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Jamiri has published nine comic collections since 1990. He has published one- and two-page comics in German magazines since 1992. Today, he has more than one million readers monthly.
Jan-Michael Richter attended the Waldorf school in Bochum from 1972 until 1985. In 1985 he attended the Ruhr-University of Bochum where he began studying comparative literature and philosophy. He then switched in 1986 to a design major at the comprehensive university in Essen.
Jan-Michael Richter has lived in Essen since 1986. He married Beate Kleinschmidt in 2000. She often appears as a character in his comics. He is also the cousin of the international soccer player Mehmet Scholl.
Jan-Michael Richter has drawn comics since childhood. In 1990 he began to draw professionally. In 1992, he became a regular comic artist for the Ruhr city magazine, Marabo. He has since published comics in other magazines. Through his strong association with the large German university magazine, Unicum, he has accompanied four generations of students through their studies; the German student populace is well-acquainted with him. In 2003, Jamiri became a regular artist for the Spiegel Online, one of the largest and most acclaimed online magazines in Germany. Altogether, it is estimated that Jamiri has over a million monthly readers.
Jamiri also publishes comic collections in a classical format (DIN A4 with 48 pages). Since 1994 he has published eight such collections. Although these collections are only available in German currently, translations are underway.
Jamiri's comics often deal with his alter ego. The settings are usually local, real places in Germany, and are populated by people in his life, first and foremost his wife, Beate. Many of the depicted incidents are borrowed from actual experiences. The realistic depictions of places and people sometimes draw speculation from fans that the characters are exactly as portrayed. His comic reality is flexible, however. As with many authors, the circumstances are edited creatively, and are sometimes pure imagination.
The authenticity of the people and lifestyles allows many Germans to identify with the comics. Those printed in Unicum have been gathered by many generations of students and hung in dormitories because they mirror daily life. The struggles with dominant girlfriend Beate, with unruly computers and broken-down cars, with shrinking wallets and increasing age, and with other perils of daily life, unite Jamiri and his readers as comrades of fate.
In these struggles, the comic figure Jamiri is clearly positioned as an antihero who regularly endures defeat. However, he puts these defeats into perspective, indeed, nearly celebrates them, with abundant sarcasm and self-irony, and despite everything, has the last word. The steadfastness of the protagonist who will not be kept down by a cruel world could explain the enduring popularity of Jamiri and the loyalty of fans who identify strongly with the underdog.
Jamiri touches on a wide range of personal topics in his comics. Casual commentary about societal issues is often tucked away within the narrative. Even so, he polarizes his readership with pointed observations and punch lines. Jamiri is just as relentless with the world as he is with his protagonists and alter-ego.
Throughout his career, the artist has encountered many irate reader protests. Two themes in particular trigger the ire of letter writers: the portrayal of God, who, as a merry white-haired man with a bushy beard, often plays a part in the daily life of Jamiri comic characters, and the subject of men and women and relationships and sex, in which the usual clichés are highlighted with blithe exaggeration.
Jamiri fans regularly jump to his defense against critical letters or commentary in internet forums, and make a case for the freedom of expression. More than once, these forum wars have hinged on the definition of satire. Jamiri's fans appreciate exactly what some find offensive: the contemplative but irreverent handling of sensitive topics. They find the nonchalance and flouting of convention liberating. In this light, Jamiri's comics cut across generational lines, particularly among students from year to year.
The delight of the artist in provoking such controversy is apparent in his responses to criticism. On multiple occasions, Jamiri has followed disputed comics with sequels, sometimes several. One of the most notorious is the comic "Oeyn", in which the character Jamiri is told to stop the car because his passenger, God, needs to urinate. In the sequel "Oeyn 2," when Jamiri discusses the letters he has received from readers, God once again asks him to pull over. In "Oeyn returns," God taunts Jamiri that he would not receive any more angry letters if he did not make any more comics about Him. They debate who is the actual Creator of the Page, until the artist proves his dominance by turning God into a duck.
Similarly, the appearance of a bosom in one of Jamiri's comic caused an outcry. Against the protest that the breasts were too well-lit, Jamiri drew "+Lux" [+Light], a more shining example of the same, and wrote "THAT'S well-lit." He replied to the resulting "record-breaking" number of letters--in which he was called, among other things, a "breast fetishist" -- with the comic "Sequel." After an apparent apology ("a horrible misunderstanding"), a female backside projects jauntily into the picture.
In one notable instance, the artist abandoned his levity for a more grave response. During the period of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, in which the cartoonists of Islamic fanatics were threatened with death, Jamiri published the text "Freischwimmer" instead of a comic in the March 2006 edition of Unicum. After the initial remark that for him, humor had been temporarily extinguished, he addressed the current events in detail. Within the text, he supported humanism and a single, universal rationality that would finally render all religions obsolete. He cited the Islamic thinker Averroes, that philosophy in comparison to religion is a higher and purer truth, and religion in principle is simply a way of dressing up philosophical awareness.
Through his capacity as regular artist for Unicum and the Spiegel Online, and through his antics with middle-class bourgeois content and intellectual inconsistencies, Jamiri functions as a comic artist of German intellectualism and an academic. Here too, he presents himself as an architect of self-conscious discrepancies, in that he regularly links intellectual flights of fancy and banal daily activities, or sets them up in stark relief. His language-critical commentary is likewise well-known, in which he nitpicks at the misuse and gradual disappearance of the German genitive or distinguishes between "subtle" and "subliminal" in exaggerated fashion. Philosophy and psychology are also regular topics. Since the beginning of his stint as a regular artist for the memoranda of the German mathematics community, mathematics has also become a ripe topic. In the German "Großes Kino," Jamiri will make his film debut with the shorts "Das schweigende Lemma" and "Last Axiom Hero."
030, Airbrush Art+Action, Berliner Zeitung, Coolibri, Designers Digest, Digital Arts, Hamburger Morgenpost, Häuptling Eigener Herd, Info 3, Magic Attack, Neue Ruhr Zeitung, Petra, Prinz, Ran, TAZ, WDR Online, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Wieselflink