'Floris van Dondermonde' (pencils by Ottenheijm, inks by Polman).

Wilfred Ottenheijm is a Dutch animator and comic artist from Nijmegen. He generally works in cooperation with the Amsterdam-based artist Remco Polman, with whom he runs the animation studios Mooves. Besides working on animated films, the duo also writes and draws the medieval humor comic 'Floris van Dondermonde' (2012- ), provide scripts and artwork to Mark Retera's 'Dirkjan' newspaper gag comic, and script Dutch Disney comics.

Early life
Wilfred Ottenheijm was born in 1967 in Helmond, North Brabant, and grew up reading classic European comics like 'Suske en Wiske' by Willy Vandersteen, 'Astérix' by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, 'Spirou et Fantasio' by André Franquin, and the Dutch comics published in Eppo magazine. Later in life, he also developed an interest in the work of graphic novelists like Art Spiegelman, Craig Thompson and Frank Miller. Between 1989 and 1993, Ottenheijm studied Communication Sciences at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (nowadays known as the Radboud University). In his spare time, he made cartoons for the student magazine ANS (Algemeen Nijmeegs Studentenblad). Through this paper, he got in touch with several other university cartoonists. One of them was Mark Retera, who was already making strips about the zany student 'Dirkjan' for ANS. Another important friendship was formed with Philosophy student Remco Polman, with whom Ottenheijm shared the same sense of humor, as well as a passion for films, rock 'n' roll music, classic comics and world literature, resulting in a fruitful creative partnership to this day.

In the early 1990s, a group of Nijmegen students joined forces to launch the amateur comic magazine Iris. Besides Polman, Retera and Ottenheijm, the list of contributors included Mark Schilders, Mark Hendriks, Peter Nuyten, Herman Roozen, Maaike Hartjes, Frans Wentholt and Paul Hoogma. Computer Language student Branko Collin served as editor and writer. Between 1991 and 1997, fifteen issues of Iris appeared on an irregular base. Wilfred Ottenheijm was present in most of them, starting with issue #3, creating a host of one-shot humor strips, as well as episodes of recurring features like 'Teek Video's' (with Mark Middelhuis) and 'Merrie en d'r Ponny'. In 1992, Ottenheijm also joined his fellow cartoonists in the founding of Studio Iris, a Nijmegen-based collective that could work on comics and cartoons on a more professional base. Among the main members were Remco Polman, Mark Retera, Mark Schilders, Mark Middelhuis, Peter Nuyten, Mariëlla van de Beek and Paul Hoogma.

Besides producing comics for their own magazine, the Iris team also worked collectively on scripts for Dutch comic magazines. These scriptwriting productions took place in varying group compositions, but mostly involved Remco Polman, Wilfred Ottenheijm, Paul Hoogma, Mark Middelhuis and Branko Collin. Between 1996 and 1999, Studio Iris wrote scripts for the comic about the two rascals 'Sjors en Sjimmie', that appeared in SjoSji, and then Striparazzi magazine. At that point, the comic had been turned from a weekly gag page into a short story feature, and the production was outsourced to external writers and Spanish art studios. The original creators Robert van der Kroft, Wilbert Plijnaar and Jan van Die kept their creative control, supervising the quality of the scripts and artwork.

Disney comics
An important outlet for the Studio Iris scriptwriting activities was the Dutch Donald Duck weekly, which Ottenheijm has continued to do to this day. Since 1997, he has co-scripted many stories with Disney characters, mostly starring Donald Duck and his family. All of his productions are in collaboration with other Iris members, such as Mark Middelhuis, Paul Hoogma, Branko Collin and Remco Polman. By the time Iris was dissolved, he has worked almost exclusively in tandem with Remco Polman. Characterized by an original sense of humor, the Polman-Ottenheijm duo has mainly written short stories, one-pagers and gag strips, although they have also tried their hand on epic adventure stories.

Studio Mooves
By the late 1990s, it had become clear that Studio Iris was not attracting enough commercial assignments to become profitable. Instead, Ottenheijm and Polman ventured into animation, setting up their own Mooves studio in 1999. They were among the first in the Netherlands specializing in Flash animation. Among their early clients were the Internet company Bitmagic and the Chinese Coca Cola website. In March 2003, the Mooves team was reinforced by producer and scriptwriter Jantiene de Kroon, who eventually became the studio's co-owner. Since 2007, Polman and De Kroon have been living and working in Amsterdam, while Ottenheijm continues to work on Mooves projects in Nijmegen. Accompanied by additional animators and other freelance contributors, the team works on either films in commission and personal animated shorts. Among the studio's regular entourage are concept artist Merel Barends and background artist Jan Cleijne. Working as animator and director, Wilfred Ottenheijm notably directed two animated films starring Mark Retera's Dirkjan character, 'Het Elixer' (2008) and 'DirkJan Heerst' (2010).

The "Mark Retera Ensemble": Mark Retera, Remco Polman, Mark Schilders and Wilfred Ottenheijm.

In addition to animating, Polman and Ottenheijm continued to work in the comic industry, including scriptwriting for Donald Duck weekly and being an aid to Mark Retera for his 'Dirkjan' strip. After starting in the Nijmegen student magazines of the 1990s, the gag strips of the wimpy student Dirkjan, with overbite and trademark striped shirt, and his unhygienic, boozing pal Bert have become a big hit in several Dutch newspapers and magazines. With its offbeat and literal humor, grotesque characters and regular pop culture spoofs, 'Dirkjan' quickly became the most popular gag strip in the Netherlands, with additional appearances in tear-off calendars, advertisements and other products. This resulted in a heavy workload for creator Mark Retera, who called in the help from several of his former Iris colleagues. Between 2003 and 2006, he formed the "Mark Retera Ensemble", consisting of Remco Polman, Wilfred Ottenheijm and Mark Schilders, who helped with plotting and drawing the daily 'Dirkjan' gags. Since 2006, Retera has been doing much of the work by himself again, although Ottenheijm has remained involved as gag writer and penciler. For the annual 'Dirkjan' tear-off calendars, they have also produced additional cartoons to alternate with the gag strip reprints. Polman left the 'Dirkjan' team in 2017, after which Sandra Vlemmix took his place as inker.

Floris van Dondermonde
With a similar sense for offbeat humor and spoof, Polman and Ottenheijm developed their own comic strip, 'Floris van Dondermonde' (2012- ). The strip was originally intended for Floris, a magazine by John Ott and Paul Troost, dedicated to the castle of Doornenburg. This was the regular filming location of the classic Dutch chivalry TV series 'Floris' (1969), starring Rutger Hauer as the titular hero Floris van Rosemondt. However, that magazine folded after two issues, and the 'Floris' strip found a new homebase in the comic magazine Eppo. Since 2012, this magazine has ran gag strips and short stories with the character, while its publisher Uitgeverij L began collecting the series in book format. During the Stripdagen comics festival of 2015, the first 'Floris van Dondermonde' volume won the "Stripschappenning" for "Album of the year". In 2023, they were nominated for the same award for the third book.

Lord Floris rules over Castle Dondermonde, and divides his time between slaying dragons, playing his lute and practicing courtly love with the castle's sex-obsessed maidens. In their gags and short stories, Polman and Ottenheijm spoof every trope of the medieval epic with satirical and absurd twists, ranging from saving princesses to the search for the Holy Grail. However, the dragons Floris encounters are hardly dangerous - obnoxious at most - and his damsels far from fair maiden. His duels with the Black Knight are always called off, and his depressed jester Yorrick constantly tries to have as much sexual exploits as his master, but to no avail. Additional flair is created with Floris' solemn medieval speech - a fictional type of Middle Dutch - literary references and occasional visual or verbal anachronisms. Sandra Vlemmix has assisted on the inking for several episodes.

Graphic contributions
In Eppo magazine, Remco Polman and Wilfred Ottenheijm contributed short stories to the series of comic tributes dedicated to Martin Lodewijk's 'Agent 327' (2017) and Thom Roep and Piet Wijn's 'Douwe Dabbert' (2023). In 2020, Ottenheijm and Polman joined 75 Dutch & Flemish comic artists to make a graphic contribution to the free collective comic book 'Striphelden versus Corona' (Oogachtend/Uitgeverij L, 2020), in support of comic stores who had to close their doors during the lockdown at the height of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

'Agent 327' tribute comic (Eppo #10, 2017). Pencils by Ottenheijm, inks by Polman.


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