Sfinx by René Bergmans
'Sfinx' (Tina #42, 2009).

René Bergmans is a Dutch self-employed illustrator and comic artist, who lives and works in Belgium. Besides making commercial artwork, including many promotional comic albums for the publishers KBU and Concept, he was the writer and artist of the comic series 'SfinX' (2007-2021) for girls' magazine Tina.

Jules & Ollie - 'Het Goud van Gouda'.

Jules en Ollie
René Bergmans was born in 1967 in Rijen, and resides in the Belgian city Lommel, near the Dutch border. He first came to notice in the mid-1990s as an artist for promotional comic books. He most notably created five books in the series 'Jules en Ollie' by KBU Uitgevers, which all appeared in 1996. In each album, the two detectives solve a case in a different Dutch city, while visiting all the popular hotspots. Local shopkeepers, catering industry and other attractions who sponsor the book's production receive a cameo depiction in one of the story's panels. Bergmans illustrated the episodes about Oisterwijk, Gouda, Delft, Breda and Arnhem. Other artists for the collection were Luc Verschuuren, Richard van de Pol, L. Swinkels, Carry Brugman, Maarten Wolterink, Frans Mensink, Martin Rube and Arie van Vliet, while Huibert van der Meer, Harry Jansen, Bert van Rijsingen, Mireille van Heesch and Liesbeth Felix provided most of the scriptwriting. The publishing house Concept released a similar series with varying main characters called 'De Zaak' between 1997 and 1998.

Tokkitoks - 'Pesten Doet pijn'.

Other commercial comics
Bergmans has continued to work on commercial comic books through either KBU or Concept throughout the rest of the decade. The first was the comic  album 'Jonas en Juultje en de Museumgeest' (1997, script by Frans Tooten) to promote museum visits by children. Then came several landscape format-shaped booklets in cooperation with scriptwriter Huibert van der Meer, such as 'De Amulet van Ra' (1998) for the Center Parcs bungalow parcs, 'Reinders, Een Open Boek' (1998) for a supplier of furniture and equipment for schools, 'Actief met de Support Actie' (1999) for a charity lottery in Tilburg, 'De Reis van de Ivoren Wereld' (1999) for dental care and 'Een Zorg Minder' (1999) for health insurance company VGZ. Concept BV also hired Bergmans to illustrate comic books and text booklets with 'De Tokkitoks' (2000-2001), characters designed to help young children with growing up. Under the pen name Humberto, he made five cyberpunk comic books with the naughty 'D.O.T.T.I.E.' for HB Media (2001).

'SfinX as kitten detectives' (Tina #40, 2018).

In 2002, René Bergmans became one of the regular contributors to the Dutch girls' magazine Tina. After illustrating several one-shot stories (written Frank Jonker, Willem Ritstier, Mirjam Mous, Carry Slee and others), the editors asked him and scriptwriter Robbert Damen to develop a comic series about a pop group. 'SfinX' made its debut in Tina #11 of 2007, and initially consisted of the girls Susan (Suus), Fay, Ingrid (Ing) and Xenia, with the band name compiled from the members' first names. Xenia however already dropped out during the first episode, and a replacement was found in the playful and at times lazy drummer Sam. As the only guy in the group, his interests mostly deviate from those of the girls, who are generally into typical girls' stuff. And then there is manager A.D., who often puts his pupils through difficult tasks. All in all enough material for an ongoing monthly series. Besides stories about the everyday business in a teen pop band, occasional episodes are fantasy-oriented. Recurring spin-offs are the fantasy segments in which the band members are kitten detectives, and others which flashback to the protagonists' childhood years.

Scriptwriter Damen left the series after 66 episodes, and after a transition period writing in cooperation with Jet Wever, René Bergmans has writtten and drawn the series on his own from 2012 until its cancellation in late 2021. Book collections of 'SfinX' have been published by Strip2000 and Personalia.

Newton in Nederland by Rene Bergmans
'Newton in Nederland', drawn in cooperation with Peter FitzVerploegh.

Further work
Together with Peter FitzVerploegh, René Bergmans provided the artwork for the comics album 'Newton in Nederland' (2009), which was created at the occasion of the exposition about scientist Isaac Newton in the Museum Boerhave in Leiden. The script was written by curator Ad Maas. Bergmans is also active as a commercial artist, storyboard artist, concept developer, wishing card illustrator. In his spare time, he has been developing game concepts (such as 'Depot 108') and spin-off comic strips with the younger versions of his 'SfinX' characters. He chose his hometown Lommel as the location for his comic series 'LUI (Lommels Ultieme Interventieteam)', about a family of zombie hunters. The comic was presented at the "Getekend, Lommel" festival in April 2019.

René Bergmans (on the left) and Robbert Damen (on the right) signing at the 2018 Tina Festival.


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