Tekko Taks en de zoon van het Hemelse Rijk

Henk Kabos was a Dutch comics artist who is best remembered for his humorous 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.

He was born as Hendrik Jacob Theodorus Kabos in 1912 in Amsterdam, where he got 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. He 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

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 and collaborated 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'. Toonder and Geesink parted ways after about a 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)

During the war, both Kabos and Toonder got involved with the illegal magazine Metro, for which Kabos used the pseudonym Karel Woud. For Toonder, Kabos, Frans van Lamsweerde and H.G. Kresse also created an advertising comic, 'Pinneke Proost' (1943), for Kabouter-Jenever. This 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 (presumably the 1944 story 'De Superfilm-onderneming'), and later presumably also participated in the artwork of 'Horror de Ademloze' (1949), which ran in De Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant and De Volkskrant. After the war, Kabos illustrated two books, 'Keukenkrabbels' (1945) and 'Geef Ons Heden Ons Dagelijks Brood' (1946), written by Jan Gerhard Toonder, Marten's brother. 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)

In 1946 Kabos created his signature series, 'Tekko Taks' (1946-1952), of which the first three stories appeared in the newspaper De Nieuwe Nederlander in 1946 and 1947. The comic then ran for another 28 stories in Trouw. It was inked and co-written by James Ringrose. Like many Dutch comics around that time it was a funny animal series published in text comics format, with the text written underneath the images. Tekko is a black teckle who is quite homebound. He loves his house and garden and it's only out of necessity that he is forced to go on adventure. Set in an anthropomorphic animal world, the plots often take him to exotic locations. Kabos and Ringrose worked on the comic during evenings, because they were too preoccupied with Toonder's animation projects in the day.

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. His workload forced him to let Ben van Voorn fill in on the artwork of three stories in the period 1949-1950, however. The strip ran exclusively in Trouw until the mid 1950s. 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 Finland and Turkey. Kabos claimed in issue 14 of comics information magazine Stripschrift that he terminated the series after a total of 31 stories in 1952, and that no new material was made after that. New stories however continued to appear in Trouw until at least the mid 1950s. The final episode ran in Leeuwarder Courant until December 1958. Since it is known that Frits Kloezeman has drawn the comic for about a year, he is probably the author of the final three stories in 1957-1958.

Tekko Taks by Henk Kabos

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), 'Lightconcert 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 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

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

Kabos additionally illustrated children's books, as well 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. Henk Kabos passed away in July 1984.

Barendje Big by Henk Kabos

Henk Kabos in De Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

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