Reumatik Park, by Geert Kinnaert
Jacques Vermeire - 'Reumatik Park'.

Geert Kinnaert is a Flemish advertising designer, comic artist and radio host, known for his celebrity comic series about Flemish actor and comedian Jacques Vermeire (1993-1995). In 2004 he also created a propaganda comic to support former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene and his son Tom during the elections. 

Early life and career
Born in Leuven, Geert Kinnaert grew up as an avid doodler. In 1979, one of his comics was published in the amateur section 'Plant 'n Knol' of the comic magazine Robbedoes (the Dutch-language version of Spirou). It appeared in issue #2125 (4 January 1979). Kinnaert received his graphic education at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels, and eventually ran his own advertising firm. In the 1980s he was also active as a radio host at Radio Scorpio in Leuven. Between 1982 and 1996 he was involved with Radio Sinjaal, co-founded by him and his good friend Jan Dewijngaert (who later became a journalist for commercial TV network VTM). The duo hosted the children's radio show 'De Rekel en de Mier' and the talkshow 'De Tokshow', while Kinnaert and Daniel De Laet starred as the fictional hosts De Haes & Van Mol in the satirical radio show 'Krikkedol' (1984). Although Radio Sinjaal went off the air in 1996, it returned on 4 January 2019, albeit under a slightly different name: "Radio Singjaal". 

Jacques Vermeire - 'Den Boer Op'.

Jacques Vermeire
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Flemish comedian Jacques Vermeire enjoyed tremendous popularity with his cabaret shows (broadcast every New Year's Eve on the Flemish public channel TV1). During the same period he often appeared on television too, particularly as panel member of the humorous game show 'De Drie Wijzen' (1989-1999) and as angry garage keeper DDT in the phenomenally popular TV sitcom 'F.C. De Kampioenen' (1990-2011, only during the first 7 seasons). As such he became one of many Flemish media stars to have his own celebrity comic series, 'De Ongelooflijke Belevenissen van Jacques Vermeire' (1993-1995), initiated by Geert Kinnaert. The comic strip ran in the popular TV weekly Dag Allemaal. It managed to last longer than average celebrity comics . Within two years, at least 7 albums were published by Creadis-Schelle and Inodis-Ruiselede. 

At the time, 'Jacques Vermeire' didn't receive much serious attention in comics circles, but in 1995 the TV debate show 'Schermen', hosted by Jan Van Rompaey, devoted an episode to the recent controversy over an anonymous porn parody of Jef Nys' children's comic series 'Jommeke'. This parody comic book, 'Pommeke: Hete Avonturen!' (1995), was sued by Nys for copyright infringement. During the broadcast, censorship, parody, plagiarism and freedom of speech were discussed, with Nys explaining his position in the studio. At one point Van Rompaey made a live phone call with Jacques Vermeire to give his opinion on the matter, "since he has his own comic strip too". This was the only time the 'Jacques Vermeire' comic strip was ever taken seriously in the media and even then it was Vermeire himself who responded, not Kinnaert. 

Reumatik Park, by Geert Kinnaert
'Jacques Vermeire'. Cover of 'Reumatik Park'. 

Kinnaert's comic series wasn't Vermeire's only entry in the comic world, though. He appeared as himself in the 50th 'Urbanus' story 'De Hete Urbanus' (1995) by Willy Linthout and Urbanus, which was an exclusive photo comic rather than the usual hand drawn comic. In the story Vermeire plays a customer in Urbanus' self-improvised restaurant. When Hec Leemans launched his long-running celebrity comic 'F.C. De Kampioenen' in 1997, based on the popular TV sitcom of the same name, Vermeire was part of the cast too, since he played the antagonist DDT on the show. Even though the real Vermeire left the sitcom soon after, Leemans kept using him in the comic series in guest roles. 

De Dehaenes
When the 'Jacques Vermeire' comic was terminated in 1995, Kinnaert went back to his old job in advertising. In 2004, he only made a brief comeback with yet another celebrity comic, to promote the Christian democratic party CD&V during the elections. Titled  'De Dehaenes', it starred and supported former Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene and his son Tom. The comic was part of the CD&V election pamphlets which were put in people's mail boxes. Other Belgian cartoonists who once made party propaganda comics have been Rik ClémentLuc CromheeckeIan and Mark Janssen.


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