Henri Clément, whose used pseudonyms like Rik and Rik Leeman, was born in Sint-Amandsberg in 1920. He studied painting in Ghent in 1940. His first published work was in children's page of De Jonge Nationaal-Socialist in 1943. When the War was over, he graduated in Art History and Architecture from the University of Ghent.
De Rokende Doodskop (Kadet, 1954)
He earned his money doing illustrations and painting jobs, before he found employment with the editorial offices of Taptoe, a publication by Het Volk. Shortly afterwards, he became a reporter/editor for Het Volk. He illustrated his own articles, and created his first comic, 'Bazielken in Amerika', with text by Pol Ingier in 1949. Inspired by the work of Hergé, Rik drew three more stories of the satirical 'Bazielken' comic until 1950.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Clément was an illustrator for Het Volk, Het Zondagsblad and 't Kapoentje. For many years, he was the editor-in-chief for the weekly 't Kapoentje, as well as it's Walloon counterpart Le Petit Luron. He did some of his best work for 't Kapoentje, starting with the illustrations for the stories 'De Mannen van 't Pleintje'. He designed headers, logos and lettering and also made comics like 'Het Vuur van St.Elmus' with John Flanders (1952), eleven stories with 'Reinhart, de Eenzame Ridder' (from 1955) and three with the detective 'Jan Knap' (from 1963).
Rik's comics also found their way to the weekly pulp comic magazine Ohee!, such as 'Reinhart', 'Jan Knap' ('Dick Durf') and 'De Musketiers van 't Schipperskwartier'. Some of his first stories with 'Dees Dubbel' were also published in this magazine. 'Dees Dubbel' was published in Ons Zondagsblad from 1955. It became Rik's best known work, especially after it was transferred to Het Volk in 1965. Book publications followed of 'Daverende Daden van Dees Dubbel en Cesar' and many young Belgians have grown up with Rik's typical humor.
Everard t' Serclaes
In addition, Rik made book illustrations, and did contributions to Zonneland, Samedi Jeunesse, Vlaamse Filmkens, Snoek's Almanak and Averbode's Weekblad. For the latter, he illustrated John Flanders stories, but he also made comics like 'Pat Patterson en Het Groene Oog' (1959) and gags with 'Kadijster' (1960). His work can also be found in the colonial papers De Week and Le Courrier d'Afrique from Leopoldstad (Kinshasa), Congo.
covers for Ohee! (16/1/1965) and Zonneland (#47, 1963)
Clément, who always considered his comic art as a relaxed hobby for himself and his audience, used a pleasant, spontaneous drawing style that makes his work easy to read. He was however also a journalist. He became editor-in-chief of Het Zondagsblad, a literary suppelement of Het Volk, in 1970. It wasn't until after his retirement in 1986 that he found the time to write a great many notorious articles for the paper under the penname Clem Henry, especially about the stolen panel from the triptych 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb', a painting by Jan and Hubert van Eyck in the Sint-Baafskathedraal in Ghent.
In the early 2000's Clément felt he couldn't keep up with the modern times and he retired completely. He passed away away on 19 January 2008.