Werner (comics)

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Cover of the first Werner comic book, Oder was? (2000s re-publication cover art). Art by Rötger Feldmann.

Werner is a fictional character, appearing in a number of German comic books and animated films. He was created by Brösel (Rötger Feldmann). Werner is the most successful German comic character of all time with over 10 million books sold and over 13 million film admissions. At almost 5 million admissions in Germany[1], the first movie, Werner Beinhart (1990), is Germany's third most commercially successful film of the 1990s on the German domestic market, and #14 of Germany's most successful domestic market films of all time.[2]

Prior to Oder Was?, the first standalone Werner book published in 1981, since the late 1970s the Werner comics appeared in the German satirical magazine Pardon. Indeed, Oder was? was but a collection of the Werner comics that had been published in Pardon by then.

The Werner books are known for their anarchic humour, often based on Northern German dialect and puns. Standard High German is rarely spoken in the books, when it is used it is usually to portray the speaker as overtly formal and square, whereas most characters employ accents and dialects placed in a lingual continuum between the common modern Northern pronunciation of High German (as it originated in its purest form in and around the city of Hanover) and hardcore Low German, although the latter is mostly a dying language in reality.

Contents

Characters in the series

Werner

The character of Werner is based on Brösel's and his brother Andi's experiences. Werner's life is that of an unemployed biker that consists of souping up his motorcycle and consuming large amounts of beer (known as Bölkstoff in the comics). Both regularly gets him in trouble with the police and the German vehicle safety agency TÜV who due to their expressed incompetency and imbecility are usually ignored and duped by Werner. In the movies, Werner is voiced by Northern German band Torfrock's singer Klaus Büchner (whereas Torfrock also wrote the full original soundtrack of the first movie, and partly did for the sequels as well).

Röhrich

In his younger years, Werner was apprentice to plumber Meister Walter Röhrich - the situations and characters in these stories are based on Brösel's brother Andi's apprenticeship years. In the movies, Röhrich is voiced by Andi, based upon the parodies he had done of his plumber Meister in real life ever since his apprenticeship.

Due to the master craftsman being a dim-witted, crackpot tyrant, the Röhrich stories involve a lot of slapstick and comical relief. As written by Thomas Platt in the making-of book to the first movie Werner Beinhart, Röhrich's explosive plumbing works "usually end in devastation rather than installation" ("Explosion statt Installation"), for indeed Röhrich's working sites often look like hit by an airstrike when he is done accidentally blowing up whole buildings or covering city blocks in sewage content. In Werner - Volles Rooäää!!!, Röhrich even manages to accidentally launch a client into outer space.

In-between Röhrich and Werner in rank is Röhrich's journeyman Eckat (from "Eckhardt"). Eckat is considerably smarter than Röhrich and occasionally he jokes with Werner about Röhrich's incompetency behind his back, but Eckat is mostly loyal to his Meister whenever Röhrich is around.

It's not quite clear though whether Werner's apprenticeship years are really a thing of the past as stories involving occasional working for Röhrich remain a mainstay within the Werner comics.

Röhrich's full company name (or company slogan) is Firma Röhrich, Gas, Wasser, Scheiße ("Röhrich company - Gas, water, shit"); the latter three words (Gas, Wasser, Scheiße) have become a humorous synonym for plumbing companies and plumbing works in Northern German slang due to the first movie's popularity. A common catchphrase of Röhrich's is "Ich glaub', die Russen sind da!" (approximately "The Russians are coming!") which has become a phrase synonymous to "the end of the world" in German since WWII, but Röhrich even goes so far as that he has Werner and Eckat seek for imaginary "Russians" hiding in his cellar.

MC Klappstuhl

Werner is a member of the biker and rocker club MC Klappstuhl led by their Präsi (short for Präsident, "president") partly based upon band Torfrock's guitarist and singer Raymond Voss (who also voices the Präsi in the movies). Due to his choleric temper, the Präsi has little tolerance for cops or other people hindering them in their free-wheeling biker lifestyle. Being a roughneck and firebrand better not to mess with, when angered he will stereotypically bellow out that he'll "count to one" and then he and his gang will wreck the place down ("Ich zähl' bis oins, und denn is Achterbahn!") - which usually happens on the spot. In more recent stories, the Präsi even partly turns into a werewolf for comical effect during his notorious anger fits. If the Präsi gets too much out of control, several MC Klappstuhl members have to hold him down and feed him Sago as a kind of rage antidote.

Other members of MC Klappstuhl include Röhre (lit. "Tube") who modified his bike into a mobile coffee machine (in order to cure common beer hangovers), and Walze ("Barrel") who drives a large mobile beer tub.

Other recurring characters

Andi is Werner's brother, basically a comic-book version of Brösel's real-life brother of the same name (who also voices Andi in the movies).

Bruno and Helmut are the series' commonly appearing two police officers. A kind of Laurel and Hardy pairing, Bruno is short, chubby, and very anal about all kinds of laws and regulations, while getting Werner and Andi locked up for any of their various misdemeanors (such as speeding, drunk driving, and illegal vehicle modifications) is his eternal dream, whereas Helmut is tall, skinny, and asinine, usually helpless when he is not ordered around by Bruno. Considering himself righteous law incarnate ("denkt, er ist der Staat", as the official Werner website puts it[3]), pedantic Bruno is scared only by the Präsi. Their characters are illustrated well in a short story included in Werner Eiskalt, where Bruno orders Helmut to "measure the phon volume" of Werner's chopper bike's tail pipe in order to prove that it violates disturbance regulations. Helmut then uses a folding rule to measure the flame and smoke shooting from the pipe, and loyally reports to his superior Bruno that it's "ten meters fifty of phon".

Red Porsche Killer

Ölfuß ("Grease Foot") is another member of MC Klappstuhl. Being the series' Gyro Gearloose of vehicle modifications, engineering, and repairing, he wears a red overall and is usually seen with welding equipments, welder's goggles, and a wrench. Ölfuß is based upon a real-life acquintance of Brösel and Andi with the same nickname, but also on real-life Andi's passion for weird metal engineering, a feature which Andi's comic persona lacks. Ölfuß, both in real life and in the comics, is also the mastermind behind the Red Porsche Killer, a drag-bike with 4 Horex-engines, and the Dolmette, with 24 Dolmar Chainsaw-engines.

Holgi, based upon another real-life acquintance of the Feldmann brothers, is Werner's and Andi's rival. Holgi is a fanatic Porsche lover, considering his car far superior to any motorbike as those fancied by most other characters in the series. In fact, above-mentioned Red Porsche Killer was designed especially for a race against Holgi that first occurred in the comic book Werner Eiskalt (1985), and in 1988 even became a real-life event between Brösel and Holgi with thousands of Werner fans gathering for the race at Hartenholm.

Books

Movies

References

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100912/business
  2. ^ See Liste erfolgreicher Filme nach Einspielergebnis und Besucherzahlen, section Die erfolgreichsten deutschen Filme (List of biggest box office hits in Germany, section German box office hits), on German Wikipedia
  3. ^ "Wernerswelt - WERNER" (in German). werner-broesel.de. http://www.werner-broesel.de/darsteller/ww05helmutbruno.html. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 

External links