Agent 327 in front of Lambiek, by Martin Lodewijk
Agent 327 in front of the old Lambiek store, in 'Dossier Nachtwacht'.

Martin Lodewijk is one of the Netherlands' most prominent and productive comic artists and writers. He is best known for his humorous adventure comic 'Agent 327' (1966-1972, 1975-1983, 2000-  ), about secret agent Hendrik IJzerbroot and his tall and voluptuous co-spy Olga Lawina. Lodewijk is a graphic chameleon, able to draw in different styles, and known for his excessive documentary research. He has also written scripts for various other series, including 'Johnny Goodbye' (art by Dino Attanasio), 'Storm' (art by Don Lawrence), 'January Jones' (art by Eric Heuvel), and Willy Vandersteen's 'De Rode Ridder' (art by Claus D. Scholz). Lodewijk was additionally the driving force behind the magazine Eppo, where he worked as an art director and talent scout. To top off his resumé, he was also the artist and designer of several notable advertisements.

Early years
Born in 1939 in the south of Rotterdam as Martinus Spyridon Johannes Lodewijk, the young Martin suffered from asthma while growing up. He used the periods he was forced to stay at home to read and draw. Even as a child he had an endless curiosity. He read the realistic adventure novels by Edward Multon, the 'Fu Manchu' books by Sax Rohmer and detective novels that were way above his age. Gangster and detective movies also grasped his interest, as well as Laurel and Hardy films. He studied the cartoons and jokes in magazines like Spic & Span, Kiekeboe, De Piccolo, De Lach, Bolero and De Mascotte, and was especially fond of the cartoonists Arthur Ferrier and Dana Gibson. In terms of graphic influences, he admired pin-up artists like George Petty and Al Moore, as well as advertising illustrators such as Coby Whitmore, Joe DeMers and René Gruau. He was also a comic fan, and admired artists from his home country, such as Hans G. Kresse, Eppo Doeve. Later on, Lodewijk was influenced by more direct colleagues like Daan Jippes, Dick Matena, Jan Kruis and Peter de Smet. However, Lodewijk's biggest inspiration came from the Belgian comic artists Hergé, Jijé, Edgar Pierre Jacobs, Maurice Tillieux and particularly his heroes André Franquin, Willy Vandersteen and Marc Sleen. He also got a hold of several American comic books, left behind by passengers from the ships that entered the Rotterdam harbor. It brought him in contact with the work of Milton Caniff, Roy Crane, Elzie Segar, Charles M. Schulz, Harvey Kurtzman and Hal Foster. Later in his career, he also showed respect for Don Lawrence and Hec Leemans.

Babel en Knetterton by Martin Lodewijk
'Babel en Knetterton'.

Pulp comic books
Lodewijk’s health conditions prevented him from pursuing a career as a pilot, so art became his focus. He sold his first cartoons to "naughty" magazines like De Mascotte and Bolero in 1956 and 1957. Both magazines were published by A.T.H., the local printing firm of Arnoldus Teeuwen. Lodewijk eventually dropped out of high school and started drawing comic stories for A.T.H.'s pulp comic magazines. The first was a comic strip called 'Lodewijk Pedaal', which was never published. He was then assigned to take over drawing the humorous feature 'Babel en Knetterton' in 1957, which was originally drawn by Lou Visser. He made a dozen astronaut comic books from 1957 to 1958, followed by six issues of the pirate comic 'Arent Brandt' (the final two appeared under the title 'Captain Kidd') in 1958 and 1959. Besides his work for A.T.H., he made an adventure strip called 'Kit Sidney in: Uraniumgieren' for a local district paper from Rotterdam.

Dick Harris, by Martin Lodewijk
'Dick Harris', for the ATH space comic series.

In 1959, he was asked to take over the newspaper comic 'Frank, de Vliegende Hollander', which was drawn by Piet Wijn for the newspaper Het Parool. Lodewijk drew this science fiction strip for one year, although most of his six-story run appeared mainly in a Swedish newspaper (Dagens Nyheter), because Het Parool had resumed publishing Pieter Kuhn's 'Kapitein Rob'.

Frank de Vliegende Hollander
'Frank de Vliegende Hollander'.

He subsequently found employment with Publi Studio in Schiedam, and worked as an advertisement designer and illustrator for six years. He stayed with Publi until 1964, then worked for the Rotterdam-based ad firm Braun, before turning freelance in 1965. Lodewijk worked in a variety of styles for a wide range of clients, including Van Nelle tobacco, Siera tape recorders, chocolate brand Kwatta and local stores, for which he designed the cinema advertisements. He also worked with Jan Kruis on advertising comics for Treets ('Inspecteur Smulleman', 1966) and the grocer's association De Kroon, among other things.

Pep cover by Martin LodewijkPep cover by Martin Lodewijk

Agent 327
In the mid-1960s, Jan Kruis was asked by De Geïllustreerde Pers to develop a secret agent parody for their comic magazine Pep, following the success of the James Bond films. He handed the job over to Martin Lodewijk, and Hendrik IJzerbroot, a.k.a. 'Agent 327', was born. The character, modeled after Peter Gunn actor Craig Stevens, made its debut in a couple of short stories, of which the first appeared in the 21st issue of Pep (21 May 1966). Besides the Bond movies and the 'Peter Gunn' TV series, other popular TV series of the 1960s were an influence, such as 'I Spy' and 'The Avengers'. Lodewijk created the first long adventure, 'Dossier Stemkwadrater', in 1968. Book collections of 'Agent 327' have been published by Oberon/De Geïllustreerde Pers, Meulenhoff and Uitgeverij L.

Agent 327 by Martin Lodewijk
Early 'Agent 327' story, which still shows Jan Kruis' graphic influence. 

Lodewijk developed the comic into a highly original classic in Dutch comics, characterized by its clever plots full of adventure, excitement, sharp humor and countless winks and references to current affairs and pop culture. Besides the protagonist, several colorful characters were added to the cast, such as the secret service's cynical and thrifty Chief, the mustached door guard and former sailor Willemse, the capable secretary Juffrouw Betsy (based on Miss Moneypenny in 'James Bond'), the long-haired apprentice Barend, the womanizer Carl Sorge (a.k.a. Agent 525), the beautiful CIA agent Mata Hair and the tall and voluptuous Swiss counterspy Olga Lawina. Lawina is an interesting character, not just because of her attractive looks, but also because she is both friend and foe. Although she assists Agent 327 during several of his missions (even solving many of them) she is also a counterspy and thus an unreliable ally. She is often forced to choose between Agent 327 and her evil brother Abraham Zondag and his international crime network.

Agent 327 - 'Dossier Zondagskind'.

Agent 327 is often pitched against the white-faced spy Boris Kloris, corrupt billionaire Paul Poendrop and former Nazis colonel Fritz Bauer and spy Dritta Reich. While spy fiction remains the basis of all stories, Lodewijk also gives the series a realistic feel. Each album is named "dossier" ("file") and presented as if it was a real case. The Dutch intelligence service actually exists and Lodewijk researched thoroughly details about their structure. Various episodes have Agent 327 go on secret missions all over the planet, which offer Lodewijk a chance to satirize various political affairs, such as Dr. Papa Duivalier (a spoof of Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier) and Desi Kabouterse (a parody of Suriname dictator Desi Bouterse). Other real-life celebrities, books, films, TV series and pop culture are also frequent targets for satire, often accompanied by incredibly lame puns.

Agent 327 - 'De Ogen van Wu Manchu'.

'Agent 327' also has its fair share of running gags. All companies and various side characters have the name "Habraken", the sappy song 'Denk toch altijd met smart aan je moeder' (‘Always Remember Your Mother Fondly’) is used as a torture device and every episode kicks off with Agent 327's attempts to enter his office in disguise. Although he manages to fool most people, he is sometimes not allowed entrance or something else goes disastrously wrong, which leads to his familiar catchphrase: "Grrrutjes-nog-aan-toe, wat een geheim agent toch allemaal niet moet doen om incognito op zijn werk te verschijnen." ("Heavens above, what a secret agent has to do these days to arrive at his job without being recognized.") A far better kept secret is "the identity of Victor Baarn". Readers never learned who Baarn was supposed to be, though what little information they learned about him points heavily in the direction of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Lodewijk also gave himself cameos in several stories, often in the company of his band Chickenfeed, with whom he plays guitar in real life.

Agent 327 - 'De Gesel van Rotterdam'.

'Agent 327' appeared in Pep until 1972, then returned in the new comic magazine Eppo from 1975 until 1983. Then, after a long absence, Martin Lodewijk created a new series of 'Agent 327' stories in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad from 25 May 2000 on. This return was marked by Lodewijk's desire to be remembered for what he loved best: making comics. The reboot of 'Agent 327' featured some notable changes, though. Earlier stories had been child friendly but the new version showcased more blatant sexual references. This became particularly clear considering Olga Lawina, who was drawn in a much looser and cartoony style than before. She received bigger eyes, skimpier clothing and more perfectly round breasts. The character also became more lewd in her behavior.

Agent 327 by Martin Lodewijk
Olga Lawina in 'Het Oor van Van Gogh'.

Lodewijk started working on 'De Daddy Vinci Code', the 20th album, in 2004. It took him more than ten years to complete the story. After a long serialization, with many interruptions, in the relaunched Eppo magazine between 2009 and 2014, the book was finally released in 2015. 'Agent 327' received some translations in Danish but is generally considered "too Dutch" in tone. Even in Belgium it remains less known than in its home country.

Martin Lodewijk's 'Agent 327' is well enough known in the Dutch-language comic industry that the characters have occasionally had cameos in other comics. In the second album of Jan Kruis' 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen' both Agent 327 and Lodewijk appear in a gag where Jans gets a job in a bank. Lodewijk returned the favor by giving Kruis a cameo as painter in 'Dossier Nachtwacht' (1979). This same 'Agent 327' album was also referenced in the second part of Thom Roep and Co Loerakker's 'Van Nul tot Nu', where the agent appears as a museum guard.  In 1988, Theo Seesing created the newspaper comic 'Complot in Rotterdam, een platenfeuilleton' (1988) which features a realistically drawn film noir story set in Rotterdam but with the cartoony villain Boris Kloris from 'Agent 327' as the major nemesis. In Marc Sleen and Dirk Stallaert's 'Nero' story 'De Kroon van Elisabeth' (1993) Agent 327 had a small cameo on page 10, strip 4.  Lodewijk returned the nod by giving the 'Nero' characters Piet Fluwijn, Bolleke, Van Zwam and Agent Gaston guest roles in his 'Agent 327' story 'De Golem van Antwerpen' (2002). Once Lodewijk was personally involved with giving his characters a guest appearance in another series. In the 'Kiekeboes' album 'Bij Fanny Op Schoot' (2005) by Merho, Agent 327 and Olga Lawina visit Fanny's talk show. Like all other artists who worked on this album he drew his own characters.

Master scriptwriter
While still writing and drawing 'Agent 327' for Pep, Lodewijk also became a productive writer for other artists. He helped Jan Kruis with his two stories starring 'Sjors & Sjimmie' for Sjors in 1969. For Pep, he created the gangster comic 'Johnny Goodbye' with Dino Attanasio (1969-1987, with interruptions) and 'Bernard Voorzichtig - Thee voor Twee' with Daan Jippes (1972-1973). When comic magazines Pep and Sjors merged into Eppo in 1975, Lodewijk was appointed as art director. Together with editor-in-chief Frits van der Heide, he set up the new magazine, and scouted for new talent and series. Another initiative by Martin Lodewijk was Stripkoerier (Oberon, 1977-1978), a tabloid-sized comics paper with translated US newspaper comics.

Johnny GoodbyeTwee voor Thee

Lodewijk initiated Eppo's space adventure series 'Storm', which was meant as a replacement for the British sci-fi comic 'Trigan Empire', that had run in Pep. 'Trigo' artist Don Lawrence was hired to assume the art duties. After some attempts with British writers like Vince Wernham and Saul Dunn, Lodewijk wrote the second 'Storm' adventure himself, and then asked Dick Matena to continue the scriptwork. Lodewijk resumed his writing activities for 'Storm' when the new cycle 'Kronieken van Pandarve' was launched in 1983. Lodewijk and Lawrence rebooted the franchise and sent their hero and his beautiful sidekick Roodhaar to the Pandarve multiverse, where people travel from planet to planet in sailboats. New characters were added, such as the ally Nomad and the evil theocrat Marduk. Lodewijk made thirteen new books with Don Lawrence, until the artist died in 2003.


Lodewijk returned as the writer for ‘Storm’ between 2007 and 2010, when new artists Romano Molenaar and Jorg de Vos restarted the series for Rob van Bavel's publishing house Don Lawrence Collection. Minck Oosterveer and Willem Ritstier also produced 'Storm' stories in alternation with the ones by Lodewijk and Molenaar-De Vos during this period. Since then, Dick Matena and Rob van Bavel have written new 'Storm' stories for Eppo, while the legendary 'Conan' writer Roy Thomas was asked to create a spin-off starring 'Roodhaar'. With its clever mix of science fiction and fantasy, 'Storm' is the second Lodewijk series that has become a classic of Dutch comics.

January JonesDe Rode Ridder

Between 1980 and 1985, Martin Lodewijk wrote three comic books starring 'De Kat', a new rendition of the Dutch pulp superhero created by Henk Albers in the 1940s. The art was done by Hendrik J. Vos, Bart van Erkel and Adri van Kooten. Lodewijk additionally wrote a short story starring 'Lucky Luke' for Morris in 1981, as well as two 'Edmund Bell' stories for René Follet in the late 1980s, based on the stories by Belgian novelist John Flanders. Between 1984 and 1988, he wrote two stories of the fantasy series 'Zetari', which was drawn by the British artist John M. Burns. The stories were serialized in Panorama magazine, but also abroad in L'Eternauta (Italy) and Zona 84 (Spain). It was Lodewijk's first major international project, initiated by the Yugoslav agency Strip Art Features of Ervin Rustemagić.

Lodewijk was one of the initiators of Titanic (1984), a comic magazine for a more mature audience. It serialized the comic story 'Zonder twijfel' (1985-1986) starring the character Matt Marteau, which Lodewijk wrote for Bart van Erkel. It appeared in book format in 1987. He notably created the series about 1930s female aviator 'January Jones' with Eric Heuvel for Eppo/Wordt Vervolgd. Lodewijk and Heuvel made four well-documented stories between 1987 and 1995, and embarked upon a revival in Eppo in 2009. In Yech, Titanic and Wordt Vervolgd, Lodewijk was also a scriptwriter for Rob van Zanten.

Lodewijk himself provided the artwork for the short-lived gag strip 'Tobias en Byrd' (late 1990s), which ran in the bird-lovers magazine Vrije Vogels. Some gags were written by Ruud Straatman. With artist Adri van Kooten, Lodewijk created the Dutch manga series 'Quark' (2003-2004). After the death of Karel Biddeloo in 2004, Lodewijk and artist Claus D. Scholz were hired by Standaard Uitgeverij as the new authors of 'De Rode Ridder', the comic book series by Studio Vandersteen based on the creation of Leopold Vermeiren. Lodewijk dropped most of the science fiction elements that Biddeloo had added to the comic, and returned to historical plots based on medieval folk tales and legends. Lodewijk worked on the comic until 2012, when Marc Legendre took over the writing duties.

Advertisement for Burger King by Martin Lodewijk
Advertisement for Burger King.

Advertising artist
Lodewijk's main activities during the 1980s and 1990s consisted of commercial assignments, which he did through agencies like Elly op de Weegh's Art Connection. He made film posters for Pim de la Parra's 'Paul Chevrolet en de ultieme hallucinatie' (1985), the German roadmovie 'Theo gegen den Rest der Welt' (1980), and the three 'Flodder' movies (1986, 1992, 1995) by Dick Maas. He made famous drawings of laughing animals for the Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo in Rhenen, and did notable campaigns for the Unidox Solutabs medicine and the Postbank, for which he created the character 'Pennie' for the youth bank accounts.

Ad comic by Martin Lodewijk
Advertising comic strip for the Dutch Railways.

Lodewijk used the comic format for his advertisements for Felix cat food, the Dutch Railways, Smiths' Tengels! snacks, Chocotoff and the Royal Netherlands Army. Martin Lodewijk and Wilbert Plijnaarwrote 'Dakhaas en Bollewang' (1981), a promotional comic for Chubb Lips Security in Dordrecht, drawn by Bart van Erkel. With Carel Zorg, Lodewijk developed 'Coentje', the mascot of soccer club Feyenoord in the 1990s. The character appeared in gags and illustrations in Feyenoord's children's paper Kameraadjes, drawn by Julian Verkaik, and in 2005 in three longer stories made for Algemeen Dagblad by writer Jan Booister and artist Minck Oosterveer. Only one of them was actually published. Many other firms have used Lodewijk's talent for their ads: PTT Telecom, HEMA, Albert Heijn, Ikea, Edah, V&D, and ANWB, to name but a few. As an illustrator, Lodewijk has made drawings and done lay-outs for magazines like Panorama, Elsevier, Taptoe, De Consumentengids, Anita, AD, Sekstant and Viva, as well as the school notebooks by publisher Ryam (in collaboration with Peter de Smet).The 1984-1985 Truckstar diary contained a story with 'Olga Lawina', although written by Ruud Straatman and illustrated by Willem Vleeschouwer. He also designed covers for the crime novels by his friend Jacques Post.

Landmacht ad by Martin Lodewijk
Advertising campaign for the Royal Netherlands Army in the late 1980s.

Besides being an artist, Lodewijk is also a gifted musician. He plays ukulele, guitar and banjo, and has a passion for folk, blues, jazz and country music. His musical career began in the 1950s, when he played in the Bobby Shaftoe Skiffle Group. He performed throughout Rotterdam with his group, and later also as a solo guitarist. Together with his brother Tim, he also played in the bluegrass band Chickenfeed, which released the LP 'The Best of What?!' in 1978.

Graphic contributions
Lodewijk paid homage to Marc Sleen in 'Marc Sleen 80: De enige echte' (2002) and 'Marc Sleen 90: Liber Amicorum' (2012), which celebrated the comics' veteran's respective 80th and 90th birthday. In 2005, he made a graphic contribution to 'Suske en Wiske 60 Jaar!' (2005), to honor the 60th anniversary of Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske'. Agent 327 and Olga Lawina also visited the Kiekeboe family in Merho's one-shot album 'Bij Fanny Op Schoot' (2005), where Fanny Kiekeboe interviews comic characters from different franchises.  Lodewijk also paid tribute to Pom in 'Kroepie en Boelie Boemboem: Avontuur In De 21ste Eeuw' (2010). In 2020, he joined 75 Dutch & Flemish comic artists to make a graphic contribution to the free collective comic book ‘Striphelden versus Corona’ (Oogachtend, Uitgeverij L, 2020). The book is intended to support comic stores who had to close their doors for two months during the lockdown at the height of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Martin Lodewijk (bearded man to the left) and his band Chickenfeed have a cameo in the Agent 327 album 'Dossier Heksenkring'.

On 30 September 1978, Martin Lodewijk was awarded the Dutch Stripschapprijs by comic appreciation society Het Stripschap. In 1987, he and Don Lawrence received the Annual Award for Special Merits ("Jaarprijs voor Bijzondere Verdiensten", nowadays the P. Hans Frankfurther Prize). He was awarded a Royal Decoration for his numerous contributions to the Dutch comic field in Rotterdam on 29 April 2011, and became a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Martin Lodewijk is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records of 2000 as the author of the smallest comic book ever. The 16-page 'Agent 327' story 'Dossier Minimium Bug' (1999) was only 2.6 x 3.7 cm and a magnifying glass was delivered with the publication. It was presented to the public on 18 June 1999.

Despite being one of the most productive and talented Dutch comic authors, Lodewijk is also notorious for his bouts of writer's block and difficulties meeting his deadlines. This behavior has been regularly spoofed by his fellow comic artists, like in the third edition of the Stripglossy (December 2016), of which Lodewijk was guest editor-in-chief. Lodewijk's struggle to complete his latest 'Agent 327' story was the subject of the documentary 'Martin Lodewijk and the Last Page' by Koert Davidse in 2013. Martin Lodewijk has been cited as a graphic influence by artists like Simon van der Molen, Michiel Offerman, Laë Schäfer, Theo Seesing, Herman Roozen and Gerben Valkema. In Flanders, he influenced Bavo.

Martin Lodewijk

In the Dutch city Almere a street was named after Hendrik IJzerbroot, as part of the "Comics Heroes" District. The Blender Institute produced 'Agent 327: Operation Barbershop', a short 3D animated trailer for a planned feature film, which appeared online in March 2017. Also in 2017, Eppo magazine published a series of short (tribute) comic stories of 'Agent 327' by other artists. Mars Gremmen, Fred de Heij, Michiel Offerman/Robbert Damen, Gerben Valkema, Remco Polman/Wilfred Ottenheijm, Kees de Boer/Frans Hasselaar, Kim Duchateau/Ger Apeldoorn, René Uilenbroek/Willem Ritstier, Henk Kuijpers/Danker-Jan Oreel and Eric Heuvel/Ruud Straatman have all contributed to the project, which was collected in the book 'Agent 327 - Hulde aan de jubilaris' (2017). A new series of tributes was started in 2018, in which the following authors have participated: Willy Linthout, Eric Hercules/Pieter Hogenbirk, Gerard Leever/Kees de Boer, Daan Jippes, Hanco Kolk, Romano Molenaar/Bruno de Roover, Thom Roep/Robert van der Kroft, Douwe Steinoord/Rob Derks, Daan Jippes, Peter van Leersum/Hajo de Reijger, Eric Hercules/Paul Teng and Dick Matena. They were collected in the book 'Hulde aan de jarige' (2019).

Lambiek will always be grateful to Lodewijk for illustrating the letter "H" in our encyclopedia book, 'Wordt Vervolgd - Stripleksikon der Lage Landen', published in 1979.

Books about Martin Lodewijk
An overview of Lodewijk's work was the opening exposition of the new comic museum in Rotterdam, called Strips!, in 2016. A retrospective book of his work as a comic artist, scriptwriter, advertising artist, musician and illustrator by Rob van Eijck and Rob van der Nol was published for this occasion under the title 'Martin Lodewijk - Stripmaker en reclametekenaar'.

Ouwehands Dierenpark
The famous laughing animals for Ouwehands Dierenpark.

Series and books by Martin Lodewijk you can order today:


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