»being an introduction to MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL for English speakers und jeder«

what happens in ’83? was passiert im ’83?

Meister Eder and his Pumuckl at breakfast

The saddest of the TV stories for Meister Eder and his Pumuckl was that of the Big Break-Up and what followed–Der große Krach und seine Folgen–the 16th and 17th episodes of the first season.  Originally broadcast in Bavaria on the 14th and 21st of January, in 1983, their young audience had to wait a full week between episodes in utter angst over the break-up, not knowing what would become of Pumuckl. Or Eder without him.

In this story the little imp, that only the master carpenter Eder can see, steals a girl’s bracelet when she is visiting the workshop. As Eder discovers the theft and that Pumuckl has lied to him–Pumuckl attempts to explain that such things are in his nature, he is a Kobold. Taking sparkly things and playing tricks are what he does. But Eder is not in a mood to listen or to understand and in a fit of anger destroys the precious doll-bed and the swing-ship that he had made for his Pumuckl.

Eder leaves Pumuckl with unkind words. And now all alone with his sorrow, Pumuckl is devastated. He quits the workshop, heading out on the streets not knowing where he might find a home. And that is how the first part ended.

The Big Break-Up is the saddest story of Eder and Pumuckl’s friendship, but in posing such a problem for the characters, the story illustrates a basic point. Eder and Pumuckl are two very different beings and their friendship depends on acceptance of each other’s differences. Something that Eder momentarily forgets.

In the end, they work it out between them. It’s a Kobold-law, Pumuckl must stay with Eder forever.

do you really want to live forever? wollen sie wirklich für immer leben?

As Alphaville–the German synth-pop band–asked rhetorically, in their ’84 hit song, FOREVER YOUNG:

do you really want to live forever?

I will always believe that Meister Eder and his Pumuckl live forever young at heart, caught in a bubble of time that never expires. They just go on and on, having the best adventures and the coolest friendship. I won’t accept Robert Frost’s allegation that “Nothing gold can stay.” There’s an ineffable somethingness in MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL and that’s the thing you most want to have in a work of the imagination, because it both escapes definition and yet stays with you always.


what is the pumuckl? was ist der pumuckl?

Pumuckl from Barbara von Johnson

Pumuckl from Barbara von Johnson.

You may ask what is a Kobold? A Kobold is an imp of German folklore–comparable to the English hobgoblin. There are many myths about them. In Pumuckl’s case he is a mischievous spirit that resembles a very small child. But Pumuckl doesn’t want you to confuse him with a Heinzelmännchen, which is more like the English brownie. A Heinzelmännchen is a goody-two-shoes who helps around the house and does good deeds for humans. A Kobold is a free spirit–mischievous and playful.


PUMUCKL sprang from the mind of German writer Ellis Kaut in 1961. She wrote children’s programming for Bavarian public radio and was pressed to come up with something new.

The first radio play–Spuk in der Werkstatt–was broadcast on the 21st of February ’62. A total of 90 episodes in all were made, the last airing on the 30th of December ’73.

A contest was held in 1962 to select an artist who would bring Pumuckl to life on the page and Barbara von Johnson won. Together, Kaut and Johnson created ten Pumuckl books between 1965 and 1978, consisting of 60 stories. In addition 33 albums were recorded, based on the radio plays, with Hans Clarin voicing Pumuckl.

who are the klabauter? wer sind die klabauter?

The Klabauter are a kind of Kobold who live on board ships. Being one of the Klabauter, Pumuckl longs to sail on board ships and boats. And so Eder made the swing-ship–der Schiffschaukel–in the workshop for the Kobold.

what is a kobold-law? was ist ein koboldgesetz?

There are many Kobold-laws. In any given situation, Pumuckl will insist that such and such is an oldest oldest Kobold-law. But the most important law is that when a Kobold becomes stuck and captured by a human being, the Kobold becomes visible to that human being alone (remaining invisible to all others) and he must stay with that human being always. This is how Pumuckl came to stay with Meister Eder forever.


who is meister eder? wer ist meister eder?

The radio plays, books and records all tell the story of Pumuckl’s friendship with Meister Eder, a master craftsman–the only person that can see the Kobold. Pumuckl lives in Meister Eder’s workshop and Eder has his apartment above the workshop. Franz Eder is an older man, unmarried, with no children of his own. Pumuckl is his substitute son you could say, but he’s also Eder’s best pal. While they are very different, they need each other to be whole. Pumuckl makes Eder laugh, he makes him young again. Pumuckl relies on Eder’s guidance and protection–there are so many stories where Pumuckl would be toast if not for Meister Eder’s intervention.

Both a feature film, MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL, and a TV series of the same name were written, directed and produced between 1978 and 1982. The theatrical movie was released the 2nd of March ’82, with the TV series beginning on the 24th of September ’82 (on Bavarian television). Both were directed by Ulrich König (based on Kaut’s stories). They starred Gustl Bayrhammer as Eder and Hans Clarin as Pumuckl, combining live action and animation.

Meister Eder

Pumuckl is brought to life by the brilliant animators, the inventive director and the distinctive voice of Hans Clarin. Clarin IS Pumuckl.

And Gustl Bayrhammer IS without question Meister Eder. It’s his acting that reflects life onto Pumuckl. Realistically, Bayrhammer was acting with and reacting to a non-existent entity–although the director was off camera giving Pumuckl’s end of the dialogue–but Gustl had to SEE Pumuckl, he had to make him real for himself and for the audience.

The ’82 – ’83 TV series consisted of 26 episodes with each episode about 23 minutes in length. Long enough to tell another story about the funny Kobold and his misbehaviour, to which Meister Eder reacts in fits of frustration, anger, joy, laughter and affection. The series was a co-production of West Germany/Austria/Hungary–filmed in and around Munich, Bavaria–and another 26 episodes, with the same cast and crew, were produced for the ’88 – ’89 season.

Production on the second season began in the mid-’80s; however, a long production time was necessary for Hungary’s Pannonia Film Studio to complete the animation, with more than a hundred animators employed in the task.

Unlike North American children’s programming from the ’80s, there’s no advisory council sanitizing reality here. Life is messy in this world. There are lessons to be learned, but they aren’t spoon-fed. check it out! I have put together a comprehensive list in ENGLISH! of the total 52 episodes for MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL, with titles and descriptions–look for it on my checklist:
52 Pumuckl Pick-Up [holt ab].


what is best? was am besten ist?

Episode 14. The First Snow/Der erste Schnee is highly recommended as an easy introduction:

When the first snow arrives, Pumuckl will have his fun. Wishing to play with the snow inside, where it’s warm, he brings it into the workshop, not realizing that it will melt. Later as he pushes more snow down onto the courtyard and onto the locals, a young boy is blamed. Eder takes Pumuckl to task for framing the boy and will not speak to the Kobold. So Pumuckl takes action to remove suspicion from the boy–and all is well in the end.

More of my favourites . . . great for beginners . . .

9. Pumuckl and the Pudding/Pumuckl und der Pudding

18. Eder Gets a Visit/Eder bekommt Besuch

29. Pumuckl and the Mouse/Pumuckl und die Maus

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30. The Sailboat/Das Segelboot

. . . and then this shocking episode . . .

47. Playing with Fire/Das Spiel mit dem Feuer

. . . which, with all its action, is immediately understood. In addition, it has a lot of the essential elements of MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL. But it’s a frightening story and much more effective after you’ve familiarized yourself with the characters and the setting.


how do you say . . . ? wie sagt man . . .?

Adding to the pleasures of each episode are:

  1. the other characters that enter scenes–played by a number of experienced German actors, as well as ordinary children–all quirky and funny in their own ways;
  2. the musical orchestrations by Fritz Muschler–of a quality beyond what one might expect (a comparison with American children’s programming from the same period is not worth the trouble);
  3. the high cinematic standard of the direction and the photography;
  4. the language, language, language.

Sure, my understanding of German–and Bayerisch German at that–is less than the level of Kindergarten–but even I can detect all the cleverness and coyness of the language in these teleplays.

All the characters play with language–and Pumuckl most of all. One of the things that Pumuckl loves to do is make rhymes. And when he can’t make a proper word rhyme, he will mangle the word to make it rhyme.

There are also recurring songs and rhymes which are running gags throughout the series. In particular, several characters are likely to sing the first lines of  King Ludwig’s song, which tells the tragic story of the Bavarian king, beginning–Auf den Bergen wohnt die Freiheit (On the Mountain lives the Freedom). True to the traditon of the seafaring Klabauter, Pumuckl’s favourite song goes . . . Wenn der Sturmwind in die Segel bläst und wenn die Balken krachen . . . (When the stormwind in the sail blasts and when the beams crack).

Of course, there’s also the theme song that begins each TV episode and the theatrical movie. The refrain of the song translated roughly into English goes– Hurrah! Hurrah! The Kobold with the reddish hair. Hurrah! Hurrah! The Pumuckl is here! full theme song:


that is good or nix? das ist gut oder nichts?

Pumuckl says/Pumuck sagt:Pumuckl nix

    • cheese? nix, that is foul milk!!! bleh!
    • silver paper and gold paper? good because chocolate comes in these (but cheese comes in gold paper, too–schade–nix)
    • chocolate? mmmm, good!
    • sugar? very good, more more!
    • pudding? puddaling more puddaling, please
    • the cat? nix, Pumuckl is scared of the cat
    • Bärbel–Eder’s niece? nix? no no no–good, so good, she is so kind
    • yellow and green? this is best
    • snow? good
    • cold? close the door, it’s too coldpumuckl gut
    • schaukelschiff (swing-ship) in the workshop? so beautiful!
    • puppenbett (Pumuckl’s bed)? this is very comfy
    • mouse? good, Pumuckl loves his pet mouse, Maximmummuliaaanus
    • toy car? great, this was a gift from Meister Eder!
    • making rhymes? Pumuckl makes the bestest rhymes and the bestest rhyme is the goodest times–oh, that rhymes and what ryhmes is good!


do they really live forever? leben sie wirklich für immer?

During the life of the TV show, there was a PUMUCKL comic magazine beginning in 1984. This was published by Mascha Kauka for Kauka Publications. Mascha is the daughter of  Rolf Kauka–famous in Germany for creating FOX UND FIXI, in 1953. Rolf Kauka, as an artist and business man, developed a lot of comic and cartoon talent. In 1973, he began a collaboration with the Italian comic artist Massimo Fecchi, which lasted until 1995. Fecchi might be known in North America for his work on Donald Duck.  Among other things that Massimo Fecchi did for Kauka Publications was to create, in the early ’70s,  Die Sieben Schnukel–a group of seven Kobolds. When Mascha Kauka launched PUMUCKL as a children’s magazine in ’84,  Fecchi was one of the artists to contribute comic art.
After the TV show ended, there were more movies, magazines, TV shows and even stage plays. But those exist in an alternate universe. The universe of König and Kaut, of Bayrhammer and Clarin, that is contained to what they did in two seasons and a movie. And that is the universe I prefer. I choose to believe that this universe exists forever, just as Meister Eder and his Pumuckl exist forever. Pumuckl is magic, so he can make it happen. And I believe he does. Such is the nature of fantasy–it cannot be contained and even a single moment can persist for eternity.


who is ellis kaut? wer ist ellis kaut?

Pumuckl and Ellis Kaut

Pumuckl and Ellis Kaut

Ellis Kaut (birthname Elizabeth) was born the 17th of November, 1920, in Stuttgart, Germany. She married the writer Kurt Prize, when she was 19, and they had a daughter in 1945. Ellis studied acting and began performing on the radio in 1948, as well as writing freelance. Kaut became a supervisor of children’s programming at the Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), the Bavarian public broadcaster for television and radio. There she came up with the idea for Pumuckl in 1961.

For more about Ellis Kaut’s early life, during the war and after, see the interview below in German with English subtitles.

[note: near the end of this interview, Kaut and the interviewer state that Pumuckl was created in 1963–this is an error, as it is well known that Pumuck was created in 1961 and the first radio play aired in early ’62]:


what also happens in ’61? was passiert im ’61 auch?

Do you believe in leprechauns? Have you ever seen elves or goblins with your own eyes? Perhaps one is looking over your shoulder at the printed page this very moment. Turn quickly! If you’re fortunate you may catch a glimpse of him before he scampers from view!

–Jerry Siegel, SUPERMAN N0. 22 (May-June ’43)

Faithful readers of My Favourite Funnies may remember I mentioned Bat-Mite in issue No.3: THE FINAL DAYS OF THE GOTHAM GANGBUSTERS. Bat-Mite was a loyal member of the 1963 Batman family and it’s assumed that this imp was modelled after Superman’s Mr. Mxyzptlk. And I’m not saying he wasn’t. But it’s hard to understand why Bat-Mite came along when he did. Mxy had been around since SUPERMAN No. 30 (September ’44)–sale date July 5th ’44–long before Bat-Mite appeared on the scene.

I say that Mxy was introduced in 1944, but really the idea for such a character pops up in Meet the Squiffles. The Squiffles are like smurfs but green, led by Ixnayalpay (if I know my Latin, that’s pig for nix pal). Ixnayalpay and his Squiffles are on the side of the enemy–Herr Schnikelgruber, aka Hitler, and his lot. Against them are the orange Gremlins. This all happened in SUPERMAN No. 22 (May-June ’43)–sale date March 3rd ’43. [I think this story is a good argument for why Superman really couldn’t fight overseas in WW II.]

 Art by Sergio Aragones. AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS 13 (October '76)

A Congress of Familiars in AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS 13 (October ’76). Art by Sergio Aragones.

It’s hard to account for DC’s sudden love of impish creatures in the early ’60s. Could it be that they’re trying to trade on the success of Harvey’s magical characters–Casper, Hot Stuff and the like–as well as the success of other kid humour features? Maybe they see the benefit in pulling in younger readers for their bottom line.

And Bat-Mite comes along 15 years later, in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 287 (May ’59) on sale March 31st ’59. Furthermore, Mr. Mxyztplk had made his last bow in  SUPERMAN 105 (May ’56) on sale March 15th ’56–and then went on a three year hiatus. When Mxyzptlk returns, it’s in SUPERMAN No. 131 (August ’59)–sale date June 18th ’59. AFTER the introduction of Bat-Mite! It might be argued that the success of Bat-Mite inspired the revival of Mxy. Before there was Bat-Mite there was Xeen Arrow, a weird Green Arrow ally [in Prisoners of Dimension Zero] from ADVENTURE COMICS 253 (October ’58)–sale date August 28th ’58–but that’s his only appearance. Other imps, sprites and such begin to appear in the early ’60s:

  • Mxy’s sometime girl friend, always trying to trap him in marriage, is Miss Gzptlsnz who first pops into SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN No. 52 (April ’61)–sale date February 16th ’61.
  • Wonder Woman didn’t exactly have an imp–she was a bit of an imp herself when she was Wonder Tot–and Wonder Tot has Mr. Genie who makes his debut in WONDER WOMAN No. 126 (November ’61)–sale date September 12th ’61.
  • Next comes the water sprite Quisp in AQUAMAN No. 1 (January-February ’62)–sale date November 23rd ’61.
  • And then Martian Manhunter’s little alien buddy, Zook, in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 311 (January ’63)–sale date November 29th ’62.
  • Jerry Lewis meets the genie Mr. Yes, in THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS No. 79 (November-December ’63)–sale date September 26th ’63.
  • Star Hawkins even gets into the act, with The Case of the Interplanetary Imps in STRANGE ADVENTURES No. 134 (November ’61)–sale date September 26th ’61. [There’s also the Flash’s Mopee, but he doesn’t show up until 1967.]


where is the pumuckl? wo ist der pumuckl?

There is a German site, with an episode guide, for the TV series . . .

. . .  but there is very little on the internet in English for MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL. A great resource page (I use it a lot) is . . . DIE PUMUCKLHOMEPAGE

. . . but unfortunately only the introductory page is in English at this time, the rest is in German.

On that page it says that Pumuckl has been broadcast in other countries in other languages.

I’ve been able to find episode 1. Spook in the Workshop/Spuk in der Werkstatt on youtube with English subtitles . . .

. . . but so far this is the only one. And I have found some youtube episodes dubbed in Spanish–so it has been done--but it doesn’t feel right!

I hasten to add, that even without knowing the language, simple pleasures of a Pumuckl episode are easily available and immediately understood by the casual viewer. There are plenty of sight gags to look for.  And the Bavarian settings are delightful to watch.

Many thanks/vieler Dank to all those around the world who have visited, MEISTER EDER FOREVER!

[revised 2015]



Some R ‘n’ R in Eden


with Rulah the Jungle Goddess


my favourite finds

DIE BIENE MAJA UND IHRE ABENTEUR; book jacket art: Elly Miltner

DIE BIENE MAJA UND IHRE ABENTEUR; book jacket art: Elly Miltner.

DIE BIENE MAJA UND IHRE ABENTEUR; [The Adventures of Maya the Bee] (1925 Berlin Kulturfilm; released on the 8th of April 1926)–a silent movie based on the book of the same name by Waldemar Bonsels (written in Munich, 1912).

Promo clip from Seeber Film (Austria) for the restoration of DIE BIENE MAJA UND IHRE ABENTEUR:

Unlike the later animated adaptations of Maya the Bee, the 1925 silent film, made with the assistance of the author himself, featured live bees and other insects and animals to illustrate Waldemar Bonsels’ story. Which is closer to the original concept of Maya and her natural world–where every day is a life and death struggle for the little bee and those she meets along the way.

Product description from the Seeber Film website:

The Adventures of Maya
(silent feature film, Germany 1925)

(Die Biene Maja und ihre Abenteuer)

This is the bee’s knees – this is the smallest epic of the motion picture history which will leave you buzzing with excitement! Now for the first time on DVD.

The most famous bee of the world celebrates its centenary in 2012. In 1924 the Berlin Kulturfilm company decided to adapt the famous children’s book by Waldemar Bonsels into a feature film – starring live insects! The film took two years in the making, with 164.000 ft of raw footage shot of which only 7.400 ft made it into the final film. But the film was worth the effort: for the first time, a feature film story is told only by insects, depicting the microcosm of bee hives and their environs in every detail, and narrated with good humour. The film has its poetic and its dramatic moments (the dung beetle Kurt rescues Maya from the cobweb of the evil garden spider Thekla) and a stunning battle scene (hornets vs. bees) with a cast of thousands.

The stunning soundtrack by Florian C. Reithner makes it all the more impressive.

Main feature: 74 min.
full screen, colour (tinted)


Other adaptations of DIE BIENE MAJA:

§ 1963: Croatian composer Bruno Bjelinski writes an opera for Maya.

§ 1975: THE ADVENTURES OF MAYA THE HONEY BEE (みつばちマーヤの冒険 Mitsubachi Māya no Bōken) is a Japanese anime TV series from Zuiyo Enterprises (now Nippon Animation).  52 episodes originally were broadcast in Japan from April ’75 to April ’76 on the TV Asahi network (formerly NET). The series was subsequently distributed all over the world, dubbed in many languages.  It especially became popular in Germany and Austria, where the theme song, sung by Czech schalger singer Karel Gott, became a huge pop hit. This and subsequent animated projects have a very different feeling from the naturalistic book by Waldemar Bonsels, as well as the silent film–the animated characters are much more anthropomorphized and Maya’s story is open-ended rather than coming to a resolution.

§ 1976: The cartoon version of DIE BIENE MAJA was adapted as a long running German comic book from the publisher Bastei Verlag–with subsequent runs in 1985 and 1991. As well there have been many children’s books and magazines featuring Die Biene Maja from the cartoon series.basteimaja


§ 1979: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MAYA THE HONEY BEE (Shin Mitsubachi Māya no Bōken (新みつばちマーヤの冒険The New Adventures of Maya the Honey Bee) is  a co-production between Wako Productions and Austrian/German Apollo Film. First broadcast by ZDF, in Germany, from September ’79 to September ’80, this second series lasted for another 52 episodes but was not very popular and did not appear in Japan until 12 October ’82, on TV Osaka, airing until 27 September ’83. Ten episodes from this second series added to 45 from the previous–for a total of 55–aired in the United States on Nickelodeon.

§ 2008: With children in the main roles, the Bruno Bjelinski opera was performed at the 2008 Carinthian Summer Festival in Villach, Austria.

§ 2012: On the 100th anniversary of the book, a new 3D CGI animated MAYA THE BEE, consisting of 78 thirteen minute episodes from ZDF and Sudio 100 Animation first began airing in France on 5 September 2012.

§ 2014: A 3D CGI cartoon movie of MAYA THE BEE, similar in nature to the 2012 TV series, was first released in many countries in September of 2014. The movie comes out in the United States on 8 March 2015. Production partners are: Screen Australia, Buzz Studios, Studio 100 Media, Screen NSW, ZDF,Fish Blowing Bubbles and M.A.R.K.13.




DIE BIENE MAJA UND IHRE ABENTEUR; book illustration: Franziska Zörner-Bertina.


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