Meccano by Hanco Kolk
Meccano #3 - 'Schlager'.

Hanco Kolk is one of the most prominent Dutch comics artists, praised by both mainstream audiences and serious art circles. He is best known for his humorous creations with collaborator Peter de Wit, where Kolk is usually the illustrator and co-writer. Among their works are the historical adventure comic 'Gilles de Geus' (1983-2003), the photo comic 'Mannetje en Mannetje' (1988-1995) and the newspaper gag comic 'S1ngle' (2000-present), about three girlfriends in search for a partner. The latter two comics were also adapted into TV series for Dutch television. Together, Kolk and de Wit founded the publishing imprint De Plaatjesmaker. Throughout his career, Kolk switched between various genres, ranging from children's comics ('Cor Daad', 1984-1998) to adult comics and from satire to autobiographical works. His most critically acclaimed work is 'Meccano' (1989-2004), a satirical graphic novel about decadent life in a tax-free mini-state, obviously modelled after Monaco. Kolk is equally renowned for his drawing style, which is linear and has become more sparse and refined over the years.

Early life and career
Kolk was born in 1957 in Den Helder, but moved to Arnhem at the age of 4. His father was a company doctor. He grew up reading comic magazines like Pep and Mad, and also Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske and Wiske' series. Among his other artistic influences are comic authors Yves Chaland, André Franquin, Maurice Tillieux, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Al Hirschfeld, Tex Avery, Marcel Gotlib, Wilbert Plijnaar, René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo, the sculptor Alexander Calder and the painters Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Unfortunately, his intellectual parents weren't too keen on Kolk's professional ambitions. At age 17, he ran away from home and went to live with a potter in Oosterbeek.

Kalman's last case by Hanco Kolk
'Kalman's Last Case' (In De Okeren Omelet, 1978).

Early comics
Kolk was 17 years old when he published his first comic story, 'Hanter Lanterfanter' (1974), in Evert Geradts' underground comix magazine Tante Leny Presenteert. Around this time, he was also the driving force behind his school newspaper, together with Ben Jansen. Another schoolmate of Kolk was Rieuwert Catz. Catz introduced him to Aloys Oosterwijk and René Meulenbroek, who all attended the Art Academy. The five young men, accompanied by Diederick van Kleef and Frank Langedijk, joined forces and launched the amateur comics magazine De Omelet in 1975. Kolk and his friends even went to Paris, where they managed to have an impromptu talk with Moebius at his home. Looking back, Kolk admitted that they were all quite arrogant: "We gave him our comics magazine and he told us it wasn't bad for a first issue. When we told him it was our third issue, he answered that it was 'really bad'." The first two issues of De Omelet were self-published, the other five through Har van Fulpen's publishing house Drukwerk, which put out the magazine until 1978. With every issue, the artwork improved, until Kolk, Meulenbroek, Jansen and Oosterwijk were ready to turn professional; however, Catz, Van Kleef and Langedijk disappeared off the comics radar. When the magazines Tante Leny, Speedo and De Omelet merged into Talent in 1978, Kolk contributed the comic strip 'Rob Robijn' to it.

Studio Arnhem
The four remaining Omelet artists teamed up with Evert Geradts and formed Studio Arnhem in 1981. This legendary studio laid the basis for a new generation of comic artists, who quickly made their mark in most of the leading comic magazines of the time. Later on, the team was reinforced with Gerard LeeverKees de BoerRené Uilenbroek and Jaap Stavenuiter, and with colorists Wilma Leenders, Ellen Klever and Trudi Klever. Within this inspirational environment, several notable creations came to light. Besides their contributions for comic magazines, the friends also did commercial work. Hanco Kolk did assignments for advertisements, and illustrations for the school magazine Kies. One of their secret projects was the 'Suske en Wiske' sex parody 'De Glunderende Gluurder' (1982). Ben Jansen did most of this infamous comic, but Hanco Kolk also provided artwork, and non-studio member Ger Rijff was also a prominent contributor. The downside of Studio Arnhem was that many of its young members had ambitions that went beyond the collective studio goals, which led to the departures of several original members.

Studio Arnhem in 1984
Studio Arnhem in 1984. Standing: Ellen Klever, Aloys Oosterwijk, Evert Geradts (with Eddie), Ben Jansen. Hanco Kolk, Rene Meulenbroek. Sitting: Gerard Leever, Wilma Leenders, Trudi Klever.

Ernst Vrolijk & Dick Hout
As a team effort, Studio Arnhem produced 'Ernst Vrolijk & Dick Hout' (1984-1986) for Robbedoes magazine, the Flemish version of Spirou, which had opened several of its pages to Dutch and Flemish authors at the time. The series debuted in issue #2430 (8 November 1984) and featured short humorous stories about a two-man employment agency who took all kinds of bizarre assignments. Ernst Vrolijk, the blackhaired one, is generally straight, timid and unsure. His name is a pun on the contrast between Dutch words "ernst" ("seriousness") and "vrolijk" ("happy"). Dick Hout is the bald one who always takes the initiative, though often puts them in more risk than they could foresee. His name is a pun on the word "dik hout" ("big wood") and the expression "van dik hout zaagt men planken" ("out of thick wood, planks are made"), used in situations where things are taken care of in an efficient but crude manner. Although a studio effort, 'Ernst Vrolijk & Dick Hout' had a clear separation of each individual task: Kolk wrote the stories, Gleever provided the artwork for the characters and René Uilenbroek drew the backgrounds. In total, four stories were produced, but only three appeared in Robbedoes. Much like Studio Arnhem's internal problems, Gleever, Uilenbroek and Kolk had too many creative differences to continue the series any further.

Disney comics
In 1981 and 1982, Kolk scripted a little over thirty stories and gags with Disney characters for the Donald Duck weekly. While two featured Mickey Mouse, the majority starred less-famous characters like Little Hiawatha, Chip 'n' Dale, Grandma Duck & Gus Goose, Big Bad Wolf & the Three Little Pigs, because Kolk had enjoyed reading those comics more as a child. The experience learned him to write more structured scripts, where every event has to have a logical origin, follow-up and purpose.

Eppo: Falco & Donjon
Hanco Kolk got a more prominent role in the comics magazine Eppo, which was published by the VNU division Oberon. His first short stories were 'Dennis de wonderhond' (#20, 1982) and 'Willem de Ridder' (#39, 1982), both made with Gerard Leever. Peter de Wit participated in the production of the first story, marking the first of many collaborations between the two. Kolk also stepped in as a scriptwriter for Uco Egmond's 'Falco & Donjon' between 1984 and 1986, although the strip had started some years earlier. By 1981, Uco Egmond had developed the comic strip 'Cruydtnaeghel' for Robbedoes, which remained unpublished. It however motivated Eppo editor Jaap Bubenik to let Egmond create a similar historical adventure comic for his magazine. Egmond came up with 'Falco & Donjon', about the short troubadour Falco and his obese, moustached castle lord Donjon. The stories are set in the Middle Ages, and the first tale appeared in a knight-themed special in 1982. For the second story, in issue #50 (15 December 1983), Egmond worked with Gerrit Stapel as a scriptwriter. By the third story (issue #24-26, 15 June 1984) Stapel passed the pen on to Kolk, who remained on board until the series was cancelled in 1986 by Eppo's new chief editor, Peter van Leersum.


First appearance of 'Gilles de Geus' in the short story 'De Struikrover' (1983).

Peter de Wit
Since 1985, Kolk is often mentioned in the same breath as Peter de Wit, with whom he has made several humorous comics together since they first met at Eppo magazine. They have praised their friendship and collaboration as being two minds of the same kind. In most cases De Wit co-writes gags while Kolk provides the artwork - Mannetje & Mannetje' being the sole exception. Through frequent media appearances, the duo have become among the most recognizable comics artists in the Netherlands. When Kolk moved to Amsterdam, his regular collaboration with De Wit began. He joined his new partner in his house studio at the De Wittenkade, where former studio mate Aloys Oosterwijk also worked. In 1988, the duo launched their own publishing label, De Plaatjesmaker, through which they published not only albums of their signature series 'Gilles de Geus', but also the Pincet series, a collection of mini-comics by various artists. Between 2010 and 2013, Hanco Kolk frequented the Funny Farm studios, located in the old offices of Studio Arnhem. But since 2011, Kolk has spent most of his time in Paris, France, while maintaining his collaboration with Amsterdam-based De Wit.

Gilles de Geus
In 1981, Kolk wanted to make a comic strip about an English highwayman in the 18th century. Inspired by the TV series 'Dick Turpin' and the pop band Adam and the Ants, he named his character 'Swashbuckler'. Eppo's man-of-ideas Wilbert Plijnaar liked the idea, but wanted the stories to be closer at home, so the action was moved to the Netherlands in the 16th century, at the height of the Eighty Years' War with Spain. The character received a new name too, Gilles de Geus, and was introduced to readers in issue #2 (14 January 1983). The series continued to be serialized in Eppo and its later incarnations (Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad, SjoSji) and later also in Veronicagids. The early episodes, co-written by Wilbert Plijnaar, were short stories of two to four pages in length in which Gilles tries to rob people without much success. Gilles is so incompetent that no police force raises a bounty higher than a few turnips for his capture.

Smeerenburg by Hanco Kolk
Gilles de Geus - 'Smeerenburg' (1989).

One night Kolk went drinking with his colleague Peter de Wit, who felt that these slapstick stories were too limited. He literally told him that he "had a goldmine in his hands: a comic strip about the Eighty Years' War, but you don't do anything with it." De Wit immediately took over as co-writer. Gilles lost his buffoonish behaviour and became more heroic. The creators gave him a best friend: Leo, the muscular sailor. Despite being very strong, his vocabulary rarely rises above anything but the word "Hee..." ("Hey"). The stories now became full-length adventures about Gilles' activities as a soldier in William of Orange's resistance army, fighting the Spanish armies led by the Duke of Alba. Kolk and De Wit used other historical characters too. Dutch inventor Cornelis Drebbel was cast as a mad scientist, while Willem van der Marck, AKA Admiral Lumey, turned into a dumb, itchy, self-important, dwarf-sized loser who provides most of the laughs.

In terms of historical drama, De Wit and Kolk modelled 'Gilles de Geus' after Willy Vandersteen's 'De Rode Ridder', though the comedy was obviously inspired by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix'. Both comics are set during an important period in their country's national history, both feature local resistance against foreign oppressors, and both make use of puns, historical-cultural references and nods to contemporary society. The fan favorite album 'De Revue', in which Gilles travels to certain locations in the Netherlands, is a homage to the 'Asterix' story 'The Tour of Gaul'. Kolk and De Wit once even directly spoofed the opening of every 'Astérix' story, with the giant magnifying glass on the map setting a village on fire in what turns out to be a nightmare sequence. However, there are differences too. 'Gilles de Geus' sometimes pushes anachronistic jokes into the absurd, with, for instance, nosy artists who try to sketch prince William, much like modern-day paparazzi try to snap pictures. Gilles and his friends have even used time travel in certain stories.

Gilles de Geus, by Hanco Kolk
Gilles de Geus - '60-90-60' (2003).

'Gilles de Geus' was a critical and commercial success and grew into one of the all-time classics of Dutch comics. Oberon released the first three albums between 1985 and 1987. In 1988 Kolk and De Wit established their own publishing company, De Plaatjesmaker, to release all subsequent albums and reprints. In 1996 'Gilles de Geus' was published by Arboris and from 1999 on, by Silvester. In total, nine albums have been published, the final one in 2003. Since the final two albums were not serialized in a magazine, their production was funded through an early form of crowdfunding, initiated by publisher Silvester in Den Bosch. A new attempt at crowdfunding in 2014 failed to get enough money for a new story. The series has also been translated in English ('Bryant the Brigand') and Spanish ('Tristán el salteador', running in the magazines Ohe and Fuera Boda). The first volume of the complete 'Gilles de Geus' was published by Matsuoka in April 2020.

Cor Daad, by Hanco Kolk
'Cor Daad' (Taptoe #12, 1988-1989).

Cor Daad
In addition to his work for Eppo, Kolk created the gag comic 'Cor Daad' (1984-1998) for Malmberg's school magazine Taptoe. Cor Daad (a pun on the Dutch word "kordaat", which means "brisk") is a short-sized, self-important buffoon whose big mouth always gets him into trouble. He lives together with the tall Gerda, who isn't his partner, but just a girlfriend. Kolk often used his personal life as an important source of inspiration. At one point in the series, Cor and Gerda receive a baby on their footstep, whom they adopt and name "Lola", which was also the name of Kolk's daughter. Two other babies arrive later, one named Bud, the other Tobias.


'N.V. Moord' (Titanic #2, 1984).

N.V. Moord
During his early years at De Omelet, Kolk mostly drew in a semi-realistic style. From 1982-1983 on, he used more round, caricatural shapes, which further evolved into angular and stylized lines by 1984. His first comic in this new style was 'N.V. Moord' (1984), which appeared in the first four issues of the short-lived Dutch comics magazine Titanic. A screwball version of the actual organized crime groups in the USA of the 1930s and 1940s, Kolk made a couple of stories about this murderous agency. The style was influenced by the silent movies, including intertitles and distorted backgrounds like in Fritz Lang's 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' (1920).

Mannetje en Mannetje, by Hanco Kolk
'Mannetje & Mannetje' (Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad #3, 1992).

Mannetje en Mannetje
Kolk and De Wit continued their comics collaborations in Eppo (and its retitled incarnations Eppo/Wordt Vervolgd, Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad, SjoSji) throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s. They sometimes performed in theater shows, where the duo played David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, although most of their sketches were set in restaurants or at a doctor's office. Kolk and De Wit reused these characters under the more vague descriptions "Mannetje en Mannetje" ("Little Man and Little Man") and introduced them to readers in the first issue of Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad on 19 February 1988. The two sympathetic but somewhat clumsy chaps live out awkward situations in a series of sequential photos where the backgrounds are typically drawn around them, as are the onomatopeia and movement lines. Most episodes were black-and-white photographs, made in the studio of Nick van Ormondt, but in the final episodes, color was used. 'Mannetje & Mannetje' survived Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad's name change in 1994 as Sjosji and new episodes ran until the penultimate issue of 1995, on 15 December. 'Mannetje en Mannetje' also ran in English translation in the comedy magazine The Truth as 'Jones and Jones'. Colleagues Aloys Oosterwijk, Kees de Boer, Wilbert Plijnaar and Eric Heuvel made guest appearances in the episodes.

Between 7 October 1990 and 10 May 1994, 'Mannetje & Mannetje' was broadcasted as a stop-motion animated TV series on VPRO television during the Sunday morning children's hour on a bi-weekly basis. Kolk and de Wit played themselves, while actresses Myrte van Heusden and Claudia Dijkstra portrayed the female roles. Again, Aloys Oosterwijk had occasional side roles. The episodes were produced by Comic House, and marked one of the first usages of digital animation techniques in the Netherlands. One of the people who worked as an animator on the series was Metin Seven

Inspecteur Netjes, by Hanco Kolk
'Inspecteur Netjes' (Sjosji #15, 1998).

Inspecteur Netjes
Kolk and De Wit also collaborated on the riddle comic 'Inspecteur Netjes', which debuted in Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad on 1 April 1989. The inspector, modelled after Humphrey Bogart, introduced a mystery presented on one full page. Readers could find out the solution by looking further through the magazine to a follow-up page, where Netjes explained everything. The first three episodes were drawn by De Wit, but after that Kolk took over, using his more linear drawing style. In 1992, De Wit left the series altogether, but Kolk continued it on his own until the final issue of the magazine (now a monthly titled Striparazzi) in April 1999. 'Inspecteur Netjes' was reprised by Kolk in Veronica Magazine between 2002 and 2004.

Comics in commission
For the municipality of Apeldoorn, Hanco Kolk wrote and drew a comic booklet about a cleaner environment and waste separation, called 'Carla en Bert in 2089' (1989). He later used these characters, 'Carla en Bertje', for a series of strips published in a paper of the Dutch educational broadcasting company (N.O.T.). For VARA TV Magazine, Kolk and De Wit made a comics adaptation of the television comedy 'Laat Maar Zitten' in 1992. The series was a Dutch adaptation of the British sitcom 'Porridge', and centered around the inmates of a prison. The Dutch TV episodes were scripted by Ger Apeldoorn and Harm Edens, and had actor Johnny Kraaijkamp Sr. in one of the most prominent roles.

Teleac: 'Strip & Cartoon Tekenen'
Thanks to their appearances in the photo comic 'Mannetje & Mannetje' and its animated TV adaptation, Kolk and De Wit became very recognizable to mainstream audiences. Their notoriety increased when they hosted a docu-TV series on Teleac, which specializes in educational programming for adults. Their series, 'Strip & Cartoon Tekenen', was broadcast in eight episodes between 24 January and 18 March 1993. Kolk and De Wit explained how to draw characters, motions, backgrounds, compositions and how to write stories. In between they played comedic skits in the studio, intercut with footage where Monique Hagen interviewed famous cartoonists about their profession. Among the legends brought in front of the camera were Gerrit de Jager, Albert Uderzo, Ed van Schuijlenburg, François Walthéry, Henk Kuijpers, Theo van den Boogaard, Wilbert Plijnaar, colorist Wilma Leenders and Martin Lodewijk. Teleac also made 'Strip & Cartoon Tekenen' available on video and as a guidebook, authored by Frans Le Roux and Jesse van Muylwijck. The series drew high ratings and has been rebroadcast on Dutch television in subsequent years.

Meccano, by Hanco Kolk
Meccano - 'Beauregard'.

Meccano
In 1989, Kolk created his first comic for an adult readership, 'Meccano', drawn in a more linear style than previous works. 'Meccano' is a satire about an idyllic Mediterranean principality where billionaires, royals and other blue blood lead a life of greed, decadence, hedonism and opportunism. The subject matter allowed Kolk to draw the most grotesque caricatures and wildest behaviour. Fashion models, artists, paparazzi, junks, dope-riddled sportspeople, religious zealots...all were targeted. The early installments were published in the French magazine L'Écho des Savanes in 1989, yet its publisher, Albin Michel, only ran one story, due to a reorganisation of the company. Luckily, Kolk was still paid and therefore just kept drawing, while the publisher later sent back the originals. Arboris published 'Beauregard' (1995) and 'Gilette' (1996), the first two book publications. The third installment, 'Schlager', was serialized in the newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and published by De Harmonie in 1999. Kolk serialized the fourth and (so far) final volume in six comic books, through the Belgian publishing house Bries (2006-2007). It appeared in graphic novel format under the title 'De Ruwe Gids' (2008) in a co-production between Bries and De Harmonie, who later also collected the first three books in the single volume 'De Eenzame Planeet' (2009).

Since 2011, Hanco Kolk lives and works in Paris, France, with his French wife. When the country went in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the couple quickly went to the family house in Normandy, where Kolk has been working on the fifth installment of his 'Meccano' series, the first new story in thirteen years.

De Ruwe Gids by Hanco Kolk
Meccano - 'De Ruwe Gids'.

'Meccano' is one of Kolk's most personal creations and is generally considered his magnum opus. He developed it to deal with the depression he suffered from since age 15. He incorporates several aspects of his own character and mindset in the stories, from his midlife crisis to his tendencies to please. His drawing style has been minimalized to the barest essentials. Kolk tries to construct his drawings with as few fluent lines as possible, a technique inspired by the illustrations Al Hirschfeld made for his Broadway reviews. Though Kolk later found out that Hirschfeld's seemingly "fluent" line work was just a bunch of small lines one could only spot if one saw the work in detail.

Because of its black comedy, vicious satire and harsh themes, 'Meccano' also courted controversy. 'Beauregard' caused commotion because it featured a war criminal living among monks. Dutch Minister of Defense Relus ter Beek criticized the use of a UN soldier in Yugoslavia in the story 'Schlager', because it "undermined the authority of Dutch VN soldiers", which led Kolk to change the main character into a regular soldier.

'Meccano' is available in black-and-white versions, as well as colorized versions by Marloes Dekkers and Anka Kresse, daughter of Hans G. Kresse. The comic has been translated in French, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Monegasque. A film screenplay was once written, but the budget couldn't be realized, and the film has not been made.

S1ngle by Hanco Kolk
'S1NGLE'.

S1ngle
On 29 September 2000, a new newspaper comic by Kolk and De Wit, 'S1ngle', debuted in Het Parool. The gag-a-day comic stars three single ladies who work as nurses in a hospital. Many episodes deal with their frustrating experiences with male partners, as well as the contrast between their personalities. Fatima Prins is a multiracial girl, whose father is Moroccan. She is the dreamy type and somewhat naïve at times. Recurring gags feature her philosophising about love from the comfort of her easy chair. At home she visits dating sites, but only her mother ever seems to respond to her comments. Nienke Meppelink is the largest of the three and wears spectacles. Due to her stout stature and blunt, no-nonsense attitude she can be quite intimidating. Several gags feature her phoning her mother, whom she never ceases to blame for all of her problems. Another running gag is her grumpiness whenever she is on her period. Many people are scared to death during her time of the month and refuse to be in her presence. Stella Deporter, the black-haired smoker of the three, is the stereotypical man-eater. She's had so many partners that her friends occasionally find out they're dating one of her numerous ex-one night stands. The only thing that shakes off Stella's arrogance is when people guess her correct age.

Single by Hanco Kolk
'S1NGLE'.

'S1ngle' also has a few supporting characters. Fatima often has to deal with a nagging hospital patient, Mr. Kwadijk, with whom she frequently exchanges insults and catty comments. The bearded Dr. Van Swieten, while in charge of the hospital, is cynical about his job. He often tries to score with women, but fails every time. Plastic surgeon Bernard is a big-chinned, moustache-wearing macho man whose sexist remarks and jokes aren't always appreciated by his nurses. Naturally, Van Swieten and Bernard get along fine. In 2013, a reader's poll was held to pick the name of a fourth female protagonist: Floor, a single mother who considers herself far more important than she really is.

'S1ngle' marked the first time Kolk used his more linear drawing style for a commercial comic strip. A huge part of its appeal is the way he portrays people with only a few carefully chosen elegant lines. In an interview he stated that he loves drawing women, but wants to make them more than just pin-ups. Therefore, he portrays them doing everyday activities (and occasionally pulling grotesque facial expressions) to make them feel like real people. During the early years, the series appeared in black-and-white, but halfway into the 2000s, Kolk started colorizing the series, influenced by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's similar soft-painted panels in 'Little Annie Fanny'.

The series is also published in 15 other national and regional papers, including Algemeen Dagblad, De Leeuwarder Courant, Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant and De Gelderlander. In Flanders, Belgium, episodes ran in De Gazet van Antwerpen and, for a few years, in Humo magazine. 'S1ngle' has had an uninterrupted run, except for three months in 2011 when health reasons prevented Kolk from doing the strip. In 2003, Kolk and De Wit sued a lifestyle monthly with the same title for unfair copyright infringement. They won their case. 'S1ngle' has also been adapted into a successful TV series, starring Bracha van Doesburgh (Fatima), Eva van der Gucht (Nienke) and Katja Schuurman (Stella). Three seasons were broadcast by NET5 from 2008 to 2010. Other than approving the scripts, Kolk and De Wit had no creative involvement. The series subsequently appeared on German and Hungarian television.

Retraite, by Hanco Kolk
'Retraite'.

Autobiographical comics
Throughout the years, Kolk has often made autobiographical comics, published in Eppo, Razzafrazz and music magazine OOR, among other publications. In 1999, he suffered a burn-out because he was fed up with making humorous comics for children's magazines with big-nosed characters in floppy shoes. At the recommendation of a friend he took a vacation in Toscane, and kept a diary in sketch book format. He experimented with a new graphic style, while writing his emotions down. Kolk never had any intention to do something with these scribblings, until his first wife advised him to publish them. The end result was the graphic novel 'Retraite' (Oog en Blik, 2003). In 2005 Kolk had a vasectomy, and he chronicled the experience in comics format, serialized in De Volkskrant. The story was eventually published as 'Zaad' (2005) and made exclusively available for patients in the Canisius Wilhelmina hospital in Nijmegen.

Scriptwriting
In addition, Hanco Kolk has continued to participate in smaller comics projects. He has written scripts for comics artists Jeroen Steehouwer  ('Roy Bellevue' in Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad, 1989), Ben Westervoorde ('De Muziekbuurters' in Taptoe, 1995), Michiel de Jong ('De Familie Sloterdijk' in Hello You!, 1999) and Hans van Oudenaarden (the pornographic story 'Lethal Orgasm'/'De Kleine Dood' for the Spanish Kiss Comix and Sombrero's "Black Series", 1999-2000). With Eric Heuvel, he has made 'Bos & Beemd' for the military magazine Appèl (early 1990s), gag strips for insurance company Reaal (1993) and an adaptation of the TV comedy 'Toen Was Geluk Heel Gewoon' for KRO Gids (under the pen name Rein Post, 1998). Kolk also scripted 'Scouty' for Scouting Magazine, originally drawn by Rudy Hulleman, later continued by Pieter Hogenbirk. He provided the art himself for the gag strip 'Circus' (2009-2011), which was published in P@per, the comics supplement of Brabant Strip Magazine.


'Circus' from P@per #14.

Other media
In the 1990s, Kolk was also an occasional scriptwriter for the TV sitcom 'Flodder' (1993-1998) by Dick Maas and Wijo Koek. Together with Peter de Wit, Kees de Boer and Lectrr, Kolk has performed with Cartoonreference, a cabaret group.

Comics promotion
Together with Jean-Marc van Tol, he lobbied for more money for the Dutch comics scene at The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. His efforts resulted in the annual Marten Toonder Prize, which was named after the legendary Dutch creator of 'Tom Poes'. The 25,000 euro prize has been awarded to Jan Kruis (2010), Peter Pontiac (2011) and Joost Swarte (2012), and was then abolished due to cutbacks.

Another result of Kolk's efforts was the introduction of a training course in comic design at ArtEZ in Zwolle in September 2008. Kolk is active as a teacher there, as are Sam Peeters and Roel Venderbosch. Among the alumni are Emma Ringelberg, Jan-Willem Spakman, Abe Borst and Marco Klein Nijenhuis. In 2011, he had a joint chairmanship, together with Maaike Hartjes, of BNS, the now-defunct federation of Dutch comic artists. 

Hanco Kolk and Kees Kousemaker
Hanco Kolk with Kees Kousemaker at the opening of his 'Casanova' expo in Gallery Lambiek on 15 June 1995.

Graphic contributions
Since the 1990s Kolk has also focused on other art forms than comics, including silk screens, illustrations and paintings. He made a calendar and a series of lithographs about 18th-century Italian womanizer Casanova. The prints were on display in Gallery Lambiek in 1995, and an advertising comic called 'Casanova's Parfum' was made for the Amsterdam Spiegelkwartier Association in 1997. In 2004, he made two large dioramas about the legend of King Arthur and Dante's Divine Comedy for the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This was followed by a tapestry for Castle Groeneveld in Baarn in 2010. 

Van Istanbul naar Bagdad, by Hanco Kolk
'Van Istanbul naar Bagdad'.

His artistic work has made Hanco Kolk a household name in the Dutch art scene. This has resulted in a couple of interesting collaborations. In 2005 Kolk and de Wit made a "calendar for men", 'Mannenkalender'. Another collaboration was with Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg, with whom he made a comics version of his travel diary 'Van Istanbul naar Bagdad' (Podium, 2010). Kolk is an occasional guest at performances by musician Spinvis, with whom he made 'Tot ziens, Justine Keller' in 2011. This book with CD includes songs by Spinvis with visualizations by Kolk. Together with Flemish cartoonist Kim Duchateau, he made 'De Man van Nu', a modernized version of Romeo and Juliet in two time dimensions, published by De Harmonie/Blloan in 2016. The same year, Kolk was one of the six Dutch artists selected to draw a comic book starring Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' for S.O.S. Children's Villages, based on a story by a Dutch celebrity. Kolk made the story 'De Tollende Toverkol' with novelist Karin Amatmoekrim. The other other artists involved were Eric Heuvel, Michiel de Jong, Gerard Leever, Romano Molenaar and Gerben Valkema


Robbedoes & Kwabbernoot - 'Tulpen uit Istanbul'.

In 2017 Hanco Kolk was also asked to make an installment in the collection 'Een avontuur van Robbedoes, door...' ("An Adventure of Spirou, by..."), in which an author gives his personal take on the classic Franco-Belgian character Spirou. Kolk sent Belgium's most famous bellboy to the Dutch city of Rotterdam during the first edition of the international garden exhibition Floriade in 1960, and then on a road trip, surrounded by secret agents through Cold War Europe. His album 'Tulpen uit Istanbul' (Dupuis, 2017) was aimed directly at the Dutch-speaking audience. The same year he also paid homage to André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' in the collective tribute album 'Gefeliciflaterd!' (2017). Hanco Kolk also contributed to collective projects like 'Strips in Stereo' (2006) and 'Filmfanfare' (2012), in which Dutch comics artists gave their own graphic interpretations of Dutch songs and movies, respectively.

Big Butts by Hanco Kolk
Hanco Kolk's visualization of the Sir Mix-A-Lot song 'Baby Got Back (I Like Big Butts)' in 2004.

Recognition
Hanco Kolk was awarded the Dutch Stripschappenning for five of his books (1994, 1995, 1997, 2007 and 2008). His 'Meccano' installment 'Beauregard' won the 1993 Stripschapspenning for "Best Album". In 1994, he received the NZH-prijs and he was handed the Stripschapprijs for his entire oeuvre on 12 October 1996. On 26-27 September 2009, during the Stripdagen in Houten, he, Jean-Marc van Tol and Dutch Minister of Education Ronald Plasterk, received the P. Hans Frankfurtherprijs for special merits. A large exhibition of his original work was held in the Comics Museum in Groningen in 2005, which was followed by a large retrospective called 'De Stroomlijn' ('The Streamline') in Leuven (Louvain), Belgium, in 2007. In 2008, Kolk and De Wit also won de Hoogste Prijs, intended to promote Dutch comics, from the broadcasting organization VPRO. The two authors felt the low amount of money that came with the prize (1250 euros) torpedoed these good intentions, and refused to accept it.

Legacy
Hanco Kolk has received respect from many colleagues, including Willy Linthout. The artists Pieter Hogenbirk, Michiel de Jong and Ben Westervoorde have worked as his assistants during the Studio De Wittenkade period, and can rank Hanco Kolk as one of their mentors. Kolk's work was also an influence on  Floor de Goede, Pieter de Poortere, Diego Jourdan Pereira, Ruben Libgott, Reinhart (Croon)Lae Schäfer and Maarten Vande Wiele. Since 2003, a street in the comics district of the city Almere has been named after Kolk and De Wit's character Gilles de Geus.

Lambiek Almanac
Hanco Kolk made the cover for 'Lambiek's Almanac 1968-1993' on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of comic shop Lambiek.

www.hancokolk.nl
Hanco Kolk in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

Series and books by Hanco Kolk in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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