Kramikske - 'De Achtste Samoerai'.

Jean-Pol is a Belgian comic artist, with an extensive body of work in Flemish comics. His best-known creation is the baker boy 'Kramikske' (1970-1991), whose adventures appeared in the workers' weekly De Volksmacht and several other publications. He was one of the main contributors to the Catholic children's magazines of Altoria in Averbode, most notably with his adventure comic 'Annie en Peter' (1971-1987). Outside of Flanders, his syndicated gag strip about two aliens, 'Bi-bip' (1967-1969), is probably his most recognizable creation. One of his mentors was the legendary Marc Sleen, for whom he drew the titleless version of 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' in Pats between 1967 and 1974. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Jean-Pol developed celebrity comic series based on the children's TV shows 'Samson en Gert' (1993-2005) and 'Kabouter Plop' (2000-2004), alongside Wim Swerts and Luc van Asten. From 1995 until his retirement in 2009, he additionally succeeded Berck as the artist of the humorous gangster series 'Sammy' in Spirou, written by Raoul Cauvin. Jean-Pol has also done a lot of commercial art; he made 'Bibendum' strips for the South-African market and his Kramikske character was a mascot for Flemish bakeries. He mainly worked under his pen name Jean-Pol, but he has also signed his work Jipo, Jipo-Max and Jean-Paul.

Early life and career
Jean-Paul van den Broeck was born in 1943 in Leuven (Louvain). He spent his childhood in Maleizen, a small town next to Overijse, the center of Belgium's so-called "Grape region". His father sold fertilizers to the local farmers and grape growers, and Jean-Paul began his working life in the family business. His sales background shaped his mentality in his career in comics: adapt to your clients' wishes, especially with regard to advertising comics. Father Van den Broeck allowed his son to become an artist, but only if he could make a living out of it. So in the first stages of his artistic career, Jean-Pol continued to work alongside his father. In his spare time, Jean-Pol also enjoyed making technically detailed scale models.

As a child, Jean-Pol read the comic magazines Bravo, Ons Volkske and Robbedoes. Graphically, his influences were Marc Sleen, Maurice Tillieux, André Franquin and Berck, whose style is labeled the "School of Louvain", of which Jean-Pol is considered a representative. As a teenager, Jean-Pol visited Sleen, Tillieux and Gérald Forton, who gave him practical tips. The youngster showed Tillieux a gag page he made with Tillieux's character César. While the artwork was amateuristic, Tillieux liked the gag and paid Jean-Pol 500 Belgian francs (12,50 euros or 15 dollars) to use the idea for a real 'César' episode. During a few months in 1962-1963, Franquin was absent from Spirou. To support his favorite artist, Jean-Pol submitted one of his own strips starring Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe', which was printed in the mail section of issue #1247 (8 March 1962). Jean-Pol took evening classes in Decorative Arts and Advertising at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels.

'De Monsterrally van Frank Weerlicht' (Kuifje #14, 1964).

Real Presse
With the help of Tillieux, Jean-Pol got his first comic story accepted by the Real Presse agency in December 1962. 'Calypso Is Haantje De Voorste' first appeared in French in the Belgian monthly Samedi-Jeunesse, and then in Dutch in Ohee, both weekly comic magazines published by newspapers Het Volk/La Cité. Following this first publication, Jean-Pol was hired by Real Presse as an editor and letterer. The Belgian agency syndicated and translated foreign comics for the Belgian market, and also Belgian comics for international publications. One of the series Jean-Pol remounted for the foreign market was 'Félix' by Maurice Tillieux. He had to adapt the pages into different formats and censor scenes involving death, for instance.

Early comics
While active for Real Presse, Jean-Pol submitted his work to magazines. He used several pseudonyms, including Jipo, Jipo-Max and Jean-Paul, but eventually settled on Jean-Pol. He made political cartoons and illustrations for Journal Demain, the house magazine of the Belgian liberal party P.V.V., and for election pamphlets promoting the christian-democratic party C.V.P. He initially had little luck with the editors of the comic magazine Tintin/Kuifje, who rejected his work. The Flemish author Hurey, who worked for the magazine, took pity and introduced Jean-Pol to a scriptwriter with whom he often collaborated, Jacques Acar.

'Het Raadsel van Dwingemolen' (Sjors #40, 1966).

Collaboration with Jacques Acar
From 1964 on, Acar and Jean-Pol made several comics together. Their first story was 'Les Tribulations Mécaniques de Jo Léclair', AKA 'De Monsterrally van Frank Weerlicht', which appeared both in French and Dutch in the Tintin and Kuifje issues of 7 April 1964. This short story about a rally was an early sample of Jean-Pol's interest in drawing technically detailed vehicles. The Tintin editors however showed no interest in a sequel story. Jean-Pol and Acar then tried their luck at Pilote, which ran two short stories of 'Les Scénarios Refusés' (1965-1966), contemporary parodies of fairy tales. Acar and Jean-Pol's mystery adventure comic 'Le Mystère de Mornetour' (1966) appeared in France in the newspaper Sud-Ouest, in the Netherlands in Sjors magazine (as 'Het Raadsel van Dwingemolen', 1966) and in Belgium in Samedi-Jeunesse (1967) and Ohee (as 'Het Geheim van Dwingemolen', 1968).

'De Lustige Kapoentjes' (Pats, 22 August 1968).

Work with Hurey and Marc Sleen
When Jean-Pol's collaborations with Tintin and Pilote didn't turn out as fruitful as expected, Hurey again took him under his wing in January 1965. Jean-Pol assisted on Hurey's 'Céleste Pion', AKA 'Klus Karwei', about a man who tries his luck in all sorts of professions. The short stories appeared in both Tintin and Kuifje between 1964 and 1966, and were written, again, by Jacques Acar. At the time, Hurey was also the assistant of Flemish comic artist Marc Sleen, most notably as the ghost artist of 'De Lustige Kapoentjes'. Jean-Pol in turn assisted Hurey on this gag comic, presumably from 1965 on.

Between 1950 and 1965, Sleen's 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' had been the flagship of 't Kapoentje, the children's supplement of the newspaper Het Volk. The jokes revolved around a group of children playing tricks on a bossy police officer and a sneaky youngster. In 1965, Sleen left Het Volk and joined the newspapers of the Standaard group, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad. Since he owned the rights to the characters, he took 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' with him and continued their adventures in De Standaard's youth supplement Pats. However, Het Volk owned the name 'De Lustige Kapoentjes', so all new episodes by Marc Sleen for De Standaard had to remain titleless. They also couldn't be collected in books.

'Bolleke' gag of 12 December 1968.

To make matters more complicated, 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' was also continued in its original homebase, 't Kapoentje, but then with different characters, drawn by Jef Nys. In 1967 Nys quit, motivating Hurey to join Het Volk and take over that version of the series. The titleless 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' with Sleen's characters in Pats were from then on continued by Jean-Pol until the end of the feature's run in 1974. Jean-Pol also drew new gags starring Sleen's other famous characters Piet Fluwijn and Bolleke, again without titles. Several of the gags of both series were written by Carl Ley, pseudonym of children's author Karel Verleyen, while Leo Loedts assisted Jean-Pol on the artwork. Jean-Pol sporadically also assisted Marc Sleen on the background art of his signature comic 'Nero'.

International Feature Service
After Real Presse, Jean-Pol worked at another syndicate, International Feature Service (I.F.S.), where he edited and lettered photo comics, written by Jacques Van Melkebeke. During photoshoots, he was Van Melkebeke's assistant. Van Melkebeke in turn operated as a ghost writer for several comics Jean-Pol made through I.F.S. For the Belgian women's weekly Libelle, they created 'Bertje Kluizenaar' (1966), a little man with big feet and a large nose, who could talk with the animals. Between 1966 and 1975, Jean-Pol made advertising comics for Michelin, starring the company mascot Bibendum. They were published exclusively in a South African promotional comic magazine. In an interview printed in Brabant Strip Magazine #103, Jean-Pol mentioned Van Melkebeke as the writer, although other sources credit Jacques Acar.

Bi-bips by Jean-Pol
'Bi-bips' (Sjors #32, 1968).

Jean-Pol's first original creation with international success was 'Bi-Bip' (1967-1969), about two extraterrestrials (Bi and Bip) who study human behavior. Naturally, they misinterpret a lot of planet earth's phenomena. Scripted by Jacques Van Melkebeke and syndicated by I.F.S., 'Bi-Bip' ran in the Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and the French-language newspaper Le Soir. About six stories were made, consisting of around 300 daily episodes. In France, it also appeared in the regional newspaper L'Yonne Républicaine. Internationally, 'Bi-Bep' appeared in the Dutch comic magazine Sjors, in book format in Germany (as 'Schlax & Co') and the Spanish magazine El DDT (as 'Los Bi-Bip'). In French, the strip was collected in limited edition booklets by Gadour, under the series title 'Les Schnocks' (1979).


Pats and the youth movements
In addition to the two features he made for Marc Sleen, Jean-Pol also contributed solo work to the Pats newspaper supplement. Many were stand-alone serials, such as 'Hey Djo' (starting in issue #296, 1967), 'Autostop' (starting in issue #348, 1968) and 'Kleur en muziek' (starting in issue #427, 1970). In 1970 he also launched the pantomime gag strips about 'Oskar', initially an explorer, later an ordinary little British man. Around the same period, Jean-Pol was active for the publications of several Flemish youth movements. For Durven, the magazine of the Catholic National Youth (KLJ), he made gag strips about 'Sander en Kamiel' (1969). Jean-Pol made several strips for the magazines of the Flemish Christian Worker's Youth movement K.A.J. In Echt, he made the gag strip 'Nestor' (1967-1971). The adventures of the two working class kids 'Hugo en Jozefien' (1971-1974) first appeared in the K.A.J. magazines Akzie and WJ, before they were continued in Pats under the title 'Joske en Mieke' (1973). Later that decade, Jean-Pol created 'Milleke Tant' (1978), a strip about union work in Start, a magazine of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions.

Averbode magazines
Still in 1967, Jean-Pol found an important new client in the Catholic publishing house Altoria in Averbode. He got the job through Carl Ley, his regular provider of gags for 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' and 'Piet Fluwijn en Bolleke'. Ley, pseudonym for Karel Verleyen, was also a productive writer for the Averbode magazines, and introduced Jean-Pol to editor Nonkel Fons. He became an important illustrator and comic artist for the children's magazines Zonnestraal and Zonneland, as well as Altoria's holiday books. Many of the comic strips Jean-Pol drew were stand-alone stories, written by Altoria's regular scriptwriting staff, consisting of mainly teachers and other educators. A recurring character was the boy 'Jip' (1967), who had three long adventures in Zonnestraal with his aunt Imelda and butler Adriaan. The 'Jip' stories were drawn in collaboration with "Kilt", pen name of Jean-Pol's old schoolfriend Armand Sorret. The scripts were by Carl Ley, who also wrote 'Willie Wervelwind' (1969) for Jean-Pol. With writer Jos Boven, Jean-Pol made two stories about the secret agent 'Pickelby' (1969) in Zonneland.

Annie en Peter - 'Theo, de visdief'.

Annie en Peter
Jean-Pol's best-known creation for Altoria was however 'Annie en Peter' (1971-1987), which debuted in Zonnestraal on 3 December 1971 and continued in this magazine until 1980. It featured the adventures of a red-haired boy and his blond, pig-tailed cousin. Contrary to most other children's comics about a boy and a girl, the female character is mentioned in the title before the boy. And, in another break with tradition, Annie is far more dominant, active and dynamic. The stories were originally scripted by Altoria's house writer Karel Haerens, but later Jean-Pol worked mainly with Eddy Ryssack for the scripts. 'Annie en Peter' enjoyed decent sales, prompting Jean-Pol to hire Eric de Rop and Bédu as his assistants.

Annie en Peter, by Jean-Pol
Annie en Peter- 'De vliegende "Polluter"' (Robbedoes, 1985).

Altoria showed no interest in releasing comic books, and gave Jean-Pol free play in finding another publisher for the books. After two collections at Het Volk in 1976, Standaard Uitgeverij published ten books between 1981 and 1985, followed by two reprints at Den Gulden Engel in 1986-1987. Two stories were serialized in Robbedoes in 1984-1985. In French, the series appeared as 'Anne et Peter' in six books published by Fleurus. Apart from the regular series, two stories were made to promote Bio-Tex ('De Witte Zigeuners/Les Faux Gitans', 1983) and Bruynooghe/Douwe Egberts coffee ('De Coffeanen', 1984).

Together with Jeff Broeckx, Berck and Leo Loedts, Jean-Pol remained one of the main illustrators of the Altoria magazines until the retirement of editor Nonkel Fons, in 1984. One of his final comics for the publisher was based on the German animated TV series 'Sport Billy' (1983), made in cooperation with his assistants Ryssack and De Rop.

Kramikske by Jean-Pol
Kramikske van de Bakker

On 20 January 1970, Jean-Pol launched his signature series in De Volksmacht, the weekly magazine of the Christian workers' movement in Flanders. 'Kramikske', initially known as 'Kramikske van de Bakker' (1970-1991) is a young boy living in the fictional village Winkelse. As his name implies, he is a baker boy ("kramiek" is a Belgian bread type). Jean-Pol picked this profession because his brother-in-law owned the Leuven-based flour mill De Dyle Molens. Most of the early episodes were one-page gag comics in which the boy does something disastrously wrong, driving his boss, baker Janssens, into despair. Kramikske's best friend is Bertje, who works for the local butcher Bontekoe. Bertje's goat Zulma displays unusual behavior: the animal is exceptionally strong and can fly by rotating its tail. Both boys fight for the affections of the charming Bieke, who takes advantage of their rivalry.

First 'Kramikske' gag from De Volksmacht.

A regular customer in the bakery is a stereotypical Swede, simply nicknamed "De Zweud". Much to his own frustration, the Swede's words are incomprehensible to everybody, except to the readers. Jean-Pol simply changed the Swede's vowels in every verb and noun with the "eu" sound. Two unwelcome visitors with similar incomprehensible speech are inspectors Van Onder and Van Boven. They always inspect the store to spot violations of safety, hygiene or other important procedures. Much of their dialogue consists of deliberately complex and official sounding jargon. The antagonist of the series is Juffrouw Welgemoedt, a snobby and stubborn female police officer. She has the tendency to sign tickets and police reports for even the most banal offenses. Her cat, Maxime, shares much of her bad habits. The feline often eats cake from the store, making him obese and lazy. Early episodes also featured three the sympathetic white mice, Melchior, Kaspar and Balthazar, named after the Three Kings.

Kramikske - 'De Edele Lookworst'.

Kramikske adventures
Besides the gag strips in De Volksmacht, 'Kramikske' eventually developed into an adventure series. The first serials, 'Koekplankenkoorts' (1974) and 'De Kolonelssirtaki' (1975) appeared respectively in Zonnestraal and Passe-Partout. 'Kramikske' also appeared in Pats, Publi-Pers, De Belleman, Zonneland and Jet, and as a newspaper strip in Het Volk between 1982 and 1990. Het Volk also collected the series in book format - the first four in black-and-white, the next 19 in color. Some of the most memorable albums were inspired by heavily mediatized real-life events, such as the World Championship Football ('Mundialitis', 1986), the Paris-Dakar rally ('De Kastarrally', 1987) and the Olympic Games ('De Spelen van Semoel', 1988).

Kramikske - 'De spelen van Semoel'.

The gags and stories were originally scripted by Daniël Jansens, who came up with Kramikske's name, personality and profession. However, the collaboration between artist and writer came to an end in 1976. Jansens wanted the series to appeal to adult readers, while Jean-Pol wanted to keep everything suitable for children. Between 1988 and 1992, Hec Leemans, Jacques Bakker and Marck Meul wrote new stories. In the early 1980s, Lukas Moerman was assistant inker and colorist. Between 1982 and 1992, Dirk Stallaert inked and provided background art. Leo Loedts and then Luut Berckmans colored the later stories.

Daniël Jansens and Jean-Pol.

Kramikske - publication history
Of all of Jean-Pol's comic series, 'Kramikske' was the longest-running and most extensive. The series ran in De Volksmacht until 1991, after which the 743 gags went in reruns in the magazine De Gids voor Ons Bedrijf. Jean-Pol blamed the low sales of the albums on a lack of promotional effort by publisher Het Volk. He suspected the publisher of safeguarding its star series: 'Jommeke' by Jef Nys. In the late 1980s, Jean-Pol, Merho and Hec Leemans visited the Frankfurter Buchmesse in Germany, trying to find a German publisher interested in their series. At the end of the day, Jean-Pol returned home with a publishing deal. However, much to his chagrin, Het Volk refused to provide the German publisher with the print films. Their stubborn boycot motivated Jean-Pol to not renew his contract and end 'Kramikske'. The final 'Kramikske' episodes were reworked 'Annie en Peter' stories, with the lead characters replaced by the baker boy. Between 2016 and 2019, the entire 'Kramikske' series was reprinted by Saga in luxury editions.

'Kramikske' sticker for bakeries.

Baker mascot
Naturally, Kramikske lent itself well to advertisements for bread and bakeries. During the 1980s and 1990s, many Flemish bakeries had a 'Kramikske' sign and poster in their shop window or near the counter. The character originally promoted the flour mill company of Jean-Pol's brother-in-law, De Dyle Molens. When this company was sold to rival company Ceres, Jean-Pol and 'Kramikske' transferred along. His brother-in-law, however, went to work for the competition, and hired Berck to develop four bakers as a rival mascots for 'Kramikske'. At first, Jean-Pol was not too pleased with this situation, but the good part was that both companies constantly tried to overdo each other in merchandising, leaving plenty of commercial assignments for both him and Berck. In the end, Kramikske's marketing presence beat Berck's mascots, making the character one of the most recognizable icons of the Flemish bread industry.

Comics in commission
'Kramikske' and the 'Bibendum' gags were by far not Jean-Pol's only ventures into advertising art. Regular clients for this line of work were Leunen & Partners (Antwerp), Liro Belgium (Mollem) and Althouse Tertre (Brussels). As early as 1965, the artist (then still signing with Jipo), made comic strips and illustrations for the brochures and ads of fertilizer Tertre-Auby. For the Altoria Averbode magazines, Jean-Pol later made 'De Appelclub', a strip motivating children to eat more apples. Around the same period, he drew the cartoon series De Sport-Pluspuntjes' for the Flemish sports agency Bloso. The Averbode magazines also ran his comic about 'Piet en Pitteke' (1978), a commission of the Association of Cooperative Horticultural Auctions. With Bédu, Jean-Pol made the candy advertisement comic 'Lutti-Kids' (1979) in Zie-Magazine.

For a Brussels-based confection company, ran by Alex Rosemarin, Jean-Pol developed Nikkel, a black boy with a baseball cap. The company originally used Jean Roba's 'Boule et Bill' as mascots, but that partnership had ended. In the early 1990s, Jean-Pol and writer Yvan Delporte developed a 'Nikkel' gag comic for De Gazet van Antwerpen. After finishing one gag page, Jean-Pol axed the entire idea, because he was still fed up from his experiences with Het Volk. The 'Nikkel' merchandise did well enough to consider an animation project in cooperation with Media Development Brussel. Everything seemed set to go, until the Dutch promotor vanished with all the money.

After this deception, Jean-Pol spent a couple of years working mainly on commercial jobs. He developed the character 'Doke Dumus' for a Leuven brewery, and made an illustrated manual for garage owners how to sell Honda cars. Jean-Pol also remained socially engaged. His gag comic 'Ventiel' (December 1991-April 1996), starring a bicycle valve, commented on workers' conditions and appeared in Visie (the new title of De Volksmacht).

Gag of 'Ventiel'. Translation: "Good news, boss! Since your absence, the company is making a profit for the first time!" - "Doctor, try to keep me here as long as possible..." 

Samson & Gert
Jean-Pol's most lucrative commercial association was with Belgian TV producers Danny Verbiest, Gert Verhulst and Hans Bourlon, owners of the production house Studio 100. In 1982, Danny Verbiest presented a handicraft series for children on Belgian television, called 'De Kameleon'. Jean-Pol regularly appeared on the show to give on-screen drawing lessons. In 1990, Verbiest developed a new children's TV show, 'Samson & Gert', broadcast on the Flemish public TV channel BRT (nowadays VRT). It starred a human named Gert (played by Gert Verhulst) and his talking bobtail (puppeteered and voiced by Verbiest). The simple, formulaic storylines and heavy reliance on catchphrases made the series an instant hit. 'Samson en Gert' became a colossal media franchise. Related toys, clothing, CD's, Christmas shows and other merchandise flooded the market. Still in 1990, Verbiest wanted to make a children's activity book with the characters, and asked Jean-Pol to provide the illustrations. Since he was too busy, Jean-Pol suggested Wim Swerts for the job, a young artist he had met in the previous year at a meeting of the Flemish Independent Comics Guild ("Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde"). Swerts became the official merchandising artist of 'Samson and Gert', with his friend Luc Van Asten (Vanas) as colorist. Swerts' designs of Gert, Samson and the side characters appeared in and on various products, including seasonal holiday books.

Samson & Gert - 'De Krekel en de Mier', artwork by Jean-Pol and Wim Swerts.

Strange enough, a regular comic series was not considered. Jean-Pol was flabbergasted by the many amateurish Flemish celebrity comics that appeared during that period. If even a comic about TV host and singer Margriet Hermans (by Peter Verbelen and Erik Vancoillie) had commercial potential, a professional comic about 'Samson & Gert' would be a surefire bestseller. They were, after all, media stars that children actually liked. At first Verbiest, Verhulst and Bourlon were sceptical. But in the end, permission was granted to launch a 'Samson & Gert' comic (1993-2005). Jean-Pol wrote the scripts in cooperation with the TV production team, made the preliminary sketches and inked the main characters. Swerts then did the finished art, while Van Asten and his wife provided the digital coloring. After a while, Jean-Pol concentrated on the scripts, with Swerts and Vanas taking care of all the art duties.

Although Swerts had been drawing Samson and Gert on official merchandising since 1990, the characters were drastically remodelled. Jean-Pol wanted to avoid caricatures of the actors, so that the comics could be enjoyed by children unfamiliar with the TV show and be suitable for international licensing. A more dynamic redesign also worked better in action scenes. In the show, Samson was a plain hand puppet. For the comics, Swerts and Jean-Pol redesigned the dog into a slender, appealing character with paws and different facial expressions. Since the dog always mispronounces words, there was the danger that young readers would pick up these mistakes. To prevent this, Samson's verbal mistakes were always printed in bold letters. The TV show also had several off-screen characters, who were only mentioned in dialogue, including farmer Teun, fries salesman Fred Kroket and cleaning lady Marie. In the comics, these characters did appear onscreen to interact with the cast. Mr. Van Leemhuyzen and Frieda Kroket on the other hand appeared in the comics first, before they were introduced in the TV series. As a result, their TV appearances were modelled after Swerts and Jean-Pol's designs from the comics.

Samson & Gert - 'Kermis Op Stelten', artwork by Jean-Pol and Wim Swerts.

Between 1993 and 2005, 33 'Samson & Gert' albums were made. Originally, they contained short stories, set in the characters' hometown, just like in the TV show. As the comic book series progressed, the characters had adventures outside of their house and village too, something the TV budgets never allowed. The final installment, 'De Schat van Edelstein' (2005), was the only album with one full-length adventure. The comic strip was serialized in the TV weekly Dag Allemaal. Because of its runaway success, reading books and a junior spin-off series about Samson as a puppy were launched too. On 2 March 1996, the newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and De Nieuwe Gazet launched the 'Samson & Gert Krant' ("Samson & Gert Paper"). This Saturday supplement featured gag comics with Samson and Gert (some in text comics format), as well as photo comics with stills from TV episodes, game and puzzle sections and coloring pages. In the annual holiday books, old 'Kramikske' gags were recycled and remounted, often with Samson and Gert added to the panels. The comics in the Samson & Gert Krant and the holiday books were drawn by Swerts, often assisted by Mormic (joint pen name for Luc Morjaeu and Dirk Michiels). In 1996 'Samson and Gert' received a comic mural in Hasselt, which was removed in 2011.

Kabouter Plop
In 1996, Gert Verhulst, Danny Verbiest and Hans Bourlon organized all their children's shows and associated projects under a new company name: Studio 100. In the following year, Wim Swerts and Luc van Asten officially joined forces and set up their own comics studio, Lighthouse Productions. The duo worked on Studio 100's official merchandising art and associated comics, in cooperation with Jean-Pol. The company's first new children's TV show was 'Kabouter Plop', launched in 1997 on commercial channel VTM. It starred a group of gnomes with very animated bonnets. Again, the team of Jean-Pol, Swerts and Vanas provided a comics version. Between 1999 and 2004, four albums were published, based on the live-action 'Kabouter Plop' feature films. A direct result of Kabouter Plop's popularity was that the Samson & Gert Krant was first retitled to De Plopkrant (on 11 March 1998) and then to De Plopsakrant (19 July 2000). The latter became a more general magazine promoting all Studio 100 children's shows, as well as the recently opened theme park Plopsaland in De Panne.

To take care of the increasing amount of artwork, Studio 100 opened its own art studio in Schelle. Among the affiliated artists were Charel Cambré, Ward De Graeve, Carl Dusart, Peter Kustermans, Peter Quirijnen, Bruno De Roover, Thomas Du CajuMario Boon and Filip Heyninck. Jean-Pol operated as supervisor. His association with Studio 100 lasted until 2005, when the 'Samson & Gert' comic series was terminated.

Sammy, by Jean-Pol
Sammy - 'Papy Day' (2000).

A couple of years after the emotional cancellation of 'Kramikske', a second major comics project came on Jean-Pol's path. In 1994, Berck retired and a new artists was needed for the humorous gangster series 'Sammy' in Spirou. Because of similarities in art styles, Jean-Pol was considered as Berck's successor. In fact, many thought Jean-Pol had been one of Berck's many anonymous assistants on previous episodes, but in fact the two men had never worked together. After six months of hesitation, Jean-Pol took the offer. His first episode, 'La B.A. des Gorilles', debuted in the 3000th issue of Spirou in 1995. Jean-Pol had big shoes to fill, because 'Sammy' was one of publisher Dupuis' hit series, both in French and Dutch, written by in-house scriptwriter Raoul Cauvin. It was also Jean-Pol's first comic series not aimed specifically at young children. For the inking of 'Sammy', Jean-Pol was assisted by Ward De Graeve

'Sammy' was an action adventure comic about two bodyguards during the Prohibition era, Sammy Day and Jack Attaway. From the start, their stories had been filled with adrenaline pumping action scenes, car chases and showers of bullets. The technically skilled Jean-Pol could not only indulge in making detailed drawings of classic cars, but also more daring scenes with voluptuous ladies (something unthinkable at, for instance, Averbode). In Dutch language, Jean-Pol's 'Sammy' albums were even collected in a completely new book collection, named 'De nieuwe avonturen van Sammy' ("The New Adventures of Sammy"). The French-language book collections maintained the numeration of the original series, also containing all albums made by Berck.

Jean-Pol and Cauvin made nine new albums until the artist's retirement in 2009. This also marked the end of the 'Sammy' comic after almost 40 years.

Sammy - 'Pépée flingueuse' (2005).

Graphic contributions
Jean-Pol was one of many cartoonists to make a graphic contribution to 'La BD du Défi' (Lombard, 1990), a collective charity book supporting neuromuscular patients. He was additionally one of several Bronzen Adhemar winners to pay tribute to Marc Sleen in the book 'Marc Sleen. Een uitgave van de Bronzen Adhemar Stichting' (1993). He subsequently honored his former mentor in the 'Marc Sleen 80. De enige echte' (2002) and 'Marc Sleen 90. Liber Amicorum' (Standaard Uitgeverij, 2012). Jean-Pol additionally paid tribute to Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' in the book 'Suske en Wiske 60 Jaar! (2005)' and to Pom in 'Kroepie en Boelie Boemboem. Avontuur in de 21ste Eeuw' (2010). In 2005, his character Kramikske had a cameo in 'Bij Fanny op Schoot' (2005), an installment in Merho's 'Kiekeboe' series with crossovers between various Dutch and Belgian comic characters. In 2006, Jean-Pol also designed an official 'Kramikske' stamp for the Belgian Postal Service.

In 1981, Jean-Pol won the Bronzen Adhemar, the most important Flemish comics award. Between 15 December 2015 and 29 May 2016 he was the subject of a large career overview exhibition at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

Relatives in art
Jean-Pol's granddaughter Yasmine Stalpaert is also active as an illustrator.

The important characters from Jean-Pol's career.

Series and books by Jean-Pol you can order today:


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