Erik Kriek is an illustrator, designer and comic artist from Amsterdam, whose work has a retro-touch and shows a great affiliation with Americana. Among his influences are American artists like Daniel Clowes, Will Eisner, Charles Burns and Chris Ware, as well as the classic 1940s horror comics of EC Comics by artists like Wallace Wood. He has also expressed his admiration for Dutch artists like Peter Pontiac, Typex and Peter van Dongen.
A graduate from the Rietveld Academy for Art and Design (1986-1991), Amsterdam-born Kriek first came to notice with his comic book series 'Gutsman', of which he self-published the first issue in 1994. It deals with an anti-superhero and his everlasting quest to conquer the heart of Tigra, a female character modelled after the mascot of a vintage Belgian cigarettes brand. He gets competition from the artist, Kriek, himself, but somehow always manages to get the upperhand. Oog & Blik published a total of nine more comic books with Kriek's domestic superhero until 2010, and the stories were also published in the alternative comics magazine Zone 5300, edited by Tonio van Vugt. The mute comic strip earned him quick recognition, even in the USA, where they were eventually released by Top Shelf in 2005. In 2006, 'Gutsman' was even brought to the stage as a "silent" music-theatre piece, combining both dance and mime, starring Francisca Rijken, Job Cornelissen and Kriek.
Another character by Kriek is the robot 'Little Andy Roid', who was first featured in the 'Gutsman' comic books and Zone 300, and had his first solo mini-comic through De Plaatjesmaker in 2000. Oog & Blik published two comic books in a vintage 1950s style, complete with fake advertisements, in 2003 and 2005. Zone 5300 also ran Kriek's adaptations of classic horror/sci-fi stories by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), which were later collected in the book 'Het onzienbare, en andere verhalen van H. P. Lovecraft' by Oog & Blik in 2012. It has since been translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish and Serbian.
Kriek has a strong sense for perfectionism in the production of his books, with high-quality paper, fine workmanship and a slick graphic design. This was also evident in his collection of comics interpretations of five murder ballads, a genre of American folk-songs about ill-fated love stories ending in murder. 'In The Pines' (Scratch Books, 2016) was published to high critical acclaim, and was accompanied by a CD with the ballads from the book, performed by Kriek and The Bluegrass Boogiemen. The songs that served as the basis for Kriek's comic stories were 'Taneytown' by Steve Earle (1997), 'The Long Black Veil' by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin (1959), 'Caleb Meyer' by Gillian Welch (1998), 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue (1996), and 'Pretty Polly (And The Ship's Carpenter)', a traditional from the 18th century. The book has subsequently appeared in French, German, Italian, German, Spanish, English, Swedish and Serbian, and won the 2016 Rudolph Dirks Award in Germany in the category "Best Horror", and was lauded as "Album of the year" during the Dutch Comics Days in Rijswijk in March 2017.
Further comic stories by Kriek have appeared in Incognito, De Volkskrant, NRC Next, the cultural magazine Hollands Diep, the literary comics magazine Eisner and the anthology 'Strip in Stereo' (2006). In addition to comics, Kriek works as an illustrator for a wide variety of national and international magazines and newspapers, including VPRO Gids, Vrij Nederland, Hp/De Tijd, NRC, De Volkskrant, Playboy and Onze Taal from his home country, Weltwoche from Switzerland, Die Welt from Germany, and Maxim and the Boston Globe from the USA. His designs appear on T-shirts, skateboards and sneakers, and on album covers for artists like Beyond Lickin' ('High Heels Fuzz', 2010) and Anouk ('Fake It Till We Die', 2016). He has also designed covers for the Dutch editions of Tolkien books by the publishing house Meulenhoff and for the pocket books of J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series by De Harmonie. In late 2016, he released his first children's book, 'Mika het beertje dat niet slapen wilde' ('Mika, the little bear that didn't want to go to sleep'), in the Dutch "Little Golden Books" collection of the publishing house Rubinstein.
Left: flyer for an exhibition of Erik Kriek's work in Gallery Lambiek in March 1997
Right: For the 40th anniversary of the Amsterdam-based comics shop Lambiek in 2008, Erik Kriek designed this EC pastiche, starring Lambiek's Kees Kousemaker, Klaas Knol and Boris Kousemaker
With only 300 comics pages on his name at the time, Erik Kriek was probably the artist with the smallest oeuvre to win the Stripschapprijs in 2008. When he's not sweating it out over the drawing board, Erik can be seen on stage at various Irish bars, as a singer and banjo player.