Gill Van Dessel was a Belgian comic artist and modelmaker with a specialization in model aircrafts. Under the pseudonyms Mister Kit or John Markings, he had his own sections about modelmaking in the magazines Spirou and Tintin. Using the pen names Renard and Lenoir, he drew comic stories for Spirou ('Les Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul', 1963-1966) and Record ('Patrouille Sous-marine', 1964-1970). A militaria aficionado, Gill Van Dessel worked with writer Serge Saint-Michel on a historical comic book about Operation Overlord ('Overlord', 1994).

Early life
He was born in 1931 as Gommaire Van Dessel in Schaerbeek, one of the suburbs of the Belgian capital Brussels. According to his daughter Françoise, her father hated his first name, so he chose, very early on, to be called "Gill Van Dessel" (and not Gilles, as many sources write). Gill's father Gilbert Van Dessel was with the judicial police. In his hometown, Gill Van Dessel got his art training at the Institut Saint-Luc, together with his childhood friend, the future comic artist Paul Ramboux, AKA Sidney. In 1954, Gill Van Dessel married Suzanne Mestdagh, a women of French-Belgian descent. The couple had one child. After a short stay in the Belgian town Forest, Van Dessel and his family moved to Anderlecht in 1969, where he lived until his death.

'La Patrouille Sous-Marine'.

Comics career
Van Dessel began his career as a student of Hergé and worked alongside Jean Graton and other artists at the art studio of Lombard, the publisher of Tintin magazine. For the 1967 episode 'Les Chevaliers de Königsfeld' of his racing comic 'Michel Vaillant', Jean Graton modelled the character of a German policeman after Gill Van Dessel. To fit the character, Graton had aged Van Dessel's features. Van Dessel's daughter Françoise later recalled that when her father had reached that age, he actually resembled the character.

By the time he began his own career in comics, Gill Van Dessel assumed several pseudonyms, including Mister Kit, John Markings, Lenoir and Renard. As Lenoir, he was present in Record magazine with the short story feature 'La Patrouille Sous-marine' ("The Underwater Patrol", 1964-1970). Most of the scripts were written by Jacques Lob, others were scripted by Périer or Sépia, the latter a pen name of Van Dessel's wife Suzanne Mestdagh.

Oncle Paul by Renard
L'Oncle Paul story 'L'Exploit de James Obenauf' (Spirou #1433, 1965).

Spirou & Tintin magazines
Between 1963 and 1966, Van Dessel drew at least 17 aviation-related stories in Spirou magazine's educational series about history, 'Les Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul', written by Octave Joly. As he signed these stories with the pseudonym Renard, they are generally attributed to the comic artist Claude Renard. It wasn't until decades later that it became clear that the real artist was Gill Van Dessel, especially when in 2011 and 2014, these stories were collected in two books by Éditions Pan Pan. As Mister Kit, he had his own section in Spirou magazine on modelmaking, called 'Mister Kit Présente' (1970-1976).

Simultaneously with his 'Mister Kit' feature in Spirou, Van Dessel made articles for Tintin magazine under the title 'Mini-Musée' (1972-1975), for which he used the pen name John Markings. By the time he had left Spirou, he appeared in Tintin with a new 'Mister Kit' section about modelmaking (1977-1979). Between 1985 and 1988, he wrote new articles for Tintin under the title 'Images Documents', of which the illustrations were credited to "Marnix". For Tintin, Mister Kit also made a couple of four-page comic stories in the tradition of Spirou's 'L'Oncle Paul', such as 'La Prodigieuse Évasion de Mike Donnet' (1978) and 'L'Escadrille de l'Espoir' (1983).

In the 1970s, Gill Van Dessel was also the author and illustrator of several books about aviation and military warfare for Éditions Fleurus and Éditions Rossel. Passionate about weapons, he wrote for the specialized French magazine Cible. And even though he couldn't stand tinkering, he wrote various DIY articles for the magazine La Boîte à Outils. In 1994, Van Dessel used his knowledge of aircrafts for his last major comic project, made in collaboration with writer Serge Saint-Michel for publisher Éditions de la Porte. The comic book 'Overlord', about the Allied Landing in Normandy during World War II. Released in several languages, Van Dessel regularly went to the Normandy town Arromanches-les-Bains for book signing sessions.

Gill Van Dessel passed away in Anderlecht on 8 February 2014.

Cover illustration for Tintin #34, 20 August 1985.

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