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 (Kapoentjesalbum, 1971)
Nys was one of 't Pallieterke's staff artists from 1946 to 1954, making illustrations, cartoons and caricatures. He also did his first comics for the magazine. His first series was a comical adventure series about a character named 'Kadodderke'. Other early comics were 'Adam Leeft Nog', 'De Familie Kol' and a stop-comic with shadow figures.
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 Kerk en Leven. Besides 'Jommeke', he has also produced several realistic biographical comics for Kerk en Leven, like 'De Wondere Jeugd van Pieter Breughel', 'Berten Rodenback', 'Bernadette' and 'Godelieve van Distel'.
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 fairytale series 'Langteen en Schommelbuik' for this magazine in 1963. This series ended after 11 episodes however, in favor of the 'Jommeke' strip.
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 won the Golden Adhemar for his entire oeuvre during the Turnhout comics 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.
Langteen en Schommelbuik