Dutch comics

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Dutch comics
Earliest publications 1858 on
Languages Dutch
Related articles
European comics

Dutch comics are comics made in the Netherlands. In Dutch the most common designation for the whole art form is "strip", while the word "comic" is used for the (usually) soft cover American style comic book format, usually containing translated US superhero material. This use of the English word for that format could cause confusion in English language texts.

Since the Netherlands share the same language with Flanders several Belgian comics and Franco-Belgian comics have also been published there.


Earliest examples

Dutch comics, like many European comics, have their prototypical forerunners in the form of medieval manuscripts, which often used sequential pictures accompanied by text, or sometimes even used speech balloons for captions.[1] The "mannekesprenten" ("little men drawings") are also an early forerunner, usually depicting the lives of Christian saints or fables.[2] In the 19th century several Dutch political cartoonists made use of sequential pictures, caricatures and humoristic situations that can be seen as the predecessors of comics. In 1858 the Swiss comic strip Monsieur Cryptogame by Rodolphe Töpffer was translated in Dutch by J.J.A. Gouverneur as Meester Prikkebeen (Mister Prick-a-leg) and was a huge success in the Netherlands. It was published in the text comics format, with written text published underneath the pictures. This type of comics would remain the dominant form in the Netherlands until deep in the 1960s, because Dutch moral guardians felt that these comics at least motivated children to actually read written sentences instead of merely looking at the pictures. While translations of comic strips remained popular no actual Dutch comics artists emerged until the late 19th century. One of the earliest artists to be considered a comic artist was Jan Linse. He drew several humoristic scenes in sequential form and wrote the text beneath the pictures.[3] Another pioneer was Daniël Hoeksema, who drew a spin-off series inspired by Monsieur Cryptogame called De Neef van Prikkebeen (1909) (Prikkebeen's Cousin)[4][5] However, most Dutch comics during the 1880s, 1890s, 1900s and 1910s were satirical illustrations and cartoons about Dutch politics and society or moralistic stories for the youth.[6]


The first proper Dutch comic strips were published after World War One. Many Dutch newspapers and magazines now imported translations of popular American, British and French comics, such as The Katzenjammer Kids (translated as Jongens van Stavast [7]), Rupert Bear (translated as Bruintje Beer), Perry and the Rinkydinks (translated as Sjors), Mickey Mouse (translated as Mikkie Muis [8]) and Billy Bimbo and Peter Porker (translated as Jopie Slim and Dikkie Bigmans) which were all immediate successes. As a result Dutch newspapers started hiring Dutch artists to create comic strips of their own. Among the most notable were Yoebje en Achmed ("Yoebje and Achmed") (1919) and Tripje en Liezebertha (1923) by Henk Backer,[9]Bulletje en Boonestaak ("Bulletje and Boonestaak") (1922-1937) by George van Raemdonck and Snuffelgraag en Knagelijntje by Gerrit Th. Rotman and Arie Pleysier. Of all these comics Bulletje en Boonestaak had the most success in translations: it was translated into German (1924) and French (1926). At the same time it also caused outrage among moral guardians because of anti-authoritian behaviour, frequent nudity, violence and gross-out humor, such as vomiting.[10] Backer's Tripje and Liezebertha was popular enough to inspire a lot of merchandising.[11]

The early example of a Dutch comics magazine was Kleuterblaadje (Toddler Magazine) published in 1915 and had a weekly comic strip, often translations and even plagiarism from foreign language magazines. Many children's magazines began to devote one or more of their page to comics, but the first actual full-fledged Dutch comics magazine was published in 1922: Het Dubbeltje. It only lasted two-and-a-half years, but other more succesful ones followed in its wake, such as Doe Mee (1936-1942) (1946-1949), Olijk en Vrolijk (1937-1941) [12]

The 1930s saw P. Koenen's "De Lotgevallen van Pijpje Drop" ("The Adventures of Pijpje Drop" (1930), "Flipje" (1935) by Harmsen van der Beek and Gijsje Goochem by Jac Grosman. In 1932 Frans Piët also created a newspaper comic strip called Wo-Wang en Simmy, which was a predecessor to his more succesful series Sjors en Sjimmie (1938). Piët based his character Sjors directly on Perry from Martin Branner's Perry and the Rinkydinks.[13] Sjors also inspired a comics magazine of his own in 1936. Another influential Dutch comics artist who made his debut in 1934 was Marten Toonder. He created a comic strip called "Thijs IJs", which was a substitute for Rupert Bear after the newspaper lost the publication rights.[14] By far the most popular Dutch comic strip of this era was Flippie Flink (1933) by Louis Raemaekers and Clinge Doorenbos. A stage adaptation was produced, with the actor playing the part of Flippie greeting hundreds of children in the streets.[15]

World War II

The German occupation in 1940 prevented further Anglo-American imports and led initially to a greater production of native material. Nazi censorship and paper shortage worked to the detriment of the comics field. At the same the embargo against American and British comic strips also meant that Dutch comics artists received more chances to publish their own material, even if it meant becoming a member of the Kulturkammer. The most notable Dutch comic strips to debut during the Nazi occupation were Alfred Mazure's Dick Bos (1942) [16] and Marten Toonder's influential Tom Poes (Tom Puss) (1941).[17] Willy Smith and Herman Looman's Tijs Wijs de Torenwachter (1940-1942) and Wim Meuldijk's Sneeuwvlok de Eskimo (1942-1944) were popular enough at the time to be adapted into stage plays, but are completely forgotten today.[18]

After 1945

After the liberation the publication of comics boomed, with many succesful series being published in newspapers, such as Pieter Kuhn's Kapitein Rob (1946-1966), Hans G. Kresse's Eric de Noorman (1946-1964), Phiny Dick's Olle Kapoen (1946-1954), Marten Toonder's Kappie (1945-1972), Panda (1946-1991) and Koning Hollewijn (1954-1971), Godfried Bomans and Carol Voges's De Avonturen van Pa Pinkelman (1946-1952), Jean Dulieu's Paulus de Boskabouter (Paulus the woodgnome), Henk Sprenger's Kick Wilstra (1949-...), Bob van den Born's Professor Pi (1955-1965), Willy Lohmann's Kraaienhove (1962-1972), Peter van Straaten's Vader & Zoon (1968-1987).[19][20][21] The most succesful and productive Dutch comics studio were the Toonder Studios, created by Marten Toonder, who both made comics as well as animated cartoons. They also launched the short-lived comics magazine Tom Poes Weekblad (Tom Puss Weekly) (1947-1951).[22]

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s moral guardians highly discouraged young people reading comics, because they felt it was a bad influence on them. Many magazines and newspapers went across their censorship and moral objections by publishing their series in a text comics format. This allowed children to at least read some sentences and could guid them to "real literature".[23] It's notable that the Netherlands were one of the few European countries to still publish text comics well into the 1960s, when the attitude towards comics began to change. In 1967 a center for comics fans, Het Stripschap, is founded, with their own magazine Stripschrift. In 1968 the oldest comics store in the world, Lambiek is founded.[24] In 2004 the Netherlands receive their own comics museum in Groningen: Het Nederlands Stripmuseum.

In 1952 the most popular Dutch comics magazine, Donald Duck published its first issue.[25] It quickly became a national institution and published, apart from Disney comics, also comics series such as Piet Wijn's Douwe Dabbert (1975-2001) and Van Nul tot Nu (1982) by Thom Roep and Co Loerakker. Another succesful post-war magazines were Sjors (1954-1976) and Pep (1962-1975), who later would merge into Eppo (1975-1985) and then be renamed as Eppo Wordt Vervolgd (1985-1988), Sjors en Sjimmie Maandblad (1988-1994), SjoSjii (1994-1998) and Striparazzi (1998-1999). In 2009 the magazine was relaunched as Eppo again. Pep and Eppo introduced some other mainstays of Dutch comics, such as Martin Lodewijk's Agent 327 (1967-1985) (2000-....), Peter de Smet's De Generaal (1971-2003), Jan Steeman and Andries Brandt's Roel Dijkstra (1977-1995), Henk Kuijpers's Franka (1978-...) and Hanco Kolk and Peter de Wit's Gilles de Geus (1985-2003).[26][27] Also mentionable was Arend (1955-1956), though it mostly published American comics in translation,[28] and Tina (1967-...), a girls' magazine which published a lot of comics.[29] In the field of adult comics magazines Tante Leny presenteert! (1970-1978), Modern Papier (1971-1972) and De Vrije Balloen (1975-1983) were the most notable.[30] From the 1960s on more American comics were imported, with the Dutch edition of the American Mad Magazine also had a lot of success and ran from 1964 until 1996, with a brief resurrection in 2011-2012.[31]

Nowadays the market is fragmented: there are always imports, the small press circuit, the reprints, the online comics and Donald Duck and whatsoever is the latest rage for kids, the great names still active, but as it always has been the art form is alive and kicking, with kicking to be understood as being engaged in politics and society in a rather outspoken way.


Text comics

A format not unique to the Netherlands but so common there that it got the designation "Hollandse school". Text comics consist of a series of illustrations with a block of text underneath the images telling the story. Famous Dutch series in this format are: Bulletje en Boonestaak, Tom Puss, Oliver B. Bumble, Kapitein Rob, Eric de Noorman, Panda, De Avonturen van Pa Pinkelman and Paulus the woodgnome. These comics were prepublished in newspapers, after which they were collected and made available in small rectangular books, called oblongs, due to their shape.

Picture novels ("Beeldromans")

A format born out of paper scarcity in WW II. The booklets are small (about the size of a box of cigarettes) and have usually one picture on every page. The first, most famous, longest running and last series in this format is Dick Bos, which explains that "Dick Bos boekje (=booklet)" became a synonym for the format. Several of these stories were action-packed detective stories, full with people beating villains up. These comics inspired a media frenzy with people being outraged over the violent content. When the American author Frederick Wertham condemned the bad influence of comics on the youth in his essay Seduction of the Innocent moral guardians in the Netherlands agreed with his theories and began banning comics with violent imagery. On November 19, 1948 a murder of a 16 year old girl by her 15 year old partner in Enkhuizen caused such a scandal that the media searched and found a scapegoat in "violent" Dutch comics. This effectively meant the end of the genre.[32] The Dutch name of the format has been used as translation for the word "graphic novel" as well.

Comic books

The comic book as format (akin to the US format), for Dutch comics came into being when the picture novels disappeared as a result of the craze against them. It lasted for some time, but disappeared.


Nowadays most published comics are published in album format, akin to Belgian comics and Franco-Belgian comics. Comics albums are considered the equivalents of books, and unlike magazines, they have no cover date and are often reprinted. They also follow a specific chronological order and are thus collectable.

Comic Magazines

Dutch comics magazines use(d) to have a cover of the same paper as the rest of the magazine, they tended to be rather anthology like, with several short stories and/or episodes from long ones. Many of those stories were collected and reprinted in the album format. It is/was rather common for the magazines to contain a mix of Dutch material and imported stories.

Famous series and artists


  1. https://www.lambiek.net/dutchcomics/1800.htm
  2. https://www.lambiek.net/dutchcomics/1800.htm
  3. https://www.lambiek.net/dutchcomics/1800.htm
  4. https://www.lambiek.net/dutchcomics/1800.htm
  5. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1900.htm
  6. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1850.htm
  7. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1920krantestrip.htm
  8. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1930disney.htm
  9. https://www.lambiek.net/dutchcomics/1920.htm
  10. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1920krantestrip.htm
  11. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1920krantestrip.htm
  12. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1930tijdschriften.htm
  13. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1930tijdschriften.htm
  14. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1930krantestrip.htm
  15. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1930krantestrip.htm
  16. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1945nbeeldromans.htm
  17. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1940krantestrip.htm
  18. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1940krantestrip.htm
  19. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1945krantenstrip.htm
  20. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1950krantestrip.htm
  21. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1960krantestrip.htm
  22. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1945toonderstudio.htm
  23. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1945krantenstrip.htm
  24. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1960waardering.htm
  25. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1950tijdschriften.htm
  26. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1960tijdschriften.htm
  27. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1970tijdschriften.htm
  28. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1950tijdschriften.htm
  29. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1960tijdschriften.htm
  30. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1970tijdschriften.htm
  31. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1960import.htm
  32. https://www.lambiek.net/aanvang/1945nbeeldromans.htm

External links