Germans Love David Hasselhoff/Comic Books

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Real Life Examples

  • As a general note, America is the only place where Superhero comics are the "standard". And only recent America at that. For most of American comics' history, the superhero genre existed alongside many other genres—romance, Funny Animals, teen humor, science fiction, westerns, etc. -- which the two dominant companies, Marvel and what used to be called "Detective Comics", used to publish but have now all but left for dead (with even reprints or revivals of such material extremely rare or non-existent). However, other American companies (such as Archie Comics or various Manga and independent publishers) seem to have found success publishing such genres. That said, the largest independent publisher, Image Comics, also deals primarily in superheroes.
    • Superheroes were on the wane in American Comics in the early fifties, when Frederick Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent which effectively saved the superhero genre and launched the Silver Age, by forcing crime, horror, and "weird tales" out of the market. By the time comic book writers were able to push the envelope again, they were introducing mature themes to the superhero genre leading to its remaining the mainstay of the medium in America.
      • Even during the revival of superheroes' popularity in the Silver Age, DC and Marvel (and other companies) published various other genres alongside the superheroes (teen humor, funny animals, romance, etc.). It's mainly since the latter part of the Bronze Age that Marvel and DC have abandoned anything not related to superheroes (aside from a few licensed comics based on Looney Tunes or Scooby Doo for DC's case, as well as their "mature readers" Vertigo line).
      • In the Netherlands, the super hero genre experienced considerable popularity in the 1970's and -80's, with up to a dozen translated comics including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man (several separate ones at times), X-men, the Fantastic Four and also, for example, DC's obscure Atari Force. In the 90's, things got even more active with Spawn, Witchblade and the Darkness... and today, there are none. No translated superhero comics in the stores. Zero.
        • In France and Belgium, superhero are getting some popularity. You can find translated comics in many bookstore, great or little, and Big Event are often translated and published in their TPB form, making them sometimes hard to understand.
  • Snoopy, of Peanuts fame, is a popular and well-loved mascot character in Japan, thanks in part to being a cute dog who happens to be marketed by Sanrio. Unfortunately, most Japanese seem unaware that the main character of the series is his owner, despite the strip's long-running and faithful translation, which gets printed daily in Japanese newspapers and has numerous compilation books in both English and Japanese...
    • In Sweden, Peanuts is called Snobben—which is the Swedish name of Snoopy.
    • Same thing in France, the Netherlands and Hungary where Snoopy is the title of the comic.
    • Ask anyone in Britain and they will probably make the same distinction, even though the comic is still published under the name Peanuts.
  • The Phantom is pretty much the most popular costumed hero in the world, but not America.
    • Still a hotbed of Phantom fandom compared to the Netherlands, where no less than FOUR publishers tried to launch the Phantom, all four stopped after exactly TWO issues, appearances in Dutch anthologies were just as shortlived.
    • There's also a Cargo Cult dedicated to him in Vanuatu, the tribesmen painting the Phantom's purple-and-black mask on their shields in order to grant themselves good luck in battle.
  • Speaking of American superheroes, Japan really, really loves Batman and especially Spider-Man. They're some of the few American heroes who got their very own manga series, and Spidey even had his own Japanese exclusive television show. Batman's had several manga - Batman: Death Mask, Batman: Child of Dreams, and a story in Batman: Black and White by Katsuhiro Otomo. Spidey himself even got a manga adaptation that stayed relatively faithful to the spirit of the American comics.
  • Malaysian cartoonists Reggie Lee and Mohammad Nor Khalid (Lat) are popular overseas. For the latter, his most famous work Kampung Boy won many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults.
  • Kuso High School by another Malaysian artist Keith is gaining popularity in China. Even the artist himself is surprised by the huge turnout during an autograph-signing session at the 2nd China International Comics Festival.
  • A famous example are the Disney Comics. Largely faded out of American culture (especially once WDC&S went into the prestige format, and it started to be marketed to collectors rather than children, in general making it really hard to get besides actually subscribing), these continue to be produced in most other areas of the world, especially Europe, where they continue to outsell Superhero comics. More specifically, relatively obscure characters can get their own books (such as Italy's love for Clarabelle Cow), or familiar ones can get very different interpretations; Mickey as a gritty detective, Donald as a Gentleman Thief (see Paperinik New Adventures), Goofy as a Superman parody, etc. This may be related to their look, which is closer to old Franco Belgian Comics than to American comics.
    • As a subtrope of this, the relative popularity of Disney characters vary between countries as well. Most prominently, whereas Mickey Mouse is the star (and title-billed character of the local Disney magazine) in most countries, Donald Duck outshines him in other territories, particularly in the Nordic countries. In Norway, Donald is so popular he's more recognizable than Mickey. Same goes for Sweden, where Donald is so popular that the Disney Christmas special From All of Us to All of You, a Very Merry Christmas (which airs on Christmas Eve and is always the king of Swedish ratings) is simply referred to as Donald Duck (or in some cases Donald Duck and his Friends Wishes Everyone a Merry Christmas). Even though Donald barely appears, and Mickey co-hosts. In Finland, Donald is the Disney comic character. In fact, the character's weekly magazine once ran an ad campaign with street signs bearing the legend "Have you ever met a person who has never read Donald Duck?", with a panel from a Donald Duck comic where Donald says "Fascinating, how did you come to know them?" And this is not much of an exaggeration, as the magazine sells 320,000 copies and is approximated to be read by over a million. A. Week. Finland having population of 5.3 million.
    • To elaborate, here's a list of Disney characters more popular (and prolific) in the Netherlands than Mickey Mouse: Hiawatha, Horace Horsecollar, Big Bad and Lil' Bad Wolf, Bre'r Rabbit, Dumbo, Basil The Great Mouse Detective, Panchito, Jose Carioca, Timon & Pumbaa, April & May & June, Madam Mim, Flounder, Mushu, Genie, Gyro Gearloose, and Clara Cluck. At least three of the above can be expected to show up in the comics each week, almost always as main characters.
    • At Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea, everyone has Minnie Mouse ears (there are no Mousketeer caps, and the only Mickey headbands feature the Sorcerer's Apprentice hat, while there are infinite variations of Minnie Ears). The most popular character, though, is Duffy, a teddy bear Minnie made for Mickey. Every girl there has one, and there are special outfits you can purchase to dress your bear for the season.
    • A Carl Barks collection can easily sell two million copies in Finland... which has a population of five million. When Carl Barks visited Finland in the 90s, a minister of the that-time government was there to greet him. In Stockholm, Sweden, there is a Carl Barks väg (Carl Barks Road) and in Gothenburg, Sweden, there is a Kalle Ankas väg (Donald Duck Road). Seriously, back when he still made comics, his stories were hugely advertised in the front cover and it seems there's no story he's written that isn't in some compilation. Of which there are many.
    • Fethry Duck, Donald's slacker cousin, enjoys such popularity in Brazil that he got his own comic for a while, complete with Distaff Counterpart and clone nephews.
    • Donald's alter ego in some Italian comics isn't a gentleman thief but a Batman-like superhero (although his name and appearance are based on a gentlemen thief whose old run-down mansion ends up in the possession of Donald after he receives a contest prize meant for Gladstone by mistake). Eventually it got to the point where about 90 percent of Disney characters had their own superhero alterego. Some of these include Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Fethry Duck (whose identity, the "Red Bat", was an even more explicit parody of the Silver Age Batman) his girlfriend Gloria, Goofy, Gilbert, Huey, Dewey and Louie (all pretending to be the same person) Zé Carioca (whose identity, the "Green Bat" was yet another Batman spoof, in this case of the gritty modern Batman) and his nephews. In fact, the first five at one point had their own Justice League.
    • This concept was used again in 2008, in an Italian story arc called Ultraheroes, which saw even more characters taking a costumed secret identity, along with the already-established ones: John D. Rockerduck and Peg Leg Pete (wearing a Doc Ock-like costume) on the villains' side, Gladstone and Gus Goose with the good guys, the latter as an Iron Man parody.
    • Donald is popular enough in Malaysia that a rerun collection of Disney shorts is called Donald Duck Presents.
    • Denmark for a time had a high-quality comic book with Stålanden ("The Steel Duck"), Donald's Batman-esque superheroic alter ego.
  • Regarding John D. Rockerduck, this character was created by Carl Barks in 1961, and very rarely used in American stories. In France and Italy, Rockerduck has been long since established as the true rival to Scrooge McDuck, and he's popular on his own (he even was the eponymous character of a few stories), while Flintheart Glomgold (of DuckTales (1987) fame) is practically unknown and never used. To the point where a celebration of Scrooge's 40th anniversary (1987) in the Italian weekly Mickey Mouse magazine described Glomgold as the character who later evolved into Rockerduck.
  • In German-speaking countries, the work of Disney-translator Dr. Erika Fuchs became influential to such an extent that grammatical terms were named after her.
    • During the 1950s, the Swedish Donald Duck translators created several neologisms that have become accepted as a part of the well-educated vernacular, e.g. läskeblask ("soda popsicle"), rosenrasande (a red-faced rage) and skinntorr (approximately "an old, dry and scruffy demeanour").
  • José Carioca the Brazilian Parrot. You might remember him from Saludos Amigos, or The Three Caballeros, but he hasn't made many appearances since then, and remains a somewhat obscure character in America. Apparently Disney got this caricature of Brazilian culture just right (and certainly got the marketing of it even righter), because Brazil fell in love with him. He started off in bi-weekly comics as an off-shoot of Donald Duck comics, but now exists in his own Monthly comic book series that's still ongoing to this day.
    • Incidentally, while the Brazilian series is currently in nothing but reprints, the Dutch of all people still write new strips featuring José and Panchito. Donny is the head of a WEEKLY magazine with artists constantly making new stories, and an extra MONTHLY mag on the side, with mostly foreign writers (translated into freaky geeky Dutch) doing the work, even DAISY had a bi-weekly mag for a while called Katrien (her Dutch name), which was specifically aimed towards girls. On top of that every couple of months (or a half) they're putting out Donald Duck Pockets which are like small novel sized comicbooks with mainly the Italian stories (evidenced by the Papernik things and the abundance of Rockerduck being called Glumgold in most stories until later on people realized he was different.) This year (2009, represent) there was even the start of a glossy mag a la the latest trend in Hollanda where a celeb puts out a monthly magazine interviewing other celebs and commenting on lifestyle pretending Donald was a real life person, err, Duck, who just started his new magazine by having Daisy and her Housewife Club of Duckburgh collecting money.
      • As a matter of fact, Daisy's Dutch mag is still running, and there are special issues with, say, Halloween (Publishing Halloween stories in the regular weekly and montly series is hurting bussinesss in the Bible belt, the rest of the country does not care much either way.) The pockets and the albums are technically not magazines, (i.e. regular shops can, and often do, offer more than one issue at the same time, they are in that aspect more like regular books.
  • More specifically, while American comics fans have usually heard of Carl Barks and possibly Don Rosa, few have ever heard of Romano Scarpa, who is definitively one of the more important duck-scribes.
  • While Hex never sold particularly well in America, it was a great success in the UK, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
  • Superhero comics first appeared in Poland in The Nineties, thanks to the publisher TM-Semic. As a result, TM-Semic's three main initial titles ( Spider-Man, X-Men and The Punisher) have much larger fanbases than other Marvel Comics heroes or teams (the biggest Polish Marvel fansite evolved from a strictly X-Men website, then ran out of material). And because the only three DC titles TM-Semic published were Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern, while later they brought a few Image comics, much more people will recognize Spawn than Wonder Woman (who possibly never even appeared in any TM-Semic comics). However, Vertigo titles and European Comics are still much more popular than the Superhero genre.
  • Generally speaking, Archie Comics aren't popular outside North America, but Archie is also a big seller in India.
  • Judging by the major British comics writers (Morrison, Moore, Ennis, Robinson, etc.), British audiences are more fond of DC's heroes than Marvel's. Grant Morrison attributes this to DC reprints being more widely available than Marvel comics.
  • Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey comic strip has been a very popular comic book series in Denmark since the late 1950s.
  • The Transformers comics published by IDW feature street-racing samurai-type Drift, who is often accused of being a Creator's Pet, if not an out-and-out Japan-fanboy Mary Sue. Japanese fans seem to adore the guy, if the amount of fanart from there is of any indication. Of course, they don't actually get IDW's comics in Japan, and Drift's toy itself is considered decent.
  • While there's a niche fandom for American comics in Japan, by and large the most popular characters there have had some sort of mainstream media exposure. This leads to (for example) Psylocke, a fairly minor member of the X-Men, being inordinately popular simply because she was in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 despite hardly mattering to anyone in the country of her creation.
    • A much larger example would be Shuma-Gorath, a Doctor Strange antagonist who was all but forgotten in America when he (she?) appeared in Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter. Shuma became wildly popular with the Japanese, and was added as DLC to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for exactly that reason. Venom, on the other hand, while well-known in the US, is insanely popular in Japan, and it's easy to make the connection between his popularity and his appearances in the Capcom vs. Whatever games.
      • Acknowledged in Shuma's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where he (she? it?) parlays the fame he gained defeating Galactus into a Japanese game show.
    • The X-Men themselves have been among the more popular American comics franchises in Japan ever since their 90s cartoon began airing there. Now, after four movies and two further cartoons, it's bigger than ever - Madhouse is even making an X-Men anime.
  • The comic strip adaptation Tamara Drewe was a flop in its native UK as well as the US (possibly due to overhype of the film's star) but managed to be a surprise hit in France.
  • Most of the newspapers which publish Piranha Club comic strip are from Scandinavian countries and Baltic States. The comic itself is written by an American.
  • Italian comic book Alan Ford, a long-running (since 1969) comedy/satire series about bumbling espionage agents, is fairly known in its home country but not really popular anymore; however, the translations for the former Yugoslav countries became unexpectedly popular, to the point that catchphrases from the comics became part of national slang, rock bands were named after characters, and so on. According to The Other Wiki, various scenes in Emir Kusturica's film Black Cat, White Cat were inspired by the comic.

In-Universe Examples

  • In John Ostrander's Martian Manhunter, it was revealed that J'onn is the most recognized superhero in the southern hemisphere and in Japan.
  • In the Brian Michael Bendis graphic novel Jinx, two guys talk about Hasselhoff and why he (and his music) is so popular:

"I don't know, man, I keep hearing he's, like, huge in Germany and shit, as big as Elvis..."
"Oh! Well, that's two good ideas the Germans have had: putting people into ovens, and listening to that shit. You'll excuse me if I don't go running out to buy it on their say so."

  • The Animaniacs comic book featured a story about Dot in a "trading siblings" scenario with a Hello Kitty knockoff. When Dot arrives in Japan, she finds that she's really popular over there.