MECKI ( The Rise )
Believe it or not, Adolf Hitler was a great fan of animation and he adored Mickey Mouse and Disney in generall. Of course he also saw the tremendous propaganda-potential of animation and he, or rather his propaganda-minister Goebbels, comissionend several animated projects and founded or sponsored quite a few animation studios in Berlin and Munich, mostly put together with animators "recruited" in Eastern Europe. None of these movies were ever finished, but quite a few sequences survived, mostly from Fischer-Koesen studios, who made excellent use of "3D" backgrounds. Amazing stuff.
Anyway, amongst these studios was also the puppet-animationstudio run byy the Brothers Diehl. They did some wonderfukl versions of "Sleeping Beauty" and "Puss In Boots" for example, but their most successful picture was a short with "The Hedgehog And The Hare", which is the European version of "The Tortoise And The Hare".Star of this picture was the little hedgehog-character, who, by no coincidence whatsoever and as a potential German Mickey , was called Mecki.
Mecki was quite successfull as a merchandisingcharacter as well and sold pretty well on postcards for example.
The studio didn't survive the end of the war, but Mecki somehow did and in the 50's the TV-Guide "HörZu" bought the rights to the character for their magazine.
They published some really, really wonderful comicstrips with Mecki over the years, as well as some equally brilliant picture books.
Mecki was drawn at that time by two artists who worked independently in shifts, Prof Petersen and Reinhold Escher, their work clearly influenced by Feininger. Both guys were rather ashamed and embarrassed to make a living with comicstrips and rather would have been known for their landscapes and portraits.Nevertheless, they did a wonderful job.
Recently, when I met the granddaughter of Mr.Escher, I learned that Mrs. Escher, his wife, was writing the stories, but was never credited for it. I grew up on their stories and I remember my grandfather reading the stories to me.They kind of introduced me to comicstrips , before Uderzo, Barks and Herge took over.
Here are some examples of their wonderful work.