Jommeke, by Jef Nijs
'Jommeke', 'De Gele Spin'. 

Jef Nys was one of the classic Flemish comic artists, best known as the creator of the bestseller series 'Jommeke'. When Nys studied at the Academy of Antwerp, he was already working for an architect. After his education, he quit this job in favor of working at the AFIM animaton studios. Shortly after the War, Nys participated in a contest held by the satirical magazine 't Pallieterke. This was the start of his career as a caricaturist, cartoonist and comic artist.

Jommeke, by Jef Nijs (Kapoentjesalbum, 1971)
Scene from the 1965 story 'De Verloren Zoon'. 

Nys was one of 't Pallieterke's staff artists from 1946 to 1954, making illustrations, cartoons and caricatures. He also made his first comics for the magazine. Among his early comics were 'Adam Leeft Nog', 'De Familie Kol' and a stop-comic with shadow figures. Many sources have incorrectly claimed that Nys was the creator of the gag comic 'Kadodderke'. However, this particular series in 't Pallieterke has a different graphic style. The anonymous artist also signed it with a picture of sail boat.

Bernadette, by Jef NysBerten Rodenbach, by Jef Nys
Cover illustrations for 'Bernadette' (about Bernadette Soubirous) and 'Berten Rodenbach' (about Albrecht Rodenbach). 

Nys did satirical drawings and caricatures for De Volksmacht in 1956/57, and joined Het Handelsblad in 1954, where he created the characters Amadeus and Seppeke. Nys is best known for the 'Jommeke' series, which is very popular among Flanders' youth. The character's first appearance was on 30 October 1955 as a gag strip in the parish magazine Kerkelijk Leven (nowadays Kerk en Leven) Kerk. Besides 'Jommeke', he has also produced several realistic biographical comics for Kerk en Leven, like 'De Wondere Jeugd van Pieter Breughel', 'Berten Rodenbach', 'Bernadette' and 'Godelieve van Distel'.

De Schone Avonturen van een Bakkersjongen, by Jef Nijs
'De Schone Avonturen van een Bakkersjongen', about 19th-century priest and humanitarian Edward Poppe. 

Nys took on long adventure stories with the 'Jommeke' character in Het Volk from 1958, while also continuing 'Jommeke' gag pages in 't Kapoentje. He also created the fairy tale series 'Langteen en Schommelbuik' for this magazine in 1963. This series ended after 11 episodes however, in favor of the 'Jommeke' strip. In 1965, when Marc Sleen ended his work for the Flemish comic magazine 't Kapoentje Nys briefly continued the weekly comic strip 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' for a while, though he soon replaced them with the main cast from 'Jommeke'. He made these gag comics from 1965 until 1967, after which Hurey continued 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' until 1976.

It wasn't until later in his career that Nys disclosed that he had worked with assistants since the 1970s. Over the years, Nys had employed several artists in his Studio Nys at the Linkeroever area of Antwerp. These include Edwin Wouters, Leo Loedts, Edgard Gastmans, Karel Boumans, Hugo de Sterk, Erik de Rop, Wim Haazen, Gerd van Loock en Philippe Delzenne. Leopold Vermeiren and Patrick Vermeir have provided scripts, but Jan Ruysbergh was the series' main scriptwriter between 1989 and 2000. The final albums that were written by Nys himself were 'Stefanie Stekkebeen' (1998) and 'Het raadsel van Kiekebilleke' (2000).

Jef Nys illustrated Ernest Maes' novel 'Paniek rond Janneke!' (1953). 

Jef Nys won the Golden Adhemar for his entire oeuvre during the Turnhout comic festival in 2005. Nys remained involved in the production of 'Jommeke' until the very end. He passed away in October 2009. Besides Van Loock and Delzenne, Nys' granddaughter Sarina Ahmad has also started drawing 'Jommeke', with her first book appearing in late 2015.

On 31 July 1997, Jommeke received a statue in Middelkerke, designed by Valeer Peirsman, followed by a statue of Annemieke en Rozemieke on 29 July 2006, designed by Monique Mol. A statue of Filiberke and Pekkie was also announced, but so far nothing seems to have come from it. Peirsman designed another statue of Jommeke on 27 September 1998, erected near the local library of Temse. On 18 June 2011, 'Jommeke' received his own comic book wall on the Frans Halsplein in Antwerp, as part of the local Comic Book Route. On 20 May 2015, he received another comic book mural in the Rue de la Chanterelle / Lokvogelstraat in Laeken, Brussels, as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route. On 8 November 2017, 'Jommeke' also got a mural in Wilrijk, at the corner of the Heistraat and the Gaston Fabrelaan. It is currently the largest of its kind in Flanders. Both murals were designed by Sarina Ahmad. On 19 June 2017,  the Normandpark in Middelkerke was enriched with a statue depicting 'De Straalvogel' from the 'Jommeke' album of the same name.

Lambiek will always be grateful to Nys for having his assistant Eric De Rop illustrate the letter "J" in our encylopedia book, 'Wordt Vervolgd - Stripleksikon der Lage Landen', published in 1979.

Langteen en Schommelbuik, by Jef Nys
'Langteen en Schommelbuik'.

Series and books by Jef Nys you can order today:


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