the well known fairy tale of the hare and the hedgehog was first illustrated by GRANDVILLE, LUDWIG RICHTER and GUSTAV SUS in the 19th century. the BROTHERS DIEHL produced 1937 in their puppet animation studio in munic, germany, the ‘race between the hare and the hedgehog’, a 15 min animated jewel. in their characterdesign they were inspired by the earlier illustrated versions. like GEORGE PAL, the BROTHERS DIEHL had developed their own technique that allowed them to change facial expressions of their puppets.
in the late forties the hedgehog character became the mascot of a well known german radio-, later tv-magazine HOER ZU, the rights were acquired and in 1950 the drawing artist REINHOLD ESCHER started the first illustrations of the character for the magazine. soon the hedgehog character became a merchandise hit in germany and in september 1951 the first MECKI-adventure as a weekly comic strip was born, illustrated by ESCHER, who was supposed to draw these adventures for the next 25 years. he invented several new characters as MECKI’S companions, CHARLY PENGUIN and the always tired SCHRAT. ESCHER succeded over the years to create his own universe with these characters.
in 1958 a well known illustrator, PROFESSOR WILHELM PETERSEN, was added to the weekly comic-strip team and from then on until 1969 the two illustrators were delivering the stories alternating.
additional to the weekly comics a series of childrenbooks was produced, starting in 1952. REINHOLD ESCHER illustrated the first book, all the following 12 books were done by PETERSEN. in later years several illustrators have tried to follow what ESCHER and PETERSEN had started, but nobody succeeded. the taste of the younger audience had changed as well and they preferred other heroes. here is a selection of historic photographs, magazine covers and comic/book illustrations.
© axel springer publishing / hoer zu
© reinhold escher / prof.wilhelm petersen
© eckart sackmann / comicplus
© F + H. diehl
here is a link to the REINHOLD ESCHER website with hundreds of pictures
if someone is interested, the reprinted MECKI books as well as the comic strip collections of the years 1958 and 1959 are available through AMAZON-GERMANY