De Perfesser by Jan van der Aa
'De Perfesser'. 

Jan van der Aa was a Belgian painter, poet and cartoonist who published under the pseudonym "Punt". As a comic artist he is best known for the 1970s stop comic 'De Perfesser'.

Early life and career
Jan van der Aa was born in 1927 in Hemiksem, in the province Antwerp. His father was a warehouse clerk. He enjoyed painting and drawing from a young age and honed his skills through private lessons in drawing and painting for about a year. Among his graphic influences were Constant Permeke and Gustaaf De Smet. He went to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, but the outbreak of World War II in 1940 eventually caused the school to close down. Van der Aa went to work as an apprentic baker, a clerk with a printing firm and eventually was able to continue his clerk profession at his uncle's notary office. In his spare time Van der Aa made paintings, drawings, woodcuts and lino-cuts. As a poet, he wrote both for children as well as adults. In 2002 his poem 'Canvas' received the Prijs van de Vlaamse Vredesbeweging ("the Flemish Liberation Movement").

De Perfesser by Jan van der Aa
'De Perfesser'.

Van der Aa spent all his spare time painting, drawing and making woodcuts and lino-cuts. He published his first cartoons under the pen name Punt in 1958. This pseudonym, which means "point" in Dutch, referred to the fact that he considered his work finished when he signed a "point" behind it. His cartoons appeared in magazines like Film en Televisie, the Catholic magazine Kerkelijk Leven (nowadays Kerk en Leven) and Raak. By sending in his cartoons to various international cartoon contests his work got noticed outside his country's borders too.

De Perfesser
In the 1970s, Van der Aa also made the pantomime comic 'De Perfesser' in Straal, the two-weekly information magazine of the Christelijke Ziekenfondsen (Christian Medical Fund). It featured a nameless professor, though in most gags he is nowhere near a laboratory. 

Cartoon by Punt (Jan van der Aa)
Cartoon by Jan Van der Aa. Translation: "Meow!".

Final years and death
In the 1980s, Van der Aa's health deteriorated and he underwent two heart operations. Eventually he retired from his daytime job. The best part about it was that he could focus the rest of his life on artistic activities. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 80.

The Jan Van der Aa lane in Hemiksem is named after him. For those interested in his work, Marcel Pira's biography, 'Jan van der Aa' (Antilope Art Books, 2000), is highly recommended.

Jan van der Aa
Jan Van der Aa.

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