comic by Eveline and Bart Huges
'Arnold Slak & De Slow Sisters Op Weg'.

Eveline Lucia van Dijk was a Dutch comics artist, best known as the second wife of notorious Provo activist Bart Huges. Huges gained worldwide fame in 1965 by being the first human to conduct trepanation on his own skull. He survived, and 13 years later Van Dijk made four comic books based on his philosophies: 'Arnold Slak & de Slow Sisters op weg' (1978), 'Licht uit de put' (1978), 'Een wetenschappelijke sekte...?' (1978) and 'Gnōthi seauton/Ken uzelf erken uw oude engrammen (1978). These account as some of the oddest propaganda comics ever made, considering that they promote skull drilling. Very little is known about the artist Van Dijk, which only adds to the mystery.

Bart Huges
Bart Huges was born on 21 April 1934. In the mid-1950s he joined the "nozem" subculture, which could be described as the Dutch equivalent of the U.S. "greasers" and the British "teddyboys": young people who enjoyed fast vehicles and rock 'n' roll. In 1958 he first took LSD and remained a regular user in the next decades. Huges even studied medicine in Amsterdam to find out more about narcotics. On 15 March 1960 he married his first wife, Barbara Maria Mohr. They had a daughter in 1963, whom he called "Maria Juana", a pun on marijuana. Although now a 30-year old man and a father, Huges was still swept away by a new youth subculture in 1964, namely the Provo movement. Provos enjoyed organizing humorous and surreal events with the intention to shake up the establishment. They did this through happenings, posters, magazines and distribution of free bikes, contraceptiva and raisins. Cartoonist Willem published his first controversial cartoons in a Provo magazine: God, Nederland en Oranje. Most people didn't know what to make of all these weird people and actions? Sometimes the police just arrested activists to avoid escalation, naturally giving Provo even more unintentional "heroic" status.

Skull drilling
Bart Huges was a enthusiastic stoner. Provo's stance on legalisation of drugs therefore sounded like music to his ears. He developed many crazy ideas while under the influence, including that a piece of apple stuck in a vagina was a reliable contraceptive. He also "found out" that if he took mescaline and stood on his head afterwards he instantly got high. Huges once read a theory about how people's brain capacity had diminished since prehistoric times, because they evolved into creatures who walked upright (regardless of the fact that quite the opposite was true and constant drug use only makes matters worse). Obsessed with reaching a permanent high and helping brain tissues functioning again, Huges felt trepanation was the best solution. He tried to find a doctor willing to drill a hole in his skull, but they all strongly discouraged him. He then asked some of his friends, people like activist Robert Jasper Grootveld, film maker Louis van Gasteren, artist Simon Posthuma and poets Simon Vinkenoog and Johnny van Doorn. Once they realized he was serious they took away the Black & Decker drill he intended to use. But Van Doorn worried that Huges might still find a way. He sent sent photographer Cor Jaring to Huges' apartment with the promise that he would be documenting a "historic sensation". After all, no man in history had ever conducted trepanation on himself. In reality Van Doorn wanted somebody to be nearby in case things got out of hand.

On 6 January 1965 Huges took LSD and then put a dentist's drill to his forehead. He managed to drill a small hole, but the bleeding took him by such surprise that he quickly quit his insane plan. His brain tissue wasn't damaged and the hole healed in three days. Nevertheless he still claimed he'd achieved his "third eye" and the permanent high he seeked. Huges went to a psychiatric institution to share his experience with the medical world, but instead they took him in for three weeks observation. Jaring sold his photos of Huges to many newspapers all over the world. Suddenly Huges enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. He was interviewed by Willem Duys in his talk show 'Voor de Vuist Weg', who basically told him that his theories were insane. Nevertheless in 1970 drug activist Amanda Feilding also performed trepanation on herself, making her the first woman to do so. 

comic by Eveline and Bart Hugescomic by Eveline and Bart Hugescomic by Eveline and Bart Huges

Comics
Huges never finished his medicine studies and his wife left him for Simon Vinkenoog. Yet he did find employment in the Royal Institute for Tropics in Amsterdam. He published several non-fiction books, some still promoting trepanation. He also found a new girlfriend, Eveline van Dijk. In 1978 she adapted several of his theories in comic book form: 'Arnold Slak & de Slow Sisters op weg' (1978), 'Licht uit de put' (1978), 'Een wetenschappelijke sekte...?' (1978) and 'Gnōthi seauton/Ken uzelf erken uw oude engrammen' (1978). In terms of content, Huges and Van Dijk's stories must be some of the most unique and bizarre comics ever drawn. Nobody before or after them has ever advocated skull drilling in comic book form! But the way these comics are constructed is equally daft. Everything is drawn in a psychedelic underground comix style which had already gone out of fashion by the late 1970s. 'Arnold Slak & the Slow Sisters op weg' looks like a funny animal story, making one wonder whether the makers were aiming at young or adult readers? The story features Arnold, a snail who lives in the country "Langzaamanië" (literally translated: "Slowmania"). One day he starts giving all members of his species shells to live in, only to actively encourage everybody to "drill a hole in their houses", because it will make them "much happier, just like himself." Soon all of his family members, including his children, join him to have their houses drilled. Although they manage to convince many people Arnold still notices he hasn't reached all of them. This prompts him to make an "educational" comic book, which his kids are willing to draw for him, implying this comic in question was made by them.

Even when understood as a metaphor, 'Arnold Slak & the Slow Sisters op weg', remains incomprehensible. After all, drilling a hole in your house is something different than drilling one in your own head. Huges and Van Dijk's comics were published under their imprint "Stichting Onafhankelijk Denken" (the "Independent Thinking Foundation"), but barely sold. The few people who read them didn't think any different about the insanity of trepanation afterwards.

Final years and death
On 28 January 1980 Huges and Van Dijk married, though it is not clear whether they stayed together afterwards? What is known is that Huges spent his final years in isolation. Either Van Dijk left him again, or perhaps she passed away a few years earlier. Either way, Huges fell ill with an heart ailment, but asked his doctors to keep his unavoidable death a secret. On 30 August 2004 he died at the age of 70. His personal archives were donated to the Amsterdam City Archives.

Cartoonist Willem portrayed Huges in the chapter 'The Netherlands' of his comic book 'Euromania' (1992).

The Huges Family
The Huges family (Bart Huges and Eveline van Dijk with Maria Juana and Talitha Huges). 

Series and books by Eveline van Dijk in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

X

If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.