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

H.P. Bouwman, also referred to as Jacques Bouwman or Jac. Bouwman, was a staff artist with De Spaarnestad from at least the 1930s until the early 1950s, and also head of the publisher's art studio.

In Evelien and Kees Kousemaker's comics encyclopedia 'Wordt Vervolgd' (1980), an artist known as simply Bouwman was responsible for the western comic strip 'Pier Paniek en het zusje van Sjors, Suzie Rebel' (a.k.a. 'Pier Paniek en Suzie Rebel'). It ran in 1950-1951 on the back page of Rebellenclub, the children's supplement of Panorama magazine, published De Spaarnestad in Haarlem. The character Suzie is presented as the sister of the rebellious 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub' by Frans Piët. Sjors was a local rendition of Martin Branner's newspaper comic 'Perry and the Rinkydinks', which had been a hit in Panorama and its supplements since the 1930s. 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 Bouwman's adventure serial with Sjors' sister in a starring role. Suzie/Suzy was in fact the Dutch name of Martin Branner's signature character, 'Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner'. Bouwman's Suzie was however not related to Branner's progressive original, which focused on a young, unmarried woman who had to support her parents. The Dutch story 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 from the Dutch Caribbean region.

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

It is very likely that De Spaarnestad art studio chief Jacques Bouwman was the same person as the otherwise mysterious "Bouwman". The studio employed such artists as Bert Bus, Nico van Dam, Jan Giling and Ab Schatorjé, and provided illustrations and additional production art for all the publisher's magazines. In an interview with Bert Bus in the Bert Bus Bibliography (De Lijn, 1984), Bus mentioned that Bouwman had been the longtime "reproduction artist" and inker of 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub'. When De Humorist, a humor supplement to several of De Spaarnestad's magazines, started printing Branner's 'Perry Winkle' on 30 December 1927, the pages were traced from their publication in the French weekly Dimanche-Illustré. Bouwman was likely one of the artists involved in this production work. In a time where international licenses were not yet common practice in the comics industry, comics were often illegally copied from foreign publications. Editor Lou Vierhout was probably not even aware of the American origin of the strip. The character 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 his 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 in the pages of De Humorist, this time with material coming directly from the States. When the character got another eponymous supplement in 1935, the pages seem to be traced from Dimanche-Illustré again until Frans Piët reworked the feature into a local comic strip in 1938.

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?

In an interview with De Boekenwereld (2004-2005), Nico van Dam mentioned that both he and Bouwman were no a Roman-Catholics, even though De Spaarnestad had firm roots in the religion. 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. As the drawing style of 'Pier Paniek' strongly resembles the British adventure serials of the 1930s, it is well possible that Bouwman's work for this comic was also merely as a tracer. Frans Piët apparently succeeded Jacques Bouwman as studio chief when Rebellenclub was launched. Or maybe after 'Pier Paniek' had ended its run?

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

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


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