Kurt Caesar
Comic Artist - Kurt Caesar

Caesar's Il Legionario from Il Vittorioso. Original board

Kurt Kaiser, Count of Burtenbach, was born in Montigny-les-Metz, in what is today France. He attended the School of Fine Art in Munich, and moved to Italy at the beginning of the 1930's where he took the name Kurt Caesar. Today he is recognised as one of the foremost exponents of war illustrations, both men and machines.

His career began with a job as journalist for the German Ulman News Agency. A great traveller, he went to Greenland and later landed himself a job in New York working for Popular Mechanics. He started signing his pages with the name "Caesar Away", "Jack Away" or "Avai". His first strip was I Due Tamburini (1934), followed by I Trei Porcellini which appeared in Il Vittorioso in 1937. Sometime during the 1930's Caesar created Will Sparrow, il pirata del cielo (Will Sparrow, the pirate of the skies). I have not been able to find much on the character, except that he was an aerial pirate of the type not uncommon for the time, and was published in La Risata. Il Legionario, (Il Vittorioso 1937 ) about an Italian pilot in the Spanish Civil War, was another popular story.

During the Second World War Caesar accompanied Rommel's Army through North Africa making many sketches of what he saw along the way - these drawings were recently (1998) collected into a single volume called Rommel’s Year of Victory: The Wartime Illustrations of the Afrika Korps. In one of lifes strange coincidences, in Montgomery's opposing army, future Dan Dare artist Harold Johns was also sketching and drawing water colours - both artists survived the war unscathed.

After the war, Caesar published stories in Il Vittorioso and in Il Giornalino, including Il Mozzo del Sommergibile (about a boy on board a submarine during the war), and the superb science fiction story Nel Vortice Astrale. Most of the time he drew covers for Urania, a monthly science-fiction magazine.

It was not long before Caesar was offered work for Fleetway, one of the most prolific of war story publishers, and of course he was in his element. He drew stories for Battle Picture Library, War Picture Library, Air Ace Picture Library and worked on the strips Battler Britton, Spy 13, Dogfight Dixon and the science fiction strip Jet "Ace" Logan (or Jet Logan as it was known in France) for the Thriller Picture Library.

In the 1960s Caesar drew the first episodes of Perry Rhodan, a new science fiction comic for the German market, which were later re-published in Italy. Kurt Caesar died on 12 July in 1974 at Bracciano, Italy.


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