Baron van Tast by Jan van Haasteren
Baron van Tast (Pep 20, 1974)

Jan van Haasteren is a Dutch artist, who started out making many humorous comics for a variety of publications, of which 'Baron van Tast' is probably the best-known. He is most famous however for his large and crowded drawings, which have appeared on posters and jigsaw puzzles. His work is characterized by its high density of (visual) jokes and absurdities.

Van Haasteren was born in Schiedam as the eldest of three sons, and grew up during World War II. After the war, he first attended the technical school, where he learned to become a home and decoration painter. He then studied Publicity and Advertising at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. Although he was already a persistent prankster, he graduated with ease. After fulfilling his military service, he began his career with the small Rotterdam-based advertising agency Grijseels, before landing a job with the larger agency Nijgh & Van Ditmar. In his spare time, he had his first experiences as a comic artist, when he assisted Loek van Delden on his newspaper comic 'Smidje Verholen'.

Kappie by Jan van Haasteren
Kappie en het Bollejong

He joined the Marten Toonder studios in 1962, where he initially worked in the animation department. He eventually joined the comics production. From 1963 to 1966, his main work was pencilling Marten Toonder's newspaper strip 'Kappie'. Through Toonder, he also illustrated numerous stories for the magazines with licensed characters of De Geïllustreerde Pers. In alternation with Jan Steeman, he drew a story with Walt Disney's 'Little Hiawatha' every other week for Donald Duck between 1965 and 1969. He also drew several 'Hiawatha' gag pages for the women's weekly Margriet in 1966. Van Haasteren additionally drew stories with 'The Big Bad Wolf' between 1967 and 1969, as well as as comic stories with Hanna-Barbera's 'The Flintstones' for the comic book of the same name. The scripts for these productions were mostly by Andries Brandt and Patty Klein.

Hiawatha by Jan van Haasteren
Hiawatha story for Donald Duck 48, 1966

Van Haasteren left Toonder in 1966, and joined the studios of Joop Geesink. There, he worked on a comic based on the TV puppet series 'Rick de Kikker', which was published in the Heintje comics paper of supermarket chain Albert Heijn. This strip was under supervision of Frits Kloezeman, and made in cooperation with inker Ton Beek. Van Haasteren also illustrated a book with the character, called 'Rick en de gestolen gemeentekas' (1967).

He started freelancing in 1967, and the Toonder studios remained one of his main clients. He created 'Bartje en Opa' with Patty Klein, which appeared in free local papers from Amsterdam (1967-1970) and The Hague (1970-1971). One of the first Dutch family comics, it was continued under the title 'Erik en Opa' in Malmberg's school paper Jippo from 1975. In 1968, he took over the funny animal comic 'Polletje Pluim' from Dick Matena in Prinses for a couple of years.

Erik en Opa, by Jan van Haasteren (1976)
Erik en Opa (1976)

In 1969, he did pencil work on the somewhat absurd and supernatural Toonder newspaper strip 'Horre, Harm en Hella' in cooperation Thé Tjong Khing, which had previously been drawn by the Spanish artist Juan Escandell and was later continued by Georges Mazure. The stories were written by Andries Brandt and Patty Klein and published in De Telegraaf. Van Haasteren worked with Brandt for De Telegraaf again from 1970 to 1972, when he was the artist of 'Aafje Anders', a comic about an adventurous girl in Amsterdam. The artwork of this comic was later continued by Robert Hamilton and Richard Klokkers. Van Haasteren furthermore penciled five stories of Marten Toonder's 'Panda' strip. In addition, he did promotional work for Joop Geesink's 'Loekie de Leeuw'.

Aafje Anders by Jan van Haasteren
Aafje Anders

Jan van Haasteren was present in the comics magazine Pep of De Geïllustreerde Pers from 1972 to 1975. He started out with the absurd series about the hallucinating 'Baron van Tast tot Zeveren', in which nothing was what it seemed. It was the first comic strip in which Van Haasteren hid his trademark background jokes, such as shark fins and snorkels coming out of the ground, peeking eyes, false teeth, mysterious hands and monsters. For the scripts, he got help from Renee van Utteren, Lo Hartog van Banda, Patty Klein and Frits van der Heide. He also made 'Voortvluchtig' (1973), a gag strip about an escaped prisoner being chased by a prison guard. With Patty Klein, he made a story of Dick Matena's comic 'De Argonautjes' in 1974.

Tinus Trotyl by Jan van Haasteren
Tinus Trotyl

He returned to the pages of Donald Duck with two stories starring Wim Meuldijk's character 'Ketelbinkie' (1973-1974). It was then taken over by Jan van der Voo, while Van Haasteren started his own series 'Oom Arie op Safari' (two stories in 1974). In Sjors, Van Haasteren created the comic about 'Tinus Trotyl', a character with a sickly fascination for explosives. The scripts were written by Philip Sohier with assistance from Patty Klein from 1974. The comic was continued in Eppo after Pep and Sjors merged to this new magazine in 1975 and 1976. For Eppo, Van Haasteren also drew 'De Stuntels' in cooperation with Toon van Driel (1978) and his final new comics effort, 'Brian en de Brainbox' from a script by David Ireland (1985).

Voortvluchtig, by Jan van Haasteren (Pep #6, 1973)
Voortvluchtig (Pep #6, 1973)

Throughout the years, Van Haasteren has worked extensively with scriptwriter Patty Klein. Besides previously mentioned productions, they created 'Ole en Kreutel' for Vecomijkrant and, for Geesink Productions, a series of stories under the title 'Zij Maakten Geschiedenis' for the TV show 'NOS Kiosk'. Between 1978 and 1987, KRO Gids ran their comic strip 'Sjaak en Oom George', about a boy and his inventor uncle.

Sjaak en Oom George by Jan van Haasteren
Sjaak en Oom George (1985)

Van Haasteren and Klein were also the initiators of the satirical magazine De Vrije Balloen in 1975. Launched out of dissatisfaction with the dismissals of many artists after the merger of Sjors and Pep to Eppo, this magazine offered its contributors full artistic freedom. This resulted in more experimental and adult-themed comic stories by Robert van der Kroft, Jan Steeman, Thé Tjong-Khing, Andries Brandt and of course Jan van Haasteren, who often used the pseudonyms Harold Hurry and Jean Pion for these stories. Van Haasteren also created the magazine mascot, the little devil Tobias Quintenpreut. The team was helped by Jan's brother Herman for the production, and by Hans van den Boom for the finances. Later on other artists joined, such as Willy Lohmann, Harry Balm, Gerrit de Jager, Wim Stevenhagen, Eric Schreurs, Paul Schindeler and Paul Bodoni. The final issue appeared in 1981.

De Vrije BalloenDe Vrije Balloen

Van Haasteren has additionally worked as an advertising illustrator, and especially his crowded posters became well-known. The first one he made was for Bokma lemon gin. The posters were such a success, that boardgame manufacturer asked him to produce these type of drawings for a series of jigsaw puzzles, which earned him international fame. Van Haasteren has made about a hundred puzzles for Jumbo, which are all set on different locations and vary from 150 to 5.000 pieces. The many background jokes from his 'Baron van Tast' comic returned, and he added several more. Besides the shark fins, hands and eyes, most of the puzzles also feature Saint Nicholas and a cameo of the artist himself. Although over 80 years old, Jan van Haasteren still makes an average of three puzzles a year in his atelier in Bergen, Noord-Holland. To cope up with the demand for more puzzles, Jumbo opened Studio Jan van Haasteren in 2013 to secure the production. Affiliated artists are Rob Derks and Dick Heins.

Crazy Casino
Jan van Haasteren's personal favorite, the Crazy Casino puzzle

In 2006, Jan van Haasteren won the Bulletje & Boonestaak Scale and in 2013 he became a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau for his contributions to Dutch comics culture, and for his role as inspirator of comic artists and illustrators. He was guest editor of the second edition of the StripGlossy by Uitgeverij Personalia in September 2016, and for the occasion he made two new stories with 'Baron van Tast', of course in cooperation with Patty Klein.

Jan van Haasteren, by himself
Self-portrait from the back-cover of the Tinus Trotyl album

Jan van Haasteren biography in Lambiek's De Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

Series and books by Jan van Haasteren in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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