Het Manneke by Paul Ausloos

Paul Ausloos was a Belgian photographer, graphic artist and abstract painter, with a short excursion in comics. In 1962, he worked with fellow artist Marc Payot on the celebrity comic 'Het Manneke' (1962-1963), based on a TV character by Jef Cassiers. 

Early life and career
Paul Ausloos was born in 1927 in Antwerp. Between 1945 and 1950, he studied at that city's Royal Academy of Fine Arts, focusing on ceramics and monumental art. From 1950 to 1955, he continued his studies at the National Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Antwerp. His graphic career took off in the 1940s, when he illustrated stories written by novelist Leopold Vermeiren for the Flemish children's magazine Kleine Zondagsvriend. Vermeiren later gained fame as the creator of 'De Rode Ridder', a series of novels about a brave knight dressed in red. Both Ausloos and Karel Verschuere illustrated the stories, before 'De Rode Ridder' was adapted into a long-running comic series by Willy Vandersteen

Sheed & Ward
Both Paul and his brother Andreas were major shareholders in Sheed & Ward, an originally US-British publishing company acquired in 1951 by the Belgian printer Stan Govaerts. Andreas Ausloos (1924-1984) was also the director of the new firm, that from 1956 on operated under the name Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij (ZNU). Specializing in religious and children's books, ZNU released the first ten of Leopold Vermeiren's 'Rode Ridder' books (1953), and also Willy Vandersteen and Karel Verschuere's comic adaptation of the Old Testament, 'De Avonturen van Judi' (1952-1956). Paul Ausloos was one of the ZNU illustrators, often working in tandem with fellow artist Marc Payot, with whom he designed covers for the Suspense pocket book collection. Paul's brother Andreas Ausloos worked for the ZNU until 1976, when he founded his own publishing company, Lotus. The father-in-law of both the Ausloos brothers was Maurits De Meyer, publisher of newspaper De Standaard.

Het Manneke
In 1959, Ausloos founded a design studio with Marc Payot, with whom he worked not only on book covers for ZNU, but also on posters for theaters and the city of Antwerp. Together, they also briefly ventured into cartooning, drawing the comic strip about the popular TV character 'Het Manneke' ("The Little Man"). Wearing a black hat, bow-tie, checkered shirt and large scarf, Het Manneke was created in 1961 by the Belgian comedian Jef Cassiers for a series of pantomime slapstick shorts, usually shown on the Flemish public channel BRT 1 (nowadays Eén) before the evening news broadcasts. In the same year that Cassiers first performed him on TV, the character was adapted into a gag-a-day comic strip, published in the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and the weekly magazine Kwik. Jef Cassiers himself wrote the gags, while Pil was the original artist. Much like the TV sketches, the 'Manneke' gags were told in pantomime. In 1962, Pil retired from the feature and was succeeded by Ausloos and Payot, who continued the strip until the TV broadcasts ended in the following year. The 'Het Manneke' strips were collected in two books by Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij in 1963.

Later years and death
As a fine artist, Ausloos worked on abstract paintings. In 1958, he was one of the founders of the avant-gardistic art collective G58, that held groundbreaking exhibitions at Hessenhuis gallery. In the 1970s, Ausloos switched his focus to photography, working mostly on subdued still lifes. He also co-founded and ran the photo studio of Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Paul Ausloos was married to ceramic artist Lutgart De Meyer, with whom he had three children. He died in January 2022 in his hometown Antwerp. He was 95 years old.

Het Manneke by Paul Ausloos

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