Zwartepinken, by Arle (1966)
'De Zwartepinken en de Moderne Zeerovers'.

Leo Loedts is a Belgian painter and former comic artist, who has worked as an assistant for Berck, Jef Nys and Jean-Pol. With Berck and scriptwriter Maurice Renders, he worked on the kids' gang adventure comic 'De Zwartepinken' (1965-1972) for the children's magazine Zonneland.

Early life
Leo Loedts was born in 1942 in Etterbeek, a town in the Brussels-Capital Region. He got his artistic education at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels, and also attended the Academy of Leuven/Louvain. For most of his life, Loedts has lived in Heverlee, one of Leuven's boroughs.

Studio Arle
By 1965 he began his collaboration with the Leuven-based comic artist Arthur Berckmans, a.k.a. Berck, cooperating on the inking, coloring and background art of 'Strapontin' and Berck's other comics for Tintin magazine. Leo Loedts and Willy Ophalvens were the first of many assistants of this productive comic artist, but Loedts was the only one who was ever credited for his work. For their joint productions for the Catholic publishing house Altoria in Averbode, they used the collective pseudonym (Studio) Arle, a contraction of their first names, Arthur and Leo. Most of Berck's Averbode work was handled by Loedts, who produced the finished art based on his master's rough sketches.

De Zwartepinken, by Arle
' De Zwartepinken en de Regendief'.

The duo made illustrations, cover drawings and comics for Altoria's children's magazines, most notably Zonneland. Their first serial was the stand-alone story 'Wim en Eric: De Verdwenen Sloep' (February-September 1965), about two righteous boys who visit their uncle Walter in an English coastal town. It was followed by the adventures of 'De Zwartepinken' (1965-1972). Eleven serials of this kids' gang were made in cooperation with scriptwriter Maurice Renders, which were also published in Zonneland's French-language counterpart Tremplin. The magazine's edifying and pedagogically justified tone was strongly reflected in the stories. The main heroes Marleen, Erik and Hugo were presented as average kids with normal parents and normal homes. The publisher emphasized that their unusual adventures certainly cannot happen in real life.

'De Familie Nopjes' ('t Kapoentje, 2 March 1966)

Other Arle work
Between 1965 and 1970, Leo Loedts made many illustrations for the Altoria magazines. They were signed by Arle, but believed to be largely solo work by Loedts. For Zonnekind, Arle made the serial 'De Vliegende Schildpad' ("The Flying Terrapin") in cooperation with scriptwriter R. Staelens. Loedts also made drawings for Zonnekind's short stories, the so-called "Opstel-Filmpje" ("Essay-Film", 1969). For 't Kapoentje, the children's supplement of newspaper Het Volk, Arle made the humor comic 'De Familie Nopjes' (1965), written by Leo's brother Jos Loedts.

Work with Jef Nys and Jean-Pol
In the late 1960s, Loedts was also one of the earliest assistants of Jef Nys, along with Edwin Wouters. He is believed to have worked on the backgrounds in the 40th 'Jommeke' album, 'Anakwaboe' (1969), as well as the gags from that time period. By 1972, his collaboration with Berck ended, and he began working with Jean-Pol, another artist from Leuven. He initially assisted on 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' and 'Piet Fluwijn en Bolleke', and later became the colorist of Jean-Pol's signature series, about the baker's assistant 'Kramikske'. He also painted 'Kramikske' art on showcases and vans for local bakeries.

Later life
Loedts worked with Jean-Pol well into the 1980s, but was additionally building a career as an advertising artist. His keen eye for detail was often required for technical illustrations. He also began painting with acrylic, making works that strongly showcase his love for nature. His paintings have been exhibited on several occasions, several times in the Leuven art shop/gallery TABLOO.

Cameos of Jean-Pol, Leo Loedts and inker Dirk Stallaert in the 'Kramikske' album 'De Kastarrally' (1987). Artwork by Jean-Pol.

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