Martin Lodewijk is one of the Netherlands' most prominent and productive comics artists and writers. He is best known for his humorous adventure comic 'Agent 327' (1966), about secret agent Hendrik IJzerbroot and his tall and big-breasted 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 furthermore the driving force behind the magazine Eppo, where he worked as as an art director and talent scout. To top off his resumé he was also the artist and designer of several notable advertisements.
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 & Hardy. 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. Of course he was also a comics fan. He admired artists from his home country, such as Hans G. Kresse, Eppo Doeve and later underwent influence from more direct colleagues like Daan Jippes, Dick Matena, Jan Kruis and Peter de Smet too. However, Lodewijk's biggest inspiration came from the Belgian comics 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 harbour. 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.
His condition made an end to his ambitions to become a pilot, so art became his focus. He sold is 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', but it was never published. He was then assigned to draw 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.
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'.
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') and the grocer's association De Kroon, among other things.
In the mid 1960s, Kruis was asked by De Geïllustreerde Pers to develop a secret agent parody for their comics 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, modelled after Peter Gunn actor Craig Stevens, made its debut in a couple of short stories from 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 have been published by Oberon/De Geïllustreerde Pers, Meulenhoff and Uitgeverij L.
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 Chief, the capable secretary Juffrouw Betsy, apprentice Barend, the womanizer Agent 525, the beautiful CIA agent Mata Hair and of course the voluptuous Swiss counterspy Olga Lawina. 'Agent 327' appeared in Pep until 1972, then returned in the new comics 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 in 2000. He started working on 'De Daddy Vinci Code', the 20th album, in 2004. It took him more then 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.
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 to 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.
Lodewijk initiated the space adventure series 'Storm', which was meant as a local 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 one travels 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 2001.
Lodewijk returned as the writer 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.
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. He 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.
He also began the Dutch manga series 'Quark' with artist Adri van Kooten in 2003, and 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. 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.
Lodewijk's main activities during the 1980s and 1990s consisted of commercial assignments, however. 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.
He used the comics format for his advertisements for Felix cat food, the Dutch Railways, Smiths' Tengels! snacks, Chocotoff and the Royal Netherlands Army. He developed the comic strip 'Coentje' for the magazine Kameraadjes of soccer club Feyenoord. The stories were written by Jan Booister, while Julian Verkaaik and Minck Oosterveer took care of the artwork. Many other firms have used Lodewijk's talent for their ads: PTT Telecom, HEMA, Albet Heijn, Ikea, Edah, V&D, and ANWB, to name but a few. As an illustrator, Lodewijk has made drawings for magazines like Panorama, Elsevier, Taptoe, De Consumentengids, Anita, AD, Sekstant and Viva. He also designed covers for the crime novels by his friend Jacques Post.
Besides an artist, Lodewijk is also a gifted musician. He plays ukelele, 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 perfomed 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, that released the LP 'The Best of What?!' in 1978.
Martin Lodewijk won the Dutch Stripschapprijs in 1978. He was awarded a Royal Decoration for his numerous contributions to the Dutch comics field in Rotterdam in 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 Minimum Bug' (1999) was only 2,6 x 3,7 cm and a magnifying glass was delivered with the publication. 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. An overview of Lodewijk's work was the opening exposition of the new comics 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'.
Lambiek will always be grateful to Lodewijk for illustrating the letter "H" in our encylopedia book, 'Wordt Vervolgd - Stripleksikon der Lage Landen', published in 1979.