Cover of Stripschrift, by Gleever

Gerard Leever, better known under his pseudonym Gleever, is one of the Netherlands' most recognizable authors of humorous children's comics. He has worked for magazines like Eppo, 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. It earned him the nickname "Godfather of Dutch children's comics". At the same time Gleever also holds historical significance for being - together with Peter Pontiac - one of the first Dutchmen to draw autobiographical comics, in his case through his diary: 'Gleever's Dagboek'. 

Early life and career
Gerard Leever, who was born in 1960 in Naarden, already knew he wanted to become a comic artist when he was nine years old. Together with his brother Johan he visisted many Dutch artists in the hope of obtaining some of their original artwork. 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. One of his first efforts during this period was 'Superhobo', a character scripted by Fermin, which later reappeared in Leever's contribution to the "Pincet" series by De Plaatjesmaker. Leever also drew for Drukwerk's underground magazine Speedo and Snavel, a fanzine published by Wammes. Besides Fermin, Arists like Albert Uderzo, Daan Jippes and Wilbert Plijnaar became major influences on Leever's work, as was Preston Blair's guidebook 'Cartoon Animation'.

Superhobo, by Gleever

Gleever's Dagboek
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 on. 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 always bugged Leever, but it did give him new material for future installments...

Gleever's Dagboek

Eppo
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), which was originally intended as a newspaper comic. This was his first solo comic in a mainstream magazine, and dealt with a village of vampires, monsters and zombies. In 1985 and 1986, he made 'Kanaal 13' for Eppo/Wordt Vervolgd with writer Jan van Die, a series about a fictional TV channel and its quest for higher ratings. 

De Vloek van Bangebroek by Gleever

Family connections
During his Studio Arnhem days 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.

Oktoknopie by Gleever
'Oktoknopie'.

Oktoknopie 
Gleever, as he signs his work, also found his way to other magazines In 1985, when he became the illustrator of the jokes section in Donald Duck weekly. On 15 September 1985, he began his famous gag comic 'Oktoknopie', about a boy, Jopie, who owns a sentient octopus toy named Oktoknopie. Oktoknopie has magic powers. When he and Jopie are alone he grows until he is much bigger than him. He then fulfills Jopie's wishes through crazy inventions, such as a time machine. In most episodes other people seem unaware that the doll is alive. In other episodes he changes reality to such a degree that even Jopie's parents, teachers and friends seem to realize something. Interestingly enough 'Oktoknopie' debuted only a few months before in the U.S. on 18 November 1985 a similar newspaper comic about a boy and his sentient doll appeared: Bill Watterson's 'Calvin and Hobbes'. 'Oktoknopie' appeared on the final page of Taptoe for years, until the school magazine underwent a restyling in 2009. Afterwards reprints of 'Oktoknopie' ran in the Dutch Nickelodeon Magazine for a while, and the comic was also published in Spanish in National Geographic Kids. In 2000 'Oktoknopie' won the Award for Best Dutch Children's Book. 

Het Felix Flux Museum, by Gleever
Het Felix Flux Museum - 'De Roep van het Masker' (1990).

Het Felix Flux Museum
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.

Dik van Dieren by Gerard Leever
'Dik van Dieren en zo'.

Dik van Dieren en Zo
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 2003.

Gemengd Dubbel by Gleever
'Gemengd Dubbel'.

Gemengd Dubbel 
In 1996, he and Jan van Die started a strip, 'Gemengd Dubbel' (1996-2006), in Troskompas. The series revolves around a multicultural family. Father Anton is a white man married to a black woman, Rosita. Together they have a white teenage daughter, Rox, and a black ten-year old son, Reggi. The family dog is named Animo. 

Suus & Sas
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 snack bar), 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. Books of 'Suus en Sas' have been published by Sanoma, Strip 2000 and Uitgeverij L.

Suus en Sas, by Gleever
'Suus en Sas'.

Other comics
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' (2007) in Roetsj. For Paul van Loon's Dolfje Weerwolfje magazine, he has drawn features like 'De Yeti's' (2009-2012) and 'Weerwolfwezen' (2013). 'Ben Benieuwd' returned in a new adventure called 'Ben Benieuwd en de ruimtelus'. It was published directly in album format by the educational publishing house Zwijsen in December 2018.

Graphic contributions
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 makes crime noir comic stories inspired by EC Comics and Will Eisner's 'The Spirit', and a new 'Ernst Vrolijk' story with René Meulenbroek (issue #4, March 2017). In 2017 he also paid tribute to André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' in the homage album 'Gefeliciflaterd!' (2017).

De Yeti's by Gleever
'De Yeti's'.

Recognition
In 1996 Leever received the Stripschapspenning for 'Gleever's Dagboek'. He has furthermore received the Stripschapspenning for books of 'Oktoknopie' (2000), 'Dik van dieren en zo' (2004) and 'Pim, Pam & Pluis' (2013). In 2006, he won the Stripschap Prize, the most important Dutch award for comics artists.

Gleever's Dagboek

Gleever in De Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis
www.gleever.nl

Series and books by Gerard Leever in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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