from Charlie Hebdo, by Kamagurka (1980)
'Bert' gag.

Kamagurka - Kama in short - is a Belgian cartoonist, widely considered the godfather of Dutch-language absurd/alternative comics and cartoons. He gained cult fame with his surreal and often controversial comedy. His longest-running series is 'Bert' (1977- ), a gag comic about a middle-aged,  bespectacled man. In 1991, the character was paired with a weird human-faced dog named Bobje, which led to the spin-off 'Bert en Bobje' (1991- ). Throughout his long and productive career, Kamagurka made thousands of one-shot cartoons and comics about the weirdest characters and situations. He is also a productive scriptwriter for other alternative cartoonists, of which 'Cowboy Henk' (1981- ), drawn by Herr Seele, is the most famous example. As house cartoonist of Humo magazine, both Bert and Cowboy Henk have become mascots for the publication. Kamagurka's comics have been translated in many languages, but he had the strongest influence on cartoonists in Flanders and the Netherlands. He collaborated with several of the craziest artists, both from cartoons, comics, poetry (Simon Vinkenoog, Jules Deelder) and music (Frank Zappa, Herman Brood). His madcap comedy also invaded other media, such as stage shows, theatrical plays, radio programs, TV series, songs, advertisements and paintings. Kamagurka's mission remains to "destroy all seriousness".

Early life and influences
Kamagurka, real name Luc Zeebroek, was born in 1956 in Nieuwpoort, a town near the Belgian coast. He came into the world with a bad Achilles tendon, which left him with crooked feet. The boy was bullied and suffered tremendous pain until an operation solved the problem. In the hospital, a young patient in the bed next to him died. All these traumatic experiences gave Zeebroek a combative attitude. In his opinion, life is so absurd, tragic and meaningless that it's best to not take things to seriously. Growing up, he therefore wanted to turn everything into a joke, even severe tragedies.

His father owned a painters' material shop and occasionally took up a brush himself. As a boy, Zeebroek loved classic comic artists like Hergé, Willy Vandersteen, André Franquin, Maurice Tillieux, E.C. Segar, Peter van Straaten and Marc Sleen. At age 12, he sent some of his drawings to Tillieux. The veteran gave him professional advice and they met a few times at both his and the boy's home. As a teenager, Zeebroek discovered Pilote magazine, Marcel Gotlib, Régis Franc, Don Martin and underground comix by Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. But the magazine that really changed his life was Hara-Kiri/Charlie Hebdo. Their cartoonists drew in a simple, loose style, while breaking every possible taboo. He absorbed the influence of Copi, Gébé, Willem, Jean-Marc Reiser and Pierre Fournier, though his favorite artist in their pages was Roland Topor. Topor stood out by making surreal and disturbing cartoons. Zeebroek also liked the fact that Topor was active in many different media, something he would imitate in his own career. Later in life, he also expressed admiration for Gary Panter and Joan Cornellà.

Early work for De Zeewacht, signed "Fraluc" (1972).

Zeebroek developed a lifelong love for all absurd and subversive artists. In terms of "high art", he underwent influence from Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, George Grosz, James Ensor, Norman Gunston and Capitaine Longchamps. He explored the work of writers such as Franz Kafka, Daniil Charms, Eugène Ionesco, Boris Vian, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Lucebert and Alfred Jarry, and that of film directors Luis Buñuel and David Lynch. In terms of comedy, he is a great admirer of Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Wim T. Schippers, Van Kooten & De Bie, Monty Python, Spike Milligan, Jiskefet and Hans Teeuwen. Among his favorite musicians are Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, the Bonzo Dog Band, the Residents, Pere Ubu, Talking Heads, Beck, Johnny Dowd and Dogbowl. Their zany energy provides him with the perfect inspiration for his own looney universe.

Early career
Zeebroek's comic career started early. At age twelve, he sold self-drawn comics to his fellow pupils. By the time he was sixteen, he made his professional debut in De Zeewacht, a newspaper that circulated in the coastal city Ostend. Its office faced his school, so he simply made his cartoons in class and brought them over after classes. The experience gave him the idea that he already was a professional cartoonist. Zeebroek signed his early work with the name Fraluc, a contraction of "Frater Luc" ("Friar Luc") and a nod to André Franquin's last name. Eventually he settled on the pseudonym Kamagurka, a nonsensical pet name given by his mother when he was a toddler.

Appendiks, self-published comic zine by Kamagurka.

As a teenager, Kamagurka studied at the HRITO School of Art and Design in Bruges. In 1973, during a school trip to Paris, he spotted cartoonist Gébé in the street. He approached him and was invited to the Charlie Hebdo offices. The next day, while his class visited the Louvre museum, Kamagurka snuck away and went straight to his appointment. The teenager presented Gébé some cartoons he had drawn in his hotel room the night before. The veteran felt he had talent and advised him to make his drawings "a bit crazier". Kamagurka took this advice very seriously. His cartoons became more off the wall and he tried to get them printed in more professional publications. Together with some friends, he launched his own small press magazines, Appendiks and Proopr. The latter featured work by both him and the still unknown Pjotr (Piet De Rycker). Starting with the second issue, it also ran contributions by more experienced cartoonists like Ever Meulen, Pirana and Hec Leemans. On his own account, Kamagurka also published a comic book, 'Verloren Inkt' (1973). All these publications only had a limited circulation, but it was a start. Meanwhile, Kamagurka managed to get published in mainstream magazines like Knack, De Stoeten Ostendenoare, Kick, Vrede and De Vooruit. On 19 September 1974, one comic strip appeared in the new talent section 'Vrij Vel' in issue #1901 of the comic magazine Robbedoes (the Dutch-language version of Spirou).

In the mid-1970s, Kamagurka started a course in animation at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, where he first met his future collaborator Herr Seele. But both men eventually dropped out, because they felt they were wasting their time. Since 1975, Kamagurka has been house cartoonist of Humo magazine. A year later, his cartoons were finally accepted by Charlie Hebdo too. He also sold some to Surprise, a short-lived magazine edited by cartoonist Willem. Given that he could now make a living through cartooning, there was no reason to continue his academic career.

'Le Monde Fantastique des Belges', from Charlie Hebdo #516 (1 October 1980).

Charlie Hebdo
After his 1973 visit to Charlie Hebdo during a school trip to Paris, Kamagurka remained in touch with the magazine. Several times a year he travelled to the French capital, spending a few days at their headquarters. Sometimes he even slept over in their office. Charlie Hebdo's creative atmosphere stimulated him. From 1976 on, he became a regular paid contributor. In issue #402 of 27 July 1978, Kamagurka received his own comic strip column, titled 'La Belgique Comme Si Vous Y Étiez' ("Belgium Like You Were There"), later renamed to 'Le Monde Fantastique des Belges' ("The Wonderful World of Belgians"). Frenchmen traditionally make a lot of jokes about the stereotypical stupidity of Belgians, which even have a name: "les histoires Belges" ("Belgian stories"). Kamagurka's column was a more extreme version of this idea. He took several odd news stories from Belgian newspapers and then developed his own wacky and offensive twists on these situations. 'La Belgique Comme Si Vous Y Étiez' kept running for years. In 1981, Albin Michel published a compilation album, 'Le Monde Fantastique des Belges', with a foreword by Gébé.

Kamagurka particularly liked Charlie Hebdo, because it was the only place where he could take his comedy as far and taboo-breaking as possible. Still, in the early 1990s, he quit making cartoons for the magazine. While he kept in touch with his friends at the office, he felt the atmosphere started to change. People got more violent in their anger over Charlie Hebdo's content. As a result, more safety procedures were taken, which made it less inviting to visit the place. Many of his old connections also passed away, either by old age or during the 2015 terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Kamagurka covers for issue #3065 (1 June 1999) and issue #3410 (10 January 2006) of Humo magazine. The first cover jokes about the far-right party Vlaams Blok and their plea for a curfew for youngsters. For Bert this wasn't extreme enough, so he wanted a curfew "for everybody". But given that Bobje the dog now shits inside his house, Bert grumbles: "Next time, I vote against it!". The second cover announces an article about adultery. The woman in the cartoon exclaims: "Damned! Mother's Day: I completely forgot about it!". 

In 1975, Kamagurka wanted to publish some drawings in the Dutch underground comix magazine Tante Leny Presenteert. Since Ever Meulen was a regular contributor, he asked him to show these cartoons to its editor, Evert Geradts. Meulen fulfilled the request, but also offered them to Guy Mortier, chief editor of Humo, the magazine Meulen worked for since 1971. Mortier was so impressed with Kamagurka's unconventional humor that he instantly hired him. His first comic strip, 'Gemeenschappelijk Vervoer: Zoveel Voordeliger', ran in issue #1856. The gag revolved around an ill man who blackmails people to pay him money, otherwise he will "cough on them." Many equally strange comics and cartoons followed. Slowly but surely, Kamagurka replaced Ever Meulen as Humo's official house cartoonist. Meulen didn't mind, as he preferred illustration work over creating comics anyway. On top of that, he was receiving more commissions from magazines all over the globe, which left him with less time to work for Humo alone. However, Kamagurka and Meulen's styles were vastly different. While Meulen excelled in sophisticated, swift, detailed linework with cosy comedy, Kamagurka had a more minimalistic and brutal approach. He made simple doodles with pitch black, anarchic and bizarre jokes. As a result, he could produce more material in a shorter amount of time.

'Wielda the Cloud', early absurdism by Kamagurka (1976). The man fucks a cloud and declares the end result "a masterpiece". 

While some older readers didn't understand or enjoy Kamagurka's cartoons, most youngsters loved it. After only one year, readers elected him as "Best Cartoonist" in Humo's annual popularity contest, 'Humo's Pop Poll'. He remained the unanimous winner for 34 years, until Jonas Geirnaert dethroned him in 2010 and Jeroom succeeded him in all following editions. His success can be attributed to many different factors. Over the decades, there was barely an issue of Humo which didn't feature his cartoons or comics. Even if he didn't draw them himself, he often scripted material. Several cartoonists in Humo's pages also used a similar black-and-white, offensive and nonsensical style, leading many readers into thinking Kamagurka was the creator behind it, even if he wasn't. More than anybody, chief editor Guy Mortier aside, Kamagurka shaped Humo's public image. He perfectly summarized their playful, subversive and rock 'n' roll style. The energetic cartoonist designed and recorded advertisements for them. At events sponsored by Humo, he frequently appeared as comic relief.

Early 'Bert' gag in which he decides to "act like a swine", which is an annual tradition for him. 

Kamagurka is an uncompromising absurdist. His cartoons and comics feature daft characters in nonsensical situations. The tone ranges from witty silliness to anarchic anti-comedy. Most gags are one-panel cartoons or one-page gags, though Kamagurka has also drawn longer stories, which allowed him to push his bizarre ideas even further. Only a few of his characters lasted longer than one episode. In the mid-1970s, Kamagurka developed a running gag about a mysterious girl named Marjoleintje (sometimes spelled as "Marjolijntje"). Although she remained an offscreen character, her activities were considered extraordinarily interesting. In several comics, people would talk about all the things she was able to do, even the plainest ones. After retiring this idea, Kamagurka made several gags about a terminally ill patient named Patiënt Peters. His first characters with staying power were Bert Vanderslagmulders (1977) and his dog Bobje (1991). Kamagurka still uses them to this day. Between 1981 and 1982, he drew the adventures of Bob Plagiaat, AKA 'Meneerke Plagiaat' ("Mr. Plagiarism"), who looked almost exactly like Willy Vandersteen's Lambik character. The feature ran in the newspaper De Vooruit, at the time a regional sister magazine of De Morgen, circulating in Ghent-Eeklo, East-Flanders. Mr. Plagiaat provided funny and absurd commentary on other artist's comics, with Kamagurka copy-pasting or redrawing the original panels. In 2000-2001, he also created several gags about a superfast man in a rocket-shaped suit, named Raketman. Raketman is so fast that he transcends time: he even brings in library books that still have to be published.

Classic 'Marjoleintje' gag by Kamagurka, 1970s. Mr. Klaus Popopis knows which foot Marjoleintje hid in an empty sandbox ("It was her left one!"). He receives thunderous applause, while the lecturer informs the crowd that "Mr. Klaus Popopis while go on world tour next year!!". 

Kamagurka has always been a man of spontaneity. In line with Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists, he draws in a quick and simple style. His cartoons rarely take more than a few minutes to appear on paper. Elaborate artwork or impeccable lay-outs are unimportant to him. His characters are often grotesque beings. They have ugly faces and strange bodies that don't obey the laws of physics, logic or good taste. Sometimes he deliberately changes their appearance in each successive panel. None of the panels have completely straight lines. If Kamagurka makes a typo, spelling mistake or continuity error, he leaves it in. In some cases, he simply scratches the wrong word out and scribbles the correction above the sentence, with help from a tiny arrow. Kamagurka regularly claimed that he could draw like Rembrandt if he wanted to, but doesn't need this technique or any graphic research. All that matters is the idea, more specifically the joke. This time-saving working method also helped him work for several magazines at once. Even when faced with a tight deadline, he can still come up with something quick. It is therefore not surprising that Kamagurka managed to fill an entire book with thematic gags about writer's block, a problem he never suffers from. The original 1995 book was published by Loempia, the reprint by De Harmonie.

'It's Showtime', photo comic about the then-recent death of Lady Di. In this issue of Humo, (16 September 1997) a free poster of Princess Diana was offered. Kamagurka uses this gift to pretend he's Diana, depicting her during various "important" moments of her life. 

Kamagurka prefers working with pen and paper, but has also made photo comics. Usually, he plays the starring role, either as himself or one of his comedic stage characters. In the 1980s, he and Herr Seele made two photo comics that also starred the comedian Urbanus. In the late 1990s, Kamagurka made a column titled 'It's Show Time', in which he took snapshots of himself doing silly things as if he was an illusionist. In one memorable 1997 episode, created one week after Princess Diana's death in a car accident, he presented a photo comic about her life, sticking his head through a Lady Di poster which had been a gift in the Humo issue of the previous week. In the same way, he also made parody comics. In his 'Bob Plagiaat' (1981-1982) series, he ridiculed Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske', Karel Biddeloo's 'De Rode Ridder', Cram's 'De Weyfelaers', Pil's 'Meneerke Peeters' and Hergé's 'Tintin'. In 1994, Kamagurka ridiculed the 'Tintin' story 'The Shooting Star' in an ambitious five-page tale, which reprinted images from the original book. Hergé's estate promptly sued Humo for copyright infringement and won their case. The magazine had to pay 1 million Belgian francs (25.000 euro, or 27.000 dollars). 

Kamagurka's spoof of Tintin's 'The Shooting Star' (Humo #2786, 27 January 1994). Bert is outraged that Tintin "kicked his loyal dog against a lamppost". Afterwards he observes that one long hair on Snowy's paw is still a messy curl. In the center panel below, Bert notices two people across the street where Tintin is walking, "looking for a coat rack." 

While most of his cartoons are timeless comedy, Kamagurka has also poked fun at current events. He made topical jokes in weeklies like Humo, Vrij Nederland and Charlie Hebdo, but also on a daily basis for newspapers like De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws, NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant and De Financieel-Economische Tijd. Going strictly against the "too soon" policy, he has ridiculed real-life crises, wars, conflicts, accidents, crimes and disasters. Kamagurka's life philosophy is that everything is absurd and meaningless. Therefore it's okay to laugh at tragedies, including his own. Every time he felt unhappy, he simply drew a funny cartoon about it and felt a lot better. To him only the immediate present matters, because the past is gone and the future unpredictable. On the same token, he doesn't care what people think of him. If people dislike it, it's unimportant anyway. The best is to laugh at it and put everything into perspective.

'Bert en Bobje', 1990s. Bobje has to hold a wooden bar, while Bert masturbates to it. Bobje's dry commentary: "What a sex life!". 

Bert (and Bobje)
Kamagurka's most recognizable character is Bert Vanderslagmulders, better known as simply 'Bert'. On 3 November 1977, he made his debut in Humo issue #1939. The original title of the feature was 'Van Maerlantstraat 23', at the time Kamagurka's home address. Bert is a grumpy, bald, middle-aged man with a floppy nose, beer belly and spectacles. He often talks to himself. Kamagurka made Bert's dialogue inner monologues, because he originally intended to use the same text during his comedy stage shows. Although Bert can act strange, he is not as zany and grotesque as most of Kamagurka's other characters. In 1991, that role was given to his pet dog, Bobje ("Little Bob"), whose name is a reference to the Dutch-language name of Tintin's dog Milou (Snowy), "Bobbie". Just like Snowy and Snoopy, Bobje can't talk, but readers learn his opinion through thought balloons. Bobje is a strange anthropomorphic dachshund. He has a human-shaped face and can walk on his hind legs. The animal is capable of imitating people's behavior and do weird tricks. The character came to Kamagurka in a dream. At the time, the First Gulf War went on in Iraq. The cartoonist had watched CNN the night before and was startled by the contrast between the war atrocities and the fairy tale image of Bagdad. Afterwards, he dreamed of a young child without limbs, who could nevertheless still walk around. Once he woke up, he turned this sausage-shaped creature into Bobje. Bert and Bobje rose as mascots for Humo and were featured in numerous advertisements and merchandising items, including a giant inflatable doll used during the Werchter rock festival, sponsored by Humo.

"Cowboy Henk and the Sinking Water", text by Kamagurka, artwork by Herr Seele. Henk wonders whether water "floats or sinks?" and throws it in the sea. When the captain complains that it was "their last bottle", Henk reassures him that he "only threw the water away." When Henk notices the water "sank", he decides to save it. He instructs the captain that "if he pulls the rope three times, it's a sign for you to do the same, then we're even!". 

Comic collaborations
Kamagurka is such a powerhouse of ideas that even he can't draw or write everything on his own. His best-known collaborator is Herr Seele, with whom he created several one-shot comics. In 1983, Kamagurka, Seele and some fellow spirits made a "parasite supplement" to Humo, titled Reactivisd. It featured absurd photo collages, ads, columns, comics and cartoons. However, Kamagurka and Seele's most popular and iconic creation is the long-running comic series 'Cowboy Henk' (1981-2011, 2013- ). It originated in 1981 in De Vooruit, a regional sister newspaper of De Morgen, which circulated in the East-Flemish region Ghent-Eeklo. 'Cowboy Henk' follows the absurd and controversial adventures of a muscular quiffed man named Henk. Kamagurka is credited as the scriptwriter, while Seele illustrates the ideas, but nevertheless they have brainstorming sessions together. By 1982, 'Cowboy Henk' had caused so many letters from angry readers that the series was cancelled. The feature found a new home in Humo, where it gained a cult following. Certain people still crawled into their pen to complain about the family-unfriendly humor, but at the same time 'Cowboy Henk' also found success in the Netherlands. The comic was translated in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Chinese. Apart from a brief hiatus in 2011-2013, new gags of 'Cowboy Henk' still run in Humo to this day. During this hiatus, Kamagurka and Seele additionally created 'Dikke Billie Walter' (2011-2013), a gag comic about an obese, gluttonous little boy, also published in Humo.

'Zappa in Zoeloeland', comic strip by Kamagurka, with text scripted and hand-written by Frank Zappa (Humo #1901, 10 February 1977).

Apart from Seele, Kamagurka has regularly scripted comics for fellow alternative cartoonists, such as Glen Baxter, Gert Dooreman, Kim Duchateau, Jonas Geirnaert, Jeroom, Hector Leemans, Willy Linthout, Erik Meynen, Muzo, Pjotr (for instance the 1978 comic 'De Avonturen van Alfred' in De Vooruit), Urbanus and Joris Vermassen (AKA Fritz van den Heuvel). Whenever he worked together with non-cartoonists, like the poets Simon Vinkenoog, Jules Deelder and rock musician Herman Brood, he provided the drawings. One such example was cult rock composer Frank Zappa. On 28 January 1977, Zappa performed in Vorst Nationaal in Brussels, where Kamagurka wanted to interview him backstage. However, the musician didn't want to meet the press that evening. Luckily, Kamagurka had another ace up his sleeve. He had prepared a strange comic strip starring Zappa, but hadn't filled in the speech balloons yet. Kamagurka asked Zappa's bodyguard John Smothers whether his boss would at least grant him this pleasure. Zappa fulfilled his wish. He looked at the comic strip for a few seconds and then improvised the dialogue on the spot. Afterwards, Kamagurka received his artwork back and was asked to leave again. Back home, Kamagurka wrote some Dutch subtitles under each panel. The end result, 'Zappa in Zoeloeland', appeared in Humo issue #1901 (10 February 1977). The story makes references to the Zappa songs 'Sofa' and 'Evelyn, A Modified Dog', both from the album 'One Size Fits All'. Kamagurka always named his collaboration with Frank Zappa a highlight in his career.

National and international success
Apart from Humo, Kamagurka's absurdities have also appeared in other Belgian magazines, such as De Vooruit, De Morgen, De Zwijger, De Financieel-Economische Tijd, Het Laatste Nieuws, Focus Vif, (Á Suivre) and De Standaard. In the Netherlands, he made his name in Tante Leny Presenteert, De Vrije Balloen, Gezellig & Leuk, NRC Handelsblad, De Haagse Post, De Volkskrant, De Nieuwe Revu, Propria Cures and Vrij Nederland. In France, Kamagurka appeared in Surprise, Le Petit Psikopat, L'Écho des Savanes, Fluide Glacial, Charlie Mensuel and Charlie Hebdo. German readers know his work from Zitty, Titanic and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In England he livened up the pages of Punch and The Spectator. Through publications in National Lampoon, Raw and The New Yorker, he also made an impression in the United States. Kamagurka's cartoons have additionally been translated in Danish, Norwegian (published in Marg), Swedish, Finnish, Spanish and Italian.

Controversial tsunami cartoon of 2004. ("Thailand: Two children saved by German pedophile").

When Kamagurka debuted in the 1970s, he was literally an "enfant terrible", as he was barely 19 when he invaded Humo's pages. Right from the start, some critics called him a hack, accusing him of being "unable to draw". Others felt his comedy was vulgar and lacked punchlines. Over the course of decades, he shocked, disgusted or merely puzzled readers. Some wrote furious letters, others cancelled their subscriptions. In the early years, Humo's chief editor Guy Mortier had a hard time defending Kamagurka. Not just to his readers, but also to some of his own colleagues, who failed to understand what he saw in him. Luckily, Kamagurka always had a strong cult following and gradually more readers warmed up to him. Still, even half a century later, his cartoons still manage to outrage readers. On 27 December 2004, Kamagurka poked fun at the recent tsunami disaster in South East Asia. Readers of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad felt particularly offended by a drawing of two children floating on a bloated corpse, with the tagline: "Two children saved by German pedophile" (a reference to the local sex tourism). The paper was flooded by angry letters, phone calls and 20 annulled subscriptions. In 2013, Kamagurka caused controversy in Vrij Nederland with a cartoon about the chemical attacks in Syria. The drawing showed a man saying: "In order to see the images on Twitter I had to wear a gas mask." Again many readers felt this was a joke in bad taste.

By never apologizing for his comedy, Kamagurka didn't endear himself to his detractors. Especially when he was younger, he enjoyed acting like a demented fool or a contrarian. He deliberately annoyed journalists, audiences and even people in Humo's office. When he won the Bronzen Adhemar comics award in 1978, he bugged 'Suske en Wiske' creator Willy Vandersteen by asking him for a job in his studio. In reality, he didn't want to work for Vandersteen at all, he merely want to get on his nerves. Even when Vandersteen politely told him that he lacked the proper skills, Kamagurka said that he was very good in "drawing tables". He offered to simply draw tables, because "Suske en Wiske have to sit sometimes, don't they?" During the same ceremony, Kamagurka also destroyed one of his exhibited artworks and then tried to auction the damaged remains. In 1981, he and fellow comedian Urbanus were guests on the summer talk show 'Met Zicht op Zee', broadcast on 20 August. Right from the start, neither he, Urbanus or the other guests took the show seriously. Kamagurka and Urbanus kept joking around, interrupting the host and started messing with the scenery, drinks and the mikes. The still unexperienced host Carl Huybrechts tried to save the broadcast, sometimes succumbing to laughter, but gradually getting more fed up. After half an hour, the entire show had to be discontinued.

'Bob Plagiaat', 1981. Bob Plagiaat goes to the 'Royal Academy for Comic Heroes and Rabbits', where he meets Lambik, the comic relief from Willy Vandersteen's comic 'Suske en Wiske', drawn like how he appeared in the late 1940s. Lambik explains that he is now "unemployed, ever since that clean shaven Dutchman took my place!" The joke refers to the fact that 'Suske en Wiske' originally appeared in Flemish dialect, which was later changed to standard Dutch. By that time the character Lambik had already been significantly remodelled. In the first panel we also see various realistically-drawn characters, pencilled by Hec Leemans. The man with the moustache and goatee, leaving the building with a copy of TV weekly 'TV Express' under his arm is a caricature of Humo's chief editor Guy Mortier. 

Also in 1981, Kamagurka heckled poet Paul Snoek during the annual poetry event "De Nacht van de Poëzie". The irritated writer dared him to come on stage, whereupon the cartoonist stole the show by ridiculing Snoek's oratory. The disgraced poet left in anger. Later that year, Snoek coincidentally died in a car accident. Fellow poets and Humo journalists Herman De Coninck and Piet Piryns felt that Kamagurka had gone too far. Nevertheless, the cartoonist was invited back at the next edition, this time even as main act. Kamagurka pulled no punches by claiming he had "found some phalanx bones from Snoek which hadn't burnt properly in the fire." He then asked people in the audience if anyone had a lighter so he could pay "proper tribute" to "his friend".

In many ways, Kamagurka was punk long before it became a musical genre and subculture. He made his cartoons and shows with the same D.I.Y. approach. Likewise he had an anarchistic, nihilistic attitude and enjoyed trolling people. In 1976-1977, when Humo's rock critics were still unsure what to think of punk, Kamagurka already listened to punk records. But even this genre sometimes felt too conventional to him. When he formed his "punk band" the Dachau Dollies, he deliberately used comedy and musical styles that real punks would consider corny, just to make a statement about punk's own rigidness. Despite his clownish behavior, Kamagurka could also be open to more serious discussions, with respect for others. And on rare occasions, even he realized he went too far. In 1979, after trolling journalist Jan Smet during an interview for the comic news magazine Stripgids, he phoned him back later that night to apologize for his boorish behavior. They made an appointment for a new, more serious interview and Kamagurka kept his promise.

Kamagurka has never backed down from any taboo. In his opinion, every topic can be funny, no matter how dark. He therefore opposes censorship of any kind. In 2006, after the global outrage over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, Kamagurka made a portrait of Muhammad which he showed during a broadcast of the talkshow De Laatste Show: it only showed an empty canvas. In 2013, when a poster for the original comic art exhibition 'De Wereld van de Strips in Originelen' in the Flemish Parliament (organized by Jan Hoet and Dany Vandenbossche) was blanked because politician Jan Peumans objected to a French-language speech balloon, Kamagurka protested by removing his own cartoons from the show. In 2015, terrorists murdered editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo magazine over cartoons which offended Islam. When Kamagurka was asked: "How far can comedy go?", he gave the legendary answer: "A far more interesting question is: 'How far should people go with seriousness? All trouble in the world is created by taking things too seriously, not because of an abundance in comedy'."

Kamagurka cartoon. Translation: "Today, all employment was nearly solved... except for two men." - "They'll never get us, won't they, Staf? HAHAHA!" - "Never! HAHAHA!". 

Graphic and written contributions
Kamagurka was one of several cartoonists to provide a comic strip to 'Pepperland' (1980), a collective comic book in tribute to the celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pepperland comic store. He also made a comic for 'Les Aventures du Latex - La Bande Dessinée Européenne s'Empare du Préservatif' (1991), a Swiss educational comic book that promoted condom use. In 1993, he paid homage to Marc Sleen in the book 'Marc Sleen. Een Uitgave van de Bronzen Adhemar Stichting' (1993). Kamagurka also livened up the pages of Harold Hamersma's book about wine culture, 'Over Waanzin en Wijnzin' (Nieuw Amsterdam, 2013). Together with the virologist Marc van Ranst, he published 'Kamakorona' (Borgerhoff & Lamberigts, 2021), a book poking fun at the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, Kamagurka also designed a few Humo-related publications, such as Guy Mortier's book 'Van Pool tot Zeveraar' (Kritak, 1992), a collection of the funniest headlines in the magazine. Kamagurka has also been a productive album cover artist. Apart from his own musical releases, he designed the covers of 'Nooit Meer Drinken' (1977) and 'Kamiel in België' (1978) by Raymond van het Groenewoud, 'Foamy Wife Hum' (2003) by All Ears and 'The Game' (2011) by Das Pop. He was one of several artists to illustrate the liner notes of Henny Vrienten's album 'Tussen de Regels' (2019).

A passage from Kamagurka's written "in memoriam" to cartoonist Jean-Marc Reiser was used as a foreword to the 1983 Dutch-language translations of Reiser's albums, released by Zinjé. He also wrote the children's picture book 'Bollekop' (Querido, 1997), illustrated by Gerda Dendooven. In 2007, Kamagurka crawled into his pen to contribute an absurd fairy tale for adults to the book 'Er Was Geenszins' (Oogachtend, 2007), illustrated by Kim Duchateau.

In 2005, Kamagurka also participated with the 'Ergste Belg' ('Worst Belgian') contest, organized by the editors of the magazine Deng. In a direct parody of the then-ongoing 'De Grootste Belg' ('The Greatest Belgian') election on public television, Deng presented a list of the 100 "worst" Belgians and let their readers vote who deserved this title. After the first round, 10 names were left. Each candidate was "defended" by a celebrity, just like in the official 'Grootste Belg' contest. Kamagurka picked out Filip Dewinter, the most popular politician within the far-right party Vlaams Belang. In the second round, Dewinter was actually voted the winner, beating out other awful Belgians like criminal Marc Dutroux, TV host Gert Verhulst, Leopold II, queen Fabiola, football star Jean-Marie Pfaff and politicians Léon Degrelle, Leo Delcroix, Anke Vander Meersch and Paul Vanden Boeynants .Yet, Kamagurka felt this was still "way too much honor for such an utter, racist loser." 

"Cubic Popeye" painting.

Since 1991, Kamagurka spent increasingly more time on painting. He makes colorful figurative works, sometimes close to humorous cartoons. They are often portraits of celebrities or famous fictional characters. By the early 2000s, this had become a full-time hobby. In 2007, he made a new painting each day, which were compiled into an official calendar, the 'Kamalnak' (a pun on the word "almanac"), published by Marc Coucke. Kamagurka and Coucke also established their own company, Kamacoucka, to sell and distribute his artworks.

In 2012, Kamagurka presented the international art project 'Kamarama' in Bruges, for which he collaborated with artists like David Bade, Stephen Tunney, Werner Mannaers, Jeroen Henneman, Kati Heck, René Daniëls and Muzo. During the show, he also offered a stage for musicians like Dogbowl, Johnny Dowd and Daniel Johnston. Kamagurka sells his art at high prizes, because he doesn't agree with the vision of his teachers at the Academy who felt that every "real" artist should be dirt poor. His art has been exhibited in both Belgium and The Netherlands.

Kamagurka's Kamiel Kafka persona on the cover of Lava #3. Translation: "What's the difference between a feminist with big breasts and one with thin breasts?" (Answer: "I have more respect for the first category."). 

Theatrical career
In the late 1970s, Kamagurka started making stand-up comedy shows, both solo and as a double act with Herr Seele. In 1982, during the poetry festival De Nacht van de Poëzie (nowadays "De Nachten"), Kamagurka introduced his best known comedic character, Kamiel Kafka, a wannabe poet who wears an ushanka and a long coat. His last name is a wink to Czech writer Franz Kafka. Kamiel recites absurd poems and songs in a slurred voice. He always introduces himself with the catchphrase: "I'm Kamiel Kafka. I'm Kamiel Kafka. And I'm not going to repeat this twice!" Both Kamiel Kafka, as well as Kama and Seele in general, were a regular double-act during Humo's annual popularity poll show, 'Humo's Pop Poll'. Every year, readers of Humo magazine vote for the "best" or "worst" celebrities or media of that year and the winners are announced during a comedic musical show, known as 'The Pop Poll Show'. During the 1997 edition, Kama and Seele caused controversy by dressing up as the recently arrested child molesters and murderers Marc Dutroux and Patrick Derochette, since Dutroux had been elected as "Lul van het Jaar" ("Dickhead of the Year"). Some people in the audience thought they were the real-life criminals. Others recognized Kama and Seele, but felt their act was in bad taste. Laughter and booing were equally loud that night.

Kamagurka wrote three stage plays, 'Mario, Ga Eens Opendoen, Er Wordt Gebeld' (1992), 'Tante Euthanasie Gaat Acheruit' (1994) and 'De Baardvrouwen' (1995), performed by the theater groups Speeltheater Gent and Nederlands Toneel Gent. Together with Dutch jazz performance poet, Jules Deelder he made 'Kamadeeldra' (2005). Kamagurka and Johan Desmet created the musical show 'Welkom in Kamagurkistan' (2006), while he and female comedian Lies Lefever brought the stand-up act 'Kamagurka Geneest' (2009-2010) to the Belgian stages.

Single sleeve for the release 'Een Klein Leger Maar Een Dik Leger' by Kamagurka En De Vlaamse Primitieven (1983).

Musical career
In the late 1970s, Kama played in several punk bands. His first effort was titled The Dachau Dollies, later renamed Kama and the Gurka's and eventually De Vlaamse Primitieven ("The Flemish Primitives"). Over the years, he released several novelty singles, among them 'Constant Degoutant' (1981), 'Marjoleintje' (1982), 'Een Klein Leger, Maar Een Dik Leger' (1983), 'De Klootzak van Honolulu' (1988), 'Sabrina, Wat Heb Je Met Mijn Snor Gedaan?' (1999) and 'Nee, Mijn Lief: Je Bent Niet Te Dik' (1999). In 1984, his song 'Weg Met Boudewijn, Leve Fabiola' was refused airplay on Belgian radio and television for humorously advocating Belgian queen Fabiola over her husband king Boudewijn/Baudouin. Broadcasters felt the song was lèse-majesté, an achievement Kamagurka was quite proud of. All his song lyrics were compiled in the book 'De Zanger Is Ziek Vandaag' (Houtekiet, 2002). On Kapitein Winokio's hip rendition of classic Dutch-language children's songs, 'Kapitein Winokio Zag 1 Beer' (2004), Kamagurka covered 'Klein, Klein, Kleuterke'.

TV and film career
In the 1980s and 1990s, Kamagurka and Herr Seele made several shows for the Dutch progressive public TV broadcaster VPRO. It was a deliberate choice, since the programs of their favorite humorists, like Wim T. Schippers and Van Kooten & Wim de Bie, were also broadcast on VPRO television. They also felt the VPRO took more artistic risks. They made three alternative sketch series: 'Sfeervol Bullshitten' (1982), 'Kamagurka en Herr Seele' (1985-1986) and 'Wees Blij Met Wat Je Hebt' (1996-1997), which increased their media visibility, especially in the Netherlands. In the late 1980s, the Flemish public TV channel BRTN (nowadays VRT) decided to give Kamagurka and Herr Seele airplay too. First, they only had humoristic intermezzos in the comedy show 'Johnnywood' (1988) on TV2 (nowadays Canvas). Kamagurka recited poems in the guise of his comedic alter ego Kamiel Kafka. He also narrated the adventures of their comic character Cowboy Henk, played by Seele with a plastic quiff tied to his head. The program also featured contributions by humorists like Hugo Matthysen and David Davidse, who would join Kamagurka and Herr Seele in their next TV project, 'Lava'.

'Lava' started out as two thematic comic books, published in 1987 and 1988 by Loempia. They featured comics and cartoons by Kamagurka and Seele, as well as the new graphic talent Erik Meynen. In 1989, the BRTN greenlighted Kamagurka and Seele's first completely self-produced TV show on their channel. Under the title 'Lava' (1989-1990), it was broadcast on TV2. The program was a mixture of live performances, studio sketches, sketches on location, animated cartoons and music videos. Kamagurka and Seele appeared as themselves, but also played characters, such as the familiar Kamiel Kafka. One of Kamagurka's newer recurring characters was TV sports journalist Freddie Keunhaas and Doctor Guy Vago (a pun on the novel 'Dr. Zhivago'). Seele took the role of Van Patiënten, a patient with strange ailments for which Dr. Guy Vago had equally bonkers remedies. 'Lava' also featured musical intermezzos by the comedic band Hugo Matthysen en de Bomen and weird monologues by the British cartoonist Glen Baxter. Of all of Kamagurka's TV endeavours, 'Lava' has remained the most popular. The show was a cult hit and spawned a CD and additional thematic comic books. The third and fourth volume of 'Lava' featured graphic contributions by Glen Baxter, Hec Leemans, Willy Linthout, Hugo Matthysen, Muzo, Stefan Verwey and Fritz van den Heuvel.

Photocomic by Kamagurka
Photo comic from Lava, co-starring singer Eddy Wally as Captain Kirk and Annet Malherbe as lieutenant-commander Uhura. In this gag they're confronted with a "cross-eyed cyclops", played by Anton Cogen. 

The most memorable segment of 'Lava' was the 'Star Trek' parody 'Wally in Space', which closed off each episode. Seele played Dr. Spock, while the role of Captain Kirk was given to Flemish crooner Eddy Wally. Wally enjoyed fame for being an unintentionally laughable musician. He had limited vocal talent and both his songs and performances were incredibly cheesy. Nevertheless, he managed to build a steady and profitable career, even performing across the Flemish borders. Many people saw him as a joke, but Kamagurka was a genuine fan and often went to see his shows. Although in 'Lava' Wally was used for comedic effect, Kamagurka and Seele remained lifelong friends with him. They gave him a guest role in their next TV project, the sitcom parody 'Bob en George' (1998). Kamagurka (Bob) and Seele (George) appeared in absurd situations, co-written by Humo journalist and comedian Patrick De Witte, better known as pdw. The series was a co-production between the Flemish public TV channel Canvas and the Dutch organization VPRO. Eddy Wally was also Kamagurka and Seele's co-host on the 1999 season of their radio show 'Studio Kafka'. When the eccentric singer passed away in 2016, they both attended his funeral.

Kamagurka also had a considerable solo TV career. Starting in 1989, he irregularly appeared as panel member in the game show 'De Drie Wijzen' on TV1 (nowadays Eén), where he often went off script. In the 2004-2005 season of the late-night talk show De Laatste Show, the cartoonist had a weekly segment titled 'Geen Commentaar' ("No Comments"). As the title implied, it featured Kamagurka providing "no (essential) commentary" to TV journal imagery earlier that week. Although less prone to disrupt the show, he still enjoyed provoking audiences: in one episode he was interviewed playing Adolf Hitler. Kamagurka showed a more serious side of himself in the 2006 season of the human interest show 'Man Bijt Hond'. Inspired by David Lynch's film 'The Straight Story' (2000), he drove a quad around around the border of Belgium and its neighboring countries. During his trip, he interviewed local villagers with sincere curiosity. In 2006, he was also interviewed in the documentary 'Jazz Is My Religion', about performance poet and jazz collector Jules Deelder.

Fans of the more comedic Kamagurka could enjoy him as occasional jury member during the 2009-2010 season of the TV quiz 'De Slimste Mens ter Wereld'. In 2013, Kamagurka went back behind the wheel, this time as a taxi driver in the documentary series 'Uitzonderlijk Vervoer' on the channel VIER. In each episode, he picked up a Flemish comedian to drive him to and back from an event, while interviewing him in the car. In 2015, Kamagurka had a weekly segment in the TV talk show 'De Afspraak', searching for "beauty and emotion", either in art, sports, human kindness or other things. Both he and Herr Seele also received special thanks at the end of the film 'Curiosity Killed Shawn' (2013) by Shawn Elestren.

Radio career
On 7 January 1995, Kamagurka also invaded Belgian radio. On the station Studio Brussel, he and Herr Seele hosted the madcap sketch show 'Studio Kafka' (1995-1999). Kama and Seele performed sketches, while comedians Gunter Lamoot, Bart Vanneste and Piet De Praitere played secondary roles. Apart from characters from their TV sketch shows, Kamagurka also created new characters for their radio program, such as the nonsensical Swami Rashtar and garage holder Verkest, who was obsessed with "groot onderhoud en nieuwe banden" ("great maintenance and new tyres") as a solution to every problem, even unrelated to cars. During the 1999 season, singer Eddy Wally was co-host. 'Studio Kafka' not only featured strange comedy, but also novelty songs by Kama and Seele, as well as bizarre music by avant-garde artists. When Eddy Wally was co-host, they gave his songs airplay too.

From 5 May until June 2002, Kamagurka hosted another comedic radio show, 'Kamagurkistan', with radio presenter Tomas De Soete as sidekick. The show featured news reports and information about the absurd country Kamagurkistan, where different laws and duties are in effect. The musical intermezzos were mostly bizarre songs from Kamagurka's own collection. In 2005, 'Radio Vrij Kamagurkistan' also briefly became an online radio station. In 2019, Kamagurka and Seele hosted their cultural chat 'Van Altamira tot Heden en Terug', a reference to a well-known cultural history book. It was broadcast on Culture Club on Radio 1. They compared their funny discussions with the grouchy old men Statler and Waldorf from Jim Henson's 'The Muppet Show'.

Promotional work
Over the years, Kamagurka and Herr Seele used their cartoons and comedy acts to make print, radio and TV advertisements for their house magazine Humo, as well as the Humo-sponsored annual rock festival Werchter. A gigantic blow-up doll of Kama's Bert and Bobje characters could be seen during many editions of the festival. Kamagurka also advertised for humanitarian organisations like Rock Against Fascism, Greenpeace and Amnesty International.

'De Geschiedenis van het Salon' ('The History of the Salon'). 

On 6 October 1978, Kamagurka received the Belgian comic prize Bronzen Adhemar, surprisingly enough on recommendation of jury member and comic veteran Willy Vandersteen. At age 22, he was (and still is) the youngest laureate. On 4 November of that same year, he was also honored with the artistic award the Louis Paul Boonprijs. In 1985, the cartoonist won the Geuzenprijs (1985) for his free-spirited attitude. During the Stripdagen comic festival in Breda on 16-17 October 1993, he was honored with the Dutch Stripschap Prize. On 11 June 2001, Kamagurka won the very first Press Cartoon Belgium Award for a cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His drawing shows a parody of a traffic sign, with the text: "Watch out for the children: shoot slowly." At the Frankfurther Buchmesse festival, held on 17 October 2009, Kamagurka was honored with the Bernd Pfarr Prize in the category "Comics". On 2 February 2014, he and Herr Seele received the French Prix du Patrimoine at the Angoulême Comic Festival for their creation 'Cowboy Henk'.

Legacy and influence
Kamagurka's influence on later generations of absurd Belgian and Dutch cartoonists cannot be overstated. It can almost be named a school. In Flanders, he inspired BenoîtTom Borremans, Pieter De Poortere, Gert DooremanKim Duchateau, Jonas Geirnaert, Jeroom, Marec, Mat (Matthias Phillips), Erik MeynenSteve Michiels, Nix, Pjotr, Bart Schoofs, Herr Seele, Brecht Vandenbroucke, Fritz Van den HeuvelBart VantieghemMarc Verhaegen and Zaza. In the Netherlands, he influenced Argibald, Gummbah, Charles GuthrieJoost Halbertsma, Kakhiel, Benjamin KikkertRemco PolmanJip Van den Toorn and Pieter Zandvliet. In France, he counts Muzo among his followers. His daughter, Sarah Yu Zeebroek (b. 1984), is also active as an illustrator.

Lambiek will always remain grateful to Kamagurka for illustrating the letter "F" in our book 'Wordt Vervolgd - Striplexicon der Lage Landen' (1979) by Kees and Evelien Kousemaker.

Kamagurka and Herr Seele, from the cover of Lava #1. Translation: "He who digs a hole for somebody else... has the right to be paid 350 francs per hour!".

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