De Tweede Kus by Conz
'De Tweede Kus'.

Conz is part of the new wave of Flemish graphic novelists who emerged in the 2000s. He is known for the graphic novels 'Toen Ik Nog Baas Van De Wereld Was' (2004) and the 'De Tweede Kus' trilogy (2005-2007). The books are characterized by a strong sense for humanity and nostalgia, and have earned their creator much praise for his storytelling qualities.

Early life 
Constantijn Van Cauwenberghe was born in 1977 in Ukkel, near Brussels. His father was Johan Van Cauwenberghe, a well-known Flemish radio presenter, poet and graphical artist. Conz counts Hergé, Edgar P. Jacobs, Morris, Jef Nys, Alan MooreDaniel Clowes, Chester Brown and Frank Miller’s version of 'Batman' among his graphic influences. He studied at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels, where he graduated in animation and graphic design, with a specialization in comics. Among his teachers were Pascal Lefèvre and Nix.

Early career
In 2000 he published a short comic story in the magazine Demo about a high school basketball team. In November of that year, one of his teachers, Johan Stuyck, published INK, a three monthly magazine in which young graphic talent could publish work. Originally most of Conz' contributions were sardonic parodies of other comics series. Eventually he started creating more original work, encouraged by Jan Bucquoy. Most of these comics were autobiographical in nature.


'Toen Ik Nog Baas Van De Wereld Was'.

Toen Ik Nog Baas Van De Wereld Was
His comic book 'Toen Ik Nog Baas Van De Wereld Was' (2004), published by Oogachtend, was a collection of five semi-autobiographical short stories about his childhood in Leuven. They were all originally published in Ink, except for the final short story. A running thread through all tales is that Conz and his best friend Martin are often caught up in their imagination, missing out on what is really going on around them. Conz' grandma, for instance, is in ailing health. And while Conz and Martin enjoy playing medieval knights, their friendship later drifts apart once Martin and a local girl fall in love. Conz has stated that most of the stories in the beginning are based on true events, while later "anecdotes" are mostly imagined. He did confirm that he once dropped his pants in the city park. 

De Tweede Kus
Conz followed this up with the three graphic novels 'Ringo' (2005), 'Martha' (2006) and 'Hanne' (2007), all published by Oogachtend. The three books form the 'De Tweede Kus' trilogy, which was translated in French as 'Quelque Part Les Etoiles' in 2011. A touching and emotional story about being young, relationships and broken dreams, it established the author's reputation of a great storyteller. In a combination of present time, flashbacks and flashforwards, Conz tells the story of young Ringo, who travels to Australia to run away from his demons and find his childhood sweatheart Hanne.

De Slag om Turnhout
In 2006 Conz was the official city artist of Turnhout, during which he made the pantomime comic 'De Slag om Turnhout' (2006). The book, which basically centered around a walk through foggy Turnhout, was published in a limited edition by Strip Turnhout.


'Martha'.

Wat Zie Je In De Zee?
In 2009 Lannoo published the comic 'Wat zie je in de zee?', a pantomime comic book about various sea creatures, aimed at toddlers. 

Recognition
In 2005 Conz' 'Toen Ik Nog Baas Van De Wereld Was' won the Debut Prize at the Comics Festival of Turnhout (aka 'De Blikken Biebel').  

Jomme(ke)
In 2010 he was one of many artists who made a graphic contribution to the book 'Jommekes Bij De Vleet' (2010), which paid homage to 'Jommeke' creator Jef Nys. In 2020, Conz contributed his version of the 'Jommeke' episode 'De Haaienrots' to the spin-off collection 'Jomme'. Previous volumes in this series were reinterpretations of classic 'Jommeke' stories by Griffo and Steven Dupré.

Graphic contributions
He was one of the contributors to the 2013 anthology 'Bruss: Brussels in Shorts' by publisher Oogachtend. For the Facebook page of the Dutch comic publisher Strip2000, he furthermore made the strip 'Felix & Co'. In 2017 he also paid tribute to André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' in the collective homage album 'Gefeliciflaterd!' (2017). The next year Conz wrote the script to 'Boemerang' (2018), a graphic novel illustrated by Steven Dupré. The story revolves around Theofiel Boemerang, the vacuum cleaner salesman from Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske', who is reimagined as a dictator-like capitalist living in a dystopian universe.

Other activities
Conz combines his comics with making illustrations for books and magazines. Among his clients are De Standaard, Ikea, Klara and Honda Motors. He is a regular cartoonist for Leuven Actueel, Tienen Actueel, Aarschot Actueel and STORA, making jokes about current events. Conz works as a part-time teacher at the animation department of a college in Mechelen. He also makes regular illustrations for the comics store Gobelijn in Leuven, including their current logo: a small demon with a pointy nose reading a comic. Among general audiences Conz gained some media fame after being a guest in the popular TV quiz 'De Slimste Mens ter Wereld' in 2006. Since 13 March 2015 he also has his own blog. 


'Wat zie je in de zee?'.

conzcomics.wordpress.com

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