Mr D. van Kwikschoten, by Rupert van der Linden
'Mr D. van Kwikschoten'.

Rupert van der Linden was a Dutch animator, illustrator and painter, with a versatile but fragmented career. Starting in the 1950s, Van der Linden has worked on educational films and commercials, as well as experimental, personal film projects. With writer Jan Blokker, he created the satirical newspaper comic 'Mr. D. van Kwikschoten' (1961-1963) for Algemeen Handelsblad. As an illustrator, he was known for his sketches of bar scenes and for his chess drawings.

Early life
Rupert Franciscus van der Linden was born in 1930 in The Hague, where he grew up in the Archipelbuurt neighborhood. He came from an artistic family; his parents had met at the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. They were his first drawing teachers and as a child, he also learned to play the piano. In the early 1950s, Rupert van der Linden enrolled at the Academy himself, with the intention of becoming a drawing teacher. One of his fellow students was Cor Blok. However, the lessons didn't suit him, as they were largely theoretical, and he dropped out.

Stills from 'De Goochelaar Ontgoocheld' (1958).

Animator at NOF
Through a friend, Van der Linden got a job with the NOF, a foundation that produced instructional films for the Dutch educational system. Hired as a "film strip artist", Van der Linden made drawings on slides projected by teachers, like a modern magic lantern. His work included stories about historical figures like Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Frédéric Chopin and Michiel de Ruyter, as well as cut-and-paste animations that illustrated blood circulation.

One notable production by Van der Linden was 'De Goochelaar Ontgoocheld' (1958), the first fully animated film by the NOF. During the months he worked on the film, Van der Linden gradually learned the tricks of the animation trade. His black ink drawings were filmed in negative, resulting in a film with white lines on a black background, resembling chalk drawings on a blackboard. Unbeknownst to Van der Linden, he had used the same technique as early 20th-century French animation pioneer Émile Cohl. A modern fairy tale about a magician, 'De Goochelaar Ontgoocheld' was shown at schools to inspire students before they started working on an essay or speech.

Since the NOF was a subsidized organization, there were often months without any activity, whenever the funds had dried out. Bored, Van der Linden left his job in the late 1950s. Settling in Amstelveen and then in Amsterdam, Van der Linden spent the next couple of decades working on a wide range of projects for all sorts of clients in and around the Dutch capital. Starting in 1959, he spent some time working for the Anglo Dutch Group, a commercial animation studio headed by the Brit Harold Mack. After that, he made corporate communication drawings through the Bakkenist, Spits & Co consultancy agency.

'Onze Rebus' (Algemeen Handelsblad, 1960s).

Mr. D. van Kwikschoten
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Van der Linden got in touch with movie journalist and publicist Jan Blokker, whom he joined in the launch of a satirical newspaper strip for Algemeen Handelsblad. Starting in 1961 and continuing for two years, 'Mr. D. van Kwikschoten' was a foolish modern-day Don Quixote, who agitated against all the themes that dominated the Dutch news at the time. His "Sancho Panza" sidekick was a fat industrial called Pantser. Over the course of ten stories, Blokker and Van der Linden satirizied a wide range topics, giving cameos to several persons from the Dutch cultural and political elite.

One notable 1961-1962 story, 'Mr. Van Kwikschoten en de Speelfilm', spoofed the local movie industry, with appearances of real-life filmmakers like Bert Haanstra, Herman van der Horst and Louis van Gasteren. In 2010, comic news magazine Stripschrift, the Dutch Film Festival and the newspaper NRC Handelsblad teamed up to release the story in book format.

'Het Orakel Asop' (Het Vrije Volk, 2 March 1968). Translation: "Orakel Asop, is the militarized revolutionary battle really the only method to liberate oppressed people?" - "Ask that question again."

Further newspaper and magazine work
When he quit working on 'Mr. D. van Kwikschoten' in 1963, Van der Linden continued to do newspaper work throughout the decade. Still for Algemeen Handelsblad, he made illustrated rebuses, sometimes using sequential narratives. For the newspaper Het Vrije Volk, he made the weekly political commentary cartoon series 'Het Orakel ASOP', hosted by a fictional bird, which occasionally also used the comic strip format. In 1964, Rupert van der Linden contributed a comic page to the comic-themed issue of the literary magazine Ratio.

Later animation work
During the 1960s and 1970s, Van der Linden continued to work on movie projects, either as animator or as designer of film titles. Some were commercial assignments - for instance governmental Postbus 51 spots and a promotional film for airline company KLM - others were more personal. Together with producer Nico Crama, Van der Linden created a couple of experimental films, starting with 'De Bloemen' (1967), about a little man who collapses under a quantity of picked flowers. The short got an honorary mention during the 1967 Staatsprijs Filmkunst awards, and was shown as a pre-film at the Amsterdam Tuschinski movie theater. Van der Linden's next film, 'Mister X' (1969), told the life story of an agressive, maladjusted person.

from Ratio Strip, by Rupert van der Linden
Contribution to the comic issue of Ratio magazine (1964).

For most of his life, Van der Linden had to struggle financially to make ends meet. Working irregularly on often poorly paid projects, he mostly lived in small apartments or boarding houses. Some periods of time were spent living in Antwerp or on Ibiza, where he failed to get his Dutch fundings through. Since the 1970s, Van der Linden made use of the so-called BKR benefit program, a basic income for artists. During this period, he picked up painting again, making portraits, animals and fantasy scenes. One notable portrait by Van der Linden was of dancer and dance teacher Hans Snoek, founder of the Scapino Ballet. The work is part of the portrait gallery of the Amsterdam city theater, nowadays known as the International Theater Amsterdam.

Observational cartoons
At the café of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, but also in other establishments, Van der Linden made sketches of bar visitors. Through writer/poet Johnny van Doorn, he managed to get them published in the literary magazine Hollands Diep. Later on in the 1970s, Van der Linden's bar drawings appeared in the feature 'Café de la Paix' in NRC Handelsblad, accompanied by texts by journalist Henk Hofland, who used the pseudonym S. Montag. A book collection was published by Thomas Rap in 1978. In the 1980s, he made the section 'De Lezer' with drawings of people reading, accompanied by ironic captions, for newspaper De Volkskrant.

Portrait of Donner, by Rupert van der Linden
Bar scene for the section 'Café de la Paix' and a drawing of Dutch chess master Johannes Hendrikus Donner.

Chess illustrator
In addition, Van der Linden illustrated fairy tale books with anthropomorphic characters. He was also a notable chess illustrator, working for specialized magazines like Schaakbulletin and its follow-up New in Chess (1982-1991), and then Schakend Nederland/Schaakmagazine (1993-2004). From 2002 onwards, Rupert van der Linden made many drawings for the workbooks and manuals of the Steps Method, a chess learning method for youngsters. He also provided a series of drawings for the educational chess Schaakkaravaan of the Max Euwe Center.

Self-portrait for Ratio magazine (1968).

Final years and death
Later in life, Van der Linden revisited his first film, the 1958 educational short 'De Goochelaar Ontgoocheld'. On the occasion of the animator's 80th anniversary in 2010, the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Dutch Institute for Animated Films initiated a re-releae of the film with a new piano soundtrack composed and performed by Van der Linden himself. In that same year, Stripstift released a book publication of Van der Linden's 1960s comic strip 'Mr. Van Kwikschoten en De Speelfilm'. During the Stripdagen comic festival in Houten on 25-26 September 2010, Rupert van der Linden was awarded the Bulletje & Boonestaak Plate, an award for Dutch comic pioneers.

In old age, Rupert van der Linden continued to paint and draw. In 2018, he released 'Amsterdam getekend', a booklet with nostalgic drawings of Amsterdam. In 2019, he donated most of his chess-related drawings and cartoons to the Max Euwe Center. The artist passed away in Amsterdam on 18 June 2023, five days before his 93rd birthday.

Rupert van der Linden, working on a painting in 2010 (Stripschrift #411). Photo © Arco van Os.

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