Robert van der Kroft is a Dutch comic artist, best known for his recreation of the famous 'Sjors en Sjimmie' strip, as well as the gag strip 'Claire'. Born in Rotterdam, he began his comics career in the pages of the weekly magazine Donald Duck, illustrating covers and stories with Disney characters from 1973 to 1977. Between 1973 and 1975, he drew the info-strip 'Pepijn' in Pep. He was co-founder and a regular contributor to the alternative comics magazine De Vrije Balloen from 1975.
His contributions to De Vrije Balloen are collected in the book 'Ratjetoe', that was published in 1985. During the 1970s and early 1980s, his work additionally appeared in Bajeskrant, Striprofiel and the KRO magazine Studio, for which he made the short-lived comic 'Joppes en Bars'. He also did several commercial assignments for educational purposes, such as four booklets starring 'Droppie Water' for the Unie van Waterschappen between 1982 and 2002.
He took over the 'Sjors en Sjimmie' series from Jan Steeman in 1975. This series is the Dutch version of Martin Branner's 'Perry Winkle' (a spin-off of 'Winnie Winkle'), which was introduced in The Netherlands during the thirties, and elaborated upon by Frans Piët, who introduced Sjors' friend, Sjimmie. Van der Kroft continued the comic for many years with scriptwriters Jan van Die and Wilbert Plijnaar, with whom he formed the Wiroja's.
They returned to the original format of gag comics and modernized modernized the 'Sjors' comic by introducing themes such as love, star-fandom, graffiti, breakdancing and other cool stuff. The readers responded so well to the changes that the magazine Eppo, in which the stories were published, was re-named Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad.
Sjors en Sjimmie
In 1988, the work pressure got too high and the Wiroja's decided to start with another comic and keep their work on 'Sjors en Sjimmie' in the background. The artwork was was continued by Hein Haakman and Spanish studios like Comicup, Bonnet and Comicon, but the original team kept the supervision. The Wiroja's new comic was called 'Claire', which appeared in the Flemmish magazine Flair until March 2017 and dealt with a twenty-year-old woman, addressing an audience of girls and young women. For this comic, Van der Kroft also got assistance from Comicup artist Carlos Guirado, while Evert Geradts replaced Wilbert Plijnaar as co-scriptwriter in 2002.
Together with Tonio van Vugt, Van der Kroft launched the Dutch magazine Zone 5300, a magazine of comics, culture and curiosities, in 1994. In later years, Van der Kroft has done a lot of illustration work, like for book adaptations of the musicals 'Annie' and 'Dokter Dolittle' for Douwe Egberts coffee.