Joop Geesink was a famous Dutch film producer, best known for his puppet films starring 'Loeki de Leeuw'. Born in The Hague, Geesink began his career as a painter of advertising billboards, mostly for cinemas. He then became a set designer for theaters, and worked in Paris for a while. He was also an illustrator and contributed illustrations and a comic strip called 'Prik en Prik' to magazine Doe Mee in the 1930s. He also made the story 'De Reuzen Belfloor en Bonnevu in het land van Koning Kas Koes Kielewan' with A.D. Hildebrand, that was published in a book format in 1941.
By 1942 Geesink and his brother and business partner Wim Geesink were involved in the creation of films. They joined forces with Marten Toonder to set up the Toonder-Geesink Studios. The firm was dissolved after only one year and Geesink set up his own Dollywood Studios, that focused on documentaries, advertising films and instruction films. In addition to commercial assignments, Geesink also produced personal projects, such as the 'Willem Parel' film starring Wim Sonneveld.
The trademark of the Geesink Studio's were puppet films. Among the creations were the 'Dutchy' films for the Dutch Dairy Company and many films for Philips. From 1967 to 1968 the Geesink studios produced 'Rick de Kikker', a TV puppet series for broadcasting company TROS. This character later became the mascot for amusement park Duinrell in Wassenaar. But Geesink is best known for 'Loeki de Leeuw', the lion that starred in short films during commercial breaks on Dutch public television between 1972 and 2004.
Flip en Flap
But Geesink's studio also continued to produce comics. Geesink himself made two picture books with Henk de Wolf, 'In het rijk van Koning Leeuw' (1944) and 'Bolletje Dam' (1946). Together with Han Hoekstra, he made 'Flip en Flap' for Douwe Egberts.
Studio co-workers Henk de Wolf and Henk Zwart made the comic strip 'Fokkie Flink' for newspaper Trouw. The studio's also produced advertising comics like 'Pukkie Planta' (by Henk Kabos and Johan Veeninga) for Unilever and 'Piet Spriet en Ko de Koe' for the labels of Friesche Vlag milk in the 1950s. Jan van Haasteren worked on comics starring 'Rick de Kikker' for De Telegraaf in the 1960s.
When Dollywood went bankrupt, Geesink joined forces with the Toonder Studios once again. A trimmed version of the studios was relocated from Amsterdam to Castle Nederhorst in Nederhorst den Berg and a collaboration with Cinestone Studio's was started. Of the 150 puppetfilm co-workers only 15 remained. Geesink himself also left the studios, and continued to work from his home in Amsterdam.
Joop Geesink continued to work until the very end. His final designs were for the Carnaval Festival attraction in De Efteling. When Geesink passed away in Amsterdam in 1984, his doughter Louise took over the company. She began an association with artist Wil Raymakers to work on new character and mascot designs, as well new projects with 'Loeki de Leeuw', such as the 1986 comic page for children's magazine Okki.