A hugely entertaining documentary profile of Ralf König, Germany‘s most successful cartoonist. Wittily playing with queer clichés and providing a razor sharp critique of modern society’s conflicted relationships with gay culture, he also reaches a wide heterosexual audience. König became famous with his comic book The Most Desired Man that was made into a film in 1994, starring Til Schweiger. King of Comics is directed with complementary wit and panache by Rosa von Praunheim, subject of a retrospective in LIFF 2009.
Ralf König’s success stems mainly from his narrative qualities, with the drawings in his comics influenced by European models such as Claire Bretécher and Jean-Marc Reiser. The little men with bulbous noses, drawn using just a few strokes, are typical of his style. König also cultivates a minimalist mode of presentation, with the action mainly conveyed through the actors’ dialogues and soliloquies…
König’s first short cartoons were published in satirical and city magazines from 1979 onwards, documenting everyday gay life in Germany. Moustachioed queens called Norbert and Walter; muscular construction workers bulging out of their black leather trousers, the long-term couple Konrad and Paul; a worried übermother who knows nothing of her son’s sexual leanings… these are the quirky characters in König’s turbulent relationship comedies…
Ralf König’s humour is never crude or spiteful, and he tells his stories with sharp wit and a good nose for compelling situational comedy. And his works published in Germany between the mid- and late 80s, when people were feeling noticeably insecure on account of AIDS, successfully appealed to the general public to accept gays.
Recommended rating: Cert 18.