How many New York cartoons are there

Anna Shark
Leipzig and the world

Anna Haifisch publishes comics in New York and co-founded a comic festival in Leipzig: This is how the illustrator combines her fascination for American culture with local engagement and independence.

From Stefan Pannor

At a glance

Born in Leipzig in 1986, she studied from 2004 to 2011 at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. In 2008 she worked in the USA. In 2013 she was one of the co-founders of the Millionaires Club in Leipzig, one of the city's two annual independent comic festivals. Her first book was published in 2015 From Sparrow.

The ambivalent Disney

In From SparrowHaifisch describes a (fictional) stay of Walt Disney in a mental hospital. A comedy of lost illusions: Haifisch's Disney would like to be a great artist, but is only a gifted manager. Without his presence, his animation studio would go to waste, as the comic puts it: "The animators had built small caves from which they shot the colorists with pointed pieces of metal." Why Disney? Anna Haifisch: “I find his vision and his work extremely impressive. But he's an ambivalent character. Bad domineering and at the same time extremely loving in handling the drawings and animations. "

A special work

In 2015 and 2016 Haifisch's comic strip The Artist was published in the American online magazine Vice. It happened by chance: “The US comic artist Alex Schubert recommended me because he found a booklet of mine in a New York comic book store.” But this coincidence brought Haifisch the international breakthrough. Since then, her books have also been published regularly in English. The Artistdescribes the unsuccessful efforts of a nameless, pretentious artist to gain a foothold in the art scene. The comic is not autobiographical, "but the character's mind has a lot to do with me," says Haifisch.

A Leipzig school

It's the mind of minimalism and alienation. Visually, the protagonist of The Artist is a long drawn-out starving bird with almost no individual characteristics - backgrounds are left out where possible. And when it comes to the use of color, Haifisch works with an extremely reduced palette. Together with their comic artist and studio colleagues Max Baitinger and James Turek, who work in a similarly abstract manner, one can speak of the aesthetics of a Leipzig comic school.

Locally international

In 2013, Haifisch co-founded the second regular independent comic festival in Leipzig. "I think it's nice when visitors I've never seen before hang out for hours and get to know a few new people." International guests show the global networking of the festival: Co-organizer is New York comic artist James Turek, who has moved to Leipzig.

In my own words

“The US has always been particularly attractive to me because of its culture. I grew up behind the Iron Curtain, and when the Wall came down in 1989 these things were suddenly within reach. So when I refer to the United States in my comics, it's not just a reference, it's something deeply personal. "
Comic artist Anna Haifisch | © Matthew James-Wilson, 2018