Modern Life

On this page:

  • DIJDSD (Das ist ja das schöne daran)
  • Die besten Zeiten
  • Fashion Victims, Trendverächter: Bildkolumnen und Minireportagen aus Berlin
  • Filmriss
  • Der Junge von nebenan
  • Das kleine Schwarze
  • Mädchen
  • Menschen am Sonntag
  • Risiken und Nebenwirkungen
  • Sag was
  • Unglück mit allerlei Toten

Schenardi, Luca. DIJDSD (Das ist ja das schöne daran). Msw Medien Service GmBH, 2009

ISBN 13: 978-3037310441

The title is an ironic reference to DSDS (Deutschland sucht den Superstar).  The photo reportage of sorts offers careful analysis of the world around the artist.  He affords a layer by layer demising of modern life, characterized by bizarre absurdity; and the picture of style very closely corresponds to this theme.

The novel contains no text; it consists only of stylized and collage-like pictures which might offer an opportunity for vocabulary practice and description using an authentic source.

Description of Novel in English

The Artist’s Homepage

DIJDSD cover

teenSomewhat disturbing artistic renditions of snapshots of daily life. Good text to study various types of art as they relate to modern inspiration.

Dierßen, Andreas.  Die besten Zeiten.  Carlsen, 2011. 

ISBN 13: 978-3551788375

Sample Text:

Dialogue from early in story: ,,Der ist ja niedlich.” ,,Käpt’n Psycho. Freund von Dir? Was willst du?” ,,Überraschung.” ,,Du siehst nicht gut aus.” ,,Nachtschicht. Drei Stunden geschlafen.” ,,Hättest du was Anständiges gelernt?” ,,Ich hab was Anständiges gelernt.” ,,Du siehst ja was dabei rauskommt.” ,,Ich würde mich gerne wieder hinlegen.” ,,Nichts da. Das Leben findet nur einmal statt.” ,,So ein Blödsinn.” 

The graphic novel makes the impression on the reader of a “sketched film,” comprised of many intermeshed episodes.  The author artistically and adeptly weaves separate story lines into one portrait of big city life.  Separate characters from the episodes meet up again and again to build a common story.  It has been said that his style of humor mirrors that of Woody Allen.

The dark, shadowy and simple drawings paint a distinctly and correspondingly dark picture of the big city.  The way the atmosphere is depicted makes it easy to understand why the characters may long for “Die besten Zeiten” that are long gone. The book also folds in a supernatural element in the form of an old man who grants wishes to people with whom he comes into contact.

From the review that this cited below:  “Die Figu­ren, die in die­ser Welt leben, sind sich ihrer Situa­tion bewusst. Sie suchen nach einem Aus­weg. Sie wol­len zurück zu den “bes­ten Zei­ten”, von denen sie gerne träu­men. Sie ver­su­chen der tris­ten Aura zu ent­kom­men, die ihre Wirk­lich­keit ist, jeder auf seine Art. Einige glau­ben, Geld wäre eine Lösung. Aber das ist ein Irrweg.”

Hamburger Feuilleton Review

Der Tagesspiegel Review

die besten zeiten coverdie besten sample

teenSome gun violence.  From a content perspective, the book does not contain too much questionable material. The rather involved story, however, may be quite difficult for some students to follow.  It does present a very creative comment on modern city life and could possibly be paired with other literary texts or authentic texts when discussing those themes in literature or culture classes.

Lust, Ulli.  Fashion Victims.Trendverächter: Bildkolumnen und Minireportagen aus Berlin. Avant, 2008. 

ISBN 13: 978-3939080329

This graphic novel presents a collection of previously published vignettes from observed scenes in and around Berlin.

[vimeo w=500&h=375]

Urban Observations: Ulli Lust from Janosch Delcker on Vimeo.

fashion victims coverfashion victims sample

rating pending

Rickenbach, Kati.  Filmriss.  Edition Moderne, 2007.

ISBN 13: 978-3-03781-018-2

Sample Text: man and woman at a party: Woman: ,,Das wird ein toller Abend! Mal gucken, ob mich die Hausbar aufheitern kann…Vielleicht kann ich mich doch amüsieren! Was doch eh voll die Spiesserparty und kennen tue ich auch niemanden…”   Man: ,,Trinkst du um zu vergessen?”

A sort of soap opera in comic form.  Told with levity and sarcasm, the author describes a life of blackouts, drug use and love. Filmriss tells the story of a night of partying when the lives of many different people collide.  Matthias Schneider ( suggests that the story forms a ,,Reigen,” much like Schnitzler’s. [See Literary Analysis for discussion of the grapic novel version of Reigen.]  Filmriss could serve as an interesting supplement or point of comparison with both the classic and the graphic novel version.

The artists’ style prioritizes portraits, zooms and close-ups of the human face.  This artistic focus corresponds to the thematic concentration on the distressed, confused, elated or desperate feelings of individuals in modern society and in modern relationships.  A series of intertwined stories also emphasize the social interactivity that is both addictive and detrimental.

The text offers a lot of great colloquial phrases that would be great to teach “real” conversational German.

Filmriss cover filmriss sample page

matureAdult themes, sexuality.

Büsser, Martin. Der Junge von nebenan. Verbrecher Verlag, 2009. 

ISBN 13: 978-3940426406

Sample Text

First page: ,,Das ist der Blick meiner Mutter. Um 1970. Auf mich herunter.  In den Kinderwagen hinein. Den ich jetzt nicht zeichnen möchte, nicht kann.  Ich lag ja drin.  Und Kinder sind, glaube ich, nie schön. Eltern sehen das anders.  Teig, der noch geformt werden muß. Aber gerade deshalb, als Stück Teig, gibt es da wohl diese Liebe–Mutter, Mutter, Mutter, ich werde mich schon formen. Dir schöner Knabe werden.”

This graphic novel tells the coming out story of a boy without a name, a boy in the 1970s.  The narrative combines the personal and the political as it is told against the backdrop of 1970s politics in West Germany.  It has been characterized as residing in the gray area between graphic novel and illustrated story.

Visually, the text features simple pencil sketches of various sizes and in a variety of layouts. The text is handwritten, which would make it difficult for American students to read.  There are also many pictures that graphically depict sex acts.

der junge von nebenan coverjunge von nebenan sample

adultGraphic sexual content.

Neubauer, Hannes. Das kleine Schwarze. Edition Moderne, 2011.

IBSN 13:978-3037310861

In a black humorous style, this book tells the story of the daily adventures of four roommates:  das kleine Schwarze, a women’s dress (machine washable), Couchy, a potato (mealy to waxy), L.B., a necktie (high quality and not well-heeled).

The artwork has been described as “street art style.”  The style matches the absurdity of the premise.

das kleine schwarze cover

E for everyoneNo questionable content, but some background may be needed to clarify some cultural elements or to explain the bizarre style of storytelling.

Flix.  Mädchen.  Carlsen, 2006.

ISBN 13: 978-3551781819

A humorous story about a man, who like many, wants to be successful with the opposite sex.  A comic story that is very close to real life experiences.  Flix also cleverly combines a seemingly typical story with his experience as an artist unable to get past his inability to draw the perfect girl.


mädchen covermaedchen sample

rating pending

Fior, Manuele. Menschen am Sonntag.  Berlin: avant-verlag, 2005.

ISBN: 3-9809428-3-X.

Sample Text: The main character is looking for a certain bar in Berlin. “Es ist schon Viertel nach eins und ich habe diese bescheuerte Kneipe immer noch nicht gefunden. Und natürlich fängt es auch noch an zu regnen.”

A love story set in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Fausto wants to get together one last time with his friends before he returns to Italy.  His plans drastically change when he meets up with his ex-girlfriend.

Although this brief description based on a summary found on the publisher’s website seems to place this novel squarely into the category of does not convey the versatility that this graphic novel offers German instructors and learners for vocabulary, culture as well as visual literacy.

Menschen am Sonntag offers beautifully and strikingly composed pictures that provide artistically designed snapshots of Berlin. It also contains largely conversational speech often missing from conventional  textbooks. Because it focuses on the experience of an Italian in Germany, it could also serve as template of sorts for study abroad students to document their own experiences.


matureSex scene with somewhat distorted images but still discernible. Scenes in  Berlin bars and talk of drinking and drug use.

Steiner, Elke Renate. Risiken und Nebenwirkungen. Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2010.

ISBN 13: 978-3579067629

Sample Text:  from Rose’s story, Rose on telephone: ,,Ich bin jetzt wieder daheim. Es war ja nur ein kleiner Eingriff, nur die Paar Tage in der Klinik. Nein, ich komme zurecht. Erst kommt ja noch der Pflegedienst, und dann bin ich ja wieder auf den Beinen.”

from Jana’ story: ,,Die Prüfungsergebnisse sind da!” ,,Jana ist wieder die beste!” ,,Alles OK bei euch?” ,,Auch, aber ganz knapp.” ,,Aber was soll’s. Der Prof kann mich nicht leiden.” ,,Hauptsache bestanden.” ,,Gehen wir zur Vorlesung oder feiern wir lieber?” ,,Also, ich muss gleich los. Gleich hab’ ich das Vorgespräch für den neuen Job!”

This graphic novel addresses the near epidemic proportions of anti-depressant use with the premise “when anti-depressants become friends.” This novel accompanies six people (83 year-old retiree Rose, 32 year old Jana reentering the workforce, 54 year-old Golo, 46 year-old musician Sonja, 42 year-old Charlotte, 39 year-old Fatma, 20 year-old Kevin) through their lives for one week and describes problems of prescription drug abuse.  In its characterization of the six people, the novel also emphasizes that there is not one stereotypical prescription drug abuser. It also includes an appendix of important names and addresses for abusers.

The text and pictures match to some degree.  More valuable from a language standpoint is the amount of colloquial and conversational language that could be beneficial for students, as is evident from the above sample texts.

The illustrations comprise bold thick lines and impart the hectic nature of the story and the experience of its protagonists.

Risiken coverrisiken sample

matureMature rating because of the subject matter, but this book would offer a great opportunity to create a cross cultural profile of Germany today.

Flix. Sag was.  Carlsen, 2004. 

ISBN 13: 978-3551748201

In his usual light and humorous tone, Flix tells about problems, big and small, of modern daily life.  From trivial problems like hair in the drain, to compromise and shattered dreams, Flix provides a portrait of modern life.

sag was cover

rating pending

Goldt, Max and Stephen Katz.  Unglück mit allerlei Toten. Edition Moderne, 2010.

ISBN 13:  978-3037310687

A humorous series of sketches about various topics drawn from everyday life with bizarre twists: icy conditions, fleece monster, meat tunnel.

unglück coverunglück sample

rating pending