Bernd Pfarr

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Bernd Pfarr (* 11 November 1958 in Frankfurt am Main; † 6 July 2004 in Cologne) was a German painter and comic artist.


Bernd Pfarr studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach and has been drawing cartoons and illustrations for various magazines and publishers, such as Zeit magazine, since 1978. He became known especially for his cartoon character Sondermann, who appeared regularly for many years in the satirical magazine Titanic, and for his paintings, which typically got their humorous touch from the captions (see also Comic Art). Numerous collections of his cartoons and paintings, as well as a small number of comics, appeared in book form. Together with Hans Zippert he also published the illustrated book Wenn Tiere verreisen (2003).

In addition to drawing, Bernd Pfarr also devoted himself to large-format painting in acrylic. Here he developed a unique style full of surreal and comic elements. In addition, he was a collector of toy cars with a focus on the period from 1920 to 1935. In 2001, he was responsible for an illustrated book in which he presented 221 examples from his own and other people’s collections.

He lived with his wife Gabriele in Frankfurt am Main and in the south of France and had a son. At the age of 45 he died of lymph gland cancer.

In the opinion of Robert Gernhardt, himself an author of comic drawings and texts, Bernd Pfarr, despite 25 years of fighting to survive his cancer, “[…] has provided proof to the contrary of the thesis that a difficult life must entail difficult art”. He “[…] put things in cartoons that have no place there. The light, this extreme architecture, the backgrounds. The pictures remain exciting”. Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff, the head of Frankfurt’s Department of Culture, went on to say that his cartoon character Sondermann had “taken up everyday life in a very unique way and given an interpretation beyond the everyday by means of drawing”. Patrick Bahners wrote on the occasion of Bernd Pfarr’s death that he had been “[…] a master of balance, of the harmony of tones and moods”. “Such a re-creation of the classical was probably only possible in the supposedly lower art of comic drawing and painting”.[1]

After his death, Gabriele Roth-Pfarr gave around 180 tin toys to the Oldenburg State Museum of Art and Cultural History as a permanent loan. The museum showed these from 5 February to 30 April 2017 in the special exhibition “Faszination Bewegtes Blech – Sammlerspielzeug des 20. Jahrhunderts”. A number of tin toys from Bernd Pfarr’s collection as well as five acrylic paintings made by him can be seen in the permanent exhibition in Oldenburg Castle.


In his honour and that of his best-known character Sondermann, the “Bernd-Pfarr-Sondermann for Comic Art” art prize was established in 2004 to honour comics and works of comic art. From 2004 to 2012, the prize was awarded by the Frankfurt Book Fair together with the “Frankfurter Rundschau” and the specialist portal “Comicforum”. Since 2012, the prize has been awarded by the non-profit association Sondermann e.V., of which Bernd Pfarr’s heirs are also members. The prize is endowed with a total of 7000 euros.


I. Individual works

  • Bernd Pfarr – Adult Comics from German Lands (Volume 2), 1984 (Volksverlag)
  • Dulle – heavily annoyed, 1985 (Semmel Verlag)
  • I love you, 1985 (Semmel Verlag)
  • Nights like Velvet, 1987 (Semmel Verlag)
  • Sondermann strikes, 1991 (Eichborn)
  • Dulle, 1992 (Edition Art of Comics)
  • Hundeleben, 1992 (Eichborn)
  • All love Sondermann, 1993 (Eichborn)
  • Comic pictures, 1996 (Steidl)
  • The double Sondermann, 1997 (rororo)
  • Dangerous Everyday Life, 1998 (Edition Moderne)
  • One day Zeus got tired of hurling lightning, 1998 (zweitausendeins)
  • Alex the Raven, 1999 (Edition Moderne)
  • Angels & other poultry 7 – An Advent calendar to snip open, 2000 (rororo)
  • Rolling Tin, Toy Cars and Motorcycles from 1920-1935, 2001 (here and now)
  • Heroes of Today, 2001 (Edition Moderne)
  • Fahrvergnügen, 2002 (No & But)
  • Sondermann im Glück, 2002 (zweitausendeins)
  • The Lords of Creation, 2006 (edition büchergilde)
  • Sondermann, November 2007 (Steidl), edited by Gabriele Roth-Pfarr
  • Comic Worlds, September 2008 (Edel Edition), edited by Gabriele Roth-Pfarr
  • The Wild Beauty of the Lining: The Comic Universe of Bernd Pfarr, May 2018 (Carlsen)
  • Sondermann: 1987 to 2004, October 2018 (Carlsen)

II. Illustrations

  • Das fremde Haus (Michael Gutmann), 1987 (Semmel’s Handliche Schriften)
  • Job search – information, tips and strategies (Peter Köster), 1987 (Beltz)
  • The wise Professor von Katastroff and his cat Attila (John Saxby), 1997 (Hanser)
  • Sonst noch was (Elke Heidenreich), 1999 (Hanser)
  • “It all depends on your time!” (Piet Klocke), 2000 (Knaur)
  • So. The last columns from “Brigitte” (Elke Heidenreich), 2001 (rororo)
  • Mittelpünktchens Reise um die Welt (Zoë Jenny), 2001 (Hanser)
  • Häuptling eigener Herd – Issue 11 (Edited by Vincent Klink and Wiglaf Droste), 2002 (edition Vincent Klink)
  • Federseel (Ralf Schlatter), 2002 (Kein & Aber)
  • When animals travel (Hans Zippert), 2003 (Kein & Aber)
  • The Secret Diaries (Samuel Pepys), 2004 (Eichborn)
  • “Dat kann donnich gesund sein” – Else Stratmann über Sport, … (Elke Heidenreich), 2004 (rororo)
  • “May it be a little more?”Else Stratmann weighs in (Elke Heidenreich), 2005 (rororo)
  • “With or without bones?”The Last of Else Stratmann (Elke Heidenreich), 2005 (rororo)

III. exhibition catalogues

  • 70 x die volle Wahrheit – A cross-section of contemporary German caricature (Carikatura 1987, Kassel), 1987 (Zinnober)
  • Little Night Music (Stadtmuseum Ludwigshafen et al.), 1999 (Kein & Aber)
  • Comic Art (Wilhelm-Busch-Museum Hanover), 2003 (Kein & Aber)
  • Komische Welten (Caricatura Museum für Komische Kunst, Frankfurt a. M.), 2008 (edel)

IV. Contributions to collective works

  • New Pullover Comics (together with: Brösel, Reiche, Fritsche, Drühl, Gutmann), 1984 (Semmel Verlag)
  • Ko-Li-Bri Reader – Volume 1 (together with Kähler, Saalfeld et al.), 1985 (Semmel-Verlach)
  • Relationship Boxes, 1985 (Elephant Press)
  • Ko-Li-Bri Reader – Volume 2 (together with Kähler, Saalfeld et al.), 1986 (Semmel-Verlach)
  • Ko-Li-Bri Reader – Volume 1 (together with Kähler, Saalfeld et al.), 1986 (Semmel-Verlach)
  • Jealous?, 1987 (Elephant Press)
  • PorNO? Si!Si! – Cartoons, 1988 (Elefanten Press)
  • “There is more like tennis in this world” – Comics and Cartoons from Kowalski 1987-1990, 1991 (Semmel-Verlach)
  • The Raven 36, 1993 (Haffmans)
  • Alice im Comicland (ed. by Irene Mahrer-Stich), 1993 (edition moderne)
  • Genschman was Engholm’s lollipop with Thomas Gottschalk – The best Titanic satires from seven years, 1987-1994 (ed. by Zippert, Hans), 1995 (Elefanten-Press)
  • Misfortunes and other crimes (together with Mattoti, Loustal, Kamagurka), 1996 (Edition Moderne)
  • Der Rabe 48 – The Money-and-Gold Raven, 1997 (Haffmans)

V. Work in magazines and newspapers

  • Star
  • Titanic (satirical magazine), among others: Cover (11/85, 3/90, 8/93), Ko-Li-Bri (3/81-3/87), Sondermann (9/87-8/04)
  • Health Food Courier (Alex the Raven, until 2003)
  • Kowalski
  • Der Tagesanzeiger (Zurich), magazine (Saturday supplement)
  • Die Zeit (single illustrations, last in issue 48/2004)
  • Die Zeit – ZEIT magazine (illustrations, 1994-1999)
  • De Volkskrant Magazine (Magazine of the newspaper de Volkskrant in the Netherlands)

VI Comics

  • Pardon, issue 7/78
  • Wheel off!, Volume 1+2 (Rad ab! Publisher)
  • Hinz & Kunz Komix, issues: 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11 – 1979 ff (Volksverlag)
  • U-Comix, special volume 24 (anthology: German cartoonists), 1979 (Volksverlag)
  • Zomix – German comic book, issue 8, 1980 (Ewald Lang)
  • Zebra, No. 14 (October 1997)

VII. book covers

  • Erofeev, Venedikt: Moscow Petuski, (CDs in slipcase) 2004 no & but Records
  • Jerofejew, Wenedikt: The journey to Petuschki, (CDs in slipcase) 1998 kein & aber Records
  • Literary forays through gourmet temples and taverns (Schiefer, Manfred/Simon, Karin, eds.), 1995 (ars vivendi)
  • Kästner, Erich: Works in nine volumes, 1998 (Hanser) and from 2002, in single volumes (Hanser)
  • Yerofeyev, Wenedikt: The Journey to Petushki, 1998 (Piper)
  • Droste, Wiglaf: Zen Buddhism and Cellulite, 1999 (Kunstmann)
  • Kesten, Hermann: Complete Edition, 1999 (Steidel)
  • Droste, Wiglaf: Bombarded Belgium & Bread and Belt Roses, 2002 (Reclam Leipzig)
  • Perutz, Leo: The Marques de Bolibar, 2004 (Paul Zsolnay Verlag)
  • Perutz, Leo: The Swedish Rider, 2002 (Paul Zsolnay Verlag)
  • Perutz, Leo: Night under the stone bridge, 2002 (Paul Zsolnay Verlag)
  • Heidenreich, Elke: Cut or in one piece, rororo 2004
  • Heidenreich, Elke: Datt kann donnich gesund sein, rororo 2004
  • Heidenreich, Elke: Darf’s ein bißchen mehr sein?, rororo 2004
  • Heidenreich, Elke: So…, rororo 2004
  • Heidenreich, Elke: No beautiful country, rororo 2004
  • Simon, Axel: Tatütata für Peter Sputnik, Rowohlt Berlin 2009

VIII Miscellaneous

  • Calendar: Funny times in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,(all Kein & Aber)
  • Advertising: Renault Kangoo


  • 1998 Max-und-Moritz-Preis as best German-language comic artist


  • 1999 Stadtmuseum Ludwigshafen: Little Night Music, from 10 June 1999
  • 2001 Oldenburger Kunstverein: Dreitracht Frankfurt, from November 4, 2001
  • 2004 Wilhelm Busch Museum Hanover, 2004
  • 2005 Caricatura, Museum for Comic Art in the Historical Museum Frankfurt, 9 July to 28 August 2005
  • 2005 Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel, exhibition: Sondermann kommt, from 15 October 2005 to 12 March 2006
  • 2005 Black, Bread, Gold, Kunstverein Oldenburg
  • 2006 Fumetto, Lucerne
  • 2006 Caricatura, Kassel, from 9 September to 5 November 2006
  • 2008 Caricatura Museum for Comic Art, Frankfurt a. M., opening exhibition 3 October 2008
  • 2009 Olaf Gulbransson Museum Tegernsee, “Comic Worlds
  • 2017 Oldenburg State Museum of Art and Cultural History: Fascination of Moving Tin – Collectors’ Toys of the 20th Century, February 5 to April 30, 2017

Web links

Individual references

  1. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 7, 2004, No. 155 / Page 31

See also

  • New Frankfurt School