Charel Cambré is a Flemish illustrator, animator and comics artist. He is best known for his various celebrity comics based on popular Flemish media stars, such as 'De Pfaffs' (2002-2003), 'Spring' (2004-2007), 'Mega Mindy' (2007-2009), 'K3' (2009-...) and the more satirical 'Albert en Co' (2008-2013, renamed 'Filip van België' from 2013 on), about the Belgian royal family. Since 2005 he is one of the main artists continuing Willy Vandersteen's long-running and succesful series 'Suske en Wiske'. He was also the artist who drastically rebooted the franchise with the spin-off series 'Amoras' (2013), scripted by Marc Legendre. This modernized and more mature spin-off polarized audiences, but nevertheless became a huge best-seller, paving the way for many similar projects reimagining Vandersteen's characters. Cambré also draws a series of his own named 'Jump' (2007), about a group of adventurous teenagers. He is one of the few artists in the otherwise so despised celebrity comics genre who managed to outgrow this niche and gain more respect from critics and audiences alike. Not only is his artwork more accomplished, but he is also able to write funny gags and stories of his own.
Cambré was born in Herenthout in 1968. He studied arts in Lier for three years, and then spent another four years at the Animation Academy in Ghent. He cooperated with several French and German animation projects through Graphics & Animations in Antwerp and worked in advertising through Disket in Turnhout. He also drew cartoons for magazines, including the weekly feature 'Jaak' in Vacature. In the late 1990s he proposed his gag comic 'Streetkids' to Suske en Wiske Weekblad, and was accepted.
Between 2002 and 2003 Cambré drew two comic book albums based on the popular reality TV series 'De Pfaffs' starring goal keeper Jean-Marie Pfaff and his family. The stories were pre-published in Dag Allemaal. Cambré wasn't the first comics artist to publish a comic book about Pfaff, though. Two decades earlier, in 1984, F. Defossez already drew 'Jean-Marie Pfaff - De Held van München'. In 2004 Cambré went to work for Studio 100, the succesful Flemish children's media concern and drew several comic books based on their popular children's shows. Aided by script writers Luc Morjaeu and Bruno de Roover and inkers Steven Dupré and Randall.C, he drew 'Spring!' (2004-2007) and 'Mega Mindy' (2007-2009). In 2009 he continued the comic series about Studio 100's popular girl group K3 by Patriek Roelens, which is scripted by Jan Ruysbergh and inked by Pol Vierset.
In 2005 Marc Verhaegen was fired as the main artist behind 'Suske en Wiske' at Studio Vandersteen. This opened opportunities for Morjaeu and Cambré, who joined the studio and quickly worked themselves up as one of the franchise's prime artists. The first album they collaborated on was 'Het Slapende Goud' (2005), along with Walter Van Gasse. The same year Cambré was one of many artists to celebrate Suske and Wiske's 60th anniversary in the book '60 Jaar Suske en Wiske' (2005). Another comic strip Cambré paid homage to was Jef Nys' Jommeke in the book 'Jommekes Bij De Vleet' (2010).
In 2007 Cambré began his own comic series 'Jump' at Standaard Uitgeverij. It centers around the courageous young skater Dweezil, the confident inline skater Lisa, geeky but clever Brains and their pet armadillo Armando. Cambré wrote and drew all stories personally, but left the inking to Jan van Rooij. In 2012 the publisher cancelled the series, but it found a new home at publisher Strip2000. Cambré furthermore made contributions to 'Defensie Stript' (2005), a comic book to promote the Belgian army and 'Brussel in Beeldekens' (2009), a collaborative comics project about the history of Brussels. He also assisted Tom Bouden on a few adventures of 'Kroepie en Boelie Boemboem'.
The artist is also well known for his gag comic 'Albert & Co' (2008). A gentle satire of Belgian royalty, it depicts king Albert II, queen Paola and Fabiola, prince Filip & Mathilde, prince Laurent and Claire and their respective children in humoristic situations which exaggerate their public image. In 2013 Albert II abdicated and was succeeded by Filip, which lead to a title change: 'Filip van België' and yet another in 2016: 'Filip & Mathilde'. All gags are pre-published in Story.
Between 2013 and 2015 Cambré and scriptwriter Marc Legendre breathed new life in 'Suske en Wiske' by creating a five-volume spin-off series named 'Amoras', based on an original idea of Ronald Grossey who previously made a similar reboot of Vandersteen's 'De Rode Ridder' with Marvano under the name 'The Red Knight'. While 'The Red Knight' was hardly commented upon 'Amoras' caused a veritable media storm! Online teasers showed a more realistic drawing style with mature, action-packed and even gory content. The official press release went so far to publish an obituary for the character Wiske, which further outraged fans. 'Amoras' is set in the future year of 2047, with Suske and Wiske being young adults rather than children. Other characters and familiar elements of the franchise are reimagined in the style of an American superhero comic. The project either intrigued or upset audiences. Some felt it betrayed the fun and family-friendly spirit of the original series by making it overly violent, erotic and filled with foul language. It bowed down to commercialism and Americanized a beloved Flemish classic. Others felt 'Amoras' was a fresh new look at the franchise, which actually took some chances the original series never dared (or was allowed ) to take. Either way Standaard Uitgeverij reassured purists that the traditional 'Suske en Wiske' stories would keep running without any changes and that 'Amoras' would be its own separate entity.
As always, the scandal did translate in huge sales. 'Amoras' even became the best-selling 'Suske en Wiske' album in decades! This paved the way for more 'Amoras' albums and new spin-offs, such as the prequel 'De Kroniek van Amoras' (2017), which was also drawn by Cambré and scripted by Legendre. In 2014 Vandersteen's 'Jerom de Gouden Stuntman' was also rebooted as 'J-Rom- Force of Gold', a spin-off series by Romano Molenaar and Bruno De Roover, which reimagined Jerom as an American-style superhero. In 2015 Cambré, Ilah, Jan Bosschaert, Ivan Adriaenssens, Kim Duchateau and Kris Martens were asked to draw an adventure of 'Suske en Wiske' in their own style, based on a story by a celebrity. Cambré made the story 'De Spitse Bergen' with actor and TV host Tom Waes. The proceeds went to S.O.S. Children's Villages.
In 2015 Cambré launched the gag series 'Pinanti United', which is pre-published in the magazine Fan. It centers around an obese association football trainer, Raymond, who tries to run his juvenile club Pinanti United, despite continuous failures. The comic is notable for featuring regular cameos of real-life football stars.