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 comics 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. 

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)

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)

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

One of his most infamous projects was 'De Glunderende Gluurder', a sex parody of Willy Vandersteen's classic children's comic 'Suske en Wiske'. Ben Jansen was largely responsible for this book, which caused quite a stir upon its release in 1982. Ger Rijff, Hanco Kolk and other members of the studio also contributed to the book. 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 against 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.

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

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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