Henk Backer is called the godfather of Dutch comics, and has created over 70 different comics between 1919 and 1963. He was born Hendrik Herman Backer in Rotterdam. He was initially inclined to follow in his father's footsteps and become a teacher, but an illness caused him to break off his studies. He attended the Rotterdam Art Academy upon his recovery in 1915, and among his teachers were Heyberg and Huib Luns. Inspired by the comic strips from Britain, he presented his work to several local papers.
In 1923, he became one of the first actual staff comic artists in the Netherlands, when he was hired by the Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad. He worked at this newspaper for forty years, during which he created several different comics. The first was 'Yoebje en Achmed', that began publication when Backer was still a freelancer in 1921 and ran until 1923. Meanwhile, he published a second strip, called 'Hansje Teddybeer en Mimi Poezekat', in the socialist newspaper Voorwaarts in 1922-1923. But it was his third strip, that brought the adventures of 'Tripje en Liezebertha', that became a classic in Dutch comics history.
It was first published as 'De Wonderlijke Geschiedenis van Tripje' in 1923, and the three booklets that collected the strip sold over 100,000 copies. When the first booklet was released, the 'Tripje' strip was already so popular that the police had to keep order among the enthusiastic crowds.
The strip ran from 1923 until 1946, with a short break in 1942, when Backer refused to use his characters as propaganda for the Germans. The characters from Backer's strip were featured in advertisements, a set of Old maid cards, and even a children's play, written by Paula de Waart, with music by Eddy Kila.
Backer continued to work for the Nieuwsblad until his retirement in 1963, creating over 70 different comics. His cartoon 'Adolphus' was published in the paper between 1930 and 1943, and among his other creations were 'De Lotgevallen van Ploetje en Moppie', 'Clowntje Rick', 'Limpo, het Schaduwmannetje', 'De Reis van Koen en Linnie', 'Babito, De Kleine Fluitspeler', 'Tobias', 'Abdoel en zijn tovertapijt' and the rather stereotypical 'Boeboema op reis', etc.
Joef en Brom (Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 1958)
Henk Backer used many pseudonyms for his numerous activities as a writer of short stories, novels, radio plays, detective stories and poems, including Hans Overbeeke, Peter van Ingen, B. Elzebub, Ar Colijn, Johan Berndt, and Bac. As "Vindex" he wrote popular (and at the time illegal) anti-war poetry, and his comics for a more adult audience were published under the name Fred Somers in Kiekeboe in 1948. Backer's radio plays were not only broadcasted in Holland, but also in Flanders, the Dutch Indies and the Antilles. One of his best-known plays was 'Majoor Carla'. Backer retired in 1963, and passed away in Eemnes on 5 June 1976, at the age of 77.
Koen en Linnie (Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 1961)
Henk Backer biografie