Max, de heldige hond by Hugo Matthysen

Hugo Matthysen is a Belgian writer, columnist, singer-songwriter and comedic actor. He is known for his absurd and silly style. His characters tend to be pseudo-intellectuals, poets or fictionalized versions of celebrities. Many speak in dialect from the province Antwerp, which adds to their ludicrousness. A versatile man, he has been active in many different media. He rose to prominence in the 1980s by writing scripts for children's programs like 'Elektron', ‘Carlos & Co’ and in the 1990s 'Dag Sinterklaas' and 'Kulderzipken'. In the same decades he got noticed as the lead singer of two humorous bands, namely De Bomen and the Clement Peerens Explosition. He also co-presented the radio program 'Het Leugenpaleis' and its TV spin-off 'Het Peulengaleis', which gained cult status between the late 1980s and early 2000s. Matthysen is also a regular contributor to the Flemish magazine Humo, for whom he writes humorous columns. At irregular moments he has occasionally drawn some one-shot gag comics for its pages too, such as 'Boerke Kevin' (1989-1994) and 'Max, de Heldige Hond' (2013).

Born in Ekeren in 1956, he began his career in 1978 as a singer-guitarist with the cover band Beri Beri, which also featured Jan Leyers (son of Hugo Leyers) and Bart Peeters. Together with Peeters and Marcel Vanthilt he acted in the surreal sketch segments 'De Hermannen' (The Hermans) in the children's TV shows 'Pop-Elektron' (1983-1984) and  'Villa Tempo' (1984-1987), both broadcast on the Flemish public TV channel BRT. They played a triplet who looked exactly like German schlager singer Heino, but were all called "Herman". The cult success of this act resulted in the one-time spin-off band The Yéh-Yéhs. Matthysen remained musically active with his own humorous bands Hugo Matthysen & De Bomen (Hugo Matthysen & The Trees) and De Clement Peerens Explosition. Hugo Matthysen & The Bomen scored a minor hit single with 'Blankenberge' (1990). His most succesful musical project has been The Clement Peerens Explosition, where he, Robert Mosuse and Bart Peeters perform as a parody of hard rock bands, inspired by Spinal Tap. The group scored hits such as 'Dikke Lu' (1994), 'Foorwijf' (1994), 'Vinde Gij Mijn Gat Niet Te Dik In Deze Rok?' (1998) and 'Geft Da Kaske Na Is Hier!' (2008) and still performs in Flanders to this day, even though Peeters has been replaced by Aram van Ballaert, due to tinnitus problems. Matthysen has also written lyrics for another humorous musical act, Hormonia, and the comedy band De Nieuwe Snaar. 

Matthysen has been writing regular humoristic columns in Humo magazine since the 1980s, and has read some of them on the radio show 'De Groote Magazijnen' (1988-1989). He and his good friend Bart Peeters also hosted the radio sketch show 'Het Leugenpaleis' (1988-1998) on Studio Brussel. Its improvisational nature often caused them to giggle uncontrollably, which polarized listeners. Nevertheless it still gained cult status and an equally successful TV spin-off, 'Het Peulengaleis' (1999-2005). He was scriptwriter for TV comedy shows 'Nefast voor de Feestvreugde' (2000-2002) and 'Anneliezen' (2010), and the children's series 'Carlos & Co' (1987-1988), 'Dag Sinterklaas' (1992), 'Kulderzipken' (1995-1996) and 'Zingaburia' (2011-2014). He is furthermore active as a writer and stage actor.

Lesser known is that Matthysen has also drawn comic strips on a couple of occasions. In the late 1980s he produced weekly musical contributions to Herr Seele and Kamagurka's absurd TV sketch show 'Lava' (1989-1990). The show inspired several comic books and the fourth volume (1990) featured cartoons by Matthysen. In 1989 and 1994 Matthysen created 'Boerke Kevin', a series of one-panel gag cartoons starring a farmer named Kevin (a name which is a running gag in Matthysen's oeuvre). Each cartoon had Kevin spout an absurd proverb or saying on rhyme, like "Whoever gives his child gasoline shouldn't smoke when it belches". In 1997 Humo featured an "alphabet of love", illustrated by Tom Schamp and written by "poet Joe Roxy from Limburg". Everyone familiar with 'Het Leugenpaleis' instantly knew this series was written by Matthysen, since Roxy was one of his characters on the show. 'Joe Roxy's Alfabet der Liefde' featured 26 short humorous poems about women, arranged alphabetically according to their first name.

Between 29 January and 16 April 2013 Matthysen drew a short-lived absurd gag comic, 'Max, de Heldige Hond' (2013) for the magazine Humo. The gags revolved around the heroic adventures of a blue dog who constantly liked to take a shit. He always came across some bizarre problem to which he found the perfect solution. The feature remained almost unnoticed by most Humo readers since it was printed on the penultimate page of each issue.

Max de Heldige Hond by Hugo Matthysen

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