De Avonden by Dick Matena
'De Avonden'.

Dick Matena is one of the most versatile and productive comic creators of The Netherlands, with work ranging from children's humor series and licensed comics to graphic novel experiments and literary adaptations. Matena had his start in the 1960s while working for the Toonder Studio's on the ongoing newspaper features 'Panda' and 'Tom Poes', as well as his own funny animal creation 'Polletje Pluim' (1967-1968). He then rose to prominence at the De Geïllustreerde Pers children's magazines, co-creating historical humor comics like 'De Argonautjes' (1969-1971), 'Ridder Roodhart' (1969-1971) and 'Grote Pyr' (1971-1974) for Pep, and many stories with Walt Disney characters for Donald Duck weekly. By the time Pep transitioned into Eppo magazine, Matena had become a productive scriptwriter for other artists, most notably writing the Dutch space opera 'Storm' for Don Lawrence and 'De Partners' (1976-1984) for Carry Brugman. During this period, Matena had been alternating his mainstream work with more personal comic projects, characterized by their slick realistic artwork, graphical experimentations and cynical, adult-oriented content. His first excursion in this field was the sci-fi comic 'Virl' (1977, 1981) in Mickey Maandblad, followed by one-shot comic creations like 'Lazarus Stone' (1979) and 'The Preacher' (1982), that ran in renowned alternative comic magazines in France, Spain and the USA through the Spanish Selecciones Ilustradas agency. Later in his career, Dick Matena became notable for his literary comic adaptations, starting with comic serials based on children's books for Donald Duck weekly in the 1980s and 1990s, before embarking upon full-scale graphic novel adaptations of Dutch literary classics, in which he combines the full novel text with graphic sequential narratives. With his much publicized first effort, adapting Gerard Reve's 'De Avonden' in four volumes (2003-2004), Matena broke out of the Dutch comic scene and became a well-known figure within literary circles as well. In addition to these time-consuming projects, Dick Matena has spent the 21st century doing new projects with Marten Toonder characters and illustrating the children's books of his wife, Nelleke de Boorder.

Early life
Dick Matena was born in 1943 into a socialist family in The Hague, but hardly remained attached to his birth town for long. In adulthood, he began his own family life in Voorschoten, then returned to The Hague during the 1970s, moved to the Spanish coastal town Sitges (1982-1983), spent nearly thirty years living in the Belgian Campine region - subsequently in Oud-Turnhout, Mol, Kasterlee-Lichtaart and Turnhout with a short excursion to the Dutch town of Bergen aside - before coming back to his home country for good and settling in Amsterdam. His father was professional racing cyclist Willem Matena (1912-1982), who often participated in championships in the Antwerp Sportpaleis. When he returned home, he always brought his two sons several Belgian comic books and magazines, introducing young Dick Matena to Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' and the comic magazines Kuifje and Robbedoes, long before they were available in the Netherlands. As a child, Matena also enjoyed reading Dutch comics like 'Tom Poes' and 'Eric de Noorman' by respectively Marten Toonder and Hans G. Kresse, two artists who had a large influence on his career. Dick Matena also ranks Alex Raymond, Jack Davis and André Franquin among his personal favorites.

'Panda en de Meester-Schatgraver' (1 October 1962).

Dick Matena's childhood was far from careless. His younger sister Ineke, born in 1952, became ill shortly after her birth. Worries about her healthcare destabilized the Matena family for years, with Dick and his older brother left largely to their own devices. When Ineke died in 1958, Matena was fourteen years old and a rebel. Shortly afterwards, his dentist made a grave mistake, resulting in a blood poisoning in Matena's head, forcing him to undergo two operations and years of anxiety. Inspired by his father's cycling career, Matena initially wanted to became a sports journalist. Unfortunately, being a student wasn't his forte, and at age fifteen, he dropped out of high school. For a couple of years, he held several odd jobs, from window dresser to zinc worker in a photo lab, and eventually became apprentice-decorator in the local Van Moorsel department store. In the evenings, he took classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague, but within a year he already left out of boredom. During his period, Matena became interested in comics and abstract painting. He regularly visited artist cafes, and already had two solo expositions while still a teenager. One day, the chief decorator at Van Moorsel noticed some of the cartoon characters Matena had scribbled, and advised his young colleague to try his luck with the Toonder Studio's in Amsterdam.

Toonder Studios
In June 1960, at age 17, Matena applied for a job at the Toonder Studios in Amsterdam, hired by Marten Toonder himself. In spite of several fights with the management - he quit the studio twice but came back both times - Matena remained with the studios until 1968, the first two years as in-house staff artist and then as a freelancer at home. After an apprenticeship, one of his first tasks was succeeding Ben van 't Klooster as the penciller of ''t Geheim van de Gulden Gaper' (1961), a promotional comic book for Dutch drug stores, written by Lo Hartog van Banda.

Heer Bommel en de Grauwe Razer
'Heer Bommel en de Grauwe Grazer'.

Matena anonymously provided pencil art for about 28 episodes of Marten Toonder's funny animal newspaper comic 'Panda', from the end of 'Panda en de Dienomaat' (late 1961) until halfway 'Panda en de Hobbeldonker-schurkerij' (1968). At the time, the plots of the stories were scripted by either Lo Hartog van Banda or Harry van den Eerenbeemt, and the inking duties by Frits Godhelp. Working more directly with Marten Toonder, Matena also pencilled three stories of the 'Tom Poes en Heer Bommel' ('Tom Puss and Lord Bumble') newspaper comic: 'De Grauwe Razer' (1962-1963), 'De Wilde Wagen' (1963)' and the all-time classic 'De Bovenbazen' (1963). In 2012, in a far more personal style, he redrew one of the strips of 'De Bovenbazen' for an all-star reworking of the story at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Marten Toonder's birthday.

Polletje Pluim, by Dick Matena
'Polletje Pluim'.

Polletje Pluim
Besides Toonder's newspaper comics, Matena also contributed to other Toonder Studio productions. In 1966 and 1967, he drew his first stories with Walt Disney's 'Big Bad Wolf' for Donald Duck weekly, while receiving his first credit as co-creator of the funny animal comic 'Polletje Pluim' (1967-1968). Debuting on 7 January 1967 in the Christian women's weekly Prinses, the Walt Kelly-inspired feature stars a shy, anthropomophic squirrel and his forest friends. While the first page had coloring by Wim Lensen, the later ones were ink-colored by Matena himself. After writing and drawing four full episodes and the start of the fifth adventure until March 1968, Matena left the Toonder Studio's. Until 1972, 'Polletje Pluim' was continued with artwork by Jan van Haasteren, with Patty Klein and Andries Brandt providing the scripts.

De Argonautjes by Dick Matena
De Argonautjes - 'De Bruid van Icarus' (Pep #25, 20 June 1970).

Pep years
By the late 1960s, Matena was ready to leave the Toonder Studio's and begin his solo career. Recruited by former Toonder Studio scriptwriter Lo Hartog van Banda, he joined the comic magazine Pep, published by De Geïllustreerde Pers, and quickly became one of its staples. By then, the magazine had switched from using largely licensed comics from abroad to an extensive local production of comic series. Between 1968 and 1975, editors like Peter Middeldorp and Hetty Hagebeuk requested many new series, with Dick Matena, Martin Lodewijk, Daan Jippes, Fred Julsing and Peter de Smet forming the "Big Five" of Pep comic creators.

Matena's first project was 'De Argonautjes' (1968-1973), a series written by Lo Hartog van Banda in an attempt to create a Dutch comic in the tradition of Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny's 'Astérix'. A parody of 'Jason and the Argonauts', the feature stars many characters from Greek mythology, but then in an altered version. Argonauts leader Jason is the son of the original Jason, but then far less heroic. Hercule's son Hercule is even stronger than his father, but on the other hand a pacifist who hates fighting. Among the other team members are the twins Castor and Pollux, the female archer Atalanta, Hermes the thief and the master javelin thrower Idas. After nine stories of varying lenghts in collaboration with Hartog van Banda, Dick Matena wrote his tenth and final story, 'Het Zwaard van Damocles' (1973), himself. In 1974, one additional 'Argonautjes' story was written by Patty Klein and drawn by Jan van Haasteren in 1974.

Pep cover by Dick MatenaPep cover by Dick Matena
Cover illustrations for Pep Magazine nr. 31 (3 August 1968) and 1 (4 January 1969). 

In addition to their 'Argonautjes' comic, Matena and scriptwriter Lo Hartog van Banda created three stories with 'Ridder Roodhart' (1969-1971), another Astérix-inspired series, this time set in the Arthurian time period. While Matena has described 'De Argonautjes' as an artistic agony in trying to find his own style, he felt more at ease with his own creation, 'Grote Pyr' (1971-1974), about the savage Viking Pyr and his soft-hearted son Thor. Matena wrote and drew three stories, all published in book format by Oberon. The comic has also been translated into French ('Petits Argonautes'), German, Danish, Swedish and Finnish. Years later, in 1989, Matena made one more story with his Viking character for Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad ('De IJzeren Dame'), by now drawn in his more mature style. For Pep, Dick Matena additionally made seven independent short comic strips in the 'Pepspotters' section (1970), sometimes with an autobiographical theme.

Grote Pyr by Dick Matena
Grote Pyr - 'De Zoon van de Zon' (Pep #29, 19 July 1974).

From Pep to Eppo and in between
When comic magazines Pep and Sjors were merged to Eppo magazine in 1975, Matena was also present. His first contribution was the sole 44-page story about the privateer 'Kleine Pier' (1975). After that, he left the magazine for a short period of time and worked as advertising artist and illustrator. In the meantime, he illustrated the 'Revuutje' section in the men's magazine Revu, and he made a nameless comic strip about raising children for the family weekly Wij (1976-1977). After five pages, Fred Julsing took over the artwork, while Matena continued to write the gags for another 17 episodes. By the time he returned to Eppo, Dick Matena focused on scriptwriting for other artists.

Kleine Pier by Dick Matena
Kleine Pier - 'De Danser van Algiers' (1975).

Already during his period with Pep, Matena had established himself as a talented and productive scriptwriter in his own right. With the Italian artist Dino Attanasio, he created 'De Macaroni's' (1971-1975), a comic about Italian soccer players and gangsters. The feature was meant as a counterpart to the British comic 'Billy's Boots' by (mainly) John Gillatt and Fred Baker, which ran in the competing magazine Sjors. In 1973 and 1974, Matena also wrote the final two stories of the superhero parody 'Blook', drawn by Johnn Bakker.

At Eppo, Matena co-created 'De Partners' with artist Carry Brugman, a series of action-filled adventure stories about an unlikely team of crime-fighters consisting of former jailbird Danny MacDonald, who inherits a multinational, and the countess Katia Diaghilev. To enhance the British-American atmosphere of the series, Matena wrote the comic under the pen name Dick Richards. Between 1976 and 1984, Matena and Brugman collaborated on eight albums of 'De Partners', after which Jacques Post took over the scriptwriting duties for eight more episodes. Between 2009 and 2014, Matena and Brugman made three new stories of 'De Partners' for the relaunched Eppo magazine, edited by Rob van Bavel.


In 1976, Matena became the new scriptwriter of the space opera 'Storm', originally created by Martin Lodewijk and drawn exclusively for Eppo magazine by the British artist Don Lawrence. After a couple of ill-fated attempts by British scriptwriters, during Matena's tenure the comic was shaped into a more consistent science fiction saga. The new scriptwriter further developed the storyline in which Storm was stranded in the Deep World and added the alien Azurians race to the cast. After four albums (1978-1981) he called it quits, after which the Brit Kevin Gosnell wrote two stories, followed by an episode written by Don Lawrence himself, until Martin Lodewijk resumed control over his creation and started the successful Pandarve story cycle. In 1996,  Matena returned to 'Storm', but this time as an artist with Martin Lodewijk as his scriptwriter. Using the pen name John Kelly, he drew three albums of the so-called 'Kronieken van de Tussentijd' ("Chronicles of the Interim"), set in the time period between Matena's final and Kevin Gosnell's first story.

Grote boze wolf by Dick Matena
'Big Bad Wolf' (Donald Duck #7, 18 February 1977).

Donald Duck weekly
Starting in 1976, Matena also began a longlasting collaboration with the Dutch Donald Duck weekly as a creator of Disney comics, working mostly with secondary characters. During his Toonder Studio's years, Matena had already drawn several short stories with the 'Big Bad Wolf' (1966-1967). Between 1976 and 1991, he returned as one of the magazine's main artists for this character, while also tackling stories with 'Bucky Bug', 'Little Hiawatha', 'Br'er Rabbit' and 'Gus and Jaq'. Many of these productions were written by either Ruud Straatman or Evert Geradts, but Matena also wrote a great many stories himself. With Ruud Straatman or alone, he was also responsible for many back-cover gags and short stories with the character 'Ellsworth' ('Leo de Beo') in the monthly Mickey Maandblad (1984-1989).

Virl, by Dick Matena
Virl - 'De Legers van de Opperrechter'.

Gaining maturity
His steady workload in Disney comics gave Matena the financial security to explore more personal comic projects on the side. In the second half of the 1970s, his drawing style became more personal and realistic, characterized by slick, clean ink lines and black-and-white effects, while his new storytelling was more experimental. The first creation of the "new Matena" was the science fiction serial 'Virl', of which six 10-page stories were published in Mickey Maandblad in 1977, followed by four 15-pagers in 1981. In 2011 and 2012, 'Virl' was briefly revived for the second run of Eppo magazine. Matena's newfound realism was also used for the creation of the western feature 'Dandy' (1979-1980), of which three stories of 22 pages each were published in Eppo.

Inspired by the 1970s wave of avant-gardistic comic magazines from France, Matena's output slowly shifted from the mainstream to the alternative, with his storytelling becoming more cynical, explicit and adult-oriented. In 1977 and 1978, Ger van Wulften's alternative magazine Gummi was the first to print some of Matena's experimental short stories, which show a great similarity to the futuristic fantasy worlds of Moebius.

Lazarus Stone by Dick Matena
'Lazarus Stone'.

International success
It didn't take long before Matena's graphical experiments for Gummi were picked up abroad. In 1979, he headed for New York City to personally deliver his sci-fi stories to Ted White, who ran them in his alternative magazine Heavy Metal in the following two years. In 1981, Dick Matena's international exposure expanded when he found representation by Josep Toutain's Barcelona-based Selecciones Ilustradas agency. Working directly for Toutain, Matena and his family moved to Spain, where they spent two years living in the coastal town of Sitges, not far from Barcelona. Through Selecciones Ilustradas, Matena's new stories were sold to Spanish indie magazines like El Víbora, 1984 and Comix Internacional, Heavy Metal in the USA and Métal Hurlant in France. Dutch book collections were published by Espee, Yendor and Arboris.

De Prediker, by Dick Matena

During his international period, Matena created many experimental works, filled with surreal black humor and science fiction. The raw and grim 'Lazarus Stone' stories about a futuristic contract killer were drawn in clair obscur and appeared in Matena's Dutch 'Amen' book collection (Yendor, 1980) and in magazines from Italy, Spain, Belgium and France. In March 2017, he briefly revived his Lazarus Stone character for the fourth issue of StripGlossy magazine. Highly controversial was 'De Prediker' ('The Preacher', 1982), a sequel to Matena's earlier short story 'Amen'. The comic featured a traveling preacher and his sadistic daughter, and showed disturbing images of a baby on a cross and paedophilia. Although the story was refused by several publishers, it eventually saw publication in the Netherlands, France and Spain. In later years, Matena has continued to defend the work, stating that it was full of hidden meanings and symbolism.

Mythen by Dick Matena
'Myth' starring Alfred Hitchcock.

Another notable series of surrealist short stories is 'Mythen' ('Myths'), in which Matena portrayed famous people like Bob Dylan, Alfred Hitchcock, Hugh Hefner, John Lennon, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley in semi-fictitious stories. After a series of eight 10-page stories in the period 1980-1982, a final story about Walt Disney followed in 1986. Matena additionally created the largely improvised story 'Het Web' ('The Webb', 1983), and the full-color short story 'Beet!' (1983), the latter written by the Spanish scriptwriter Enrique Sanchez Abuli. Both were first published in France and Spain. In 1986 and 1987, Matena's fantasy diptych 'Het Sterrenschip' appeared in the Dutch magazine Titanic, and also in German translation. Although it was not part of the 'Myths' series, Matena additionally created a comic story about the last days of American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe ('De Laatste Dagen van E.A. Poe', 1987), published in Dutch (Wordt Vervolgd magazine) and, in a colorized version, German.

His taboo-breaking comics firmly established Matena's reputation of a self-willed and at times subversive comic creator. But amidst all the criticism, Matena could always count on the support of his friend and colleague Martin Lodewijk and his old master Marten Toonder in Ireland, with whom he maintained a regular correspondence since 1979.

Sterrenschip by Dick Matena
Sterrenschip - 'De Verlosser'.

A. den Dooier "adaptations"
While living in Spain and then in Belgium, Matena continued to work for Dutch comic magazines as well. Most notable are his so-called comic adaptations of the (non-existent) regional novels by the fictive Dutch writer A. den Dooier. This resulted in a couple of cynical stories with anthropomorphic characters in typical Dutch landscapes. In 1974, Matena had first explored this theme with the short story 'Het Ei der Zonde' (Pep #15, 12 April 1974) and the first four-page version of 'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde' (Pep #52, 27 December 1974) in Pep magazine. At the time the "A. den Dooier" credit was still used as a pseudonym, with no mention of Matena at all. Still, the name was an obvious pun on Dutch writer and journalist Bob Spoelstra Jr. (1901-1994), who wrote several regional novels under the name A. den Doolaard.

De teloorgang van Ouode Knudde
'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde' (1986).

In the following years, Matena occasionally returned to the "heartbreaking work of the almost forgotten novelist A. den Dooier" in Eppo and other magazines through short stories like 'De Martelgang van Kleine Lien' (1980) and some Christmas-themed stories with anthropomorphic hens and roosters. In the mid-1980s, Matena created a full-length version of 'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde' (1985-1986) for Eppo-Wordt Vervolgd magazine. This time, the A. den Dooier myth was fully played out, as the story was introduced by an "interview" with the "now retired writer". Set in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant in the first half of the twentieth century, the Lamstra farming family lives harsh life among the pollard willows in the rainy countryside. With limited resources, father Knudde and his wife try to provide a good life for their two sons, the simple Krelis and the riotous Dirk, although the involvement of the pub owner's daughter and the village priest result in a tragic mix of drinking, fighting, sex and death.

All the above stories, along with additional material, were compiled in the 1986 Oberon publication 'De A. den Dooier Omnibus', which also featured a biography of the retired classic writer and an archaic correspondence between Matena and Den Dooier. In 2009, Dick Matena redrew 'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde' once again for a new, black-and-white graphic novel edition published by Atlas.

De teloorgang van Oude Knudde
'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde' (2008).

Children's literature
After his fake A. den Dooier adaptations, Matena embarked upon what would become his trademark: adapting literary works into comics. His first excursions in this field were done for Donald Duck weekly, the magazine for which he had been drawing Disney comics since the 1970s. For this magazine, he adapted several classic Dutch children's books, namely Chris van Abkoude's 'Kruimeltje' (1988) and 'Pietje Bell' (1991), C. Joh. Kievit's 'Uit het Leven van Dik Trom' (1990) and 'Dik Trom en zijn Dorpsgenoten' (1992), and Nienke van Hichtum's 'Afke's Tiental' (1994). He additionally made six stories based on Setske de Haan's novel series 'Joop ter Heul' for the girls' magazine Tina (1994-1995). These works were forerunners of the adaptations of Dutch literature that would increase Matena's notability outside of the regular comics circles in the 2000s.

Kruimeltje, by Dick Matena

Besides adaptations, Matena's 1990s work was also characterized by a series of semi-biographical comics, in which he combined two historical figures for fictional adventures. These include 'Gauguin & Van Gogh' (1990), 'Mozart & Casanova' (1991) and 'Sartre & Hemingway' (1992). The first two were originally published in French in Hello Bédé magazine and in book format by Lombard, while the third was published directly in Dutch by Arboris. Some of these stories were also published in France, Germany, Turkey and Denmark. In 2008, Matena completely redrew the third story for a black-and-white graphic novel publication by Atlas under the title 'Parijs 25/44'. In 2021, the entire series was collected by Arboris in the volume 'Iconen'.

Gaugin & Van Gogh
'Gauguin & Van Gogh'.

Work for magazines and book series
During the 1980s and 1990s, Matena was present in a great many magazines, while experimenting with several styles and genres. In addition to Eppo, Donald Duck and Tina, he contributed to the Dutch edition of Playboy magazine with four oil-painted stories starring the character 'Titia' (1985-1986). For Eppo's successors Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad and SjoSji, Matena returned to the science fiction genre with the painted comic 'Alias Ego' (1993-1996), about the shady dealings of a space pirate and his lion-like partner-in-crime, Prins. For their adventures, Matena crafted a completely new world called The Ledge, which was a cross between a pirate lair and Charles Dickens London. Two of the three stories were collected in book format by Big Balloon.

Alias Ego #1 - 'Vlucht uit De Richel'.

In SjoSji, Matena additionally experimented with manga in the short story 'Duizend Ogen Heeft De Nacht' (1996), made under the pseudonym Yoto Yamamoto. In 1998, he used this pen name again for the test issue of Moon Embassy Magazine, for which he made a back page comic with writer Piet Zeeman. Between 1994 and 1998, in addition to his 'Joop ter Heul' adaptations, Matena wrote and drew several short comic stories for girls' magazine Tina. In a similar style, he made a comic story for the 1996 sole issue of a new girls' magazine called Cool. As at the time he was living in Flanders, he made a weekly strip called 'Familie Algoed' (1995) for the local Flemish newspaper Krant van West-Vlaanderen. In the late 1990s, Matena developed the concept for another newspaper comic, but couldn't get it published. In 2000, the 50 strips of ''t Blijft Tobbe' were eventually collected as a Christmas holidays gift booklet by Matena and publisher/collector Hans Matla.

'De schoolband' (Tina #36, 1998).

With the decline of classic comic magazines, several of Matena's 1990s projects were made directly for book publications. In 1993 and 1994, he made four stories of 'Flynn', a historical comic series intended resemble the Italian pulp comics of the 1960s and 1970s. While Matena considered printing them on cheap paper to achieve a budget effect, the stories were eventually published in the regular album format by Arboris in The Netherlands, Germany and France. Between 1994 to 1997, Matena also made a great many tongue-in-cheek gags and cartoons for the naughty sex humor series 'Rooie Oortjes' ('Blagues Coquines' in French), which have appeared in Dutch, French and German in several cartoon albums, as well as Rooie Oortjes Magazine. For the same publisher, he anonymously made a naughty comic book parody of Walt Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (De Boemerang, 1994). In 2000, Matena provided the drawings for 'Het Hanzevirus', an educational comic book by Jouke Nijman about the Dutch cities of the historical Hanseatic League.

Rooie Oortjes by Dick Matena
'Rooie Oortjes'.

New Toonder projects
On several occasions, Dick Matena has been working on several new projects with the Marten Toonder characters. In 1999, the artist returned to the roots of his career for the first time, when the Dutch Donald Duck weekly wanted to revive the 'Tom Poes' balloon comic. During the 1950s and 1960s, the 'Tom Poes' serial had been the magazine's regular non-Disney feature, but it had been absent for several decades. In the meantime, the magical 'Douwe Dabbert' comic by Thom Roep and Piet Wijn had taken that spot. But a major stroke in late 1997 left Wijn unable to draw anymore, abruptly ending the 'Douwe Dabbert' series. In 2001, Matena completed the remaining pages of the final unfinished 'Douwe Dabbert' story in Wijn's style, but before that, the Donald Duck editors tried to fill the weekly's non-Disney spot with new 'Tom Poes' stories.

For the restart of 'Tom Poes', Matena joined forces again with his old mentor Marten Toonder, who was to supervise the production and work with Matena on the scripts. Their renewed collaboration resulted in two new stories, 'Tom Poes en het Komeetgas' (1999) and 'Tom Poes en het Ei van Uku' (2000), but the project stranded after that. Their working relationship soured as Toonder was unable to leave matters to his intended successor, and Matena didn't want to work under strict supervision anymore. As a result, a planned revival of the 'Tom Poes' newspaper comic for NRC was aborted in late 2000. Despite these differences, Matena continued to make the cover illustrations for the luxury 'Tom Poes' book collections by Hans Matla's publishing house Panda since 2000. In 2001, he also made 'Heer Bommel en de Jaarlijkse Check-up', a promotional comic for the biopharmaceutical company Pfizer.

De Bommelmemoires by Dick Matena
'De Bommelmemoires' (Stripglossy #2, September 2016).

When in 2005 Marten Toonder died, it seemed that no new 'Tom Puss and Lord Bumble' stories would be created again. Yet in 2013, Personalia-publisher Seb van der Kaaden and the Toonder Compagnie asked Matena to create a new 'Tom Poes' story for VertrekNL, a glossy magazine about emigration. Loosely based on an unfinished script from the late 1990s Donald Duck reboot, this resulted in the story 'Tom Poes en de Pas-kaart', published in book format in 2015. At the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Tom Poes character, Matena also made a balloon comic adaptation of Toonder's 1954 newspaper strip 'Tom Poes en het Tijddeurtje' (Personalia, 2015). In 2012, Matena made contributions to Personalia's Bommelglossy, and in 2016 and 2017 he provided installments of Lord Bumble's memoires to Stripglossy. His 'Bommel' work for Personalia was drawn in a more personal and loose style than his previous Toonder work. Although Matena was regularly presented as the official heir of Toonder's artistic legacy, other artists have also drawn the classic characters in the 21st century, such as Wil Raymakers, Gerben Valkema, Tim Artz and Henrieke Goorhuis.

Kaas by Dick Matena

Literary adaptations
In the new millennium, Dick Matena's career took a new turn, which eventually gave him credibility in literary circles as well. Following his earlier comic book versions of children's books for Donald Duck weekly, Matena made graphic novel adaptations of literary classics his new trademark. Starting modestly in 2000, Matena drew a comic book based on one of the 'Rechter Tie' ('Judge Dee') story by Dutch novelist Robert van Gulik. During the 1960s, this book series about the famous historical Tang dynasty magistrate had already been turned into a successful newspaper comic series by Frits Kloezeman. Dick Matena's new comic 'Chrysant' (Arboris, 2000) was the reworking of a 'Judge Dee' story that Kloezeman had also adapted in 1965 under the title 'Het Geheim van het Landhuis'. Matena's adaptation was also published in German and Danish.

In 2002, Dick Matena began working on his ambitious graphic novel adaptation of Gerard Reve's 1947 novel about the post-war Netherlands, 'De Avonden' ('The Evenings'). Out of respect for the author, he chose to keep the novel's full text intact, with his sequential illustrations in grey colors carefully following the original narrative and perfectly capturing the novel's grim atmosphere. 'De Avonden' adaptation gained Matena wide media attention and praise and cemented his working method for most of his future literary adaptations. After serialization in the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, Matena's 'De Avonden' was published in four volumes by literary publisher De Bezige Bij in 2003 and 2004.

Matena's next project was an adaptation of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' (De Bezige Bij, 2004). He gave Ebenezer Scrooge the looks of Dutch poet Gerrit Komrij (who couldn't appreciate the honor). In 2017, a reworked edition of the book was published by Personalia under the title 'Scrooge'. After Dickens, Matena embarked upon an full adaptation of the 1962 Jan Wolkers novel 'Kort Amerikaans', published in three volumes bij De Bezige Bij in 2006, 2007 and 2012. In between, he adapted two works by the Flemish writer Willem Elsschot: first the novel 'Kaas' (1933) and then the short story 'Het Dwaallicht' (1946), both published in 2008. In that same year, the tireless Matena also found time to rework some of his own stories into black-and-white graphic novels ('Parijs 25/44' and 'De Teloorgang van Oude Knudde').

De Komiek by Dick Matena
'De Komiek'.

In 2009, Matena made a surreal comic based on the theatre show 'De Komiek' by Dutch comedian Freek de Jonge. He also adapted the theatre show 'Antiquariaat Oblomow' by comedians Erik van Muiswinkel and Diederik van Vleuten into a comic, handed out to the audience after the final performance. In 2012, he returned to Dutch literature when he tried his hand at adapting Theo Thijssen's classic novel 'Kees de Jongen' (1923). The first copy of the book was presented to Dutch novelist Remco Campert. At the time, Dick Matena ranked his version of 'Kees de Jongen' as "his best work ever". In 2012, Matena has also made an adaptation of Campert's short story 'De Jongen Met Het Mes' for a Christmas issue of HP/De Tijd. 

Kees de Jongen by Dick Matena
'Kees de Jongen'.

In late 2012, Matena had just started working on adaptations of the Jan Wolkers novel 'Turks Fruit' ('Turkish Delight', 1969) and the children's book 'De Schippers van De Kameleon' (1949) by Hotze de Roos when he suffered a severe coronary, followed by a cardiac arrest. He was reanimated by his wife, but, as he expressed in interviews since then, the experience and the subsequent heart operation had a large impact on his state of mind. Luckily, his passion for his trade pulled him through, and in 2015, Matena's version of 'De Schippers van De Kameleon' was published both in Dutch and in Frisian language. His text comic adaptation of 'Turks Fruit' followed in 2016. Dick Matena made concept art for an animated film about shock novelist, painter and photographer Jan Cremer. The film has not yet been produced, but the drawings did appear in the book 'Jan Cremer de Onverbiddelijke' by novelist Ruud den Drijver, which was published by Scorpio Press in June 2017.

In 2018, Dick Matena delved into the 'Kronkels' short stories of Dutch author Simon Carmiggelt. Between 1946 and 1983, Carmiggelt had written over 10,000 of these daily columns with observations of everyday life for newspaper Het Parool. Some of Matena's Carmiggelt adaptations were first published in Stripglossy, and then in book format by De Arbeiderspers. In 2021, Matena's adaptation of the Multatuli novel 'Saïdjah en Adinda' was published by De Arbeiderspers.

Turks Fruit by Dick Matena
'Turks Fruit'.

Graphic contributions
During the 1970s and 1980s, Matena made several one-time contributions to specialized magazines of the Dutch comics scene. In 1975, he spoofed sports journalism with the strip 'W. Kommer 't Passertje' in an issue of Stripschrift. For a 1979 issue of Striprofiel, he made a special four-panel strip about his old taskmaster, Marten Toonder. In 1982, he made the unfinished comic serial 'Wraak' for De Reporter, the newsletter of the Amsterdam comic shop Lambiek. Made as a spoof of the 'Dick Bos' comic books by Alfred Mazure (AKA "MAZ"), Matena signed the story with "MAT". In the Spanish magazine Illustracion + Comix Internacional, Matena participated in the 1983 chain comic ''El Comic Vivo'.

In 1996, Matena was one of several comic creators contributing two comic stories promoting travel bags in the travel magazine Globe. A special issue of Rails magazine of the Dutch Railways in June 1998 had an eight-page comic story about the World Cup Soccer by Dick Matena with writers Hugo Borst and Ronald Giphart. In that same year, Matena made a two-page comic story spoofing Hans G. Kresse's 'Eric de Noorman' comic for an anniversary issue of Playboy magazine. In 2006, Dick Matena was one of many Dutch artists making a comic interpretation of a song for the anthology 'Strips in Stereo', initiated by Jean-Marc van Tol and Gerrit de Jager. Dick Matena picked the Rotterdam folk-song 'Ketelbinkie'. In 2019, Dick Matena was one of several comic creators contributing a homage comic story to Martin Lodewijk's secret agent 'Agent 327', published in Eppo magazine and then collected in the book 'Hulde aan de jarige' (2019).

From Matena's relationship with Iris Westerbeek came his daughter Dorrit and eldest son Guido, who has worked as an inker and translator for Donald Duck weekly and the other Dutch Disney publications during the 1990s. In 2018, Guido Matena initiated the publication of the booklet 'De Familie Matena-Westerbeek Fotoboek 1966-1967', a collection of the pictures that the famous photographer Gerard Fieret (1924-2009) made of their 1960s family life in Voorschoten. On 24 June 2018, the booklet was presented at the PhotoQ Bookshop in Amsterdam. Since the 1970s, Matena is married to Nelleke de Boorder, with whom he has four sons, Roger (1976), Jorit (1977), Rik (1987) and Tom (1987), the latter also a big comics fan. Born in 1953, Nelleke de Boorder once worked at the offices of a newspaper in The Hague. Since the Matena family's return to the Netherlands in 2012, she has been active as a writer of children's books, all of which have illustrations by Dick Matena. Her series 'Sammie en Nele' (2012-2015), published by Pimento and then Kluitman, features the adventures of two neighborhood kids in Amsterdam, who visit several cultural hotspots of the Dutch capital. Among her other books are 'Tess & Timmy Gaan Naar School' (Target Press, 2017) and 'Lotje, Levi en Gompie - Het Roze Geitje' (Cliché, 2022).

Recognition and awards
On 2 July 1986, Matena was awarded the Dutch Stripschap Prize by Dutch comics appreciation society Het Stripschap. In 2003, he was the first non-Belgian artist to win the Bronzen Adhemar, the official Flemish Community Cultural Prize for Comics. At the time, he was living in the Belgian city of Turnhout. In early 2014, Dick Matena was honored with the title "Living Bearer of Heritage" for his masterful translations of nostalgia to present-day works. Dick Matena is affiliated to the professional association of artists, Pulchri Studio.

In 2014, a book overview of his many comic productions was published under the title '100 Pagina's Dick' by Personalia. Besides samples from nearly all of his series and creations, the book featured an interview and testimonials by his friends Rob van Eijck and Martin Lodewijk. The documentary 'Dick Is Boos' (2014) by Hans Polak gives an intimate portrait of Matena's life and career. Besides ranting about modern art and the moderate appreciation of his profession, the artist talks candidly about the death of his six-year old younger sister and his life as a reformed alcoholic. At the occasion of his 55 years as a comic artist in 2015, a large overview exposition of his career called 'Dick Matena. Getekend Leven' was held in the Museum Meermanno in The Hague.

The publication of Matena's 'De Avonden' in the early 2000s was a turning point in his career. He was no longer "merely" a comic artist for children's magazines, or the reviled artist of shocking adult comic stories, but now someone who gained respect from people from other cultural environments. Writer Jan Wolkers called him a true artist, and novelist A.F.Th van der Heijden praised him as "the most literary draughtsman I know". Novelist Jan Siebelink, a close friend of his, has particularly praised his artwork for Pieter Verhoeff's documentary 'Het Onzegbare' (2007), dealing with Siebelink's 2005 novel 'Knielen Op Een Bed Violen'. Matena's Elsschot adaptations earned him particular appreciation from Belgian audiences as well. With his drawings for 'Kaas', he was the first comic artist with work exhibited in the Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition then went on tour and even reached Jakarta, Indonesia. Since 9 July 2008, an illustration from Matena's 'Kaas' adaptation can also be seen on a comic book wall in the Korte Nieuwstraat, Antwerp, as part of the city's Comic Book Route.

Dick Matena giving his acceptance speech on De Stripdagen 1986. Photo: Baldi Dekker Jr.

With his long and varied participation in Dutch comics, Dick Matena is often referred to as the "Memory of the Dutch comics scene". His friendships with several of the giants of Dutch comics culture - for instance Marten Toonder, Hans G. Kresse and Peter de Smet - have made him an invaluable source of anecdotes, and the writer of forewords to special publications dedicated to these authors. But in addition to his talent and versatility, Dick Matena is also known for his distinctive character and public image of a street fighter with his heart on his sleeve. On many occasions, he didn't hesitate to indulge his unvarnished opinion in interviews, letters and articles. In his acceptance speech for the Stripschapprijs 1986 (published in its entirety in Stripschrift #210), Matena not only downplays his contributions to Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes' and 'Panda', but he also poses critical notes about the myths surrounding his aggression, the so-called comics critics, the jury and even his own body of work. 

Another showcase of Matena's outspoken nature is the book collection of his correspondence with Marten Toonder ('Wat Jij, Jonge Vriend. Brieven 1979-1991', 2009). Matena clearly has a great respect for his former teacher, but when Toonder gave some harsh comments on Matena's work, the tone of his letters becomes quite sore. Nevertheless, the book is an interesting account of the transformation of Matena and Toonder's tutor-and-pupil relationship into a mutual friendship. Matena has also written a book about his other main influence, Hans G. Kresse: 'Eric de Noorman. Mijmeringen Bij Een Mythe' (2007). Since 2014, Matena has written candidly and with humor about the often booze-fuelled arguments and brawls of his younger years, as well as his professional experiences in the Dutch and international comics scenes, in columns for Eppo magazine. They were collected in the book 'Nu Ik Er Nog Ben' (Uitgeverij L, 2023).

Signing Dick Matena
Dick Matena hosted a signing for his book 'De Avonden' in Kees Kousemaker's Gallery Lambiek in March 2003.

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