Léonard invents the "gag" (artwork by Turk).

Bob De Groot began his career as a comic artist, but eventually established himself as a productive scriptwriter, best-known for his enduring assocation with the artist Turk. Beginning their collaboration in the late 1960s, the duo gained great fame with their Robin Hood parody 'Robin Dubois' (1969-1989, 2007-2008) in Tintin magazine and their longest-running series 'Léonard' (1974-2015), about an expy of Leonardo Da Vinci and his long-suffering assistant. With their slapstick humor and running gags, both series enjoyed tremendous commercial success, also in translation. Between 1970 and 1984, Turk and De Groot also continued the popular secret agent series 'Clifton', originally created for Tintin magazine by Raymond Macherot. When Turk left the series, De Groot created new 'Clifton' stories with the artist Bédu. Besides 'Clifton', scriptwriter Bob De Groot continued several other comic series originally created by others. In Tintin magazine, he worked extensively with the artist Walli on new adventures with 'Chlorophylle', a funny animal comic originally created by Raymond Macherot, and countless gags with 'Modeste et Pompon', an André Franquin creation. For Tibet, he wrote the final episodes of the kids' gang adventure series 'Le Club des Peur-de-Rien', and De Groot scripted several notable 'Lucky Luke' stories and 'Rantanplan' gags for Morris and his assistants in the post-Goscinny era. Later in his career, Bob De Groot co-created new series like 'Doggyguard' with Michel Rodrigue (1999-2000), 'Père Noël & Fils' with Philippe Bercovici (2006-2008) and 'Le Bar des Acariens' with Godi (2008-2009).

Early life and career
Robert De Groot was born in 1941 in the Belgian capital, Brussels. His father was a Dutchman working at the embassy, his mother a French housewife. Honoring his father, De Groot always kept his Dutch nationality. As a child, Bob enjoyed reading comics, particularly in Spirou magazine. In 1957, he enrolled at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in the Belgian capital, but dropped out after three years. While still a student, he got his first job through his sister, who worked for a communication company. One of its clients was Spirou's publisher Dupuis, for whom they organized beach games related to Spirou magazine. In the following year, the Dupuis marketing manager hired Bob De Groot for a job in the Dupuis art studio, where he did lettering work and layout chores.

Quand le 20 est tiré, il faut le boire by Bob de Groot
'Quand Le 20 est Tiré, Il Faut le Boire' (Kuifje/Tintin, 1966), artwork by Bob De Groot.

At Dupuis, De Groot got in touch with the comic artist Maurice Tillieux, of 'Félix' and 'Gil Jourdan' fame. Around 1963, De Groot became Tillieux's assistant on reworking his 1950s 'Félix' stories from Héroïc-Albums for new syndication to other magazines. Several of these stories had to be remounted and reworked. Some were extended and others had to be fully redrawn because the originals were missing. Under the new title 'Ange Signe', the remounted 'Félix' stories appeared in newspaper supplements like Recréation and Samedi-Jeunesse. Besides Bob De Groot, other young cartoonists who worked on these jobs for Tillieux were Jean-Marie Brouyère and Jean-Pol. Together with Brouyère, Bob De Groot also briefly worked in the studio of Greg, assisting on a long 1965 adventure with Quentin Gentil, one of the characters of the Greg series 'Les As' in Vaillant magazine.

Comic artist Bob De Groot
By the early 1960s, Bob De Groot also began working on his own comic stories. In May 1962, the first comic story written and drawn by Bob De Groot, 'Fusées Party', was printed as a mini-book in the center of Spirou issue #1256. In the next year, a second mini-book story followed, this time created in collaboration with his Dupuis studio colleagues Louis Salvérius and Serge Gennaux, 'L'Homme Moyen' (issue #1315). By 1963, Bob De Groot was also present in a weekly supplement of the newspaper Le Peuple with the character 'Roro'. For the Pum Pum supplement of the Flemish paper Het Laatste Nieuws, De Groot produced three serials with the character Jonas: 'Jonas en de Walvis' (1963-1964), 'Jonas, Publieke Vijand Nr. 1' (1965) and 'Jonas en De Rode Planeet' (in two parts, 1965-1967). The latter was made in collaboration with Hubuc, with whom De Groot also created the Spirou mini-book story 'Voyage au Bout de la Nuit' (1966) and several short stories and gags for Pilote magazine in the period 1966-1968. In addition, De Groot assisted Hubuc on the backgrounds of 'L'Aéromédon Populaire', a feature written by Fred. With that same writer, Bob De Groot launched the Pilote short story feature '4x4= 31. L'Agent Caméléon' (1968-1969), about a spy who can camouflage himself into anything.

'4x8=32 l'Espion Caméléon' - 'Farces et Attrapes' (Pilote #447, 16 May 1968).

Collaboration with Turk
After leaving the Dupuis art studio, Bob De Groot kept in touch with his old colleagues by occassionally dropping by the offices. During one of his visits, he was introduced to Philippe Liégeois, a young studio artist signing with the pseudonym "Turk". Turk was a jack-of-all-trades at the art studio, who cut and pasted previously serialized comics from Spirou magazine into a pocket book format for the publisher's 'Gag de Poche' series. One day, De Groot had trouble reaching his deadlines for '4&4=31. L'Agent Caméléon'. Turk helped him out with the artwork, which kicked off a lifelong friendship and creative collaboration. One of their earliest collective projects was 'Archimède' (1968), a feature printed in Spirou's mini-book section. It follows the unlucky adventures of a bespectacled office worker.

'Archimède' mini-booklet by Turk & De Groot, Dutch-language version from Robbedoes #1579 (18 July 1968).

Over the decades, Turk and De Groot worked on many comic projects. The two men shared a love for absurd, metafictional comedy and visual background jokes. Both loved the zaniness of classic Hollywood cartoons by Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera, with Turk deliberately imitating cartoony, dynamic action scenes in his drawings. The collaboration between Turk and De Groot was democratic: if a joke failed to make the other laugh, it wasn't used. Originally, the duo shared duties on the artwork, but De Groot eventually felt continuously redrawing the same characters and situations was becoming routinuous. He also acknowledged that his graphic skills paled in comparison with the grandmasters he admired, Spirou's Peyo, André Franquin, Morris, Maurice Tillieux and Jean Roba. Therefore, he eventually stepped back to exclusively focus on scriptwriting, while Turk concentrated on drawing. Turk had less problems with the routinuous aspect of drawing comics, since to him, his characters were like old friends: "A comic character isn't just a drawing: it's somebody who lives, whom we feel deep inside. This is even more true within the humorous genre. The author really enjoys the main characters, since he has to direct them (…) much like in a comedy film."

While De Groot rarely drew new comics himself after 1975, he always pencilled each page of his scripts as storyboard lay-outs. That way, the artists he collaborated with would have a direct visual aid. He took great care in pacing his stories as tight as possible, so the reader couldn't predict what would happen next. To write his stories, De Groot usually went to the same location. Every morning, he went to a specific parking lot near a gas station. The owners knew him and didn't disturb him. In some interviews, De Groot expressed the intention to one day write and draw another comic strip himself, but never got around to do so.

Robin Dubois by Turk & De Groot
Early episode of 'Robin Dubois', artwork by Turk & De Groot. Dutch-language version.

Robin Dubois
Turk and De Groot's 'Archimède' comics had caught the attention of Greg, who recruited the duo for Tintin magazine, where they created their first major series. In 1969, Turk and De Groot watched the 1938 Hollywood classic 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', starring Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Basil Rathbone as the Sheriff of Nottingham. They laughed at the melodrama and theatricality, which inspired them to create a Robin Hood parody. The title of their version, 'Robin Dubois', is based on the French name for Robin Hood, 'Robin du bois' ("Robin from the woods"), with "Dubois" spelled as if it's the character's last name. The series debuted in issue #1061 of Tintin magazine (27 February 1969), and was originally intended as a one-shot spoof. However, readers enjoyed it so much that chief editor Greg ordered more episodes. The early 'Robin Dubois' tales were short stories, following a continuous narrative. They had more suspense and the comedy, while silly, remained faithful to its historic setting. Robin (still drawn with a feathered hat) and the Sheriff were depicted as a clear hero and villain pair. The Sheriff also had an incompetent advisor, Adalbert, who is slapped whenever he says or does something stupid. Graphically, Turk drew short characters, with chubby bodies and short limbs. Eventually, only Robin and the Sheriff remained as recurring characters, while the series evolved into a straightforward silly one-page gag comic.

'Robin Dubois', books 3 and 4.

Right from the start, 'Robin Dubois' had little in common with the original Robin Hood. All the action is indeed set in Nottingham, near Sherwood Forest, where the Sheriff lives in a castle and Robin robs people in the woods. But otherwise, Turk and De Groot invented their own crazy universe, deriving further and further from the original folkloric tales. After a few episodes, Turk no longer drew Robin with a hat. Robin also robs people completely on his own and usually with a sword instead of a longbow. His catchphrase is "La bourse ou la vie?" ("Your purse or your life?"). He never gives any of his loot to the poor, either. His relation towards the Sheriff also depends from gag to gag. In some, Robin and the Sheriff are rivals, in others they are good friends and drinking buddies.

The real star of the series is the Sheriff. Turk and De Groot gave him the name Fritz Alwill, though everybody calls him by his official title. In reference to western sheriffs, Turk always draws Fritz with an anachronistic star badge on his shirt. Despite his high-profile position, the Sheriff is a complete loser. He is short-tempered, dumb and naïve. Whenever bad luck strikes, the Sheriff is usually the victim. By the time he realized Robin has bad intentions, he has already been clobbered down and robbed, shedding a tear in agony. He also fails as an authority figure, since nobody takes him seriously. His towering wife, Cunégonde, keeps him under her thumb. She forces him to accompany her while shopping, but it takes hours, sometimes months(!), before she decides her perfect outfit. Another running gag are the Sheriff's convoluted schemes to sneak out for a drink. Cunégonde forbids her henpecked husband to go to bars, so he either tries to speak up to her, or trick her into believing he has an urgent business to attend outside. But Cunégonde always gets her revenge. When he arrives home, late at night and drunk, she waits with her rollerpin in hand. It comes to no surprise that the Sheriff, and other males, are scared to death of her.

The Teutonic Knights with their German speech, from Robin Dubois book #2.

Apart from Robin and the Sheriff, Turk and De Groot didn't use any other major characters from the 'Robin Hood' legend. Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, or any of Robin's merry men, are rarely seen and often mere background characters with barely any lines. Other recognizable cast members are the Teutonic Knights, based on the real-life historic German chivalry order. Like their medieval predecessors, the Teutonic Knights in 'Robin Dubois' are depicted with wings on their helmets. Turk adds extra visual comedy by drawing other objects on their headwear, like bicycle handles, chandeliers or faucets. He also portrays the front part of their helmets as if they are part of their faces, showing the same facial expressions as characters who don't wear helmets. Another source of comedy are their strong German accents, accompanied by verbal tics like "Ja?", "Oder" and "Was?".  All other people in the comic are medieval stock characters, like monks, inn keepers, knights, archers, jesters, witches, tax collectors, giants, dragons and hairy dungeon prisoners.

The comedy in 'Robin Dubois' is deliberately silly and anachronistic. Characters are seen visiting hairdressers or waiting for trains, while Japanese tourists with cameras suddenly pop up. In one gag, the Sheriff is singing Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers in the Night', while cleaning his castle. Cameos from other comic characters are common too. In one gag, Robin lets a horde of buffaloes trample the Sheriff, which turn out to have been imported by Chief Redeye from Gordon Bess' gag comic of the same name (which also ran in Tintin magazine throughout the 1970s and 1980s). In the longer story 'Negoce en Écosse' (1984), Robin and the Sheriff travel to Scotland, where they mention that "the landscape looks familiar", while gazing at the cover of the Tintin album 'The Black Island'. Other gags break the fourth wall.

Robin Dubois on the cover of Tintin issue #44 of 6 November 1969 and #14 of 2 April 1974.

While most episodes of 'Robin Dubois' are one-page gags, some stories made in the 1980s are full-length adventures. In 'La Promenade des Anglais' (1983), the cast members are forced to go on a crusade, while in 'Négoce en Écosse' (1985), Robin and the Sheriff travel to Scotland to find the Monster of Loch Ness. By far the oddest story of them all is 'L'Eldoradingue' (1988), in which Robin, the Sheriff and the rest find themselves in a strange, dream-like universe with anthropomorphic pencils, a joke-telling compass, dangerous erasers, Henry Morton Stanley trying to find Dr. Livingstone, many references to 'Alice in Wonderland', and the characters eventually walking out of their comic pages, meeting other comic characters, like Dupa's Cubitus, Dany's Olivier Rameau and Turk and De Groot's own Clifton. In general, the full-length stories received less appreciation from fans than the one-page gags.

In 1985, Turk and De Groot left Tintin and took 'Robin Dubois' to Pif Gadget, where it ran for another five years until Pif's final issue. In 2007 and 2008, 'Robin Dubois' made a comeback at Lombard, again with De Groot as scriptwriter, but this time with Turk only on board as a creative supervisor. The artwork of these two new albums was provided by the team of Miguel Díaz Vizoso and Ludo Borecki

'Robin Dubois', books 17 and 21.

Robin Dubois: success
Together with Dupa's 'Cubitus' and Tibet's 'Chick Bill', 'Robin Dubois' was one of the few humor series in the otherwise serious and realistically-drawn Tintin magazine. It received the honor of appearing on the magazine back page, closing every issue off. Book compilations were published by Lombard since 1979. The series was so popular that it topped annual reader's polls in Tintin for seven consecutive years. In the 4 September 1979 issue of Tintin, 'Robin Dubois' celebrated its 10th anniversary, with graphic felicitations from within Tintin's entourage, but also by artists from Spirou, like André FranquinFrançois WalthéryWilly LambilPaul DeliègeMorrisMarc WasterlainWill and Raymond Macherot

'Robin Dubois' was translated in Dutch as 'Robin Hoed' and appeared both in the Dutch-language version of Tintin (Kuifje) and the Flemish comic magazine Ons Volkske. The series was additionally exported in German ('Robin Ausdemwald'). In the latter translation, the Teutonic knights don't speak German-sounding French but Swabian, a dialect variation of standard German.

Clifton #8 - 'Week-end to Kill' (1982, English edition by Cinebook), artwork by Turk.

While Turk and De Groot had just launced their successful 'Robin Dubois' spoof, they already embarked upon new projects shortly afterwards. In 1970, Turk and De Groot took over the humorous detective series 'Clifton', originally created by Raymond Macherot between 1959 and 1961 and revived in 1969 with a new story by Jo-El Azara and Greg. After one episode, Turk and De Groot took over, still working with Greg as co-scriptwriter for their first two stories 'Le Mystère de la Voix Qui Court' (1970-1971) and 'Le Voleur Qui Rit' (1972). Over the course of the 1970s, Turk and De Groot brought the adventures of the phlegmatic English private investigator back to the mood of Macherot's original stories. They knew they were on the right track when Macherot gave them a call to tell them he was impressed with their reboot. The duo also added their own flavor to the stories. They poked fun at British stereotypes, like their hyper politeness and total respect for Her Majesty, the Queen. In 'Alias Lord X' (1974-1975), a thief escapes from prison by playing the national anthem on his transistor radio, making all the police officers rise and stand in salute, while he gets away. Turk and De Groot also fleshed out some of the secondary characters. Clifton's housekeeper Miss Partridge received a bigger and more comedic role as a demanding surrogate mother. She often insists that Clifton only leaves his house if everything is left in neat order and if he wears a scarf. Turk and De Groot also introduced a new recurring character, commissioner John Haig, whose imbecility and clumsiness often irks Clifton. In '7 Jours Pour Mourir' (1978), Clifton also adopts a striped kitten, which he names James.

Turk and De Groot continued Clifton's adventures for 14 years. In 1983, Turk and De Groot's short story 'Un Pépin Pour Clifton' (1974) was adapted into an animated short, produced by Lombard's Belvision studio. In 1984, Turk passed the pencil to Bédu, while De Groot remained on board as scriptwriter until 1989. Bédu continued the series on his own until 1995. After a hiatus of 8 years, 'Clifton' was rebooted in 2003, with De Groot returning as scriptwriter and Michel Rodrigue joining him as co-scriptwriter and artist. Disappointing sales brought 'Clifton' to another halt in 2008. The brush-mustached detective returned to the scene in 2016, this time drawn again by Turk, but with Zidrou as new scriptwriter.

Macherot creations scripted by Bob De Groot: Clifton and Chlorophylle.

In 1970, Bob De Groot also scripted his first story for Raymond Macherot's other signature series, 'Chlorophylle', at that time drawn by Hubuc. Still it took another six years before he became the permanent scriptwriter of this classic funny animal comic, when he succeeded Greg in that role once again. Between 1976 and 1983, he wrote many new installments in the series, drawn by Dupa. In 1983, he also wrote the first episode drawn by Dupa's successor Walli, but then left the scriptwriting role to Michel de Bom, AKA Bom.

Additional Turk-De Groot collaborations
In addition to their main series, 'Robin Dubois', 'Clifton' and later 'Léonard', Turk and De Groot have collaborated on several other comics. For Tintin Sélection, for instance, they created one-shot humor comics like 'Adonis sur le Plateau!' (1970) and 'Opéra Cosmique' (1976). For Le Soir Jeunesse, the juvenile supplement of the newspaper Le Soir, the duo created the humorous western gag comic 'Buzz & Toby' (1971), about the cowboy Buzz and his talkative horse, Toby. In 1972, a movie version of Lewis Carroll's fantasy novel 'Alice in Wonderland' was released in theaters, directed by William Sterling. Greg scripted a comic strip adaptation ('Alice au Pays des Merveilles'), drawn by Daluc and Turbo. In reality, these names were collective pseudonyms for Dany ("Da"), Dupa (whose real name was "Luc" Dupanloup), Turk ("Tur") and Bob De Groot ("Bo"). The story was serialized in Le Soir and afterwards made available in book format by Lombard. In 1987, it was reprinted by MC Productions.

Between 1972 and 1976, Turk and De Groot also lended a helping hand to Tibet for his kids' gang adventure series 'Le Club-de-Peur-de-Rien', which appeared in the Junior supplement of the Chez Nous weekly. Turk assisted on the background, while Bob De Groot took over the scriptwriting duties from André-Paul Duchâteau for the five final stories. Also for Junior, Turk and De Groot created gags with the character 'Valentin'. In 1973, Turk and De Groot went on a more commercial route by making advertising comics for the cornflakes multinational Kelloggs. In 1984, Turk and De Groot made the short-lived three-panel gag comic 'Zoo-Zoo' for the comic news magazine Hop!. Each episode featured anthropomorphic animals in funny situations.

'Léonard', artwork by Turk.

In 1974, Bob De Groot wanted to add a new secondary character to his 'Robin Dubois' hit comic. He came up with a mad, bearded scientist, named Methusaleh. Tintin's chief editor Greg liked the character and suggested building a series around him. Turk and De Groot further developed this mad scientist into an expy of Leonardo da Vinci. The debut episode of their series, 'Léonard le Génie', usually shortened to 'Léonard', ran in the first issue of the short-lived Achille Talon Magazine (1 October 1974), based on the popularity of Greg's 'Achille Talon' comic. 'Léonard' is set in 16th-century Italy and has the same zany, anachronistic historical comedy as 'Robin Dubois'. Just like the real-life Da Vinci, Léonard is a genius inventor, far ahead of his time. In each episode, he comes up with a groundbreaking tool, machine or concept, which he often already announces at the start of the story by its modern name. Most of his inventions are constructed out of thin air, with tools or methods that are conveniently present for the sake of the gag. Léonardo, for instance, invents a radio, despite the fact that electronics don't exist yet. To the readers' amusement, he regularly deems some of these modern-day inventions "useless", or fails to see their future potential, because he simply uses them incorrectly, adds unneccessary accessories or because they lack an essential supplement. In one gag, for instance, Léonard invents the tin can, but forgets to invent a can opener. The mad scientist has additionally created stuff that follows no logic and only causes weird transformations. Regardless, his inventions either don't work, or a bit too well, making him unable to keep them under control, causing hilarious mayhem, with lots of collateral damage.

The main victim of Léonard's exploits is his goofy, lazy and clumsy assistant, Basile. Almost each episode kicks off with Léonard storming into Basile's bedroom, ordering him to "wake up". As a running gag, Basile is always asleep, or hides in unusual locations. The flexible assistant has been able to fit himself inside toasters, drawers and even bananas, just to avoid being disturbed. Basile has good reasons for not wanting to help Léonard. The lazy oaf claims he needs more than "22 hours of sleep every day" in order to feel fit. His master always forces him to do hard, exhausting and dangerous labor. In one episode, he makes Basile almost drown because he didn't realize that a lifebuoy shouldn't be made out of concrete. No matter how much Basile suffers, Léonard's only concern is that he will have to temporarily halt his scientific experiments until his "ungrateful" assistant has recovered. He doesn't tolerate criticism or disobedience either. Whenever Basil dares to doubt his master's intelligence and long-term vision, or simply doesn't want to help him, Léonard gets furious and beats or shoots the young intern black and blue. Basile is particularly frustrated since his master never gives him credit, nor pays him for his work. He does name inventions after Basile's endless list of brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts and other relatives, but never after Basile himself.

'Léonard', artwork by Turk.

Basile always gives in to his master's commands, reminding himself of his motto: "Je sers la science et c'est ma joie" ("I serve science and that's my joy"). But he clearly doesn't believe it, given that he often changes its phrasing and meaning. As pitiful Basile comes across, he sometimes owes his misfortune to his own stupidity. In one story, Léonard wants to prove that the world is round and the duo walks all around Earth, with Basile carrying his master's luggage. Eventually, they arrive at the back of their house, as Léonard predicted. Exhausted, Basile sighs he's glad the trip is finally over… only to turn around and begin the journey home, walking all the way back. Léonard's cook and housemaid Mathurine also dislikes the mad scientist, as his inventions often mess up rooms she has just cleaned, or because he and Basile mock her obesity. When her anger overpowers her, she thrashes the two around. Funny enough, her intelligence far exceeds Léonard's genius and she would probably have been hailed as a groundbreaking inventor in her own right, if Léonard wouldn't force her into doing chores instead.

'Léonard' books 2 and 33.

Much like George Herriman's Krazy Kat and Ignatz the Mouse, 'Léonard' also features a cat and a mouse who started out as mere background characters, but eventually received larger roles. In the early stories, the cat is named Prosper, but De Groot eventually felt Raoul sounded better. Raoul Chatigré and Bernadette the mouse were originally normal, mute pets. The only thing that set Raoul apart from other felines was his inability to see in the dark. But in the third album, an invention by Léonard gives him and Bernadette the power of speech. From that moment on, Raoul starts to comment on all the action around him. His ironic observations add extra comedy, especially since he often breaks the fourth wall. Bernadette the mouse also serves as a nurse whenever Léonard's inventions get Raoul hurt. Strange enough, a skull on Léonard's desk is also able to talk, without any explanation. He frequently starts monologues, complaining about the minor roles he has in the series. Turk and De Groot named him Yorick, after Hamlet's deceased friend in the famous Shakespeare play. The final recurring character in the series is Da Vinci's adopted daughter, Mozzarella. While Léonard and Mathurine serves as her surrogate parents, Basile regards her as a rival, since he lost his bedroom to her.

The comedy in 'Léonard' is the wackiest of all of Turk en De Groot's series. Basically, anything can happen, just like in a classic Hollywood cartoon. Léonard and Basile harm each other in painful ways, but a couple of panels later, they are back to normal. Each slapstick sequence is visualized with wild takes and funny body deconstructions. Although all action is set in the 16th century, Turk and De Groot don't let this get in the way of a funny joke. The cast members are seen using or referencing things that wouldn't be introduced until centuries later. In one gag, for instance, a writer takes interest in Léonard's submarines, space rockets and air balloons. When Léonard wonders whether he's a rival inventor who will steal his ideas, the man reassures him he is actually a novelist and introduces himself as Jules Verne. In another gag, Léonard invents television, but hasn't discovered a way to keep all the images within the TV set. As a result, all the cowboy movies, political debates, deep sea documentaries and children programs happen right in Léonard's living room. In another memorable episode, Basile flees to Tibet's comic series 'Ric Hochet', where the realistic atmosphere unfortunately makes his injuries more life-threatening.

Meta humor in 'Léonard', artwork by Turk.

The 'Léonard' gags are also filled with meta humor. One episode kicks off with Basile screaming at his master, who then tells him to stop, "since these big-lettered speech balloons cost a fortune in Chinese ink." Hypocritically enough, Léonard starts screaming himself, whereupon Raoul the cat puts on a Chinese straw hat and comments: "That speech balloon costs at least 4 euros worth of ink!". In another story, Léonard and Basile mix Latin citations in their speech. Raoul complains he can't understand them, until he notices the translation boxes for the readers, underneath each panel.

Since Léonard is a mad scientist, it allows for weird experiments, long voyages, time travel, cool robots, space exploration and other "scientifically illogic technology." But no matter how little sense each machine makes, Turk still took great care in making everything look technically possible. His childhood fascination with mechanics made this dedication a dream come true. In the same way, De Groot documented himself by reading biographies about the real-life Da Vinci. The historical Da Vinci, for instance, really had a housemaid named Mathurine. The comic writer also consulted the science magazine Science & Vie for additional inspiration.

When Achille Talon Magazine folded after six issues, 'Leonard' found a new home in the Dutch comic magazine Eppo, where it ran under the title 'Leonardo'. Around the same time, the Belgian publisher Dargaud launched a book series, both in French and Dutch. Dutch readers grew enormously fond of 'Léonard' and it remained a mainstay in Eppo's pages even when the magazine underwent several name changes during the 1980s and 1990s. The final incarnation folded in 1999, but when Eppo was relaunched in 2009, 'Léonard' made his comeback too. In French language, the 'Léonard' gags were prepublished in Pif Gadget, from 1979 until the final issue in 1993. After Bob De Groot's retirement in 2015, Turk continued the 'Léonard' series with the scriptwriter Zidrou.

Besides French and Dutch, 'Leonard' has appeared in English, German, Spanish, Polish, Greek, Russian, and – unavoidably – Italian translation. The comic was adapted into an animated series twice. In the early 1990s, the studio IDHR made a pilot episode, but the project wasn't further developed. In 2009, Philippe Vidal and his team made 78 episodes made in 3D animation.

'Léonard' on the cover of Eppo (#15 of 1978) and Pif Gadget (#683, 1982).

Tintin's prominent humor gag writer
By the 1970s, Bob De Groot was one of the main providers of humor comics in Tintin magazine. As detailed above, most of his creations were in collaboration with Turk, but he also collaborated with other artists, often as fill-in or new scriptwriter for already existing features. Between 1971 and 1974, he wrote several short stories for Bara's 'Ephémère en Rabudol', a feature about an eternal castaway, previously written by Vicq. Bob De Groot was also a regular gag writer for 'Modeste et Pompon', a sitcom gag series created for Tintin by André Franquin, but subsequently drawn by Dino Attanasio and Mittéï, before Bertrand Dupont became the new artist in 1976. De Groot worked on new gags with Dupont until the early 1980s, when Walli and Bom became the new authors of the feature. With Walli, De Groot had additionally created 'L'Oeuf' (1977-1979), an absurd gag strip about an anthropomorphic egg.

In addition, De Groot scripted comics based on Touky the Toucan, mascot of the toy brand Christiaensen. Two stories, drawn by Bertrand Dupont and Walli, were serialized in Tintin magazine between 1977 and 1978 and later published in book format.

'Touky le Toucan' #1 and 'Lucky Luke' #71.

Lucky Luke
Another popular European comic series with involvement of Bob De Groot was the humorous western comic 'Lucky Luke'. Since the death of scriptwriter René Goscinny in 1977, artist Morris had worked with several new scriptwriters to continue the series, published by Dargaud and then Lucky Comics. Since it is no small feat to follow in the footsteps of the legendary René Goscinny, Bob De Groot understandably felt the pressure to come up with something good. But Morris comforted him and said he didn't want his new collaborator to mimick Goscinny's style, but instead use his own humor and storytelling, because these were the qualities why De Groot was asked in the first place.

Overall, Bob De Groot scripted three stories, starting with 'Le Bandit Manchot' ('The One-Armed Bandit', 1981), a story centering on the arrival of gambling machines in the Far West. The story's villains are caricatures of actors Louis de Funés and Patrick Préjean. Over a decade later, De Groot wrote the plot of 'Marcel Dalton' (1998), in which the comic's main villains, the Dalton brothers, turn out to have an banker uncle. De Groot coincidentally also wrote the final 'Lucky Luke' album released during Morris' lifetime, 'L'Artiste-Peintre' (2001), in which 19th-century painter Frederic Remington plays a starring role. The latter story caused a small scandal when scriptwriter Dominique Vandael, AKA Dom Domi, sued for plagiarism, claiming that the plot and characters matched that of a 'Lucky Luke' script he had sent to Morris years earlier, but which was refused at the time. Morris and De Groot ventilated their disappointment that Vandael hadn't contacted them personally beforehand. De Groot also defended himself saying that he just wanted to pay homage to the painter Remington, whom he admired, and that, as a creative, he would never lay claim to other people's ideas.

Bob De Groot humor in the 'Lucky Luke' story 'Le Bandit Manchot' (1981).The "boss" is a caricature of film comedian Louis de Funés, while his big henchman (acting as his "horse") is a caricature of actor Patrick Préjean. 

Between 1997 and 2000, De Groot also wrote gags for the spin-off newspaper strip 'Rantanplan', starring the stupid guard dog from the 'Lucky Luke' comics. The artwork was provided by Vittorio Leonardo, while the gags were serialized in Télé Star and the JBD, a 1998 supplement to Le Journal du Dimanche. When the JBD folded, the gags appeared in the newspaper Le Figaro.

While best-known as a humorous writer, Bob De Groot proved he could also write serious drama with the two-parter 'Des Villes et des Femmes' (Dargaud, 1987-1988). The graphic novel marked the debut of Philippe Francq, who was still a young nobody at the time. De Groot picked him, because he wanted an artist who excelled in atmospheric city backgrounds. The plot of 'Des Villes et de Femmes' revolves around a group of women who all become victims of male greed, jealousy or stupidity. The story is interesting since it already shows an embryonal version of Francq's later signature series 'Largo Winch', created with writer Jean Van Hamme. De Groot recalled that some readers couldn't believe he was the scriptwriter, knowing him only for his humor comics, and therefore thinking the author of 'Des Villes et des Femmes' just happened to have the same names. For 30 years, the original artwork was deemed lost, but in 2016, Yves Schlirf, chief editor of Éditions Dargaud, found the drawings in the cellar of a small Flemish publishing company, Alpen, making a reprint possible.

'Des Villes et des Femmes' #2 and 'Digitaline' #1.

After this first effort in realism, De Groot worked as scriptwriter for artist Jacques Landrain on 'Digitaline' (Lombard, 1989), the first Franco-Belgian comic made entirely with computer graphics. At Éditions Alpen, Bob De Groot and Jean-François Di Giorgio co-scripted the second volume of the crime noir series 'Sam Griffith' (1993), drawn by André Taymans and Jean-François Miniac.

New creations in the 1990s
After these excursions, Bob De Groot returned to humor comics, continuing his 'Léonard' series with Turk, but also launching brand-new co-creations. For Dany, he notably scripted a series of saucy gag comics, collected in the book 'Ça Vous Intéresse?' by P&T Production. Even though De Groot left the project afterwards, this book kicked off the bestselling collection of sex humor comics appearing under the titles 'Blagues Coquines' (in French) and ''Rooie Oortjes' (in Dutch). With artist Michel Rodrigue, De Groot created three albums of the humorous adventure series 'Doggyguard' (Lombard, 1999-2000), centering on the dog-faced bodyguard Chuck Bones (a pun on animator Chuck Jones) and his sidekick Tex Maverick (a pun on Tex Avery). Then in 2006, De Groot collaborated with artist Philippe Bercovici on the humorous comic series 'Père Noël et Fils' (Glénat, 2006-2008), revolving around Santa's ill-fated attempts to run his North Pole toy manufacturing workshop as a business. For artist Godi, De Groot subsequently scripted 'Le Bar des Acariens' (2008-2009), a funny animal comic about two pubcrawling mites.

'Doggyguard' #3 and 'Le Bar des Acariens' #1.

Editorial work
Over the years, Bob De Groot occasionally combined his scriptwriting work with some editorial duties. In 1971, he briefly served as chief editor of L'Oeuf, Guy Bara's sponsored cartoon magazine distributed to medical professionals. The magazine was notable for running early work by a young cartoonist called Philippe Geluck, who later gained fame as the creator of the popular satirical newspaper comic 'Le Chat'.  In the late 1980s, the heirs of Hergé had terminated the license deal with publisher Lombard for Tintin magazine. With its flagship title gone, the Brussels-based publisher made plans to launch two new magazines, one edited by Jean-Luc Vernal, the other by Bob De Groot. De Groot's title was intended to be called L'Aventure, aiming at adolescents, and serializing ongoing series like 'Ric Hochet', 'Chlorophylle' and 'Cubitus'. The project never got off the ground, and Lombard eventually continued its former Tintin comics in the new title Hello Bédé (1989-1993). That title, however, contained no further comics by Bob De Groot, nor Turk.

In the early 1990s, De Groot briefly served as literary director of the Swiss publishing company Éditions Alphen, where he was responsible for proofreading and correcting comic scripts by young writers.

Graphic contributions
In 1980, Turk and De Groot made a graphic contribution to the collective comic book 'Il Était une Fois Les Belges/ Er Waren Eens Belgen', published at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Belgium's independence. The inseparable duo also paid homage to Paul Cuvelier's 'Corentin' (1981) and to Derib in the book 'Les Amis de Buddy Longway' (Lombard, 1983). The duo also spoofed their own series 'Robin Dubois' and 'Léonard' in the collective parody book 'Parodies 2' (MC Productions, 1988). They also honored Hergé at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of 'Tintin' (1979) and Dupa's 'Cubitus' when the series celebrated its 1,000th gag (1992). Turk and De Groot also paid tribute to Jean Roba's gag comic 'Boule et Bill' in 'Boule et Bill font la fête' (Dargaud, 1999).

In 1987, Turk and De Groot made more than 52 images of the same street and serialized them on a weekly basis in Tintin magazine. Combined, these 52 images provided a magnificent panorama presented in one long comic strip of 15 metres in length. The editors of Tintin claimed this was the "longest image of all time."

"The Sad Story of Turk & De Groot", created by Dino Attanasio for Tintin/Kuifje issue #35, 31 August 1982.

The fifth album of Turk and De Groot's 'Robin Dubois' received the Prix Saint-Michel for "Best Humor Album" (1981), while volume 16 received the Prix Alph'Art for "Best Juvenile Series" (1990) at the Comic Festival of Angoulême. The 24th volume of 'Léonard' was honored with the Soleil d'Or for "Best Juvenile Album" at the Solliès-Ville Festival. For their entire body of work, the duo received the 1999 Crayon d'Or de Bruxelles ('The Brussels Golden Crayon'). At the Comic Festival of Middelkerke, De Groot received the Rookie Award for "Best Scriptwriter of the Year" (2001) and at the Ajaccio Festival on the isle of Corsica he was awarded the 2006 Humor Award.

On 16 October 2010, the Belgian Postal Services released five stamps honoring the comic series 'Léonard le Génie'. Since 11 September 2015, 'Léonard' has his own comic book mural in the Rue des Capucins/Capucijnerstraat in Brussels, as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route.

Death and legacy
In 2023, Bob De Groot passed away in Ottignies, Louvain-La-Neuve, at age 82.

Robin Dubois and the Sheriff with their creators.

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