I was 26 at the time of the reunification. I always tell people that, there and then in November, I spent my “welcome money” on the Ramones concert at the Eissporthalle (indoor ice rink). But actually they let GDR citizens pay with East German marks. There were so many familiar faces; it felt as though everyone in the audience was from the East.
With the 100 Marks I then instead, bought a book and drank a lot of beer in the Arcanoa. The book was “The Adventures of Rosalie” by Edmond Calvo. I had taken my bicycle and gone through one of the border crossings and just kept going till I found a comic shop in Wedding. The comics were very different from the ones I had known and had cars that talked.
Today, I draw my own comic – ‘The Country that does not exist’ – about the time I experienced living in the GDR. Like 17 million others, I grew up in a country that is no longer there. I tell its story, just as Günter Grass wrote about a bygone Danzig, or Mark Twain about the Mississippi. What interests me is not only what changed since then but in what ways life then was like it is today.
My copy of the “Adventures of Rosalie” is now in the Renate Comic Library in Tucholskystrasse. We founded the library in around 1991, so we cartoonists could have our own place to meet. All the founding members of the Renate group came from the East but later people from the West also joined us.