'Sadine' (Haagse Post, 11 November 1967).

Ton Kooreman is a Dutch commercial artist, known for his pop art-inspired illustrations for record covers, books and advertisements. After a six-year stint with the Dutch Toonder Studio's, Kooreman spent the second half of the 1960s working on adult-oriented satirical comic strips for newspapers and magazines. Together with scriptwriter Jan Godschalk, he made the satirical newspaper strip 'D'Arteljan' (De Volkskrant, 1964-1965) and the pop art comic story 'Sadine' (Haagse Post, 1967). Both strongly reflected the political atmosphere and revolutionary spirit of their time period.

Early life and career
Kooreman was born in 1936 in Den Helder, a maritime city in the northernmost point of the province Noord-Holland. His childhood days were filled with drawing. An aptitude test directed him to the Amsterdamse Graphic School, where he learned the trade of reproduction drawing and bookbinding. After his graduation, Kooreman got a job with the Mulder publishing house, where he made drawings for coloring pictures and games. After fulfilling his military service, he was introduced to the Marten Toonder Studio's through the illustrator Jan Wesseling - a friend of his father.

'Joachim', strip 5 (1962).

Toonder Studio's
Between 1958 and 1964, Ton Kooreman was employed by the Marten Toonder Studio's in Amsterdam, where he was initially stationed in the comic strip department. After a trial period drawing test samples of Toonder's 'Koning Hollewijn', he became a production artist and inker for the 'Panda' newspaper strip. One of his tasks was reworking the 'Panda' strips - made as balloon comics for the British market - into the traditionally Dutch text comic format for local publication. Kooreman also provided coloring for the 'Tom Poes' stories that the studio produced for the Dutch Donald Duck weekly, and he succeeded Wim Lensen as the artist for the final four episodes of the funny animal strip 'Sim en Pans' in Wereldkroniek magazine (1958). Within a half year, Kooreman was transfered to the studio's animation department, where he became a background painter for lead animator Børge Ring. Kooreman also supervised the coloring division.

In their spare time, Kooreman and camera man Jan Waldhober developed the newspaper strip 'Joachim' (1962-1963), about a postal worker who inherits a mansion that comes with a housekeeper. During the strip's six-month run, Joachim and the housekeeper went on a trip to help people in developing countries. Between 15 September 1962 and 23 April 1963, the strip was distributed by the Toonder Studio's to the local newspapers De Rotterdammer and Nieuwe Leidsche Courant.

'D'Arteljan' (De Volkskrant, 9 August 1965).

In 1964, Kooreman left the Toonder Studio's and turned freelance. Shortly afterwards, he teamed up with Jan Godschalk - a former Toonder Studio scriptwriter - to create a new comic strip, that was to replace Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes' strip in the national newspaper De Volkskrant. Between 12 January 1965 and 12 March 1966, five stories were serialized : 'De Prinses Moet Vrij', 'De Dans van de Rijger', 'De Kern van de Bom', 'Schraalridder' and 'Het Slijperslied'. Created in the text comic format, 'D'Arteljan' (1965-1966) was a parody of 'The Three Musketeers', filled with contemporary social and political satire - including guest appearances of Dutch and foreign politicians and references to the Cold War, pop culture and the soccer news of the day. Despite being very popular among readers, 'D'Arteljan' came to a sudden halt. In the final story, the authors modelled the villain after Wim van Geffen - crime reporter at De Telegraaf who had "stolen" Godschalk's girlfriend. Fed up by being laughed at every morning by his colleagues who just read that day's episode, the journalist filed a complaint until eventually the 'D'Arteljan' strip was ended. In a 2020 interview, Godschalk said he was still satisfied with his way of taking revenge.

'Sadine' (Haagse Post, 16 March 1968).

It took two years before Kooreman and Godschalk collaborated on another comic, this time for the opinion magazine Haagse Post. Serialized in weekly pages from 30 September 1967 through 27 April 1968, 'Sadine' was a product of its time, touching themes like student protests, the hippie era and social changes. Like with 'D'Arteljan', the story was larded with references to politicians, cultural figures and the news of the day. Created shortly after the Summer of Love, the authors satirically mixed the revolutionary vibe of the hippie movement with the 1966 Chinese Cultural Revolution by having the Communist leaders recruit a master spy/"flower child" to start a "proletarian revolution" in Amsterdam.

Dutch politicians in combat in the 20 January 1968 episode of 'Sadine'. In the final panel, D66 leader Hans van Mierlo (presented here as "Van Meerlo") tries to restore the peace.

Graphically, Kooreman assumed a pop art-inspired drawing style. His heavy use of the frog's-eye view and fisheye perspective give his characters seemingly long legs and his panels a surreal and psychedelic atmosphere. By using a strong independent woman as main character, the authors followed along the line of foreign pop art-flavored comic stories, such as Jean-Claude Forest's 'Barbarella' and Guy Peellaert's 'Jodelle' (1966) and 'Pravda' (1967). In the Netherlands, Thé Tjong-Khing and Lo Hartog van Banda were already preparing their groundbreaking pop art graphic novel 'Iris' (1968).

'Sheridan', final episode and the only one in color (Sekstant, February 1969).

Kooreman continued to use the pop art style for his commercial art, but also his next comic. After the conclusion of 'Sadine', Kooreman was approached for a new comic project by Henk J. Meier, editor-in-chief of Sextant, a monthly publication of the Dutch Association for Sexual Reform. From a script by Meier, Kooreman started the bold James Bond-style adventures of 'Sheridan' (1968-1969), a woman in search of the political role of females outside of marriage. In the end, only eight pages of the strip were finished and printed. By early 1969, it had come to a rift between the unconventional Meier and association's board, resulting in Meier's discharge and the cancellation of 'Sheridan'.

Drawing of Massa for the 'Hadimassa' TV show (1968).

In 1968, Ton Kooreman also joined the crew of the monthly satirical TV sketch show 'Hadimassa', spearheaded by creator, director and advertising copywriter Dimitri Frenkel Frank. In a style similar to 'Sheridan', Kooreman created the character Massa, that appeared in socially critical picture stories with narration by cast member Ton Lensink, starting with the 1 October 1968 broadcast and running throughout the 1968-1969 season. For the 6 February 1970 episode of 'Hadimassa', Kooreman made a spoof of the Dutch Bible stories for children TV series 'Woord voor Woord', narrated by Kees van Kooten. Because of the limited availability of visual material from the 'Hadimassa' series, it is unknown in how many shows Kooreman's art appeared. The final 'Hadimassa' broadcast was May 1972.

De verbroeking van het Hoedjesvolk by Ton Kooreman
Commercial art. Illustration for 'De verbroeking van het Hoedjesvolk'.

Commercial artist
From the late 1960s on, Ton Kooreman was mainly active in the commercial art field, working for agencies like White and Prad. He made illustrations for women's magazines, books and advertisements. His pop art drawings were used for campaigns by Smarties candy, Foxy Fashion, Fiat 600 and Macleans. Kooreman also designed record covers for the Fontana Phonodisc label and for jazz LP's and cassettes with music by Benny Goodman.

For decades, Ton Kooreman's 1960s comic exploits were faded into largely obscurity as testiments of another time. All these years however, the artist remained close friends with his scriptwriter Jan Godschalk, who later became a professor in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. In 2020, 'Sadine' came back into the spotlight when the publishing house Sherpa released a large-volume book collection, which also featured all pages of the aborted 'Sheridan' project. Edited by Rudy Vrooman and Bert Meppelink, each 'Sadine' page was accompanied by a full page with background information of that week's social and political news. Following the book's release, Kooreman and Godschalk were interviewed by Rich Thomassen for the December 2020 issue of StripNieuws. Around that same time, they were awarded the Bulletje & Boonestaak Plate by comic appreciation society Het Stripschap, for creating this rediscovered gem of Dutch comic history.

Record cover for the compilation album 'Honey and 11 Other Hits' by Ton Kooreman (Fontana Special, 1968).

Series and books by Ton Kooreman in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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