'Tekko Taks en de zoon van het Hemelse Rijk'.

Henk Kabos was a Dutch comics artist who is best remembered for his humorous children's adventure series 'Tekko Taks' (1946-1952), about an anthropomorphic teckle. He was also one of the first artists affiliated with the comics/animation studios of Joop Geesink and Marten Toonder.

Early life and career
He was born in 1912 as Hendrik Jacob Theodorus Kabos in Amsterdam, where he received his artistic education at the Kunstnijverheidsschool until 1935. He spent the first years of his career as a visual artist. He painted murals for a photographer in Amersfoort and the children's hospital in Utrecht, and produced stained glass windows for a church in Hilversum. Kabos furthermore worked as an illustrator for the children's magazines De Kleine Wij and Doe Mee!, and also for the illustrated monthly Astra.


Illustration by Henk Kabos for Astra.

Geesink-Toonder Studio's
He spent about one year working as a drawing teacher on a private school before finding employment with Joop Geesink's animation studio in Amsterdam in early 1942. Geesink joined forces with Marten Toonder shortly afterwards, resulting in the founding of "Geesink Toonder Teekenfilm-productie". Initially, Kabos specialized in animation, collaborating on projects like Geesink's film in commission of the Dutch Railways ('Pierus in de Contramine') and the animated film 'Das Geheimnis der Grotte', which was based on the first 'Tom Poes' story 'Tom Poes Ontdekt Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde'. Once a week Henk Kabos and Cees van de Weert trained the studio's less experienced artists in human anatomy and the construction of cartoon characters. Toonder and Geesink parted ways after about one year, after which Kabos initially stayed with the Toonder Studios.

Pukkie's Avonturen by Henk Kabos Pukkie's Avonturen by Henk Kabos
'Pukkie's Avonturen' (Kabouterboekje, 1943).

Work for Marten Toonder
During the war, both Kabos, Toonder and other co-workers got involved with Dick van Veen and Jo Pellicaan's illegal printing company D.A.V.I.D. and its magazine Metro. They operated from a so-called "second division" of the Toonder Studios in the Amsterdam Spuistraat. D.A.V.I.D. printed illegal papers like Vrij Nederland, Het Parool and Trouw, but also booklets for the publishing company De Bezige Bij. Kabos designed the printer's logo and provided illustrations for several of their publications, often under the pseudonym Karel Woud. Most notable was Jan Gerhard Toonder's booklet 'Keukenkrabbels' (1945), followed after the war by 'Geef Ons Heden Ons Dagelijks Brood' (De Suijckermoolen, 1946). Both books expressed in words and images the Dutch despair and anger of the war years, and especially the Hunger Winter. The Toonder Studios also produced the advertising comic 'Pinneke Proost' (1943) for Kabouter-Jenever. Toonder wrote the story, while H.G. Kresse developed the characters, Cees van de Weert did the lay-outs and Frans van Lamsweerde produced the finished art. Kabos designed the ornamental first letters of each text block. The book was printed, but never distributed and would only be republished in 1995 in a limited edition. Kabos also drew the daily 'Tom Poes' comic strip for De Telegraaf for four months (most likely the 1944 story 'De Superfilm-onderneming'), and he later presumably also participated in the artwork of the story 'Horror de Ademloze' (1949), which ran in De Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant and De Volkskrant. In 1947 Kabos drew a series of advertising comic strips for Pitex insect powder, starring the dog 'Willy Waf'. These strips appeared at least in the newspapers Het Vrije Volk, De Waarheid, Nieuwe Apeldoornsche Courant and Nieuwsblad van het Noorden.


'Willy Waf' (Het Vrije Volk, 12 August 1947).

Tekko Taks
Kabos' signature series, 'Tekko Taks' (1946-1952), debuted in the newspaper De Nieuwe Nederlander, where the first three stories ran until 1947. Afterwards the comic ran for another 28 stories in Trouw. The stories revolve around a black anthropomorphic teckle, Tekko Taks. The character is quite homebound and loves gardening. Only out of necessity do plots force him to go on adventure to exotic locations set in a funny animal world. Like many Dutch comics series during that period the series was a text comic, with the text written underneath the images. Kabos' co-writer was James Ringrose, who also inked the drawings.  Because they were so preoccupied with Toonder's animation projects during the day both men mostly worked on 'Tekko Taks' during the evenings. 

Tekko Taks by Henk Kabos

Kabos continued to produce the strip for the Toonder Studios, even after he had returned to Joop Geesink in 1949. However, his workload forced him to let Ben van Voorn fill in on the artwork of three stories in the period 1949-1950. The strip ran exclusively in Trouw until 18 April 1956. From then on Swan Features Syndicate continued to distribute reprints of 'Tekko Taks' to the Frisian local papers Friese Koerier and Leeuwarder Courant, and even to Amigoe di Curaçao, a newspaper from the Dutch-speaking Carribean island Curaçao. In Flanders, Belgium, Tekko's adventures could be enjoyed in 't Kapoentje, the youth supplement of the newspaper Het Volk. The comic was also published in Ireland, Germany, Finland and Turkey. Kabos claimed in issue #14 of comics information magazine Stripschrift that he terminated the series in 1952 after a total of 31 stories, and that no new material was made after that date. Knowing that new stories appeared in Trouw until 1956, Kabos was probably mistaking. However, it is known that Frits Kloezeman has drawn the comic for about a year, so he is possibly the author of the final three stories in 1955-1956. Perhaps Kabos' run on the strip lasted until 1954, or Ringrose made a couple of episodes on his own?

Tekko Taks by Henk Kabos

Dollywood Studios
At Geesink's Dollywood Studios, Kabos was eventually promoted to art director. He worked on critically praised and award-winning puppet film productions like 'Philips' Lamplight Band' (1957), 'Light Concert in the Zoo' (1963) and films starring 'Dutchy' for the Dutch Dairy Firm in The Hague. Together with animator Cor Icke, he was also responsible for the 'Loeki de Leeuw' stop-motion animated films based on the eponymous lion character created by Joop Geesink. The 'Loeki de Leeuw' shorts were used as bumpers before and during commercial breaks on the Dutch public TV channels. First broadcast in 1972, they remained an iconic mainstay of Dutch television until 2004. Apart from the Netherlands, the 'Loeki' shorts were also shown in France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, Japan and the United States throughout the decades.

Tekko Taks by Henk Kabos

Further work
Other creations by Kabos are two series of 24 picture books for peppermint brand Faam from Breda, the first being 'Generaal Trip' (1948), the second 'Kapitein Brul Boei' (1949). Then there was 'Pukkie Planta', an advertising strip for the margerine factory Planta, and finally 'Barendje Big', another co-production with Ringrose (signed Rincká), which was published in women's weekly Eva by the Nederlandsche Rotogravure, in 1964. 'Barendje Big' was his final comics work.

Kapitein Brul Boei by Henk Kabos
'Kapitein Brul Boei'.

Final years and death
Kabos additionally illustrated children's books, as well as a couple of booklets in the 'Kabouterboekjes' collection of the Bijenkorf department store in 1943. He has additionally made costume designs for the Dutch National Ballet. In 1971 Kabos was responsible for launching the career of Jaap Vermeij by introducing him to Andries Brandt of the Toonder Studios. The artist passed away in July 1984.

Barendje Big by Henk Kabos

Henk Kabos in De Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

Series and books by Henk Kabos in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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