De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias
De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias

D.A. Bueno de Mesquita was a Dutch graphic artist, painter, lithographer, woodcut artist and children's book illustrator. He was the second illustrator of Chris van Abkoude's famous children's novel series 'Pietje Bell'. Bueno de Mesquita furthermore created two illustrated books which can be considered proto-comics because of their sequential narratives. The first, 'De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias' (1910), is a moralistic scare 'em straight tale, set in the Amsterdam zoo Artis. The second, 'Billie Ritchie en Zijn Ezel' (1918), stars the once popular film comedian Billie Ritchie and is the first celebrity comic strip in Dutch history.

David Abraham Bueno de Mesquita was born in 1889 in Amsterdam. His parents were Jews of Spanish descent. Bueno de Mesquita studied at the Rijksnormaalschool voor Tekenonderwijzers ("State School for Drawing Education") in 1906 and between 1909 and 1913 at the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid ("State School for Arts and Crafts"). In 1921-1922 he furthermore took evening courses at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.


De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias

In 1910 Bueno de Mesquita wrote and illustrated a comic/picture book, 'De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias'. The story is a text comic about a little boy, Tobias, who is about to visit the Amsterdam zoo Artis. His aunt gives him a whole bag of sweets and cookies to feed the animals with. But greedy Tobias refuses to share and gubbles everything up all by himself. That night he is too full to eat and goes to bed with a tummy ache. At night the boy is lifted from his bed by a parade of elephants. They take him to Artis where a group of monkeys and swans bring him to some birds of prey. One of them, a vulture, identifies him as "greedy Tobias" and lifts him up in the sky straight to the moon, personified by a large man sleeping on a cloud. The vulture drops Tobias into the moon's mouth, whereupon the boy wakes up with a scream. It turns out to have been a nightmare. Having learned his lesson Tobias now shares his food with all the animals (a dated moral to modern readers, since nowadays visitors are no longer allowed to feed zoo animals). 'De Geschiedenis van Gulzigen Tobias' seems inspired by Winsor McCay's 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (1905). In both cases a boy's dream is used as an excuse to create highly imaginative and beautifully designed fantasies. Even the artwork has a similar look. The book was published in oblong format. Bueno de Mesquita had another connection with Artis as well. In 1915 he made an an illustration for the liber amicorum of the director of Artis, C. Kerbert.

Billie Ritchie En Zijn Ezel

In 1914 Bueno de Mesquita travelled to Rome and Switzerland, where he stayed in the company of Dutch anthropologist and gay activist Arnold Aletrino. Between 1915 and 1916 the illustrator lived in Madrid where he studied the work of Diego Velazquez. In 1918 Bueno de Mesquita created another comic book, 'Billie Ritchie En Zijn Ezel' (1918). It stars the once popular Scottish film comedian Billie Ritchie (who looks a lot like Charlie Chaplin but whom always claimed Chaplin stole his act). The story is written in rhyme and features Ritchie riding a donkey in the park. He causes so much mayhem that he is arrested. The judge sentences him to jail, but Ritchie and his pet make so much noise that they are freed again under the condition that they will never repeat their offense again. Historically 'Billie Ritchie En Zijn Ezel' is important as probably the oldest example of a Dutch celebrity comic. The first Dutch celebrity comic about an actual Dutch celebrity was 'Ome Keesje' (1930s) , based on a character from the radio series 'De Familie Mulder', written by the performer in question, Willem van Cappellen, and illustrated by Henk Zwart.


David Bueno de Mesquita illustrated both the flyer and the brochure for the opening of the Sportfondsenbad in the Amsterdam Linneausstraat in 1929. The booklet contained a comic strip which presented the benefits of an indoor pool

In 1922 Bueno de Mesquita became the second official illustrator of Chris van Abkoude's 'Pietje Bell' novels. The first two books, 'Pietje Bell' (1914) and 'De Vlegeljaren van Pietje Bell' (1920), had been illustrated by Jan Rinke. Bueno de Mesquita visualized the young rascal's adventures from the book 'De Zonen van Pietje Bell' (1922) on, following up with 'Pietje Bell's Goocheloeren' (1924) and 'Pietje Bell in Amerika' (1929). Later books in the series have been illustrated by Jan Lutz, Henri Pieck (brother of Anton Pieck) and Hans Borrebach. In 1991 the original novel was adapted into a comic book by Dick Matena. David Bueno de Mesquita has furthermore provided much artwork for the society of sports funding, and the Amsterdam-based swimming pool Sportfondsenbad in particular (1929).

Bueno De Mesquita was a member of artists' societies like Arti et Amicitae and the St. Lucas Vereniging. He won both the Prix de Rome (1913) and the Willink van Collenprijs (1921). In 1929 he moved to Florence, Italy, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He passed away in 1962.

Billie Ritchie En Zijn Ezel

David Bueno de Mesquita in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

More about Bueno de Mesquita's work for the Sportfondsenbad on geheugenvanoost.amsterdam

Series and books by David Bueno de Mesquita in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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