Gerard Leever, better known under his pseudonym 'Gleever', is one on the Netherlands' most recognizable authors of humorous children's comics. He has worked for magazines like Eppo, Wordt Vervolgd, Donald Duck, Taptoe, National Geographic Kids, Tina, Jetix Magazine and Suske en Wiske Weekblad, but is best remembered for his long-running comic strip 'Oktoknopie' (1985-2009) about a young boy and his sentient toy. His second best known series is 'Suus & Sas' (since 2001), about two teenage twin sisters. At the same time Gleever also holds historical significance for being - together with Peter Pontiac - one of the first Dutchmen to draw autobiographical comics.
Gerard Leever, who was born in Naarden, already knew he wanted to become a comic artist when he was nine years old. He worked in comic shop Wammes in Bussum, when he met the legendary Flip Fermin, who was the brother of the owner. Fermin gave him his first lessons in drawing comics. His first effort during this period was 'Superhobo', a character scripted by Fermin, which later reappeared in Leever's contribution to the "Pincet" series by De Plaatjesmakers. After school, he fulfilled his military service in Germany, during which he kept a drawn diary - the first version of his famous 'Gleever's Dagboek'.
Leever continued this series of autobiographical strips in the comics information magazines Striprofiel and Stripschrift from 1980. The episodes give an openhearted look in the professional life of a comic artist, and his struggles with clients and colleagues. But also his family life, childhood and personal insecurities are covered; all colored with an absurd exaggeration or melancholic nod. 'Gleevers Dagboek' was the first comics diary in the Netherlands. The genre was picked up in the 1990s by a new wave of female authors like Barbara Stok and Maaike Hartjes, who generally get the credit for introducing this type of comics in The Netherlands. The lack of recognition has alway bugged Leever, but it did give him new material for future installments...
In 1981, he was assigned by comic magazine Eppo to draw the puzzles page. He later also briefly took over the 'Eppo' comic from Uco Egmond (1983-1984). He joined the comic artists group Studio Arnhem and it was in this inspirational environment that he fully developed himself into a professional comic artist. The other studio members were Hanco Kolk, Aloys Oosterwijk, René Meulenbroek, Ben Jansen and Evert Geradts. He was with the studio from July 1982 until late 1985. An early Gleever production at the studio was a comic strip for the OnderwijsWijzer, a supplement about education for several regional newspapers in 1983. With Kolk and Meulenbroek, he created 'Ernst Vrolijk en Dik Hout' for the Dutch section of the magazine Robbedoes. For the same magazine, he also produced the gag strip 'De Vloek van Bangebroek' (1984-1985). This was his first solo comic in a mainstream magazine, and dealt with a village of vampires, monsters and zombies.
It was also during his Studio Arnhem days that Leever met Wilma Leenders, his future wife and the colorist of all his work since then. Wilma established herself as Holland's leading comics colorist, and has worked with a great many artists and magazines. Gerard and Wilma's children, the twins Lonneke and Kelly, and son Daan, have all inherited their mother's skills and work as colorists for the magazines Donald Duck and Tina.
Gleever, as he signs his work, also found his way to other magazines from the mid 1980s. In 1985 and 1986, he made 'Kanaal 13' for Eppo/Wordt Vervolgd with writer Jan van Die, and he became the illustrator of the jokes section in Donald Duck weekly. In 1985, he began his famous 'Oktoknopie', a comic series that earned him the award for best Dutch children's comic book of the year 2000. This strip about a giant anthropomorphic toy octopus appeared on the back page of children's school magazine Taptoe until the restyling in 2009. After that, reprints of 'Oktoknopie' ran in the Dutch Nickelodeon Magazine for a while, and the comic was also published in Spanish in National Geographic Kids.
Between 1989 and 1994, Leever drew 'Het Felix Flux Museum' in Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad, an adventure series for which he wrote the scripts with Kees de Boer. Leever and De Boer also created 'Junior Reporter' for Junior, the children's publication of the Red Cross (1989-1990). Leever still regularly works from De Boer's Funny Farm Studio, that is located in the old offices of Studio Arnhem.
When 'Felix Flux' was cancelled, Gleever went to Suske en Wiske Weekblad to write and draw 'Dik van Dieren en Zo', a comic about a former lab assistant who starts his own "solutions agency" with a group of freed lab animals. This comic ran until the cancellation of the magazine in 2004.
In 1996, he started a strip about a multicultural family in Troskompas, called 'Gemengd Dubbel', which was another cooperation with Jan van Die. 'Gemengd Dubbel' ran until 2006. In 2001, he created the gag strip 'Suus & Sas', which appears on the back page of girls' magazine Tina. The comic quickly won over the hearts of Tina's readership and remains the magazine's most popular comic to this day. Once a month, Leever also makes a longer story about the teenage twin sisters and their dealings with boys (especially the "fries hunk" from the snackbar), their annoying brother and a host of even more annoying teachers. Gleever could draw most of his inspiration for the initial episodes from his own experience as father of twin daughters.
In 2006 and 2007, he created 'Ria en Rinus', a strip for the 50+ magazine Camé, with Patty Klein. Leever and Klein have additionally made a series of strips about public transport, called 'Dré en Gré in 't OV'. These strips were published in the door-to-door papers in the Gelderland region. In 2008 and 2009 he made new stories of 'De Vloek van Bangebroek' for Jetix Magazine. Gleever has additionally drawn 'Ben Benieuwd' in NOS Jeugdjournaal Magazine and 'Pim, Pam en Pluis' in Roetsj (2007). For Paul van Loon's Dolfje Weerwolfje magazine, he has drawn features like 'De Yeti's' (2009-2012) and 'Weerwolfwezen' (2013).
In 2016, he was one of the six Dutch 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 Dutch celebrity. Leever made the story 'De pientere pop' with columnist Aaf Brandt Corstius. The other other artists involved were Eric Heuvel, Michiel de Jong, Hanco Kolk, Romano Molenaar and Gerben Valkema. For the Dutch StripGlossy, he made a crime noir comic story called 'Een nieuw begin' (issue 2, September 2016) and a new 'Ernst Vrolijk' story with René Meulenbroek (issue 4, March 2017).
Over time, he has produced many different comics, of which 'Oktoknopie' and 'Suus & Sas' are by far the best-known. They have earned him the label "Godfather of Dutch children's comics", but his most impressive work is still his comics diary, 'Gleever's Dagboek', for which he received the Stripschapspenning in 1996. Leever has furthermore received the Stripschappenning for books of 'Oktoknopie' (2000), 'Dik van dieren en zo' (2004) and 'Pim, Pam & Pluis' (2013). In 2006, he won the Stripschapprijs, the most important Dutch award for comics artists.