Allie MacAlister was waiting at a cross walk light in former East Berlin. The young Canadian illustrator was on a trip through Germany together with her boyfriend. It was the first time she travelled across the ocean to Europe. Looking around, she discovered a little man displayed on the pedestrian light – Ampelmann. That’s cute, she thought. That would be a fun comic!

Two years later, in 2017, Allie was sitting at her desk sketching a comic about her Germany trip. She posted it on Twitter, and caught the attention of the culture and communication team of the German Embassy in Ottawa. When they met up, Allie talked about her trip to Germany and how a “tiny man with a hat” inspired a travelogue she hopes to turn into a book.

German Embassy: Why do you draw?

Allie: I’ve always loved drawing. I started doing comics in my early high school years, when I was 15, 16 years old. I would draw pictures and leave them in my friends’ lockers. A lot of them were about things my friends and I were doing, inside jokes, things we would talk about while hanging out together. And I realized that I can express myself well through art and I enjoyed it.

Tell us about your trip to Germany.

In September 2015, my boyfriend and I went to Germany for three weeks. Germany had always been on the top of his list. He had travel books when I met him. I first wanted to go to Scotland, where my ancestors are from. But then we decided to go to Germany.

We are both planners. When we were doing research, I was starting to get excited. We made plans to have a final stop in Munich for Oktoberfest, before that we intended to see Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, the Black Forest and then finally follow the Romantic Road to Munich.

A comic by Allie about how she and her boyfriend learned German. Quote. "Given the length of the trip and rural stops along the way, we wanted to learn some German. We did our best to focus on important phrases for travellers. As one does. Das ist ein Apfel. What's your favorite word so far? Asks Allie her boyfriend. Entschuldigung. It means excuse me. Ha! mine too, says Allie. And we'll get to use it all the time! Says her boyfriend. Polite Canadians...."

What was one of your favorite memories?

We stayed at a little farm house. The B&B owner’s wife didn’t speak a word of English. She was so cute though; she came up to me speaking excitedly in German and showing me Canadian things that people brought as souvenirs. Photos with Canadians wearing Canadian clothing, flags, tea towels, and a little Canadian beaver with a Mountie costume, the most stereotypical little figurine. It was sitting on her little display in the kitchen. It was my favorite accommodation throughout the trip, staying with this lovely older German couple.

What inspired you to document your trip in a comic travelogue?

I started to be a full-time illustrator in 2013. Before that I was a part-time artist. I looked more at other independent creators and I followed what they were doing online. That’s where I learned more about graphical comics, travelogue comics – which inspired what I am doing now with comic work.

I hadn’t done comics for a long time, for years. I always missed it. When I realized that I wasn’t working on any project for myself, I decided to do the travelogue about Germany.

How many parts will you include in your travelogue?

I had more than 100 prompts on the back burner, untouched ideas since I came back from Germany. I hope to turn it into a book at the end.

Follow Allie’s trip across Germany one comic at a time, by clicking on this link. 


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