Esther Verkest by Kim Duchateau
'Esther Verkest'.

Kim Duchateau is one of the talented Belgian comic artists who first came to attention in the 1990s. His style is absurd, shocking and sharp, which especially comes to play in his cartoons about the sexy, but crazy young woman Esther Verkest (2001) and the equally twisted little girl Aldegonne. After gaining popularity in his home country his cartoons have been published in English, French and German too. 

Early life 
Kim Duchateu was born in 1968 in Sint-Truiden as the son of plastic artist Hugo Duchateau. At age 11 Duchateau managed to get one of his gag comics published in the section 'Plant 'n' Knol' in Robbedoes, the Dutch-language version of Spirou. It appeared in issue #2229 (January 1981). He studied animation in Ghent between 1989 and 1993, where his teacher was Raoul Servais. Kim's earliest influences were André Franquin, Marc Sleen and 'Rasmus Klump' by Vilhelm and Carla Hansen. Later inspirations were Kamagurka, Pirana, Métal Hurlant magazine, Robert Crumb, Tex Avery, Marcel Gotlib, Jim Woodring, Daniel Clowes, Roland Topor, Gummbah, Jeroom, Joost Swarte, Federico Fellini and the TV shows of Van Kooten & De Bie, Wim T. Schippers ('Sjef van Oekel') and Monty Python, particularly the animated segments by Terry Gilliam.

Artwork by Kim Duchateau

Comics career
Kim published his first work personally, under the title 'Verhaaltjes voor het Slapengaan', of which the first part came out in 1989 and the second in 1992. He debuted in 1994 in De Mix, the youth supplement of De Morgen. Between 2000 and 2014 he also published one-panel cartoons for this paper, in the segment 'Bis'. His work has furthermore appeared in small-press magazines like Incognito, Zone 5300 and Beeldstorm. His comic strip about the anti-hero rabbit 'Madelfried de onverschrikkelijke' was published on a weekly base on the Concentra website SURF-INN, and from 2008 in Het Belang van Limburg. 'Madelfried' also replaced 'Beetjes' by Schwantz in the Dutch newspaper Metro in January 2018. Duchateau furthermore created 'De Hulpeloosjes' for PULP magazine, while his 'Aldegonne' strips have appeared in Zone 5300, Stripgids, Knack and the Zipp supplement of newspaper De Standaard. Other creations include 'Geoffrey het Lijk', 'Samuvar de domme cycloon' and 'Gérard le Mouton-double'.

Madelfried, by Kim Duchateau

Esther Verkest
Duchateau's longest-running and best known series is 'Esther Verkest' (2001). Esther Verkest is a sexy heroine who lives in an absurd world full of freaks, disturbing fairy tale characters and gnomes. Several cartoons feature her in the nude, or having sex, but always in a humorous fashion. In 2001 she debuted in the men's magazine P-Magazine. Since then her gags have also appeared in Focus Knack. In the Netherlands they've been published in MYX and Eppo, in Germany in the local edition of Playboy and in France in L'Écho des Savanes and Fluide Glacial. In Italy her gags are translated by Comma 22. In February 2011, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his character, P-Magazine organized a special. Colleagues Jan BosschaertBrecht EvensIlahErik MeynenDirk Stallaert and Urbanus all made their own graphic homage. 

Other gag cartoons and compilations
Duchateau has created one-panel cartoons in the free newspaper De Zondag since 2014. He publishes a weekly strip on the children's page of NRC Handelsblad and on the online news site Apache. Oogachtend brought out several collections with Kim's work, starting with 'Unne en andere vingerkrampen' in 1999. This was followed by several other books, such as 'Uitzonderlijk Zwaar Vervoer' (2001, which had a foreword by Herr Seele), 'De Vlucht van de Kloothommel' (2003) and 'Herman, de Lichtrode Ridder' (2003, a gay parody of Willy Vandersteen's 'De Rode Ridder', which was drawn by Tom Bouden).

Esther Verkest by Kim Duchateau

In 2007 Oogachtend published 'Er was geenszins', an absurd fairy tale book aimed at an adult audience, where Kim provided drawings to short stories written by Herman Brusselmans, Urbanus, Kees van Kooten, Renske de Greef, Hugo Matthysen, Kamagurka, Vitalski, pdw (Patrick De Witte), Jan De Smet, Christophe Vekeman, Stijn Meuris, Hanco Kolk, Bernard Dewulf, Chris Van Camp, Steve Michiels, Ilah and Bart Schoofs. The company also published his 'Esther Verkest' series. 

Aldegonne, by Kim Duchateau

In all those years Kim's work has sometimes been victim of censorship. In 1996 De Morgen refused a cartoon where a father had anal sex with his daughter, which had the caption "Father had his own methods to heal the generation gap". The drawing happened to coincide with the scandal surrounding pedosexual child murderer Marc Dutroux. The TV debate show 'Polspoel & Desmet' once refused to show a Kim cartoon about the theme 'street safety'. It showed a girl being gang raped in the street "but safely with a condom". In perhaps the most ultimate irony one of Kim's cartoons was once refused from an exhibition in Antwerp about censored cartoons.

Recognition and celebrity fans
Still, Kim has received a lot of praise too. Zak named Kim "his spiritual heir" and hailed him for managing to distinguish himself from his rivals. In 2007, Duchateau received the Bronzen Adhemar, the official Flemish Community Cultural Prize for Comics. In 2016 the United Kingdom voted whether they wanted to stay in the European Union, or not. When a majority voted to leave the EU, Kim drew a cartoon referencing a famous scene from 'Monty Python & The Holy Grail' (1975), featuring the Knights Who Say "No" (rather than "Ni"). To his surprise and pride the cartoon was posted by Monty Python member John Cleese on his personal Twitter page a few days later. In 2020 Duchateau received the second prize during the Press Cartoon Belgium Festival in Knokke-Heist for a cartoon which appeared in Bruzz. The drawing shows the Ministry of Migration using an image of genocidal Belgian king Leopold II to scare off potential immigrants. 

Cartoon by Kim Duchateau

Musical career
Duchateau is also a fan of avant-garde music, like Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, The Flying Lizards, Einstürzende Neubaten, Faust, Can, Pere Ubu, Devo, Daniel Johnston, Mauro Pawlowski, Sonic Youth, Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane, The Velvet Underground & Nico, D.A.A.U. and The Residents. Therefore he also plays in a lot of experimental bands like the Lama Home Band, Blutch, Isthmus in Irk, Kim Kangaroo (sometimes Kim Kangman) and the Schoofsduchateautrio, where he performs with Bart Schoofs. The album cover of Philtman & Kangaroo's record 'Velvet Coma Hotel' (2011) was designed by Sarah Yu Zeebroek, daughter of cartoonist Kamagurka. 

Duchateau's nephew Dirk Swartenbroekx (who is best known as musician Buscemi) formed a band called Les Chiens Comiques with him. He also works for Radio Scorpio, presented the surreal radio show 'Dwalmacat' on FM Brussel and equally odd sketches on Event-TV.

Nero by Kim Duchateau

Reboots of classic Flemish comics
In 2015, he was one of the six Flemish artists to draw a comic book starring Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' for S.O.S. Children's Villages, based on a story by a celebrity. Duchateau made the story 'Vredeskruid' with crime novelist Pieter Aspe. The other other artists involved were Ilah, Charel Cambré, Jan Bosschaert, Ivan Adriaenssens and Kris Martens. In 2016 Kim and Hanco Kolk made 'De Man van Nu', a modernized version of Romeo and Juliet in two time dimensions, published by De Harmonie/Balloon. The same year Duchateau and Urbanus made an exclusive two-page comic strip for the magazine Stripglossy. In 2017 he received the honour of making a completely new 'Nero' story, based on Marc Sleen's eponymous comic strip. This story, 'De Zeven Vloeken' (2017), was first published in Knack, drawn completely in Duchateau's own style. It referenced several classic 'Nero' stories, but also to current events at the time of its publication. Duchateau wasn't the first cartoonist to draw an official 'Nero' story, though. He was preceded by Willy Vandersteen and Eduard De Rop's 'De Geschiedenis van Sleenovia' (1965) and Willy Linthout 's 'De Zeven van Zeveneken' (1982). Wiith Charel Cambré as the artist, Duchateau scripted the relaunch of 'Suske en Wiske Junior' in 2020. The comic series about the childhood adventures of the classic characters had previously appeared under the titles 'Klein Suske en Wiske' and 'Junior Suske en Wiske' between 2002 and 2015. The new series debuted in 2020 with no less than three new issues appearing throughout the year.

Graphic contributions
In 2005 he was one of many artists who worked on the crossover 'De Kiekeboes' album, 'Bij Fanny op Schoot', in which Esther Verkest appears alongside Merho's character Fanny Kiekeboe. Duchateau paid homage to Pom in the collective tribute album 'Kroepie en Boelie Boemboem. Avontuur In De 21ste Eeuw' (2010). He was one of many Belgian cartoonists to make special cartoons and comics for Gilles Dal’s book "België, et cetera" (Van Halewyck, 2016), a funny look at the history of Belgium. In 2017 he he also paid tribute to André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' in the collective homage album 'Gefeliciflaterd!' (2017). In 2018 he was one of several artists to pay tribute to Merho in the homage book 'Hoor Je Het Ook Eens Van Een Ander' (2018). In 2020 he joined 75 Dutch & Flemish comics artists to make a graphic contribution to the free collective comic book ‘Striphelden versus Corona’ (Oogachtend, Uitgeverij L, 2020). The book is intended to support comics stores who had to close their doors for two months during the lockdown at the height of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. 

Book illustrations
Duchateau illustrated the cover of Jan Smet's 'Duizend Bommen en Castraten' (Vrijdag, 2021), a book about censorship in Belgian comics. 

TV appearances
Duchateau's cartoons have been made available on the websites of the Flemish public TV channel VRT and its commercial rival VTM. Between 2001 and 2006 he was a contributor to the political debate show 'Polspoel & Desmet' on VTM, hosted by journalists Gui Polspoel and Yves Desmet. He improvised satirical drawings in every episode, which were shown to viewers by the end of the broadcast. 

Kim Duchateau is a member of the collective and website The Cartoonist, founded by Marec, where Belgian cartoonists make their archived and new work available to the public. 

Esther Verkest by Kim Duchateau
Cartoon depicting four possible people who'd like to stick their hand inside Kim's character Esther Verkest's bra. The first one is Jos Ghysen, a Flemish radio host who in 2012 was accused of having sexually intimidated his secretary in the 1970s. The second Walter Capiau, a former Flemish radio and TV host, who in the same year confessed having sexually molested boy scouts in the 1960s. The third person is N-VA politician Pol Van Den Driessche who in 2010 was also accused of sexual intimidation of several women. The final caption of potential bra grabbers reads "Jullie allemaal" ("All of you").

Series and books by Kim Duchateau in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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