An old comic strip, created in 1897 by Rudolph Dirks. According to some comics historians, this is actually the first true comic strip, not Richard F. Outcault's "Yellow Kid"; while "The Yellow Kid" appeared first, "Katzenjammer" was the first to appear in a strip format--a sequence of panels that tell a story. This comic was also one of the first to use the word balloon.

The strip focused on Hans and Fritz, two mischievous little German boys who enjoyed playing destructive pranks on their elders, including Mama, the Captain, and the Inspector, who was a truant officer. All the characters spoke in thick Germanic accents and, aside from Hans and Fritz, were dumb as posts. But the boys' cunning rarely did them much good; almost every strip ended with the boys getting an enthusiastic paddling.

After taking a break to fight in the Spanish-American War, Dirks returned to the strip for over a decade. In 1912, he decided to take another break so he could travel around the world and paint, but William Randolph Hearst, who owned the feature, decided to keep the comic going with new cartoonists. When Dirks returned, Hearst wouldn't hire him back, and Dirks sued. The judge allowed Hearst to keep the feature, but gave Dirks permission to use the same characters elsewhere, as long as he used a different title for the cartoon, so Dirks started a new strip, called "The Captain and the Kids" for the rival Pulitzer papers in 1914.

As the years passed, the Kids' ethnicity was gradually de-emphasized (after they were suddenly turned Dutch during World War I). The characters appeared in everything from silent cartoons to stage plays to Big Little Books. And remarkably, as far as I can find out, the strip is still being published. At more than a century in the funny pages, that makes it, far and away, the longest-running comic strip in the world...

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