time of techno
Hotze on: almost making it
For almost twenty years, Hotze comics have been a staple of Groove Magazine and a cherished reflection of the rave experience in Germany, and Bringmann and Kopetzki haven't abandoned their lifestyle. "We are both around 45 now. I don't think we can do it for another 20 years!" says Bringmann. "Some days you think: 'Okay, I've told every rave party joke there is out there. I can't go on anymore.' And the next day, you have the new inspiration. It still works. We're still having our fun at parties. Not as often as we used to, but it still feels natural. "
The universal themes addressed in the comics have been begging for a wider audience, and the animators aren't concerned that anything will get lost in translation. "Most of the comics have this essence of partying that will translate from German to English," says Bringmann. "Hotze lives through the character––It's a universal thing, partying and nightlife. People who are not from our scene, maybe if they like heavy metal or hip-hop, they have similar experiences. It's about real good music, having a blast, and maybe getting off your head. Yeah, a little bit of fucking would be nice, too."
More recently, Bringmann and Kopetzki have been working on the Wild Life series, for which one-frame comics set the stage for scenes from raver life outside of Hotze's drug-fueled galavanting. Check out our favorites and keep your eyes peeled for new translations.
Comics translated by Jake the Rapper.