Smitje Verholen, by Loek van Delden

Alouisius W.L. van Delden, known as Loek van Delden, showed an interest in drawing since his childhood. In 1945 he worked with the Toonder Studios, but this was cut short after three months due to his military service. He made his first solo comic in 1948, 'Mac Muzzle en het Geheim van de Gouden Boeddha'. Drawn in a style inpired by Toonder, it was published in several newspapers. Around this period he also made illustrations for Weekblaadje voor de Roomse Jeugd.

Smidje Verholen, by Loek van Delden

By 1949, Van Delden set up his own studio, called Studio Avan. The studio's first publication was a children's book called 'Hoe de Aardbeien hun Groene Puntjes Kregen', which was followed by a series of comic book adaptations of Dutch folktales. This series included 'De Drie Kousenkooplui', 'Slimme Peter en het Gevonden Geld' and , most notably, 'Smidje Verholen'. Based on an old Limburg tale, the latter was published in newspapers and in book format.

Smidje Verholen by Loek van Delden
Smidje Verholen (Leidsche Courant, 3 november 1967)

The success of 'Smidje Verholen' led to 18 more stories. Studio Avan also attracted other artists, such as Frits Kloezeman, Raymond Bär van Hemmersweil, Jan van Haasteren, Jan van Reek and Willy van Giffen. In 1953, the studio began a new newspaper comic, called 'Brigadier Piet' (although it was printed in some papers as 'Karel Kleuntje'). Loek van Delden was affiliated with an advertising agency between 1960 and 1964.
Several 'Smidje Verholen' stories were reprinted in the Frisian language in 1985. Studio Avan, set up in Van Delden's home in The Hague, was discontinued in 1992. Van Delden moved to a nursing home during the following year, and passed away in December 2004.

Smidje Verholen, by Loek van Delden

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