German Club Nintendo Comics
Although this website predominantly focuses on the UK issues of Club Nintendo, the comics that were published in the German version are just too good to ignore. Possibly one of the most famous - or infamous, depending on your point of view - aspects of the magazine, these comics often featured Mario and other Nintendo characters in various wacky adventures. In fact, some of these stories are so surreal that you may have already heard about a few of them from any number of 'strangest video game comics' lists.
Here is a quick rundown of the three 'eras' of comics...
Mario & Friends (1991-1998)
The first - and most well-known - era of comics. The majority of these featured characters from the Mario series, although later comics would centre on other games such as Donkey Kong Country or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. They were particularly notable for their sense of humour as well as frequently including cameos of third-party characters such as Dr. Light from the Mega Man series and the titular heroes of The Lost Vikings.
Special Editions (1995-1998)
These stories were released in their own special issues alongside the main magazine. The special editions were each based solely on one game or franchise, usually designed to promote whatever big game was coming out at the time. They either followed a loose retelling of their respective game's plot, with hints and tips given to the reader throughout the story, or they were entirely new stories based in that game's world.
Later in Club Nintendo's life, the 'Nintendo character' stories were dropped and replaced with N-Gang. These comics were set in the real world, and focused on the adventures of a group of teenagers who were all Nintendo fans (as well as an armadillo who would think to itself in Spanish). The art style was changed to a more typical 'Western' comic book style, rather than the previous comics' manga-based origins, and the Nintendo characters were mainly reduced to cameo appearances. As such, N-Gang is generally the least-regarded - and least-remembered - of these comics.
Thanks to the Internet, these comics have since been accessed by a wider audience, and gained something of a notoriety among Nintendo fans for their humour and artwork, which goes beyond what Nintendo would typically allow for their characters. Pop culture references were occasionally used within the dialogue, while some of the art featured characters smoking, reading adult magazines, and even fighting horror movie monsters!
'The Night of Horror' and 'Kirby's Biggest Case' are among the most famous for their 'un-Nintendo-like' scenes.
Since then, some fans have gone out of their way to translate many of these comics into other languages, so even more fans can enjoy them. Even if you can't read German, sometimes it's fun to find some of the original pages and try to work out the story from the pictures!
Where to find the comics and their translations
If you're after the physical comics, you'll have to go hunting on reseller sites such as Ebay or at any markets where you could find such items. Just be sure you know which issues you need, beforehand. However, if you're looking for a translated version, or if you'd rather just have a downloaded file of the originals, then there are plenty of places you can look for them.
Of course, if you can speak the language, German fansites are your best bet for finding the original versions of the comics. For the translated versions, there are fans and groups dedicated to translating any foreign media they find interesting. If you're only looking for a particular story, then you can also check specific game fansites. Some of these sites may also have the German originals available as a bonus.
Here is a brief list of the sites I know of for English-translated versions...
(Note: Club Nintendo Archives is not responsible for the content of these websites nor the comics and their translations. Reader discretion is advised.)
General Translation Sites
Optical Internet Translation Gang (aka Opentrain) - As of writing, this site offers English translations of the comics printed in the magazine from 1991 to 1997, as well as most of the original German comics.
Miloscat ('Club Nintendo' search tags) - Miloscat's blog features English translations of various Club Nintendo comics from the magazine, plus some of the special editions as well. He has also put together a spreadsheet database listing all the comics, plus links to where they can be found.
Kirby's Biggest Case - One of the more famous comics, both the English translation and original German version are available at Kirby's Rainbow Resort. However, one of the pages is unfinished due the original file being corrupted; Miloscat has provided a spare translated page to complete the story.
Banjo-Kazooie - An English translation of the comics from the Banjo-Kazooie special edition provided by Oakieland and Siggi Windklotz. Oakieland has also uploaded the original German version as well as the original version of the Banjo-themed N-Gang story 'The Witch Laughs at Midnight'.
Because Club Nintendo Archives is an English language site, naturally the above links all lead to English translations of the comics. However, I am not opposed to linking to other translations if visitors wish me to. If you know of any places translating these comics into other languages, or if you know of any other available English language translations, you can contact me at chezfirehawkAThotmailDOTco.uk.
The comic panel images on this page were obtained from various sources, including some of the sites linked above. Many thanks to everyone who has scanned, shared, and translated these comics.