Peter van Dongen graduated as advertising artist from the Amsterdam Graphic School. He published his first comics in amateur and alternative magazines like Rebel Comix and Balloen. In 1990 his debut, 'Muizentheater', a gripping tale of two working class lads growing up in Amsterdam during the Depression years, was published. A nice feature of 'Muizentheater' is that it is one of the very few books about Amsterdam that does not feature any canals - van Dongen hates clichés. In 1991, 'Muizentheater' earned Van Dongen the Dutch Stripschapprijs for the Best Comic Book of the Year.
Early work by Van Dongen for Rebel Comix #2
Van Dongen contined to work as a commercial illustrator in the 1990s and it took almost a decade before he published a new book. This was 'Rampokan-Java', a tale about the independence struggle in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia (the land of Van Dongen's ancestors), and it was even better received than his debut. The story was told in a stunning Clear Line style with sepia coloring - the echo of Hergé's colonial classic 'Tintin in Africa' was constantly there in the background. 'Rampokan' was co-designed by Joost Swarte and earned both author and publisher the 1999 Dutch Prize for Best Book Design. In 2004, the second part, 'Rampokan-Celebes', appeared. In 2005, he organized a series of expositions with artwork by Indoneasian artists like Tita and Anto Motulz, held on several locations in Java.
His comic 'Drie Dagen in Rio' appeared in 2013 through Oog & Blik/De Bezige Bij. It was a comic book in commission about the travels that Lennart Björk, the owner of the Gant clothing brand, had made during his younger years. Rumor has it, Van Dongen is also working on a comic adaptation of the novella 'Familieziek' by Adriaan van Dis. Van Dongen's artwork appears in magazines and papers like Onze Taal, Het Parool, VPRO Gids, Vrij Nederland and NRC Handelsblad. Among Van Dongen's commercial clients are DSW, Martinair, and Capgemini, for which he makes the comic 'Capman en Femini'.