Comics History

Dutch Comics after WW II

Olle Kapoen
Olle Kapoen

The Toonder Studios produced a great number of newspaper strips, which dominated the newspapers right after the war, and well into the 1960s. Some titles are 'Tekko Taks', 'Birre Beer', 'Wipperoen', 'Kappie', 'Panda, 'Olle Kapoen', 'Kraaiehove', 'Student Tijloos' and 'Horre, Harm and Hella' were written, penciled and inked by people like Phiny Dick (Toonder's first wife), Ben van 't Klooster, Henk Kabos, James Ringrose, Lo Hartog van Banda, Patty Klein, Andries Brandt, Jan van Reek, Fred Julsing and many more.

Other strips that were considered as "wholesome" in those troubled post-war years were 'Eric de Noorman' by Hans G. Kresse and 'Kick Wilstra' by Henk Sprenger. Both were drawn in a realistic style and featured suspenseful adventures, one about a Viking, the other about a soccer player. These strips have captured a great audience and are still a sought-after object for collectors.

Eric de Noorman, by Hans G. KresseKick Wilstra en zijn Sportieve Zonen

Another unforgettable adventure comics series was 'Kapitein Rob' (Captain Rob) by Pieter Kuhn. It started in December 1945 and became so popular that it soon had its own magazine, Kapitein Rob's Vrienden.

Kapitein Rob, by Pieter KuhnKapitein Rob by Pieter Kuhn

There were also other comics magazines in that after-war era. The Toonder Studios put out Tom Poes Weekblad, and Wim Meuldijk devoted Ketelbinkiekrant and Sneeuwvlok to his popular creations.

Tom Poes Weekblad No.1, 1947Tom Poes Weekblad No.5, 1948Tom Poes Weekblad No.7, 1948

Tom Poes Weekblad started in November 1947 and ran until 1951. Contributing artists were Wim van Wieringen, Frits Godhelp, Wim Lensen, Ben van't Klooster, James Ringrose, Piet Wijn, Gerrit Stapel, Ton Beek, Phiny Dick, Gerard van Straaten, Henk Sprenger, Marten Toonder himself and Hans G. Kresse. The magazine was a colorful feature in recuperating Holland. Especially the first issues were of considerable quality. During the last years of its run the magazine lost quality, both in content as well as appearance.

Pa Pinkelman, by Carol Voges and Godfried BomansAnother comic that was well accepted was 'Pa Pinkelman', drawn by Carol Voges and written by literary writer Godfried Bomans.

A remarkable text-comic was the series 'Kapitein Rob' by Pieter Kuhn. The cover above is from the story 'Het Geheim van de Bosplaat' ('The Secret of the Bosplaat'), in which Captain Rob encounters a few Germans who were left on the island of Terschelling, unaware of the end of the war.

Het Geheim van de Bosplaat, by Pieter Kuhn

Due to the paper shortage during and after World War II in Holland, some comic artists started to produce small 'picture comics', called beeldromans. These cheap comics, not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes and usually dealing with detectives fighting crime, were very popular with schoolkids in the late 1940s. Alfred Mazure created the first beeldroman 'Dick Bos' in 1941 (that's why these comics were also called "Dick Bossies"), and following his success, many lesser artists started creating new series, such as 'Lex Brand', 'De Groene Straal' and 'Tom Wels' by Ben Abas, 'Spot Morton' by Georges Mazure, 'Bob Crack' by Claus, 'Charlie Chan' by Nico Draak, 'De Kat' by Henk Albers, 'De Moker' by Hans Ducro, 'De Tweede Pimpernel' by Siem Praamsma and many single-issues by unknown artists.

Lex Brand - To YenDick Bos - Li-HangTom Wels - Shan slaat toe

It is said that the governess of the young princesses found one of these books in the possession of her pupils, and demanded that political action was taken against it. The Minister of Culture put a declaration in the newspapers on 25 October 1948 asking teachers to stop the distribution of these dangerous, mind-corrupting comics: "These booklets, which contain a series of illustrations with accompanying text, are generally sensational in character, without any other value."

Bongst!Lex BrandYou rotten chap
Examples of violence in beeldromans

On the 19th of November 1948, a 16-year-old girl was murdered by her 15-year-old boyfriend. While investigating how this tragedy could have happened, the police found out that both kids enjoyed reading beeldromans. The supposed link between these comics and criminal behavior was now considered a fact. All over the country, beeldromans were torn up and burned. With the beeldroman, the whole comics genre was threatened with condemnation.

Luckily, there were still some comics that were considered to be "healthy" which were allowed to continue in the local newspapers - most notably all the comic strips produced by the famous Martin Toonder Studios in Leiden.