Nick Knatterton (aka “Nikolaus Kuno Freiherr von Knatter”)

Created by Manfred Schmidt
(1913–1999)

Much loved West German private eye NIKOLAUS KUNO FREIHERR von KNATTER has possibly the longest monicker in gumshoe history. No wonder most folks, including his his well-off, hoity-toity parents, prefer to refer to him simply as NICK KNATTERTON.

Anyway, whatever you call him, his loopy, tongue-in-cheek comic strip escapades, as chronicled in weekly installments in the German magazine Quick from 1950 to 1959, were a welcome “respite for the people of West Germany during the long years of the Cold War,” and “fathers favourite childhood hero,” according to T.A. Willberg, creator of the Marion Lane P.I. series.

Nicks one-man detective agency relied heavily on his comically exaggerated Sherlockian deductive skills (just in case anyone missed it, he usually sported a Holmes-style green plaid overcoat and a vaguely deerstalkerish cap, and smoked a pipe), and the occasional whiz bang gadget, gave the strip a light-hearted, cartoony vibe. Adding to humour was a rogue’s gallery of recurring  villains, à la Dick Tracy, who often hung out at the Alibi Bar. The cases he took on usually involved well-off clients; buffoonish, generally non-violent criminals (jewelry theft and blackmail were common, as were happy endings) and often voluptuous babes.

But underneath the gags lurked a steady stream of slyly pointed political wisecracks, which attracted adults, as well. So of course  the strip was eventually banned in East Germany, which naturally made it even more popular in West Germany.

Indeed, the strip proved very popular, and was translated into many languages, and subsequently inspired a couple of films, a cartoon series on television and even several audiobook adaptations published by Der Audio Verlag (in German, of course)–although it should be noted that most of these were a couple of decades or more after the strip ended.

“(Ich) kombiniere!”

COMIC STRIPS

  • NICK KNAPPERTON
    (1951-59, Quick)
    Written and drawn by Manfred Schmidt

FILMS

  • NICK KNATTERTON ABENTEUER: DER RAUB DER GLORIA NYLON
    (English title: The Kidnapping of Miss Nylon)
    (1959, Deutsche Film Hansa)
    89 minutes
    Black & white
    Language: German
    Based on characters created by Manfred Schmidt
    Screenplay by Werner P. Zibaso
    Directed by Hans Quest
    Starring Karl Lieffen as NICK KNATTERTON
    Also starring Martin Hirthe, Susanne Cramer, Maria Sebaldt, Wolfgang Wahl, Gert Wiedenhofen, Stanislav Ledinek, Hans von Borsody, Herta Konrad, Günter Pfitzmann, Gert Fröbe
  • NICK KNATTERTON – DER FILM
    (2002)
    Language: German
    Based on characters created by Manfred Schmidt
    Written by Günter Knarr and Philipp Weinges
    Directed by Niki List
    Co-director: Markus Rosenmüller
    Starring Jens Schäfer as NICK KNATTERTON
    Also starring Jeanette Hain, Kordula Kohlschmitt, Wolfram Berger, Axel Milberg
    Apparently not a lost classic. The 2002 film went unscreened in Germany in any form for several years, possibly due to “a disastrous test screening at the Munich Film Week.” The film was finally released in Austria in October 2005, according to the IMDB.

TELEVISION

  • NICK KNATTERTON
    (1978-80)
    Animated TV series
    15 episodes
    Language: German
    Based on characters created by Manfred Schmidt
    Written by Manfred Schmidt
    Written by Günter Knarr and Philipp Weinges
    Directed by Niki List
    Co-director: Markus Rosenmüller
    Starring Hans Jürgen Diedrich as NICK KNATTERTON
    With Christian Marschall as The Narrator
    This was apparently a popular cartoon, in both Germany and… Finland? The narrator was the only one who spoke (everyone else warbled like adults in the Peanuts cartoons). Except for Knatterton, that is, who would usually wrap things up by saying “(Ich) kombiniere!” (“I conclude!” in German), and then explaining it all.
    • Kennen Sie Nick Knatterton?” (April 17, 1978)
    • “Freitags immer” (April 24, 1978)
    • “Die Geheimnisse der Alibi-Bar” (May 29, 1978)
    • “Täter, Türen und Tresore” (October 15, 1979)
    • “Miezen, Macher und Moneten” (December 3, 1979)
    • “Bargeld, Betten und Brillanten” (January 23, 1980)
    • “Spesen, Spinner und Spione” (January 28, 1980)
    • “Die ferngelenkte Superbiene” (1980)
    • “Ballermänner und Computer” (1980)
    • “Sammler, Fälscher und Ganoven” (1980)
    • “Der kriminelle Brühwürfel” (1980)
    • “Ein Kopf fiel in die Themse…” (1980)
    • “Greifer, Girls und Grand Hotels” (1980)
    • “Moden, Maler und Modelle” (1980)
    • “Finten, Flirts und Filmemacher” (1980)

AUDIO BOOKS

  • Nick Knatterton: Der indische Diamantenkoffer (March 2007)
  • Nick Knatterton: Der Schuß in den künstlichen Hinterkopf (March 2007)
  • Nick Knatterton: Die Million im Eimer / Das Geheimnis hinterm Bullauge (February 2008)
  • Nick Knatterton: Die Erbschaft in der Krawatte (February 2008)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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