Kiekeboe, by Merho
Kiekeboe - De Doedelzak van Mac Reel (1979)

Robert Merhottein (better known as Merho) was born in Antwerp. He had an early interest in comics and he visited all the artists he knew, like Pom and Marc Sleen. Merho debuted in 1964 with 'Comi En Dackske,' a series of gags for the retailers' magazine Middenstand, soon followed by 'Zoz en Zef' in the Catholic magazine Jong Karitas. Like many other Flemish artists, he got a job at the Vandersteen Studios in 1970, where he inked 'Jerom' stories for the German market.

Comi en Drackske, by Merho
Comi en Drackske, by Merho

During his military service, he created the comic strip 'Jager Jansens' for the base paper, which was later continued by Hec Leemans. Back in civil life, he then returned to the Vandersteen studios, and did backgrounds on 'Safari' and revamped German 'Bessy' strories to 'Karl May' stories for the Flemish market. Eventually he was assigned on the series 'Pats', based on the puppet play by Karel Weyler. Merhottein initially inked the series, but later also did script and pencils. The series was later retitled to 'Tits'.

Jager Jansens, by Merho
Jager Jansens, by Merho

It was in 1973 when Merho created the first story with his own character 'Kiekeboe', based on his brother's puppet show. Four years later, a new version of the strip was launched in the daily newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and De Nieuwe Gazet. Almost two years later, the first Kiekeboe album, 'De Wollebollen,' appeared. Merho eventually left Studio Vandersteen in 1976, leaving 'Pats' to Peter Koeken.

Tits, by Merho
Tits, by Merho

Now, more than 100 albums later, the strip is still popular in Flanders. Besides the comic albums, two films have been made as well as musical. Attemps were done to increase the popularity in Holland, like a restart under the title 'Fanny en Co' in 2003. Starting in 2004, he strip is published in Het Belang van Limburg and Het Gazet van Antwerpen.

Kiekeboe, by MerhoKiekeboe, by Merho
Merho's Kiekeboe

Among Merho's co-workers are Peter Koeken, Rik Dewulf, Dirk Stallaert and his wife, Ria Smits. In 2010, the 'Kiekeboe' comic was restyled and renamed to 'De Kiekeboes'. Throughout the years, Merho's 'Kiekeboe' stories have evolved, featuring more mature storylines and sexuality.

Kiekeboe by Merho
Kiekeboe - Doodeenvoudig/Eenvoudig dood (2009)

Last updated: 2010-10-22

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