Biography in english

When a person has reached the age of fourty it starts getting difficult being accurate about one’s curriculum vitae and other events of life and so that’s why I’m taking the easy way out and am referring to the following biography published in Wikipedia (de) which anyway includes everything. (Well, almost everything that is, not for example the compromising details about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – but due to the drugs I could hardly remember anything anyway ...)

»Ralf König was born on the 8th of August in Soest, Westphalia, Germany. He went to the secondary school in Werl and then later did an apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker. In 1979 during his coming-out he published his first short comic stories which due to the politically motivated gay-movement were very engaged. The comic-stories appeared in the Munich underground magazine Zomix as well as in the gay periodical Rosa Flieder. He decided to continue his studies and then trained at the National Academy of Art in Düsseldorf from 1981-1986 concentrating on Free Art.

In 1981 his first three comics appeared, Sarius, Das sensationelle Comic-Book and SchwulComix (Gay Comics), which documented his searching for an individual style demonstrating an esthetical sensitivity ranging between naturalism, fantasy and underground. Then in 1983 he was commissioned to do the series Bodo und Heinz for the magazine Arbeit und Sicherheit im deutschen Bergbau (Work and Safety in German Coalmines). The series ran until 1985.

With the publication of SchwulComix 2 which was published in 1984 by Rosa Winkel in Berlin, König finally found his own style and subject: Using pointed short stories, influenced by Claire Bretécher’s minimilistical graphics, he ironically and satirically portrays the daily life of gay subculture.Two further volumes of SchwulComix appeared in 1985 and 1986 (they later were reprinted under the titles of Silvestertuntenball (The Queers New Years’ Party) and Sahneschnittchen (Creamslice)) and slowly made König known as a writer of gay culture.

Kondom des Grauens (The Killer Condom) followed 1987, a detective parody created as a longer comic narrative and then continued in 1990 with Bis auf die Knochen (Until Blood Flows). Also in 1987 came Der bewegte Mann (Maybe, Maybe Not, aka Most Desired Man and The Turbulent Man). It was König’s first comic with a big publishing company and presented him with a wider public than just the gay scene. There was a follow-up a year later with Pretty Baby (Maybe ... Maybe Not Again!). Der bewegte Mann was made into a movie in 1994, directed by Sönke Wortmann and starring Til Schweiger, Joachim Król and Katja Riemann and achieved with 6.5 million cinema-goers the reputation of being Germany’s second most successful film ever so far. The movie was shown in no less than 47 different countries, awarded Germany’s National Film Award in 1995 and set off a succession of movie comedies, something which up to then had been regarded as imposssible.

With his graphic novels, Ralf König had found a second ideal format – in addition to his funny short stories – with which he also satirically adapted classic themes such as Aristophanes (Lysistrata 1987, filmed in 2002) and Shakespeare (Jago, 1998). In both formats, many stories have the dissimilar, potatoe-nosed pair Konrad and Paul as protagonists (who were created in 1990 for the gay magazine Magnus). These two characters both have the unequal features of their creator and Ralf König has repeatably returned to them recounting in their biographies a chronical of gay everyday life. He used the book Super Paradise (1999) to deal with the subject of aids and in Sie dürfen sich jetzt küssen (You May now Kiss) with the gay marriage.

In 1989 König created eight comics for the German Aids Prevention Society. Despite his great success the 1990-ties also saw criticism of his work, which resulted in some law-suits against his books. His main opponents were here the Bavarian youth authorities. An indictment of his work Bullenklöten! (Bull’s Balls!) in 1992 was, however, dismissed by the German Examining Board of Works Dangerous to Youth due to its artistic content. Despite this, however, in 1996 the public prosecuter in Meiningen ordered a broad investigation throughout the whole of Germany involving the confiscation of material in over 1000 book shops which had as its main objective the book Kondom des Grauens (Killer Condom) as well as other comics including Art Spiegelman’s Maus. However, a trial never took place.

Ralf König went new ways in 2004 with the series Roy & Al which features animals as main characters for the first time, the two dogs of a gay couple. And then during 2005 and 2006 he has written his so far biggest work Dschinn Dschinn, published in two volumes, which deals with the phenomenon of radical Islam. As well as new books which appear regularly König draws short stories for the monthly gay magazine Männer aktuell and Fluide Glacial in France which later are collected into albums such as Suck my Duck! (2004) or Trojanische Hengste (Trojan Stallions).

Ralf König’s stories are funny but also have deep and moving messages and these he has used to combat prejudices against gays and lesbians, playing his part in creating a more liberal society. His books have been translated into 13 languages and sold almost seven million copies so far, and thus he is the world’s most popular author of gay fiction. Four of his books have been made into movies and many others have been produced as plays or in puppet theatres.

In 1992 König was awarded the Max und Moritz-Prize as „Best German Comic Artist“ during the international comic convention in Erlangen. This was followed by many other international prizes among them the Prix Alph’Art „Best Story“ in Angoulême for the French translation of Wie die Karnickel (Like Rabbits) as well as the Premio miglior storia lunga in Lucca for the Italian publication of Bullenklöten! (Bull’s Balls!).

In 2006 Ralf König received the Max und Moritz-Prize again (Jury’s Special Award) for his cartoons and commitment to the conflict revolving around the Danish Mohammed cartoons.«

Titles in italics have been published in English translations. Actually available:

- Maybe ... Maybe Not (Ignite Entertainment)
- Maybe ... Maybe Not Again! (Ignite Entertainment)
- Bull's Balls (MännerschwarmSkript)
- Like Rabbits (La Cúpula)
- Roy & Al (Männerschwarm/Arsenal Pulp Press)
- The Killer Condom (Ignite Entertainment)