De Kat by Ben Jansen
'De Kat' (1987).

Ben Jansen was a comic artist and illustrator from Arnhem, and one of the driving forces behind the local comics scene. He was co-creator of the comics collective Studio Arnhem. He published various titles of his own, but is ironically best known as a parodist. His most infamous comic book was 'De Glunderende Gluurder' (1982), a pornographic spoof of Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske', which eventually led to a court case. 

Early life
Born in 1955 in Veldhoven, he was a school mate of Hanco Kolk, with whom he also made the school newspaper. He then spent two years at the Art Academy. Together with Aloys Oosterwijk, René Meulenbroek, Rieuwert Catz and Diederick van Kleef, Jansen and Kolk made seven issues of the amateur comics magazine De Omelet from 1976 to 1978.

Zomer in Veldbeek by Ben Jansen
'Zomer in Veldbeek' (Talent #1, 1978).

Studio Arnhem
In November 1977, Jansen opened comic book store Het Gele Gevaar in Arnhem. It was a meeting point for comics fans, where Jansen also drew his own comics in a corner of the shop. The authors of De Omelet continued to work together, and in 1981 Jansen, Kolk, Meulenbroek, Oosterwijk and Evert Geradts joined forces as Studio Arnhem. It became the breeding ground for a new generation of comic artists, which would put its mark on Dutch comics in the 1980s. Later on, other artists joined, such as Gerard Leever, Kees de Boer, René Uilenbroek and Jaap Stavenuiter, as well as colorists like Wilma Leenders, Ellen Klever and Trudi Klever.

Mijn vriendin by Ben Jansen
'...Mijn Vriendin' (Coyote #4, 1983).

Michelle / De Lepraman
Jansen saw his comic stories published in the magazines Talent, Harlekijn, Wordt Vervolgd, Tante Leny Presenteert, Star, Coyote, Midas, Vrijwilligerskrant and Razzafrazz, and he also contributed to Spanish magazines like Zona 84. Among his recurring characters were 'Michelle' and 'De Lepraman', while he made the crime noir series 'Sodom' with writer Jean Pica for Wordt Vervolgd. He provided illustrations to magazines such as Oor, Hitkrant and Autovisie, and did lettering for the comic books of publisher Oberon. He also drew backgrounds for the studio's collective comic strip 'Otto Raaf', which was published in the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool.

De glunderende gluurder by Ben Jansen
'De Glunderende Gluurder'.

De Glunderende Gluurder
One of his most infamous projects was 'De Glunderende Gluurder' (1982), a sex parody of Willy Vandersteen's classic children's comic 'Suske en Wiske'. Ben Jansen was largely responsible for the artwork, though Ger Rijff, Hanco Kolk and other members of the studio also made contributions. The book consists of several short stories all written in mock Flemish. The first one revolves around a small magical statue with a huge fallus, which Lambik buys at an auction. The plot is obviously inspired (and partially copied) from the 'Suske en Wiske' story 'De Sterrenplukkers'. The second tale in 'De Glunderende Gluurder' features the time machine of professor Barabas and Wiske going back to ancient Rome, where she has a sex adventure. Much imagery here is stolen from the 'Suske en Wiske' story 'Het Geheim der Gladiatoren'. The final story stars Lambik and Jerom in an orgy at the beach of St. Tropez. All stories in 'De Glunderende Gluurder' aren't consistent in artwork, nor story. Jerom is a raving homosexual with strong ejaculation powers in one, while he has sex with women in the other. The parody also repeats the often believed, but incorrect notion that Suske and Wiske are brother and sister (as stated in the story 'Op Het Eiland Amoras' (1945) they are unrelated orphans). 

'De Glunderende Gluurder' was the first sex parody of 'Suske en Wiske' at the time and therefore caused quite a stir in the Dutch-language press. Curiosity got the better of Vandersteen and he personally bought a copy. In an interview he accepted it as the toll of fame: "It's to be expected. I do like the fact that my work inspires others to make naughty parodies. My dedicated fans really know that I don't make these phony stories myself." Still, in the same year another parody with Vandersteen's creations was published, 'De Keizerkraker' (by Johnn Bakker), which was more of a social statement. This time Standaard Uitgeverij decide to sue both parodies, but lost the case, and a debate about the differences between plagiarism and parody followed. In an appeal however, it was decided that the imitation of the main characters went further than necessary for parody purposes, and both books eventually pulled back from the shops. Nevertheless it was reprinted in its entirety in issue #7 (1 May 1990) of Jan Bucquoy's short-lived controversial magazine Dol / Belge. 

Erotica, by Ben Jansen
'Erotica', a story published in Razzafrazz in the 1990s.

Final years, death and legacy
Ben Jansen was the only member who stayed with Studio Arnhem during its entire existence. In the 1990s, all other original members had left, and Jansen shared the studio with Ronald van Vemden, Hans Pieko and Hendrik J. Vos. When Ben Jansen died in 1994 at the age of 39, the name Studio Arnhem was dropped, and Kees de Boer's Studio Funny Farm joined the remaining members. Because of his early passing, Ben Jansen is nowadays largely overlooked in Dutch comics history. However, the original members of Studio Arnhem have all praised his work and called him the most talented of the gang.

Ben Jansen
Ben Jansen at work in Studio Arnhem. Photo by René Meulenbroek.

Series and books by Ben Jansen in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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