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

De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen/Nederland
As Hug, he was the author of the comic books 'De Geschiedenis van Vlaanderen' (1984) and 'De Geschiedenis van Nederland' (1985), which told the history of respectively Flanders and the Netherlands in a humorous way. Both comics were prepublished in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. Contrary to what the titles claim the books don't tell the entire history. Both end their chronological journey in the early 19th century, when Flanders became Belgium in 1830 and the Netherlands an independent state in 1815. The remaining pages feature small written bios and caricatures of famous Dutch and Flemish historical characters. Near the end of both books the author hinted at a possible sequel in the future, 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 named 'Van Nul tot Nu' (1984).

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

De Neus & Co and other comics
In 1985 an overview of all news events of 1985 was published in book form by Bertels named 'Tot De Laatste Snik' (1985), which featured written reflections of these events, each one combined with a cartoon by Leyers. Under the pen name Haschèl, Leyers was the artist of the short-lived comics 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. It was a typical humorous adventure comic with a very regional atmosphere, since most stories took off and ended in Antwerp. Celebrity cameos of the major of Antwerp Bob Cools, window painter Rubbes and controversial mayor of Voeren/Fourons José Happart weren't uncommon. Only two albums were made, 'De Putsch van de Poesje' (1986) and 'Brabo's Broek' (1987). In 1988 he also illustrated a book about this celebrated Antwerp puppet tradition, 'Poesje in Antwerpen' (1988) by Piet Schepens and Guy Van De Casteele, as well as the beer promotion book 'Het grote Bierbuyck-boek' the same year. 

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

Death and family connections
Hugo Leyers passed away in Kontich in 2007. 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' in 1987. Hugo Leyers' granddaughters, Dorien, Ella, Billie and Olga, have also become local media celebrities in Flanders.

Met de Neus en Co op Stap by Hugo Leyers

Series and books by Hugo Leyers in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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