Flemish artist Arthur Berckmans, who used the pseudonym Berck, was born in Louven. He studied drawing at the Louven Art Academy and at the Saint-Luc Institute in Brussels. He started his career publishing religious drawings in the Jesuites monthly Pro Apostolis in 1948. For this magazine, he also created his first comics, 'La Vie de Saint Ignace' and 'Le Père de Smet au Nebraska' ('De Grote Zwartrok').
Berck also joined Publi-Art, the advertising division of publisher Le Lombard. He drew a great many advertisements, and took over the advertising comic strip for Victoria chocolat from Albert Weinberg in 1955. By 1958, he found his way to Tintin magazine. His most notable work for this magazine is the series about cabdriver 'Strapontin' with René Goscinny and from 1965 Jacques Acar.
covers for Tintin #617 and #775
Together with writer Yves Duval, he began a second series called 'Rataplan', about a little drummer boy in Napoleon's army in 1961. Berck and Duval additionally made a couple of oneshot comics, such as 'Panchico' (1963), 'Ken Krom' (1966) and 'Lady Bound' (1967).
In addition to his work for Tintin, Berck cooperated with Leo Loedts on several stories for the magazines of the publishing house Altoria in Averbode. Under the name Studio Arle, they created 'Wim en Eric: De Verdwenen Sloep' (1965) and the adventure series 'De Zwartepinken', with scripts by Maurice Renders (1965-1972) in Zonneland.
Spirou #1600 and #1731
In 1968, Berck left Tintin and his series 'Strapontin' and 'Rataplan' and transferred to Spirou, where he changed from his strict style to a looser, more liquid one. His first work for his magazine was the comic about New York towboat captain 'Mulligan', written by Raymond Macherot and Yvan Delporte. However, it was the gangster series 'Sammy' that became his most famous creation. 'Sammy', written by Raoul Cauvin, first appeared in 1970 and became one of the staples of Spirou magazine.
While drawing 'Sammy', Berck also worked for the Dutch and Flemish press. He created the daily comic 'Lombok' in cooperation with Daniel Jansens in Het Gazet van Antwerpen in 1969.
From 1972 to 1974, he created the humorous science-fiction series 'Mischa' for the German Rolf Kauka studios in the magazine Primo, with assistance from Francis, Raoul Cauvin, Guy Bollen or Lucien De Gieter.
Lowietje (Sjors #9, 1974)
His work also appeared in the Dutch magazines Sjors and Eppo with series like 'De Donderpadjes' (1971-74) and 'Lowietje' (1976-83). Arthur Berckmans retired in 1994, handing over the artwork of the 'Sammy' series to Jean-Pol.