The Katzenjammer Kids is an American comic strip created by Rudolph Dirks in 1897 and later drawn by Harold Knerr for 35 years (1914 to 1949). It debuted on December 12, 1897 in the American Humorist, the Sunday supplement of William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Dirks was the first cartoonist to regularly express comic characters' dialogue by using speech balloons. The comic strip was adapted into a stage play in 1903. It inspired several animated cartoons and was one of the 20 strips included in the Comic Strip Classics series of U.S. commemorative postage stamps.
After a series of legal battles between 1912 and 1914, Dirks left the Hearst organization and began a new comic strip, first titled Hans and Fritz and then The Captain and the Kids. It featured the same characters as seen in The Katzenjammer Kids, which was continued by Knerr. The two separate versions of the strip competed with each other until 1979, when The Captain and the Kids ended its six-decade run. The Katzenjammer Kids published its last strip on January 1, 2006, but is still distributed in reprints by King Features Syndicate, making it the oldest comic strip still in syndication and the longest-running ever.
History with the Macy's Parade
Due to the extreme popularity of the comics in the late 1920s, Macy's made the decision to add the Katzenjammer Kids and their family to the parade balloon lineup, making them the first licensed character balloons to appear in the Parade's history (despite multiple claims that Felix the Cat was the first). The balloon group included Hans, Fritz, Mrs. Katzenjammer, the Captain, and the Herr-Inspektor. The balloons returned for 1930, but were retired after that. None of the characters are expected to return to the parade, due to them fading from the mainstream papers.