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

Rik Clément was a Belgian journalist and comics artist, best remembered for his humoristic adventure series 'Dees Dubbel' (1955-1982), the humoristic detective series 'Piet Knap' (1963) and the medieval knight adventure series 'Ridder Reinhart', also known as 'Reinhart, De Eenzame Ridder' (1955-1963). He 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)

Henri Clément, who used pseudonyms like Rik and Rik Leeman, was born in Sint-Amandsberg in 1920. When he was twenty years old, he studied painting at the St. Lucas Institute in Ghent, but World War II interrupted this within a year. Inspired by Hergé, Clément published his first comics in 1943. They appeared in the 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 Dutch children's magazine of the same name, which appeared between 1953 and 2016). Through this job he became a reporter and editor for Het Volk, illustrating his own articles.

Reinhart by Rik Clement

On 21 February 1949, Clément published his first genuine comic strip build around a recurring character, Bazielken. The adventures of Bazielken appeared in Het Volk and kicked off with the story 'Bazielken in Amerika'. Written by Pol Ingier, the comic had a satirical streak and would continue for three stories more until 1950. 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 even became chief editor of Ons Zondagsblad. Clément's illustrations furthermore appeared in Vlaamse Filmpjes, Snoeck's Almanak, as well as the magazines De Week and Le Courier d'Afrique, which appeared in the Belgian colony Congo. For De Volksmacht he drew 'Everard 't Serclaes' (1955), a comic book adaptation of Hendrik Conscience's eponymous chivarly novel. 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, as well as the text comic 'Pat Patterson - Het Groene Oog' (1959). Another creation for this weekly was the gag comic 'Kadijster' (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.

Kadijster by Rik Clement

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 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 its thirteen pages in total were made a few years earlier. Clément also illustrated several of 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 also 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. Much more long-lived were the adventures of the lonely medieval knight Reinhart who made his debut in 't Kapoentje on 10 November 1955 as 'Reinhart, de eenzame ridder'. Drawn in a realistic style which obviously borrowed a lot from the work of Harold Foster and H.G. Kresse, Reinhart appeared in eleven stories until 1963. That year, on 25 June 1963, Clément made another series for 't Kapoentje, 'Jan Knap', about a brilliant detective. Jan Knap (also known as 'Dick Durf') would enjoy three stories before Clément called it quits.

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

Yet Clément's best known and longest running series was 'Dees Dubbel'. The pot-bellied moustache wearing character was first introduced to readers on 27 November 1955 in Ons Zondagsblad. He experienced 45 long adventures until 1982, alongside his faithful sidekick César, who made his debut when 'Dees Dubbel' moved from Het Zondagsblad to Het Volk in 1965. 'Dees Dubbel' has been subject of a strange controversy for several years, with people noticing the similarities between his character and Marc Sleen's comics series 'Doris Dobbel'. Both protagonists not only shared an almost similar name but also a physical resemblance in the sense that they both were obese middle-aged men who wore black trousers. Both Clément as well as Sleen have been accused of plagiarizing one another. However, those who bothered to actually check the publication dates soon found out these accusations were completely ungrounded. 'Doris Dobbel' debuted in 1950 and was a gag comic, while Clément's series debuted five years later and was a humoristic adventure series. Sleen and Clément did work for the same newspaper, so the similarities were perhaps not so strange. But the colleagues got along fine with one another. 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

Several of Clément's most popular comics like 'Ridder Reinhart', 'Dees Dubbel', 'Jan Knap' and 'De Musketiers van 't Schipperskwartier' were also reprinted in Het Volk's weekly youth supplement Ohee!, even though Jan Knap was renamed 'Dick Durf' for the occasion. 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

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