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Suske en Wiske (Spike and Suzy)

 
 
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Publication information
Publisher De Nieuwe Standaard
Tintin
Publication date 1946–
Number of issues 234
Main character(s) Spike
Suzy
Aunt Sidonia
Ambrose
Jerome
Creative team
Writer(s) Willy Vandersteen
Paul Geerts
Artist(s) Willy Vandersteen
Paul Geerts
Creator(s) Willy Vandersteen

Spike and Suzy, the British title for Suske en Wiske in Dutch, is a comics series created by the Belgian comics author Willy Vandersteen. The strip is known as Bob et Bobette in French and Willy and Wanda in the U.S. It was first published in De Nieuwe Standaard in 1945 and soon became popular. Although not in its earlier form, the strip adapted to the Ligne claire style pioneered by Hergé, a change taking place when the strip became serialised in Hergé’s comics magazine Tintin from 1948 to 1959.

The books revolve around the adventures of the eponymous Spike and Suzy, two children (pre-adolescent or adolescent depending on the album), along with their friends and family. The stories combine elements of comedy, fantasy and science fiction, such as talking animals, time travel and ghosts. The strip still runs daily in De Standaard, and new books continue to be published: as of 2008, 300 books have been published. While they remain popular among readers from the Netherlands, their popularity in Belgium has plummeted since the mid 1990s.[1]

Contents

Main characters

The main characters are a group of friends. In the first regular comic, Suzy and her Aunt Sidonia meet the orphan Spike and unrelated Professor Barabas. In the next comic, they also meet Ambrose. Later, in De dolle musketiers (book #18, 1953), Jerom (called Jethro in the UK version), the self-proclaimed “strongest man in the western hemisphere”, was introduced.[2] Apart from Suzy and Aunt Sidonia, none of them are related, and other family is only introduced occasionally to drive a particular story.

  • Spike: originally Suske (Flemish diminutive of Francis), also known as Willy or Bob, is a young orphan who becomes friends with Suzy and Aunt Sidonia. This happens only in the second album, Het Eiland Amoras from 1946, which would become the first in the regular series. For the first album, the publisher had pushed Vandersteen to go with the name and character “Rikki”, but the author soon worked around this and found a way to introduce “Suske”, in part because he thought Rikki resembled Tintin too much.
Spike has black hair with a small trademark spike. He started out as a hyperactive and headlong fighter, not unlike many a young male adolescent in the “Seefhoek”, the Antwerp neighborhood where Vandersteen grew up. Only in the first album, Spike would get totally out of control when he heard the battle cry “Seefhoek vooruit!” (“Seefhoek Forward!”), replaced by “Antigoon vooruit” in later reprints. But as soon as his outfit evolved from mere duds towards a more tidy red polo shirt and black trousers, he became a well-behaved and obedient boy. He is smart, brave, idealistic and has few downsides, and as such ends up being less easy to identify with than the more human Suzy. In many ways, he is her opposite. Where she gets emotional, Spike remains rational. Where she gets in trouble with Sidonia or Ambrose, he acts as go-between to restore peace.

Louisa Ghijs was Vandersteen’s inspiration for the name Wiske.[3]

  • Suzy: originally Wiske (Flemish diminutive of Louise), also known as Wanda or Bobette, is the young heroine, and a more interesting character than Spike. She first appeared in the very first out-of-series prequel Rikki en Wiske in Chocowakije from 1945, where she has an older brother Rikki, but he disappears after that story to be replaced by Spike.
Suzy lives together with him and her aunt Sidonia, and is typically (certainly in the older stories) dressed in a white skirt with a red stripe, and a red ribbon in her fair hair. In the first stories, she looks like a preschooler of about 6 years old, but soon afterwards she evolves into a young teenager of about 12-13. Vandersteen seems to have modelled her after his oldest daughter Leen, of similar age at the time.[4]
She is strong-headed, impulsive, curious and slightly foolish. Aspects of her character that come naturally with a young teenager who enters puberty, and a great plot device since her repeated stubbornness and inobedience is the source of many an adventure. Since her emotions and human shortcomings often overpower her rationality, she is sensitive to paranormal and mystical happenings that are routinely dismissed by the others. Her relationship with Spike (both are considered orphans) is mostly one between siblings, although at times it looks like there are more feelings under the surface, as she can get quite jealous and querulous when Spike gets female attention. Suzy is also a brave girl, especially when it comes to defending her doll Muffin, for whom she shows unconditional motherly love. Despite her difficult character at times, she appears contrite and righteous. She carries her heart in the right place and won’t hesitate to battle injustice.
Suzy ends most of the albums by winking to the reader from within the very last panel.
  • Muffin, originally Schalulleke, later renamed to Schanulleke (sometimes Schabolleke), also known as Molly or Sawdust, is Suzy’s doll. A small human (probably female) figure, she is inanimate. She has a major role in a few stories when she gets stolen (album 6, “Prinses Zagemeel”), brought to life, or is turned into a mindless giant. The original name Schalulleke, a Flemish dialect word for a scallion, was not acceptable in the Netherlands since lul is a Dutch slang word for penis.
  • Aunt Sidonia, originally called tante Sidonie, later renamed to tante Sidonia, and also once known as Agatha, appears as Suzy’s aunt, right from the first album. Sidonia was Vandersteen’s way of providing a caring authority figure for Spike and Suzy without introducing actual parents, who would constrain their adventurous tendencies too much.
Sidonia is portrayed as a (1950’s) housewife (cooking and cleaning, doing the dishes, complaining when Spike and Suzy don’t show proper respect for her household work), and would nowadays even be called a bit of an anachronism. Nevertheless she also often joins the heroes on their adventures, and occasionally shows unexpected qualities as pilot of the Gyronef.
Long and extremely thin with gigantic feet (routinely referred to as “ferries”), with a large protruding chin and fair hair, she’s hardly blessed with physical beauty. As such, her looks are often the target of offensive remarks, in particular by a less than subtle Ambrose. On the other hand, her thinness enables her to pull off tricks like hiding herself in a split second from the bad guys behind nearby streetlights and telephone poles.
Sidonia is also known for her hysterical nervous breakdowns, where she can often no longer utter words while her body ends up as stiff as a wooden plank, and for her (unanswered and unreachable) crush on Ambrose.
  • Professor Barabas, is a long-time friend of Suzy and Aunt Sidonia, first met in Het Eiland Amoras (An Island called Hoboken). He starts off as a jungle explorer with topee, but later becomes the archetypical comics professor: glasses, a white laboratory coat, often absent-minded because he is thinking deeply about some scientific question. Although he is not a mad scientist, and entirely benevolent, his inventions regularly cause trouble when they end up in the wrong hands. Which happens more than once because of his lack of streetwiseness in dealing with criminals. His main inventions are the Teletime machine (which enables them to travel through time and space), the Gyronef (a helicopter well ahead of its time), the Terranef (a subterranean vehicle), and the Klankentapper, which enables you to talk with plants and inanimate objects. Contrary to most other main characters, he does not appear in all comics.
  • Ambrose, originally called Lambik and once known as Orville, is a bald man (apart from six hairs, three on either side) of about fifty. The original Flemish name was inspired by a local Belgian beer (lambic) that is brewed in Pajottenland, where Vandersteen lived for a short time. He is first encountered in album 3, The Zincshrinker, as a rather stupid plumber, although Vandersteen already created the standalone personage the year before (1945) as “Pukkel” (“pimple” in English).
In the beginning, Ambrose was presented as a typical working class member of the time: rough and rather simple and uneducated. Prone to alcoholism and other scourges, he also had a somewhat tragic side. This largely came to an end when Vandersteen started to work for Hergé, who didn’t like the folksy component. In particular in the period of The Blue Series, Ambrose suddenly becomes sophisticated, bright and brave, even aristocratic (for example he teaches fencing) and is arguably truly the main character of the story in those albums. Later, the personage gets its definitive outfit (black trousers, white starched shirt and a black bow tie) and settles as a middle class part-time father figure for Spike and Suzy, who lives together with Jethro.
Ambrose is intended as the comic relief of the series. His baldness and pronounced nose inspire ridicule throughout the whole series. Another returning joke is how he brings up his World War 1 military gear (sandbags, barbed wire, helmet, rifle…) when a situation becomes critical. Generally presumptuous, vain and impulsive, he confronts the reader with his own shortcomings. Typically, he considers himself the main hero, and in particular the “brains”, since he can’t possibly overtrump Jethro when it comes to physical power (and as it frequently turns out, not in the intellectual department either!). His friends then usually play along, just to keep him happy. The relationship between Suzy and Ambrose, one even more stubborn than the other, makes for a great generation conflict that spices up many stories. In the end, Ambrose does have a noble nature, as illustrated by the many occasions that he sacrifices himself for the greater good. But it helps a great deal when he is first assured of recognition…
  • Jethro, originally known as Jerom or Jerommeke and also known as Wilbur, is an extremely strong man, brought from prehistory to the Middle Ages by an alchemist in album 18, The merry musketeers, as a mindless weapon.
Although he is introduced into the series as an opponent, he quickly turns around as he falls in love with Muffin and becomes a caring man instead of a wild beast. Initially he is dressed in a loincloth only (with an occasional cravat added in an amusing attempt to appear more civilized) and speaks in grunts and monosyllables. His prehistoric background causes him to observe the modern world and customs with the naivete (and often unimpeded insight) of a child. But soon afterwards he becomes a smart, sophisticated man, although he still speaks in a peculiar shorthand. He lives together with Ambrose, and his level-headedness is used to contrast with the latter’s foolishness.
Apart from superhuman strength (used for exploits like squeezing water from rocks in the desert), his special powers include “flashlight eyes” and X-ray vision (at any other time his eyelids remain closed), running faster than sound and stopping bullets with his muscular chest. As such, his character is often used as a deus ex machina solution for the troubles his friends and especially Ambrose get in. But when the scenarists are inspired, he is equally often drugged or away on a trip as to avoid the easy solution for the story.

Other recurring characters

  • Krimson. A principal bad guy, Krimson was introduced in Het rijmende paard (#48, 1963). He survives a plane-crash and starts over as a petty criminal in De sissende sampan before serving a prison-sentence. In Amoris van Amoras (#200, 1984) Krimson seems to have changed his ways by becoming a project-developer on Hoboken (who even thanks Ambrose for saving his life). This appears to be a passing interest as De Kwaaie Kwieten (#209, 1987) marks his return to form by constructing a top-secret military base capable of fighting extraterrestrials. Growing stronger again, Krimson manages to overthrow the Belgian government (De Krimson Crisis, #215, 1988). For reasons unknown he often suffers from mental breakdowns, throwing fits until his butler force feeds him a large quantity of pills. Despite his name there is no connection between him and the colour crimson, other than that both often have sinister connotations.
  • Arthur is Ambrose’s younger brother who grew up in the jungle and gained the ability to fly from the juice of a plant. He is more primitive than his brother, but substantially smarter. He dresses in animal skins and wears a beard, though it is unknown if he, unlike Ambrose, has much hair on his head as he always sports a bowler hat. He spends more time in the air and in trees than on the ground, and therefore has acquired some bird characteristics, such as standing on his hands instead of his feet and chirping while speaking. His favorite food is birdseed. He has appeared in 5 albums so far.
  • Sus Antigoon is an ancestor of Spike and discover of Amoras Island. He died of alcohol abuse and therefore always appears as a ghost with a bottle chained to his leg. Because of his drunkenness, Sus Antigoon often brings the protagonists in danger. He has appeared in 12 albums so far.

Character evolution

Over the course of the series, characters are added and changed, and stories become more didactic. Ambrose and Jethro change significantly: in the beginning, Ambrose was just an amusing fool, in the Blue Series he appears more sophisticated and heroic, evolving towards a cynical and sceptical man in the current stories. In early stories, Jethro was initially portrayed as an ignorant strong man, who evolved into a sophisticated and quiet man in later works. In most stories Muffin is only a doll, but one very special to Suzy, and they are inseparable. In some stories Muffin comes to life and plays an important role.

Settings

In the earliest stories, Willy Vandersteen used fictional countries like “Chokowakije” (“Chocolaslovakia”) and “Amoras” (a tropical island, “Hoboken” in the English language version). He dropped the use of those after a few stories, although some later stories revisit Amoras.

Most of the current adventures of Spike and Suzy happen in real countries all over the world, with Belgium (their home country) and the Netherlands as main focus for many stories.

While in the early stories large distances were usually traveled using the fictitious Gyronef, an experimental helicopter devised by professor Barabas, starting from the 1960s all air travel is provided by the non-fictional Dutch national airline KLM, making it an early and prominent example of product placement in European comics. Vandersteen chose KLM over the former Belgian national airline SABENA because of his friendship with Ron Winderink, PR manager at KLM.[5]

Publication history

Willy Vandersteen created Suske en Wiske, beginning publication in De Nieuwe Standaard on March 30, 1945. To Vandersteen’s disappointment the editor had renamed the strip’s first chapter Rikki en Wiske.[6] The following story was titled De avonturen van Suske en Wiske – Op het eiland Amoras and no longer featured Rikki.[7] Ater a few years of publication in several newspapers, Vandersteen was approached by Hergé, intent to improve sales of the Dutch language Kuifje, who wanted Suske and Wiske for his publications rebuilt in the Ligne claire style.[8] Vandersteen made the adaptation and Suske en Wiske first appeared in Kuifje and Belgian Tintin on September 16, 1948 with the story titled Het Spaanse spook and Le Fantôme Espagnol in the two languages.[7][9] In all 8 stories ran until it ended in April 1959, making up the material collected in The Blue Series.

Vandersteen established Studio Vandersteen in 1952 to manage his expanded activities.[6] To have time for other series such as De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) and Tijl Uilenspiegel, he gave Paul Geerts the job of creating new albums of Suske en Wiske in 1968. Geerts did this until 2001, when he gave this task to Marc Verhaegen. From 2005 on, a team of writers and cartoonists makes the new series, led by Luc Morjeau. These authors are helped by Studio Vandersteen.

Publications

Newspapers and magazines

The Red Series and The Blue Series

The books are generally divided into two groups – The Red Series, and The Blue series. The Red Series contains the vast majority of the books, and is so called because all of the books in this series have a red coloured cover. There are only a few books in the blue series, and they are so called because of their blue cover. The blue series encompasses all those originally published in Tintin and Kuifje. The Red series is everything published before or after. The following album series exist:

  1. The Flemish non-coloured series (1946–1959): 1-35
  2. The Dutch non-coloured series(1953–1959): 1-23
  3. The Flemish two-coloured series (1959–1964): 7,19,20,32-50
  4. The Dutch two-coloured series (1959–1964): 1,8,10,11,21-50
  5. The uniform Flemish-Dutch (two-coloured)series (1964–1966): 51-66
  6. The (uniform) four-coloured series (1967-…): 67-… ; the first 66 albums and the blue series have been re-edited in this series.

Special editions

  1. The collector’s editions (1958-…)
  2. Advertisement editions (1965-…)
  3. Various collections (1972-…)
  4. Holiday editions (1973-…)
  5. Luxury editions (1977-…)
  6. Suske en Wiske Classics (1993–1999)

Albums in English

English translations have been published in three incarnations. The first was in the U.S., under the name of Willy and Wanda. It was then published in the U.K. in the 1990s named Bob and Bobette, a copy of the French title. The final print run was in the U.K. by the title Spike and Suzy.

Other languages

The series is known in the following languages as:

  • Afrikaans: Neelsie en Miemsie
  • Brabantian: Suske en Wieske
  • Chinese (Taiwanese version): 達達和貝貝歷險記 (Dada & Beibei)
  • Chinese (mainland version): 波布和波贝特 (Bobu & Bobete: 1996) or 苏苏和维维历险记 (Susu & WeiWei: from 2011)
  • Danish: Finn & Fiffi (later: Bob & Bobette)
  • Esperanto: Cisko kaj Vinjo
  • Finnish: Anu ja Antti
  • French: Bob & Bobette
  • German: Ulla und Peter (later: Bob und Babette/Suske und Wiske/Frida und Freddie)
  • Greek: Bobi & Lou
  • Indonesian: Bobby dan Wanda
  • Icelandic: Siggi og Vigga
  • Italian: Bob e Bobette
  • Japanese: ススカとウィスカ (Susuka & Wisuka)
  • Latin: Lucius et Lucia
  • Norwegian: Finn & Fiffi
  • Portuguese: Bibi & Baba
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Zé & Maria
  • Spanish: Bob y Bobette, Bob y Bobet
  • Swahili: Bob na Bobette
  • Swedish: Finn & Fiffi
  • Tamil: Bayankaap & Bayanam
  • Tibetan: Baga & Basang
  • Hebrew: Bob & Bobet

Spin-off series

There have been various spin-off comic series from Spike and Suzy:

  • In 1960, Jerom began publication. It featured the character Jerom (Jethro) and focused on his adventures as a modern day knight.
  • In the 1950s, Lambik (Ambrose), ran in the newspaper De Bond. These were then put into the albums called De Grappen van Lambik (“The jokes of Ambrose”). The series was ended in 1962, but in 2004, it resumed with new stories. Seven books in the new series have been released.
  • In 2002, Klein Suske en Wiske (“Young Spike and Suzy”) ran in the magazine Suske en Wiske weekblad. It charts the adventures of the children when they were very small, along with their pet dog. So far nine albums have been released, containing short sketches.

Other media

Suske en Wiske Children’s Museum in Kalmthout.

The strip has made it onto TV, cinema and stage:

  • In 1975, BRT produced a TV series consisting of six stories taking the form of a puppet show narrated by Ambrose. These stories were later converted into comics. Dutch broadcaster TROS was the first to air the series with BRT following suit in 1976. Re-runs came in 1985 and 1990.
  • In the early 1990s a cartoon-series was made; the episodes were edited versions of already-existing stories with voice-overs from Han Peekel, who hosted comic strip-themed programme Wordt Vervolgd at the time.
  • In 1994, a musical was started by the Royal Youth Theatre of Antwerp. It ran for several years, touring the country.
  • In 2004, Suske en Wiske: De duistere diamant, a Spike and Suzy live action film was released in French and Dutch called The Dark Diamond.
  • A CGI animated film called Luke and Lucy: The Texas Rangers was released in July 2009. Produced by Skyline Entertainment, it is planned to be the first of a series of 13 films.
  • The musical Circus Baron breaks a tradition of male actors being cast for the role of Aunt Sidonia.

Sources

Footnotes
  1. ^ “Belgen zijn Suske en Wiske zat”. de Volkskrant. 27 September 2011. http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2676/Cultuur/article/detail/2930023/2011/09/27/Belgen-zijn-Suske-en-Wiske-zat.dhtml?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=vknieuwsbrief. Retrieved 27 September 2011. “Striphelden Suske en Wiske hebben in 16 jaar bijna driekwart van hun lezers verloren…. De stripfiguurtjes zijn voor de Belgen te oubollig geworden. In Nederland zijn Suske en Wiske nog razend popular.” 
  2. ^ Stienen, Alain. “De dolle musketiers” (in Dutch). Suske en Wiske op het www. http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/albums/4kl/089.html. Retrieved 2005-08-27. 
  3. ^ Peter Van Hooydonck (1994), Biografie Willy Vandersteen. De Bruegel van het beeldverhaal (2e ed.), Antwerpen: Standaard Uitgeverij, pp. 9–10, ISBN 90-02-19500-1 
  4. ^ “Leen Vandersteen ‘Ik ben het enige echte Wiske'” (in Dutch). Het Nieuwsblad. 17 December 2010. http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=GUL33S294. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ “Van SABENA tot SN Brussels Airlines” (in Dutch). GVA. 1997-11-04. http://www.gva.be/dossiers/-s/sn/sus.asp. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  6. ^ a b Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Willy Vandersteen”. http://lambiek.net/artists/v/vandersteen.htm
  7. ^ a b Koper, Frank. “Introduction to the history of Spike and Suzy”. Suske en Wiske op het www. http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/index.html?intro/engintro.html
  8. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Tintin”. http://lambiek.net/magazines/tintin.htm
  9. ^ BDoubliées. “Tintin année 1948” (in French). http://bdoubliees.com/tintinbelge/annees/1948.htm

External links

Willy Vandersteen

 
 

Willy Vandersteen

Image via Wikipedia

Born Willebrord Jan Frans Maria Vandersteen
15 February 1913(1913-02-15)
Antwerp, Belgium
Died 28 August 1990(1990-08-28) (aged 77)
Antwerp, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) Writer, Artist
Pseudonym(s) Kaproen,[1] Wil, Wirel
Notable works Suske en Wiske
De Rode Ridder
Robert en Bertrand
Awards full list

Willy Vandersteen (15 February 1913 – 28 August 1990) was a Belgian creator of comic books. In a career spanning 50 years, he created a large studio and published more than 1,000 comic albums in over 25 series, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide.[2]

Considered together with Marc Sleen the founding father of Flemish comics,[3] he is mainly popular in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Hergé called him “The Brueghel of the comic strip”, while the creation of his own studio and the mass production and commercialization of his work turned him into “the Walt Disney of the Low Countries“.[4]

Vandersteen is best known for Suske en Wiske (published in English as Spike and Suzy, Luke and Lucy, Willy and Wanda or Bob and Bobette), which in 2008 sold 3.5 million books.[2] His other major series are De Rode Ridder with over 200 albums and Bessy with almost 1,000 albums published in Germany.

Biography

1913-1939

Willebrord Jan Frans Maria Vandersteen was born in Antwerp in 1913.[5] His family lived in the Seefhoek, a poor quarter of the city, where his father Francis Vandersteen worked as a decorator and stone sculptor. His studio lay next to a printer that produced De Kindervriend, one of the first weekly youth magazines in Flanders. Willy Vandersteen, only four years old, read the new magazine there every week, including Blutske, an early comic strip. His mother Anna Gerard was more interested in ballet and singing. One of her favourites, Wiske Ghijs, may well have been the inspiration for the name “Wiske” he gave to one of the main characters in his main series “Spike and Suzy”.[6]

Vandersteen was creatively active from his youth. He drew pictures with crayons on sidewalks, and invented stories for his friends about knights and legends. He even convinced his young friends to buy him crayons so he could depict the local cycling championship. At school as well, he was more interested in telling stories and learning about art than anything else. His best memory of these schooldays is of a teacher who introduced him to the works of Pieter Brueghel.Template:Citation needed:February 2011 Outside school, he spent most of his time with comic magazines and adventure books by Jules Verne or books about Nick Carter and Buffalo Bill. At 13, he enrolled at the Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp to study sculpture, and two years later he started working as sculptor and decorator, just like his father.[7]

The same year, the family moved to Deurne, a suburb of Antwerp, where he came in contact with nature and with scouting, which both had a profound impact on his character and his later work. With the scouts, he became the troop reporter, writing down heavily illustrated reports on their outings and adventures, in a similar vein as what Hergé did in his scouting period. Through the scouts, he also came into contact with Le Boy-Scout Belge, the Walloon scouting magazine where Hergé made Totor, his first published comic. Vandersteen made a few sequels to these adventures for his friends as amusement, which are the earliest preserved comics he made. He continued to follow the work of Hergé later on. Meanwhile, Vandersteen combined his studies at the Academy with his work in his father’s workshop until 1935, when the market for stone decorations for houses collapsed.[8]

In between some odd jobs, Vandersteen became an avid sporter, from gymnastics over cycling to wrestling. His chances improved in 1936 when he was hired as a decorator for the shop and the display windows of L’Innovation, a Belgian chain of supermarkets. In the same year, he met Paula Van Den Branden, whom he married on 9 October 1937. After living in Antwerp for two years and having a daughter, Helena, in 1938, the first of their four children, the couple moved to the more rural Schilde in 1939.[9]

While doing research for his decorations, he read in an American magazine the article Comics in your Life. Fascinated, Vandersteen searched for more information on the subject. He rediscovered Hergé with The Adventures of Tintin in Le Petit Vingtième, but also the realistic work of Hal Foster in Prince Valiant. But it took a few more years before this fascination translated into steady publication of his own comics. Meanwhile, his first published drawings appeared in Entre Nous, the internal magazine of L’Innovation.[9]

1940-1944

In March 1940, two months before the start of World War II in Belgium, Bob, his second child, was born. When the first tribulations of the war were over, Vandersteen could restart his work at L’Innovation. From November 1940 until August 1942, he created his first published comic, Kitty Inno, for the company, consisting of short, simple gags. When the German occupier forbade the publication of American and British comics in the Belgian newspapers and magazines, opportunies arose for local people. On 19 March 1941, the first comic strip of Tor de holbewoner (Tor the troglodyte) appeared in the newspaper De Dag. It continued until January 1942. Already on 26 March 1941 it was joined by De lollige avonturen van Pudifar (The funny adventures of Pudifar), a weekly comic strip about a cat. This was in May of the same year replaced by Barabitje, another comic about a cat, which ended in October 1941.[10]

In 1942, Vandersteen quit his job at L’Innovation and started working at the Landbouw- en Voedingscorporatie (a government organisation for the agricultural sector), where he illustrated some magazines. In those years, the family Vandersteen moved yet again, this time to Wilrijk, another suburb of Antwerp.[11]

That same year, he illustrated the pro-occupation book Zóó zag Brussel de Dietsche Militanten under the pen name Kaproen.[1] In the 1970s Willy denied rumors, based on drawing style, that he had been the real artist behind Kaproen, but in 2010 these allegations were confirmed after an investigation demanded by his own family.[1] Unlike his partners, Vandersteen was later not persecuted for his part in publishing the antisemitic drawings, which were considered collaboration with the Nazis.[1]

At the Corporatie, Vandersteen met a colleague whose wife worked at Bravo, a weekly Flemish comics magazine that appeared since 1936 and had a French language version since 1940. Due to the war conditions, they were desperately in need of local artists to replace the American comics they used to publish. Led by established Walloon illustrator Jean Dratz, a young team was gathered, with artists like Edgar P. Jacobs and Jacques Laudy. Vandersteen joined in 1943, and here his comics career really took off. First he created Tori, a reprise of the prehistoric Tor, and a few weeks later his new comic Simbat de Zeerover (Simbat the Sailor) was published on the cover and in colour, a first for Vandersteen.[12]

For the Antwerp publisher Ons Volk, he created three comics, were published as books without a prepublication in a newspaper or magazine. Piwo, about the adventures of a wooden horse, became his first comic album in 1943, and was followed by two more in 1944 and 1946. Those comics were also published in French. For the same editor, he illustrated 11 children books. In the same years, he also created the cover illustration for a number of novels from other publishers. In 1944, he also started working for two more magazines, De Rakker and De Illustratie, where he created some comics and made numerous illustrations. To help him with all this work, his wife Paula inked many of his pencil drawings in these years.[13]

1944-1950

After the liberation of Belgium in September 1944, there was a boom of new magazines for the youth, both in French and Dutch. Many of those tried to mix American comics with local artists. Vandersteen worked in these early years for countless publications. He continued publishing in Bravo, with the medieval gags of Lancelot. Having moved to the suburbs of Brussels to avoid the bombardments of Antwerp, he came into contact with some French language editors. French language magazines he contributed to included Franc Jeu, Perce-Neige, and Le Petit Monde. Two of the comics he created for Franc Jeu were also published in albums. By 1947, all these magazines had disappeared.[14]

Defining for his career was the invitation he got in 1944 from the people of Standaard Boekhandel, a chain of libraries who were also active as publishers. They were interested in his work and wanted to publish some books. Vandersteen presented them with the first designs for a daily comic strip, but they put that on hold and first ordered four juvenile books from Vandersteen. These were published in 1945 and 1946 in Dutch and French (by Casterman).[15]

On 30 March 1945, the daily comic strip Rikki en Wiske started to appear in the newspaper De Nieuwe Standaard, after a positive review by the young illustrator Marc Sleen. It was an immediate success, and the first story ran uninterrupted until 15 December 1945.[16] Vandersteen though was disappointed to see the editor had renamed the strip Rikki en Wiske instead of his suggestion Suske en Wiske,[17] and also felt that Rikki too closely resembled Tintin.[18]

The next story, Rikki disappeared, and the long series of adventures of Suske en Wiske began with the story Op het eiland Amoras, achieving success beyond the author’s expectations. The first album appeared in 1946.[19] This story introduced most of the recurring figures and means of transport through space and time, and set the framework for the complete series.[20] Already in 1946, it was also published in the Dutch newspaper De Stem.[21]

On 22 December 1945, three days after the start of Suske en Wiske op het eiland Amoras, appeared the first page of De Familie Snoek (The Family Snoek), a weekly series of gags revolving around a contemporary Flemish family. It lasted for 11 albums.[22]

Apart from these two long lasting newspaper comic strips, Vandersteen made a number of other comics in these years. Most important was his work for Ons Volkske, the youth supplement of the weekly magazine Ons Volk, which from the end of 1945 on became an independent comic magazine. Marc Sleen was editor-in-chief and filled most pages together with Vandersteen. Vandersteen created a number of realistic stories of about 20 pages each, where he developed his own style after starting very much as a follower of Harold Foster. In his usual more caricatural style, he created in August 1946 the recurring gagstrip De Vrolijke Bengels (The Happy Rascals). More adult comics appeared in the magazine Ons Volk.[23]

In 1947, two publishers started a legal battle for the right to the names of the newspapers and magazines. Vandersteen, caught in the middle, worked a while for both, but eventually switched to the new owners of De Standaard. He continued to work for Ons Volkske, which was now renamed ‘t Kapoentje for a few more months. The publishers of De Standaard also continued the album series of Suske en Wiske, which started modestly with one album in 1946 and one in 1947. By 1947, seven albums were available, and the first ones were already reprinted. The first albums of De Familie Snoek had also appeared by then. Supported by large publicity campaigns, they sold very well: the first Snoek album was in its third impression by 1948.[24] The popularity of Vandersteen, and the impact comics had in Flanders, is attested by the 25,000 readers who switched to the Standaard at the same time as Vandersteen did.[25]

Vandersteen worked the rest of his life for De Standaard, but contributed also to the other publications of the publisher: Ons Volkske, a new newspaper supplement continuing the name of the older magazine, and Het Nieuwsblad, the more popular newspaper of the group. Vandersteen made illustrations and comics when needed. For Ons Volk, which also reappeared, he made realistic stories until 1951.[26]

Vandersteen was now at the height of his productivity as a solo artist. Apart from his work for De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad, he contributed to Ons Volk and Ons Volkske, he made a special Suske en Wiske story for het Parochieblad (a weekly Christian newspaper), and he started to collaborate with Kuifje (the Dutch name for Tintin), the magazine that published Hergé. The magazine was very popular in Wallonia, but struggled in Flanders, where The Adventures of Tintin were not yet as well known. A popular Flemish author would give the sales a boost, while it could mean the breakthrough on the French language market for Vandersteen. However, Hergé, as editor-in-chief, set a very high quality standard for his magazine, and Vandersteen had to improve and stylize his drawings, and had to remove the more Flemish, popular aspects of his comics. Vandersteen obliged, and the stories of Suske en Wiske he created for Kuifje are now considered the best of his career, with the first one, Het Spaanse Spook (The Spanish Ghost), which started on 16 September 1948, as his masterpiece.[27] It was because of his work for Kuifje that Hergé nicknamed Vandersteen “The Brueghel of the Comic Strip”.[21]

Vandersteen’s contributions appeared in both the Flemish and French-language versions of Tintin magazine.

1950-1959

Vandersteen could no longer handle the work load on his own. In 1949, he hired his first collaborator, François-Joseph Herman. Herman only stayed with Vandersteen three years, but his tenure was the start of the large Studio Vandersteen that has continued the series until the present.[28] He was followed by Karel Boumans in 1952, who was an anonymous contributor until 1959. He worked mainly for De grappen van Lambik, a Suske en Wiske spin-off Vandersteen created for the weekly newspaper De Bond, which ran from 24 January 1954 on. But he also inked many Suske en Wiske comics, including those in Tintin.Vandersteen devoted himself more and more towards the storytelling and the initial pencil drawing, which he considered the artistic process, while the inking was more of a craft.[29]

Those years, from 1949 until 1953, are often considered as the highlight of Vandersteen’s career, when he combined a large production with a constant high quality, both in his stories, the jokes and the many characters, as in the graphical aspects, where the charming quirkyness of the early years was balanced with the more rigorous Ligne claire of Hergé. Many of these stories were loosely based on popular classics, ranging from Alexandre Dumas over Buffalo Bill to Richard Wagner‘s Der Ring des Nibelungen, with as culmination his comic in two parts of the legend of Till Eulenspiegel, made for Kuifje.[30]

Vandersteen spent a lot more time at documentation from this point on. While the early comics were mostly filled by his imagination and visited imaginary countries or stayed close to home, he now started travelling to visit locations for new comics. Visits to Bruges, Monaco and Venice were the inspiration for three stories in Kuifje[31]

In 1953, when Tijl Uilenspiegel was finished, Vandersteen created a new comical strip for Kuifje. ‘t Prinske told the humorous adventures of a young prince in a fictional country. It lasted until 1959 and ran for some 300 comics.[32]

In 1951, Vandersteen encountered Karel Verschuere, a young unemployed artist. Vandersteen hired him, and Verschuere soon became his mayor artist for the realistic series. His first series was Judi, a retelling of the Old Testament in four albums, which first appeared in Ons Volkske. The series was not very successful, and Verschuere later finished a fifth part on his own. Verschuere also contributed to the second part of Tijl Uilenspiegel, just like Bob de Moor and Tibet did, but his main contribution to the output of Vandersteen was his work on Bessy, a Western series inspired by the success of Lassie, which started in 1952 in the Walloon newspaper La Libre Belgique. The series appeared under the pseudonym WiRel, a combination of Willy and Karel, indicating the importance of Verschueren’s work. He continued working with Vandersteen until 1967, helping with many of the realistic series Vandersteen created in these years, including Karl May, Biggles and especially De Rode Ridder.[33]

The success of Bessy, which from 1953 on also appeared in Dutch, led to the creation of the Studio Vandersteen, acknowledging, albeit mostly anonymously, that many of the comics were no longer made by Willy Vandersteen on his own. Together with the publications in Kuifje, it made Vandersteen a popular artist in Wallonia as well, and all Bessy and Suske en Wiske comics were published by Erasme in French.[34]

1960-1969

In 1966, Vandersteen finally moved back from Brussels, where he had lived at different locations since World War II, towards Antwerp, and more precisely Kalmthout, a rural village to the north of Antwerp. There, next to his villa, he created the location for his main Studio.[35]

The Bessy comics were also published in Felix, a German comic magazine by Bastei Verlag. From 1965 on, they wanted to publish a complete new story every month, a rhythm they increased to twice a month in 1966. Unable to produce so fast, Vandersteen had to expand his Studio considerably. Led by Karel Verschuere, a team of some ten young artists mass produced the comics, which were of considerable lower quality. The most important of these artists were Frank Sels and Edgar Gastmans, while many stories were produced by Daniël Janssens. When in late 1967 Verschuere quit, and at the same time Bastei increased the rhythm again, now to one complete comic a week, the Studio was disbanded and Sels and Gastmans started to work on a free lance basis. The next year, they decided to go behind Vandersteen’s back and to sell directly to the Germans. Vandersteen then had to reorganize the Bessy Studio and hired Jeff Broeckx. The Studio continued until 1985, with artists like Patrick van Lierde, Ronald Van Riet, Eugeen Goossens, and Walter Laureyssens. It produced more than 900 Bessy-comics.[36]

Bastei Verlag, enamoured by the success of Bessy, asked Vandersteen to provide a second weekly series. With the popularity of superheroes, especially Batman, in Belgium and Germpany in these years, Vandersteen proposed a spinoff series of Suske en Wiske, based on Jerom, the strongman of the series. Called Wastl in German, 173 stories were produced between 1968 and 1972, with a publication that reached 150,000 copies at its summit. The best of these stories were published in Dutch as well, just like it was done with the later Bessy’s, but the weakness of the stories ended the series after only four years.[37]

The main artists in the Studio Vandersteen in the 1960s and later were Karel Verschuere, Frank Sels, Eduard De Rop, Eugeen Goossens, Karel Biddeloo and Paul Geerts. Eduard De Rop joined the Studio in 1959, after Karel Boumans departed, and stayed for over thirty years. He worked mostly on minor series like Jerom and Pats, but contributed to almost all series, including Suske en Wiske. One of his main contributions was the early adventures of De Rode Ridder. De Rode Ridder was in 1946 created by writer Leopold Vermeiren, and published in books since 1954, with illustrations by Karel Verschuere. The success led to the creation of a comics series as well, with as main contributors Verschuere, Eduard De Rop, and Vandersteen’s son Bob. De Rode Ridder became the third main success story of Vandersteen, and is now the longest running series behind Suske en Wiske. Karel Verschuere was replaced by Frank Sels in 1963.[38]

Karel Verschuere also started the series Karl May, based on the famous books, in 1962. The contributions of Vandersteen to this and similar series like Biggles was minimal and consisted mainly of supervision and some first sketches. Frank Sels continued the series between 1963 and 1966.[39]

Vandersteen had to deliver a number of pages each week for the newspaper supplement Pats, increased to 16 pages in 1965. Eduard De Rop revived De Familie Snoek with a new series of gags for a few years, and other series like Karl May were published here as well. The place of Karl May in the main newspaper was taken by Biggles, yet another realistic series started by Verschuere in 1965.[40]

When Frank Sels left the Studio in 1967, Karel Biddeloo took over most of the realistic series of Vandersteen. He made Karl May from 1967 until 1969, when the Bessy-studio took over the job. He also took over Biggles, which ended in 1969, when it was replaced by the jungle series Safari, inspired by Daktari. At the start of the series, Vandersteen did most of the creative work, but after a few albums he left most of the work to Biddeloo. The series ended in 1974. Biddeloo then devoted most of his time to De Rode Ridder, where he started inking the stories by Vandersteen in 1967 and took completely over in 1969, when Vandersteen lost his interest. He continued working on it until his death in 2004.[41]

1970-1979

Paul Geerts joined the Studio in 1968, where he at first worked as an artist on the German Jerom comics. Already in 1969, he replaced De Rop as the main inker for Suske en Wiske. Geerts also drew Vandersteens attention when he proposed a few scenario’s for Jerom, and in 1971 he made his first story for Suske en Wiske. From 1972 on, he became the main creator of the flagship series Suske en Wiske, which he continued until the late 1990s. De Rop and Goossens again became the main inkers, with Geerts responsible for the stories and the pencil art.[42] In these years, Suske en Wiske reached its peak popularity, and the older stories now were republished in colours in the main series. In 1975 and 1976, the Dutch television broadcast six puppet movies with new Suske en Wiske stories. They were very successful and sales of new albums reached over 200,000 copies.[43] The merchandising business boomed as well, and commercial comics were one of the main new jobs for the Studio.[44]

The Studio was mainly established with the artists that joined in the 1960s, but two new artists were Erik De Rop and Robert Merhottein, who became the only artist to leave Studio Vandersteen and start his own successful series.[45]

Vandersteen, liberated of the work on the daily comic, started on a comic series based on one of the novels he had read as a youth: Robert en Bertrand, the story of two Flemish tramps at the fin de siècle.[42] The series debuted in De Standaard in 1972. The series was the first in a long time to renew the enthusiasm of Vandersteen, and the graphical quality and the stories were a lot better than most of the Studio production of the time.[46]

For the newspaper supplement Pats, he also created the title series in 1974, but he left most of the work to Merhottein. The series changed its name to Tits in 1977 after a lawsuit, and disappeared in 1986.[47]

In 1976, Vandersteen’s wife Paula died. He remarried on 25 June 1977 with Anne-Marie Vankerkhoven. Vandersteen, now a celebrated artist with complete TV shows made about him, both in the Netherlands and in Belgium, continued to work on his comics. The same year 1977 gave him a coveted Alfred award from the Angoulême International Comics Festival for the best scenario, for the Robert en Bertrand story De stakingbreker (The Strike Breaker), while in 1978 a Suske en Wiske statue was unveiled in the Antwerp Zoo.[48]

1980-1990

The next decade was one of mixed successes. Some of the minor or less successful series ended: Robert en Bertrand, a critical but never a commercial success, folded in 1993, 8 years after Vandersteen had stopped writing the stories. Jerom and Bessy both were restyled but disappeared a few years later in 1988 and 1993. Pats, later renamed Tits, already disappeared in 1986.[49]

Suske en Wiske meanwhile was a steady success, and although the sales have dropped from the peaks of the 1970s continues to be one of the most popular Flemish comics.[50]

Willy Vandersteen created one last new series in 1985: De Geuzen, a historical, humoristic comic set in Flanders in the sixteenth century. Similar in theme to the thirty years older Tijl Uilenspiegel, the comic combined many of Vandersteen’s passions, including the art of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. It contained his most mature, developed characters, compared to the often one-dimensional characters of his earlier series, and reached a graphical level that approached his work for Kuifje. The comics were not prepublished and were mostly created by Vandersteen alone, which ensured the quality but also decreased the publication rhythm. Only ten albums appeared, and the series ended with the death of Vandersteen.[51]

Willy Vandersteen died on 28 August 1990, weakened by a long disease. He continued working until shortly before his death, and his Studio still continues, with Suske en Wiske and De Rode Ridder as main series.[52]

Themes and influences in the work of Vandersteen

Willy Vandersteen used a wild variety of themes and influences in his work from early on. He made fairytales, historic series, westerns, but also science fiction and many contemporary comics. While some series like De Familie Snoek and Bessy stuck very close to their origin (an everyday Flemish contemporary family for the former, and a pioneer family in the American Old West in the latter), others were more loose. De Rode Ridder, the story of a medieval knight, wandered from Arthurian tales over the crusades until the explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, thereby spanning some ten centuries, and later (when Vandersteen was less involved in the series) brought in many elements of sword and sorcery and fantasy.[53]

Suske and Wiske is a contemporary series, but many stories used the plot device of time travelling, either by a machine or by some poetic device. This enabled stories to evolve in a myriad of periods, often again in the Middle Ages though. Furthermore did Vandersteen use local legends of Antwerp and Limburg, parodies of American superhero series like Batman, science fiction, and popular TV series.[54] Vandersteen also got inspiration from the different long journeys he made, like his long trip to the Far East in 1959.[55] Some of the earliest realistic comics of Willy Vandersteen also clearly show the strong influence he has had from American comics like Prince Valiant and Tarzan, but he later developed his own distinctive style.

International success

Vandersteen always strived to have success beyond Flanders, and reduced the typically Flemish character of his comics soon after his debut. He already worked and published in French during the War, and already in the 1940s he expanded the reach of Suske en Wiske to the Netherlands with some newspaper publications, and to Wallonia and France through the publication in Tintin magazine. All Suske en Wiske albums, and many albums of other series like De Familie Snoek, were also published in French by Erasme. Bessy was even first created for a Walloon newspaper, before being translated in Dutch.[56] By 1978, an estimated 80 million Suske en Wiske albums had been sold in Dutch alone.[25]

Other countries and languages followed soon. The first German translations appeared in 1954, and in the 1960s Bessy and to a lesser extent Jerom were an enormous success, with combined over a 1000 weekly comics with a circulation of some 200,000 copies. Later in the 1950s followed publications in Chile and Portugal, and Spain followed in the 1960s. In the following years, Vandersteen’s comics and especially Suske en Wiske are published in dozens of languages, but in most cases only one or a few albums are translated. More than 10 albums are published in the United States, and in Sweden 69 albums are published, accompanied by a lot of merchandising. The Finnish series is a big success as well.[57]

Merchandising

In the 1950s started the merchandising around Suske en Wiske. Vandersteen, always a businessman as well as an artist, was enthusiastic when he got the proposal to make a puppet show of the series. Already in 1947, the first puppets were for sale. They were followed by a series of 5 hand puppets in 1957 and a Jerom-game in 1960. In 1955, two years after the start of television in Flanders, an animated adventure of Suske en Wiske was broadcast every Saturday afternoon.[58] Other merchandising ranged from Suske en Wiske drinking glasses in 1954 to 5 large handpainted ceramic statues of the main heroes in 1952. Coloring books, calendars, puzzles, … followed soon.Two records were released by Decca in 1956. Vandersteen also created a number of commercial comics with Suske en Wiske, starting with a touristic comic for the province of Antwerp in 1957.[59]

Bibliography

All series were originally published in Dutch and by the publisher Standaard Uitgeverij, unless noted otherwise. Commercial editions and other non-regular albums are not included.[60][61]

Series From Until Volumes Volumes in French Remarks
Piwo 1943 1946 3 3 First albums by Vandersteen, published by Ons Volk
Suske en Wiske 1946 Present 242+ 242+ Numbering restarted at #67, and is as of July 2010 at #309: continued since 1972 by Paul Geerts and others. Some albums are translated in dozens of other languages.
Snoek 1946 1969 18 5 No publications from 1955 to 1965
Judi / Rudi 1952 1955 4   Published by Sheed & Ward
Bessy 1954 1985 164 151 First 68 signed “Wirel”, other Studio Vandersteen: more than 900 volumes appeared in German
Tijl Uilenspiegel 1954 1955 2 2  
De grappen van Lambik 1955 Present 7 and 7 3 Spin-off from Suske en Wiske: the second series contains reprints from the first, and new gags. No publications from 1963 to 2003.
De pantoscaaf 1956 1956 1   Published by the KSA, a Flemish Catholic youth organization
Het plezante cirkus 1958 1959 3 3  
De vrolijke bengels 1958 1959 2 2  
De Rode Ridder 1959 Present 227+ 19 Continued by Karel Biddeloo and others: as of June 2011, 230 albums have been published.
Jerom 1962 1982 95 93 Spin-off from Suske en Wiske, more than 150 albums appeared in German
Karl May 1962 1985 87   Loosely based on the novels by Karl May
Biggles 1965 1969 20   Based on the figure created by W. E. Johns
Met Kil en Fil op het Kiliaanpad 1970 1970 1   Published by Louis Hellemans as promotion for the CVP party at the 1970 local elections
Safari 1970 1974 24 21  
Ciso editions 1972 1980 7   Ciso reprinted a number of classic Flemish magazine comics, including these realistic Vandersteen comics from the 1940s and 1950s
Robert en Bertrand 1973 1993 98 47  
Pats 1975 1977 7   Continued (and reprinted) as Tits
Tits 1979 1986 28   Sequel to Pats. The name Tits is the local Antwerp name for a boater straw hat fashionable in the old days.
De wonderbare reizen van Jerom 1982 1991 36 13 Continuation of Jerom.
Bessy natuurkommando 1985 1992 23   Sequel to Bessy, mainly by Jeff Broeckx
De Geuzen 1985 1990 10   Last series started by Vandersteen
Schanulleke 1986 1993 3   Spin-off from Suske en Wiske
‘t Prinske 1994 1997 4 4 Gags originally published in the 1950s but only edited as albums in the 1990s
Klein Suske en Wiske 2002 Present 11+   Only created after the death of Vandersteen, but bears his name on the cover: spin-off from Suske en Wiske

Awards and recognition

According to UNESCO‘s Index Translationum, Vandersteen is the second most often translated Dutch language author, after Anne Frank.[67]

External links

MARC VERHAEGEN 

 
Marc Verhaegen (Mortsel, 5 april 1957) is a Belgian comic author known as ex-head artist of Suske en Wiske and screenwriter and artist of his own series, Senne and Sanne.
 
 
1 Biography
1.1 Suske en Wiske
Biografy
 
WhenVerhaegen was ten years old, he started in addition to the ordinary school also to follow the drawing school at the Academy of Kontich. He made illustrations for the scouts journal Condacum and for the school journal of the Sint-Stanislascollege, where he went to school for six years.
Afterword he went to the graphic design Department of the Sint-Lucas Institute in Brussels, where he received classical training with specialisation in animation film. In 1976 in  the Department Chart  Verhaegen received a task from his professor Luc Verstraeten to realise something about the Second World War. He chose for an adaptation of the novel  “The visions of Jacques Weiniger” by Gust Van Brussel.
From november 1976  in the scouts magazine “The unwanted”, appeared a story of sheet Condacum  of40 pages. The story is colored by Sylvia Dolsma in 2006 and in 2007 published by The Gouwe handle. Later on in the newspaper “De Morgen” came the story from Cycloman.
After his studies he mostly worked as a freelance animator to various cartoon productions for Pen Film in Ghent. The most famous ones are The Miracle shop to scenario of Gomer Timmermans and the feature film John the fearless (1984) directed by Jef Cassiers. He also contributed animation contributions for Sesame Street and The Liegebeest.
Started In 1987 to work for the comic book series to Verhaegen Boes Standaard Uitgeverij.
 

Suske and Wiske

In 1988 he wrote for the re-release of the Suske en Wiske-classic De schat van Beersel a four pages storey addition, entirely in the style of the Blue series. This came to the attention of Paul Geerts and Willy vandersteen, who appreciated his work very much. He was then asked to go along working on Suske en Wiske.
He first wrote a number of short stories, in 1992, his first long story: The creaking carcas. In april 2002, he took over the stylus pen of Paul Geerts as fixed Verhaegen artist/screenwriter of Suske en Wiske. In total Marc Verhaegen wrote 32 long stories of Suske en Wiske and he worked on 65 stories. Furthermore, he wrote and signed thirteen short stories and he made numerous advertising drawings of Suske en Wiske.
 

LUC MORJAEU

 

Luc Morjaeu (Niel, 11 January 1960) is a Belgian comics author. In the past, he was known for comic series as “Beep” and the “Family and Zwiep vedette strip Backeljau”.
Since February 2005 he works for Studio vandersteen, where he has the lead on the character team of Suske en Wiske.
 
Biografy
 
He studied at the Royal Academy of fine arts and the National Higher Institute in Antwerp.
Together with Dirk Michiels, in the 1980s he was  the founder of the comic strip studio Mormic. He worked on the series of James and Corneel and made a comic version of Erik of het klein insectenboek of Godfried Bomans.
 
In 1997, he stopped working for Mormic and he began a comic series about two witches Beep and Zwiep. 
With Luk Wyns, he made the absurdist comic Family Backeljau, based on the eponymous Flemish sitcom.
He also worked for Studio 100. He accompanied the drawing studio and built this. He worked here, among other things, together with Bruno De Roover and Charel Cambré, which now works like Morjaeu at Studio vandersteen.
In 2000 Morjaeu was one of the three permanent staff of Jef Nys for Jommeke.
 
Morjaeu, along with Peter Van Gucht created the comic gag strip “Rafke the Raaf.”
In February 2005, Marc Verhaegen was sacked as the head artist for Suske en Wiske. Morjaeu made the move to Studio vandersteen, where he got the lead on the character team of Suske en Wiske. Also here he works together with Peter Van Gucht, leading the scenario team, with among others Erik Meynen and Bruno De Roover.
The first stories for which Luc Morjaeu made the character art work are Het mopperende masker and Het slapende goud.
Outside the drawing comics he is also active as an illustrator of poetry including  the”Kerkhofwachters” for which he was responsible for one of the illustrations