Met de Neus & Co op stap
'Brabo's Broek', 'Met de Neus op Stap', 1986. 

Hugo Leyers was a Flemish architect, political cartoonist and comic artist, who published under the pseudonyms "Hug" and "Haschèl". His entire comic career is concentrated in the 1980s, when he made two comic book versions of the history of Flanders ('De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen', 1984) and the Netherlands ('De Geschiedenis van Nederland', 1985). The same decade he also drew a humorous comic strip named 'Met De Neus en Co op Stap' (1986-1987), starring characters from the Antwerp folkloric puppet theatre "De Poesje". All of Leyers' comics were published in black-and-white and are notable for their use of caricature, silly comedy, regional atmosphere and Antwerp dialect.

Early life and career
Hugo Leyers was born in 1930 in Ruisbroek, Antwerp. Between 1957 and 1963 and again from 1982 to 1986, Leyers made political cartoons for the Flemish-nationalist, right-wing conservative newspaper 't Pallieterke. In 1967 painter Staf van Elzen founded an art academy in Kontich, where both he and Leyers were originally the only two teachers. The school still exists today and has considerably expanded since. 

Geschiedenis van Nederland by Hug
'De Geschiedenis van Nederland', depicting Philippe II of Spain and the Duke of Alba. 

De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen/Nederland
In the 1980s Leyers became a notable comic artist. Under the pseudonym Hug, he drew two comic stories about the history of the Low Countries. Serialized in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen, 'De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen' (1984) and 'De Geschiedenis van Nederland' (1985) respectively tell the history of Flanders and The Netherlands in a humorous way. Each title was released in book format afterwards, by publishing company Publiboek/Baart in Soest/Deurne. Since trying to condense centuries of history into one book is difficult, both books only focus on a few key events. And contrary to what the titles claim, the chronological journey ends in the early 19th century. In 'De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen' in 1830, when the Southern Netherlands became independent under the name Belgium. In 'De Geschiedenis van Nederland' in 1815, when The Netherlands became an independent monarchy. The remaining pages feature short, handwritten biographies of famous people from Dutch and Flemish history. Each a page long, with a caricature of said individual. A possible sequel was hinted at the end of each volume, but this plan never came to fruition.

Leyers did make a special comic strip in 1985 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Fall of Antwerp (1585), when the Habsburg Empire reconquered the Southern Netherlands. This comic strip was published in de Gazet van Antwerpen, but not elsewhere. Interestingly enough, Hug's comic strip about the history of Flanders appeared only five years after Georges Dumont and Louis Haché's overview of Belgian history, 'L'Aventure des Belges/België in Beeld' (1979). His history of the Netherlands happened to coincide with Co Loerakker and Thom Roep's ambitious four-volume comic book version of Dutch history, 'Van Nul tot Nu' (1984).


Met de Neus en Co Op Stap #1 - 'De Putsch Van De Poesje'.

De Neus & Co.
Under the pen name Haschèl, Leyers was the artist of the short-lived comic series 'Met De Neus en Co. op Stap'  (1986-1987). It starred the characters from the folkloric Antwerp puppet theatre Poesje as main protagonists, namely De Neus ("The Nose"), De Schele ("The Cross-Eyed One"), Nele and De Bult ("The Hunchback"). The comic was written by Piet Schepens (Pisché) and also serialized in De Gazet van Antwerpen. 'Neus en Co.' is a typical humorous adventure comic with a very regional atmosphere, since most stories take off and end in Antwerp. Major of Antwerp Bob Cools, window painter Rubbes and controversial mayor of Voeren/Fourons José Happart have celebrity cameos. Two stories were made, 'De Putsch van de Poesje' (1986) and 'Brabo's Broek' (1987), both serialized in the Gazet van Antwerpen and published in book format by De Vlijt.

The scriptwriter was Pisché, pseudonym for Piet Schepens (31 March 1943 - 28 February 2014). He was a journalist for Gazet van Antwerpen and Kapellmeister (master of the chapel choir) of the Carolus Borromeus Church in Antwerp. Pisché also scripted another obscure comic series, 'De Akkevitjes van Bernaar en Chossé' (1977), drawn by Willy Backer Overbeek, of which two albums, 'De Rubensroof' (1977) and 'De Ellenbooggast' (1981) were published by respectively Oranjehuis en Media Uitgaven. 

De geschiedenis van Vlaanderen door Hug
'De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen'.

Het Grote Bierbuyck-Boek
In 1988 Leyers created his final comic book, 'Het Grote Bierbuyck-Boek' (Jempie Herrebout, 1988). Scripted by Hendrik Holvenius (a pseudonym of Herman Geerts), the comic promoted beer culture through the one-shot character Bastiaan Bierbuyck. 

Graphic contributions
Leyers illustrated 'Het Grote Krisis-Oplosboek' (Mim/Topics Magazine, 1984), a humorous attempt to solve each national "crisis". The book featured several caricatures of famous Flemish politicians, sports figures and media celebrities. In 1985 Leyers provided cartoons for the book 'Tot De Laatste Snik' (Bertels, 1985), a series of humorous columns reflecting on news events of that year. He also illustrated a book about the celebrated Antwerp puppet tradition, 'Poesje in Antwerpen' (Project, 1988), written by Piet Schepens and Guy Van De Casteele. 

Death and family connections
In 2007 Hugo Leyers passed away in Kontich. He was the father of Belgian pop singer and TV host Jan Leyers, best known as one half of the duo Soulsister, who had a hit with the song 'The Way To Your Heart' (1987). Hugo Leyers' granddaughters, Dorien, Ella, Billie and Olga, have also become local media celebrities in Flanders.


Photo of Hugo Leyers, from the back cover of the 'Neus en Co' books.

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