Nic et Nac, by Jeanne Hovine 1929

Jeanne Hovine was a Belgian comedienne, who is best known under her stage name Anne-Marie Ferrières. Although the centerian devoted her entire life to theatre and radio, she made her debut in the comics field. Together with her sister Laure she created the comic strip 'Nic et Nac' (1924-1934). Hovine holds historical significance for being the first female Belgian comics artist.

Hovine was born in Brussels in 1888, while her younger sister Laure saw light on 25 June 1896. Their mother was an actress in amateur theaters. From a young age Jeanne Hovine joined her mother on stage, playing a character named 'Poil de Carotte', and recited poetry for audiences. Laure too showed creative talent by writing children's stories, which were illustrated by Jeanne. They collaborated together at l'Exposition du Jouet Belge. In 1918 the two sisters published 'Journal d'une Poupée Belge pendant la guerre' (1918), made for the Child Health Foundation. In that same year, their book 'Conte sous-marin; Annette et Doric; Fanfreluche; Papillon, roi de Ruthie' was published.


Conte sous-marin

Between 1924 and 1934 the Hovine sisters published a text comic, 'Nic et Nac' in the Walloon newspaper Le Soir. The main characters are twins. Nic is a boy and Nac a girl. Both wear checkers-striped clothing. Laure wrote the stories, while Jeanne illustrated them. The comics were a huge succes from the start and published in seven volumes of books by L'Expansion Belge in 1926. 'Nic et Nac' were also translated in several languages. Laure eventually married a man named Maxime Stengers, with whom she had two children, Anne-Marie and Jean. She became more preoccupied with her family and passed away in Ixelles on 14 september 1983. 

Nic et Nac, by Jeanne Hovine 1929

Jeanne, who remained single her entire life, started a succesful second career soon afterwards in theatre. Under her pseudonym Anne-Marie Ferrières, she performed with the Cercle Artistique and could also be enjoyed on the first public radio station INR (nowadays the RTBF radio) in 1934, where she was introduced by novelist Marie Gevers. She played next to legendary Walloon actors of the time, such as Jules Berry, Berthe Bovy, Fernand Ledoux and  Madeleine Renaud. Hovine enjoyed a long career in the entertainment world. In 1973 the 85-year old actress received the l'Ève du Théâtre award, for her performance as Queen Mary in the play 'L'Abdication'. She still didn't think of her pension, though, and kept performing on stage until she was 92(!) and working for the radio until she was 100(!). She passed away in 1992 in Ixelles, reaching the age of 104.

While Hovine's comics career only lasted a mere decade and was just a footnote in her more succesful stage career she was still the first female Belgian comics artist. In that regard she paved the way for later artists like Madeleine Gérard, Suzanne André, Liliane Funcken, Suzzy Bailleux, Dominique Gillain, May Claerhout, Antoinette Collin, Greet Liégeois, Magda Seron, Chantal de Spiegeleer, Carine de Brab, Séraphine, Jeanine Rahir, Renée Rahir, Marie-José Sacré, Cécile Schmitz, Marianne Duvivier, Erika Raven, Suzanne Rosenberg, Viviane Nicaise, Virginie Van Der Gught, Ilah, Judith Vanistendael, Ephameron, Sacha Eckes, Dominique Goblet, Shamisa Debroey, Inne Haine, Delphine Frantzen, Charlotte Dumortier, Sarina Ahmad, Leen van Hulst, Chrischa Van de Voorde, Nina Jacqmin...

Artwork by Jeanne Hovine

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