Jan Kruis is best known for his family comic 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen', that appears weekly in the women's magazine Libelle since 1970. Kruis was born in Rotterdam and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Very early on, he published his first comic, 'Prins Freddie', in De Havenloods. He began his career doing jobs for advertising agencies. His first employer was Nijgh en Van Ditmar, who hired him in 1954.
Tommy (Olidin, 1959)
Starting in 1958, Kruis was a commercial artist with Van Maanen in The Hague for the next seven years, doing advertising and illustration assignments for mainly Shell and Niemeijer. The Shell children's magazine Olidin was also produced by Van Maanen, and Kruis contributed such comic series as 'Tommy' (1958-1963) and 'Baldino' (1959). In addition he drew gags with 'Gertje' and 'Stientje' for the Shell Junior Club, that were also published in Olidin (1962). It was during this period that he associated himself with Jan van der Voo, who took over the artwork of 'Baldino' and with whom he created 'De Kleine Hertog'.
Since his experiences with Olidin, Kruis' started using the comics format more often. Together with Van der Voo, he produced comic strips for Niemeijer, Mars, Treets, Bounty and Milky Way, that were printed in children's magazines like Donald Duck. He was also briefly present at Marten Toonder's studios, with whom he worked on a first rendition of 'Student Tijloos' in 1959. This comic wasn't published until 1961, but by then the authors were Lo Hartog van Banda, Gerrit Stapel and Thé Tjong Khing.
During the 1960s, Kruis did a great many other advertising strips, for Claeryn, Sloan's Liniment, Bootz ('Tipje van Bootz'), Nieuwe Revu and the advertising press. Kruis opened a studio and surrounded himself by artists like Jan van der Voo, Wim Giesbers and Martin Lodewijk. Besides advertisements, Kruis also illustrated for books, like 'Bartje', 'Dorp aan de Rivier' and 'Adriaan en Olivier', and for magazines like De Spiegel and Margriet.
advertising strip for Tip (Bootz)
By 1966, he left the field of advertisements and started to focus on comics. Starting in 1965, he was present in Kuifje with the gag series 'Gregor'. Through his connection with Margriet, he also found his way to comics magazine Pep, that was also published by De Geïllustreerde Pers. He started out making illustrations and he continued 'Gregor' in this magazine.
In 1969, he took over 'Sjors en Sjimmie' comic from Frans Piët in the magazine Sjors, published by De Spaarnestad. He completely modernized and restyled the strip, but handed it over to Jan Steeman after two episodes. Unhappy with the 'Sjors en Sjimmie' comic, he was then asked by Peter Middeldorp to create a weekly comic for the women's magazine Libelle. This resulted in the family comic 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen', that has appeared in the magazine's pages on a weekly base and in a series of albums since 1970. Because of his connection with the competing magazine Margriet, Kruis signed his earliest pages with Andries.
Also for Libelle, Kruis made illustrations for editorial sections and travel stories, and painted portraits for the section 'Dubbelportret'. Under the label "Jan Kruis Producties" Kruis and Van der Voo also set up a comic for the early issues of Story magazine, called 'Moeps Pepernoot'. His main focus until his retirement in 1998 remained the 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen' strip however. Together with his friend and publisher Joop Wiggers, he set up a series of successful book collections as well as a large line of merchandise.
Jan, Jans en de Kinderen, introduction of Jeroentje
After his retirement in 1998, Kruis handed over his creations to the Studio Jan Kruis, an art studio based at the editorial offices of Libelle, initially headed by Daan Jippes. Artists that have worked for the studio are Gerben Valkema, Peter Nuyten, Rob Phielix, Maarten Gerritsen and Michiel van de Vijver.
Kwynk (Kwynk #1)
Since then, Kruis has done a project for the Lepra Foundation featuring his well-known characters, and he made a comics adaptation of Multatuli's 'Woutertje Pietersen'. In 2010 he and Jan van der Voo were involved in the launch of online comics magazine Kwynk, that publishes a selection of his old Olidin work as well as his new strip, 'Kwynk'. Jan Kruis was the first artist to receive the Marten Toonderprijs for his contributions to Dutch culture, in March 2010. His daughter Andrea is also a comic artist and illustrator.