Fratske - 'De Blauwe Vis'.

Willy Ophalvens is a Belgian illustrator and painter, known for his work at Lombard's advertising division Publiart and for his cover illustrations for the women's weekly Het Rijk der Vrouw. For Ons Volkske, he drew the adventures of the sailor 'Fratske' (1962-1964).

Early life and education
He was born in 1938 in Uccle, Belgium, and raised in Hoeilaart, a town in the Brussels Periphery. Ophalvens studied Graphic Art and Decorative Arts at the Sint-Lukas School of Art in Brussels, and then continued his education at the city's Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

He began his professional career in 1958 at Publiart, the advertising division of the publishing house Lombard, supervised by Guy Dessicy. He started out working as an artist, illustrating advertisements published in Tintin/Kuifje and Ons Volkske/Chez Nous Junior, and then became studio chief.

Trained by Berck, he also made illustrations for Tintin/Kuifje and comics for Ons Volkske, using the pen name Wili. Between 1962 and 1964, he drew three serials about 'Fratske', a sailor who helps the honest and the needy on his travels. Written by Kras, the first serial was called 'Fratske en de Zeeschuimers', and commenced publication in Ons Volkske on 26 July 1962. It was followed by 'Fratske en de juwelen van Chiva' (1963-1964) and 'De Blauwe Vis' (1964).

Together with Leo Loedts, he was one of Berck's earliest co-workers/assistants. He also joined Berck at the publishing house Altoria in Averbode, making illustrations for the weeklies Zonneland and Zonnekind. For publishing house De Sikkel, Ophalvens illustrated language courses in the comics format. After 1964, Ophalvens was employed by the women's weekly Het Rijk der Vrouw, published by J. Hoste. He did the lay-outs, and made illustrations for children's sections, contests and covers.

After retiring from his professional activities, Ophalvens turned to watercolor painting. He initially painted landscapes, but later switched to more free-form work with a rich color palette. His paintings are exhibited annually on the Hoeilaart grape festival. He has also participated in the 'Zenith' group watercolor expos (2008-2011) in Brussels, winning prizes in 2008, 2009 and 2011 editions. In 2013, he also won the Fedos-West Flanders Prize. Ophalven's paintings have been exhibited in Meise, Hasselt, Overijse, Jezus-Eik and Tienen as well.

Illustration for Kuifje #12, 1962.

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