Peter van Dongen is a Dutch illustrator, commercial artist and graphic novelist from Amsterdam. He is known for his use of the "Clear Line" drawing style in the tradition of Hergé and E.P. Jacobs. Despite being active since the 1980s, the meticulous Van Dongen has a small but widely praised oeuvre. His masterpiece is the graphic novel series 'Rampokan', in which he explores history of the Dutch Indies, the land of Van Dongen's ancestors
Born in Amsterdam in 1966, 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 De Balloen in the early 1980s. In 1986-1987, he made the promotional strip 'Prince en Buster', which appeared on the back-pages of Wordt Vervolgd magazine and was meant to attract subscribers. 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' (1998), a tale about the independence struggle in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, 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' ('Three Days In Rio') appeared in 2013 through Oog & Blik/De Bezige Bij, followed by an English edition at Grant International. 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, and on a comic album of Edgar Pierre Jacobs' 'Blake & Mortimer'. 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'. He has also made an oil painting for The National Maritime Museum of Amsterdam.