Pier Paniek, by Bouwman (1950)
First encounter of Pier Paniek and Suzie Rebel in Rebellenclub #1, 1950.

Jacques Bouwman was a staff artist with De Spaarnestad from at least the 1930s until the early 1950s. He was later head of the publisher's art studio. Also referred to as H.P. Bouwman or Jac. Bouwman, he was notably involved in reproducing foreign material for publication in Dutch magazines. During the 1930s, he copied pages of Martin Branner's newspaper comic 'Perry and the Rinkydinks', known in the Netherlands as 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub', before Frans Piët turned it into a completely local production. Although mainly a tracer and highly obscure, Bouwman was the first artist of what turned out into an icon of Dutch comics culture: 'Sjors en Sjimmie' (1949-1999). Throughout the years, the series has been drawn by far more famous names. After Bouwman and Piët, the Dutch adventures of Martin Branner's blond-haired rebel have been drawn by Hans Ducro, Carol Voges, Jan Kruis, Jan Steeman and Robert van der Kroft.

De Spaarnestad
Since Bouwman was mainly a production artist with little or no personal output, very few accounts remain of his life and work. In an interview in the Bert Bus Bibliography (De Lijn, 1984), comic artist Bert Bus mentioned that his former studio chief Jacques Bouwman had been the longtime "reproduction artist" and inker of 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub'. Both Bouwman and Bus worked at the art department of the Haarlem-based publishing house De Spaarnestad. Bouwman was probably one of the early artists on the staff, working for the company from at least the 1920s or 1930s on. Over the years, the studio also employed Frans PiëtNico van DamJan Giling, Ab Schatorjé and Harry Balm, who provided illustrations and additional artwork for all the publisher's magazines. Bouwman later became studio chief.


Traced 'Sjors' strip with original header from 13 February 1931.

Sjors van de Rebellenclub
As stated by Bert Bus, Jacques Bouwman was involved in the early episodes of 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub', at the time direct copies of the American Sunday newspaper comic 'Perry and the Rinkydinks' by Martin Branner. When De Humorist, a humor supplement to several De Spaarnestad magazines, began printing the adventures of Perry/Sjors on 30 December 1927, the pages were traced from their publication in the French weekly Dimanche-Illustré. In a time when international licenses were not yet common practice in the comics industry, comics were often illegally copied from foreign publications. Editor Lou Vierhout was maybe not even aware of the American origin of the strip. Panorama magazine even got its own supplement called Sjors in 1930.

Things changed in 1931, when the Nederlandse Rotogravure Maatschappij in Leiden got an official license to publish 'Perry and the Rinkydinks' from The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, which they did under the title 'Ukkie Wappie'. The illegally traced strip by De Spaarnestad was discovered, and the Sjors supplement was dropped. De Spaarnestad managed to get an official license in 1932, and the feature returned to the pages of De Humorist, this time with material coming directly from the States. When another Sjors supplement was launched in 1935, the pages seem to be traced from Dimanche-Illustré again, until in 1938 Frans Piët reworked the feature into a local comic strip.

Pier Paniek en Suzie Rebel
If it were not for Bert Bus' testimonial, Jacques Bouwman's contribution to 'Sjors' would have definitely been lost in time. The name "Bouwman" however also appears in Evelien and Kees Kousemaker's comics encyclopedia 'Wordt Vervolgd' (1980). The artist is credited with a western comic called 'Pier Paniek en het zusje van Sjors, Suzie Rebel' (a.k.a. 'Pier Paniek en Suzie Rebel', 1950-1951), which ran on the back page of Rebellenclub, another children's supplement of Panorama magazine. The character Suzie is presented as the sister of the rebellious 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub' by Frans Piët. While Sjors and his new friend Sjimmie had their own adventures in the mother magazine Panorama, two spin-offs were launched in the new children's supplement Rebellenclub in 1950. The first was a gag strip about Sjors' baby years by Frans Piët, the second was Bouwman's adventure serial starring Sjors' sister.

Pier Paniek, by Bouwman (1950)
Rebellenclub #4, 1950.

Note that in the States, Perry Winkle was introduced as the kid brother of Martin Branner's signature character, 'Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner'. In the Dutch translations, Winnie had appeared under the name Suzie/Suzy since the 1920s. Bouwman's 1950s Suzie was however not in any way related to Branner's progressive original, which focused on a young, unmarried woman who supported her parents. The serial introduced her as a damsel in distress, who is saved from a gang of Sioux Indians by the heroic cowboy detective Pier Paniek. The war with the Indian tribe raged on for 32 issues, and ended in Rebellenclub issue #16 of 1951. Pier and Suzie would spend the rest of their lives together, as the caption in the final panel reads. In 1952 and 1953, 'Pier Paniek en Suzie Rebel' was also serialized in Amigoe di Curacao, a Dutch-language weekly magazine in the Dutch Caribbean region.

As the drawing style of 'Pier Paniek' strongly resembles the British adventure serials of the 1930s, it seems that Bouwman's work on this comic was also merely done as a tracer. The fact that the female lead was presented as Sjors' sister was likely an attempt by the editors to give Sjors some more representation in the magazine named after his gang.

Other statements
In later years, another Spaarnestad staffer mentioned Jacques Bouwman. In an interview with De Boekenwereld (2004-2005), Nico van Dam said that both he and Bouwman were no Roman Catholics, even though De Spaarnestad had firm religious roots. Van Dam further recalled that Bouwman was not an artist with much fantasy, but that he was technically skilled. He also confirmed that Bouwman was mostly assigned to reproduce/copy foreign comics. Frans Piët apparently succeeded Jacques Bouwman as studio chief when Rebellenclub was launched. Or maybe after 'Pier Paniek' had ended its run?

Sjors supplementSjors supplement
Cover illustrations for Sjors' first solo supplement from 17 October and 28 November 1930. Maybe the strip's tracer was the illustrator?

Series and books by Jacques Bouwman in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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