Peter Pontiac, a self-taught artist who started his career in comics in the mid-70s, was influenced by the underground comix movement as a whole, and by R. Crumb in particular. Born as Peter J. G. Pollmann in Beverwijk in 1951, Pontiac grew up in the 1960s, where he developed a passion for music and underground comix.
Peter joined a commune in Leiden, where he absorbed the sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll lifestyle. He drew covers for illegal songbooks with texts by Bob Dylan and the Stones, which brought him to the attention of the American music magazine Rolling Stone and the Haarlem artist Joost Swarte. This resulted in publications in the Dutch underground comic magazines Modern Papier and Tante Leny Presenteert and the beginning of Peter's long career as an autobiographical underground artist.
Miss Holland, by Peter Pontiac
He first used the penname "Pontiac" in 'Mixed-up Memory Mamba', a comic about growing up in the 1960s, that was published in Wipe-Out Comix issue 2. He also contributed to Cocktail Comix, an anthology that presented a new generation of Dutch artists. Soon, his work was also picked up by El Vibora in Spain, and Anarchy Comix and Mondo Snarfo in the States. In Holland, he also illustrated great events in rock & roll history for the music magazines Aloha and Muziek Express.
Pontiac used his own life as the main inspiration for his comic stories and did not hesitate to share his experiences with drugs, like in his comic 'The Amsterdam Connection' (Gummi, 1977). Pontiac became involved in the punk and squatter's movement of the late 1970s. He introduced the autobiographical character of 'Gaga', who made his first appearance in Talent magazine. 'Requiem Fortissimo', a long story in which the character died was serialized in Wordt Vervolgd in 1988.
By the mid 1980s Pontaic reduced his drugs consumption and settled in the town of Bussum. He became the house artist for comics shop Lambiek in Amsterdam and also had his first big exposition in the shop's galery in 1987. He also picked up commercial assignments and became an illustrator for magazines like OOR and the newspapers NRC Handelsblad and Algemeen Dagblad.
In the late 1990s, Pontiac was intensively busy with his illustrated biographic novel 'Kraut'. The first version of the book was published by Podium in 2000. It's a quest to shed some light on his father, a German-collaborator and an SS war journalist on the Eastern front in the war, and who disappeared without a trace from Curaçao in 1978. With this book, Pontiac delivered a masterpiece, in the tradition of artists like Robert Crumb, Jacques Tardi and Art Spiegelman.
Peter Pontiac's oeuvre has been largely collected in seven issues of his own Pontiac Review, that were published by Oog & Blik between 1990 and 2004. In 1998 he published 'The Quick Brown Fax', a collection of letters with his friend and colleague Typex. Pontiac received the Stripschapprijs voor his entire oeuvre in 1997, followed a year later by the Professor Pi Illustrator's Prize for his book 'De Pen en het Zwaard'. He won the Marten Toonder Prize in 2011. In this same year, he published the third and updated edition of 'Kraut', as well as 'Rhythm', a big book that collects all his other comics work.
Peter Pontiac being interviewed in Curaçao for the book Kraut
Peter Pontiac biografie