Dees Dubbel, by Rik Clement
Dees Dubbel - 'Het Gouden Kanon' (Ohee #617).

Rik Clément was a Belgian journalist and comic artist, best remembered for his humorous adventure series 'Dees Dubbel' (1955-1982), the humorous detective series 'Jan Knap' (also known as 'Dick Durf', 1963-1964) and the medieval knight adventure series 'Ridder Reinhart' (also known as 'Reinhart, De Eenzame Ridder', 1955-1963). He was a regular contributor to the children's magazines Ohee, Zonneland and 't Kapoentje. Clément should not be confused with Rik Jottier, whose comics were also also signed with merely "Rik".

cover for Ohee!, by Rik Clément (16/1/1965)cover for Zonneland, by Rik Clément (#47, 1963)
Covers for Ohee! (22 August 1970) and Zonneland (#47, 1963).

Early life and career
Henri Clément, who used pseudonyms like Rik and Rik Leeman, was born in 1920 in Sint-Amandsberg, a sub-municipality of Ghent. When he was twenty years old, he studied painting at the St. Lucas Institute in Ghent, but within a year World War II interrupted his studies. Inspired by Hergé, Clément published his first comics in 1943. They appeared in the children's supplement of the Nazi-controlled newspaper De Jonge Nationaal-Socialist. After the war, Clément picked up his studies again and graduated in art history and architecture at the University of Ghent. Initially he earned his money as a painter and illustrator, while considering a job as teacher. In the late 1940s he made drawings for the children's supplement of the newspaper Het Volk, named Taptoe (not to be confused with the 1953-2016 Dutch children's magazine of the same name). Through this job he became a reporter and editor for Het Volk, illustrating his own articles.

Reinhart by Rik Clement
'Ridder Reinhart', 'De Weerwolf van het Ravenbos'. 

On 21 February 1949, Clément published his first genuine comic strip build around a recurring character, Bazielken. The adventures of Bazielken appeared in the newspaper Het Volk and kicked off with the story 'Bazielken in Amerika'. Written by Pol Ingier, the comic has a satirical streak and continued for three stories more until 1950.

One-shot comics
Clément was also present in the sister magazines of Het Volk, namely the Sunday supplement Ons Zondagsblad, and the children's weekly 't Kapoentje, as well as their Walloon counterparts Samedi Jeunesse and Le Petit Luron. In 1970 he became chief editor of Ons Zondagsblad. Clément's illustrations additionally appeared in Vlaamse Filmpjes, Snoeck's Almanak and the magazines De Week and Le Courier d'Afrique, distributed in the Belgian colony Congo. For De Volksmacht he drew 'Everard 't Serclaes' (1955), a comic book adaptation of Hendrik Conscience's chivarly novel of the same name. It appeared in text comics format, with the text written beneath the images. For Averbode's Weekblad, Clément made moody and expressionist illustrations for text stories by John Flanders, and the text comic 'Pat Patterson - Het Groene Oog' (1959). Another creation for this weekly was the gag comic 'Kadijster' (introduced on 31 January 1960). Clément's drawings also showed up in print in Averbode's magazine Zonneland, where he published four adventures of 'De Musketiers van 't Schipperskwartier' from 4 March 1962 on. 'De Musketiers van 't Schipperskwartier' were later reprinted in Ohee, the weekly children's supplement of the newspaper Het Volk. 

For Het Volk's children's supplement 't Kapoentje, Clément designed headers, logos, lettering and, of course, illustrations and comics. These were also published in its Walloon counterpart Le Petit Luron. He illustrated the stories 'De Mannen van 't Pleintje'. Together with his good friend, novelist John Flanders, he made the one-shot 13-page adventure comic 'Het Vuur van St. Elmus' (1952), based on a folkloric legend from the Shetland Islands. It appeared in 't Kapoentje from 20 November 1952 on, but was already a few years old before publication. Clément was additionally the creator of the character 'Vader Kapoen', a fatherly figure who told stories to the young readers of 't Kapoentje. In 1969, Buth used the same character, but in a redesigned version, to present historical-educational biographical comics, written and drawn by himself. 

Clément also illustrated several of John Flanders' novels and collaborated with him on the realistic adventure comic 'Pat Patterson en het Groen Oog' (1959), which appeared in Averbode's Weekblad. Clément and Flanders additionally created the one-shot mystery and adventure stories, 'De Straat der 7 Duivels', 'De Rokende Doodskop' and 'Kerstnacht te Preston'. These three stories were reprinted in 2001 by Brabant Strip in their 'Fenix' series as one album. A longer story by Flanders and Clément from the same period, 'De Steeg Van De Gehangene' was also reissued in album format by Brabant Strip in 2004.

Rik Clément also drew two propaganda comics to motivate readers to vote for respectively Christian Democratic politicians Stijn Couvreur and Anne-Marie De Moor. Other Belgian cartoonists who once made party propaganda comics have been Luc Cromheecke, Ian, Mark Janssen and Geert Kinnaert.

Kadijster by Rik Clement

Ridder Reinhart 
One of Clément's more long-lived comic series was 'Reinhart, De Eenzame Ridder', later shortened to 'Ridder Reinhart' (1955-1963). This chivalry comic about a lonely medieval knight debuted on 10 November 1955 in children's magazine 't Kapoentje. The series was also reprinted in Ohee, the weekly children's magazine of newspaper Het Volk. 'Ridder Reinhart' is a dramatic series, drawn in a realistic style, which obviously borrows a lot from Harold Foster's 'Prince Valiant' and H.G. Kresse's 'Eric de Noorman'. In fact, Reinhart's face bears a canny resemblance to Eric de Noorman's physical appearance. The noble knight enjoyed eleven long adventures until 1963.

Jan Knap
From 25 June 1963 on, Clément introduced another series in 't Kapoentje, 'Jan Knap', about a brilliant detective. The character was in many ways a direct rip-off of Maurice Tillieux' 'Gil Jourdan', down to his design and profession. The series was also reprinted in Ohee, the weekly children's magazine of newspaper Het Volk, albeit under a different title: 'Dick Durf'. In total only three complete stories were made.

Everard t' Serclaes, by Rik Clément
'Everard t'Serclaes'.

Dees Dubbel
Clément's best known and longest-running series was 'Dees Dubbel'. The pot-bellied, moustached character was first introduced to readers on 27 November 1955 in Ons Zondagsblad. A decade later, when the series moved to a different newspaper, Het Volk, Dees was given a sidekick: César. 'Dees Dubbel' additionally appeared in Het Volk's children's supplement Ohee. The adventures of 'Dees Dubbel' lasted until 1982, with 45 long stories in total. 

Dees Dubbel: controversy
Oddly enough for such a straightforward innocent humor series, 'Dees Dubbel' was twice subject of controversy. During the early years Clément was once approached by a canon because Dees and his sister shared the same home. The priest felt this was "too suggestive" and forced the artist to do something about it. Indeed, in the next story Dees moved out of his sister's house, but still remained closeby, in a trailer in her garden. A far stranger and longer-lasting controversy was the supposed plagiarism between 'Dees Dubbel' and Marc Sleen's comic series 'Doris Dobbel'. Both protagonists not only share an almost similar name but also a physical resemblance in the sense that they both are obese middle-aged men who wear black trousers. Given that Sleen and Clément both worked for Het Volk, the similarities were even more notable. Over the years, some readers accused either Clément or Sleen of ripping each other off. However, those who bothered to actually investigate the matter soon found out that these accusations were completely ungrounded. 'Doris Dobbel' debuted in 1950 and is a gag comic. 'Dees Dubbel' was first published in 1955 and is a humorous adventure series. It should also be noted that Sleen and Clément got along fine with each other. Even though Sleen made a humorous nod to Clément by having his name appear in Satan's 'Book of the Damned' in the 'Nero' story 'De Ark van Nero' (1952-1953), where Nero visits Hell. But Sleen also added the name of another colleague there, Michel Casteels, as well as his own.

Jan Knap by Rik Clement
'Jan Knap'.

Final years and death
Clément remained a productive illustrator throughout most of the 1950s and 1960s. He could work quick and efficient, which made him much in demand. Not bothered by any artistic pretenses, Clément made simple adventure comics of which amusement was the only goal. He saw his comics career as second to his journalistic career. In 1986 he quit drawing comics, but remained active writing journalistic reports under the pseudonym "Clem Henry" until the early 2000s. Notable articles dealt with the stolen panel from the triptych 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb', a painting by Jan and Hubert van Eyck, in the Sint-Baafskathedraal in Ghent. He passed away in 2008.

Rik Clément photo
Rik Clément.

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