Guardian by Robbert Damen
Guardian - Gillian (Eppo #18, 2014)

Robbert Damen is a Dutch illustrator and comic artist. He has been a regular scriptwriter for comic magazines like Donald Duck, Tina, Taptoe and Wild van Freek since the mid-1990s, and is known for his own creations 'Guardian' in Eppo (since 2012) and 'Prinses Simone' in Tina (since 2017). He has additionally worked on comics in commission for both commercial clients and educational publishers, several in collaboration with Daniel van den Broek ('Captain Ecki', 'Calamity Jane', 'Roar').

Early life and career
Born in Noordwijkerhout in 1971, Robbert Damen grew up in the so-called "Bulb Region" ("Bollenstreek"), known for its iconic flower fields. As a child he was an avid reader of the comic magazines Eppo, Kuifje (Tintin) and Donald Duck. While his collection grew, the artists with the most lasting impression became André Franquin, Didier Conrad, Piet Wijn and Grzegorz Rosinski. From 1995 onwards he began publishing his work in the Dutch indie comic magazines Impuls and De Stripper. Since 1998 he has been working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist under the Damen Illustraties banner. Since then, he has provides both scripts and artwork to a variety of comic magazines and educational publishers.

Snoek, by Robbert Damen (1993)
Snoek (Striparazzi 3, 1999)

Snoek en trawanten
Damen's first regular feature was the gangster humor comic 'Snoek', AKA 'Snoek en Trawanten' (1999-2009). It first appeared in 1999 in the comic magazine Striparazzi, which however folded four issues later. New episodes then appeared in De Stripper (1999-2002), the comics news magazine StripNieuws (2003-2007) and MYX (2008). In a 2009 comics contest held by free public transport newspaper De Pers, 'Snoek en Trawanten' made it to the final rounds, but didn't win. The comic has remained dormant since.

Donald Duck by Robbert Damen

Disney scripts
Robbert Damen wrote his first scripts for the Dutch Donald Duck weekly in 1996, and has been writing Disney comics on a more regular base since 2007. Damen's scripts mainly star Donald Duck and his family, but he has also written occasional episodes of Madam Mim and Little Hiawatha. Damen illustrated a couple of stories himself, but discovered he didn't feel at ease with the Disney art style. By request of editor Jos Beekman, he has been writing more adventurous stories with Mickey Mouse and Goofy since 2014. For the occasion, the Disney mouse changed back to his original red shorts and more edgy character traits, leaving behind his goody-two-shoes image of the years before.

Ten Cate & Co by Robbert Damen

Tina
In 2002, Robbert Damen made his first appearance in the girls' magazine Tina. Trying out a more realistic drawing style, he wrote and drew several stand-alone short stories between 2002 and 2007. Six short stories were part of the series 'Ten Cate & Co' (2003-2005), and starred a teenage girl destined to become a private investigator. He also wrote several stories which were then drawn by other artists. By 2007 the editors requested Damen to develop a new comics series involving a pop group. This resulted in 'SfinX', which has remained one of the magazine's regular features since. Until 2010, Robbert Damen wrote the series for artist René Bergmans, who then continued on his own.


Illustrations for Taptoe #6, 2010.

Taptoe Team
Besides the Sanoma magazines Donald Duck and Tina, Robbert Damen has also worked extensively for the magazines of Malmberg and Blink Uitgevers. In 2009 he was asked to develop a new set of characters to coincide with a complete restyling of Malmberg's school magazine Taptoe. The 'Taptoe Team' concept was introduced in August 2009, and featured a gang of five heroes and a dog, who have to solve a mystery in each issue. Damen provided the scripts and some illustrations, while Sander de Fouw drew the comic stories. The duo also provided a gag strip starring the team dog, 'Odin vraagt zich af...' ("Odin wonders..."). The restyled Taptoe won the 2009 Mercur Award for "Crossmedial Concept of the Year". Damen and De Fouw remained responsible for Taptoe's mascots until the final issue in August 2016, by then published by Blink Uitgevers.


Finn & Fab

Other magazine work
They continued their collaboration in Taptoe's follow-up Wild van Freek, an educational magazine about wildlife, built around popular TV biologist Freek Vonk. Besides comic stories with Vonk himself, they made a strip about his pet rock monitor, called 'Johans wilde avonturen'. Damen left the comic in early 2018, after which Pascal Oost took over the writing duties. Between 2013 and 2018, Damen succeeded Margreet de Heer as the writer of 'Stuntelman', another comic drawn by Sander de Fouw, this time for National Geographic Junior. Damen additionally created the soccer comic 'Finn & Fab' (2015), of which he wrote and drew seven episodes for Just Kick It! magazine of publisher Lef in 2015.

Guardian
Damen's most personal comics project is 'Guardian'. Introduced in the first 2012 issue of comic magazine Eppo, the Guardian is a 19th century heroine with supernatural powers, who fights crime in a mystical Victorian age. The vigilante introduces herself as an inspector of Scotland Yard, but her background is in fact shrouded in mystery. Over the course of the stories, the author gradually reveals more about her past. After several short and semi-long episodes, 'Ophelia' (2016) was the first full-length serial of 46 pages. The series has been collected in book format by Rob van Bavel's Don Lawrence Collection.

Prinses Simone by Robbert Damen
Prinses Simone (Tina #3, 2017)

Prinses Simone
In late 2016 Robbert Damen was once again approached by the Tina editors to develop a new regular comic series, this time about a princess who wants to be a normal teenager. Written and drawn by Damen, 'Prinses Simone' was introduced in early 2017. She is the crown princess of Eenderland, a state that has exactly one of everything: one city, one school, one soccer club, etc. The only child of king Bruno and queen Nova, she is forced in a royal straitjacket, but actually desires to be "normal". She befriends Ché, the daughter of Eenderland's only republican, and develops a crush for the boy nextdoor, the farmer's son Prince, while driving the country's only secretary of state Van der Reutel mad with her behavior. Damen's daughter Emma provides the coloring. Personalia has published the series in book format since 2019.

Van Toen Tot Nu by Robbert Damen
Van Toen Tot Nu - The Roman Limes

Comics in commission
Robbert Damen also works as a comic artist and illustrator for commercial clients, often with an educational mission. In 2003 he produced a comics and activity book ('Het Grote Kapitein Haak Avonturenboek') for the thematic restaurant Kapitein Haak in Leidschendam. He was aided on the inking by Robby van der Meulen. In 2013, Damen was the illustrator and comic artist of the two-volume book set 'Van Toen Tot Nu', a joint production of Studio Stampij and Big Balloon. The illustrated books with comic segments portray fifty important events, people and objects from the history of the Netherlands. Since 2016 he has a steady collaboration with artist Daniel van den Broekfor several projects. Through the Jora Vision agency, they have made two comic albums with 'Captain Ecki', the mascot of the German holiday resort Tropical Island in Krausnick-Groß Wasserburg, Brandenburg. Damen and Van den Broek continued their collaboration at Zwijsen, a publishing house of educational books. They have worked on several comic books aimed at readers with a specific language levels. 'Calamity Jane' (2020) tells about the childhood of the famous historical Wild West adventurer, and was first serialized in Tina. 'Roar' (2020) is about a little Viking boy, who can transform into a polar bear. Damen and Van den Broek's next project was 'Jules Verne' (2021), about the childhood years of the legendary19th century science fiction writer. Serialization began in the second issue of the new Belgian comic magazine Maxix in April 2021.

Damen shares a studio space with Alex van Koten and Michiel Offerman in the center of Haarlem. With Offerman, Damen has made a tribute story to Martin Lodewijk's 'Agent 327' for Eppo (March 2017) and a revival of Dick Matena and Dino Attanasio's classic gangster comic 'Johnny Goodbye' for the 13th edition of Stripglossy magazine (2019). With Van Koten he co-plotted a couple of Disney scripts. As a team, the three men have been working on a series of comic booklets about 'KFC Smikkelburg' (2020), that are distributed with the Kids Meals at Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. The assignment came through the editors of Donald Duck (DPG Media), who were approached with the project by KFC Northern Europe. Since they couldn't use Disney characters, they developed a completely new concept and set of characters, presenting a fictional funny animal franchise of the fastfood restaurant. Damen and Van Koten write the stories, with Offerman doing the art duties. Editorial sections are written by DPG's comic editor Bas Schuddeboom, while Emma Damen provides the coloring. The first installment went into circulation in November 2020.

Storm & Roodhaar
In early 2020, Robbert Damen wrote and drew a special story of 'Storm', on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of this Dutch science fantasy saga, created by Martin Lodewijk and Don Lawrence in 1975. It was published in Eppo #11 of 2020. Later that year, he also wrote the sixth episode of the spin-off series 'De Kronieken van Roodhaar' ("The Chronicles of Roodhaar"), of which the previous episodes were written for Eppo by Roy Thomas and then Rob van Bavel. The series is drawn by regular 'Storm' artist Romano Molenaar.


Robbert Damen, signing 'Prinses Simone' at the Tina Festival 2019.

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