Tom Potter by Mark and Tom Payot
'Tom Potter van de Geheime Dokken-politie' (Kleine Zondagsvriend #10, 1945).

Marc Payot was a Belgian graphic artist, comic artist and theatre writer/performer. With brother Tom, he was among the early creators working for Kleine Zondagsvriend with the adventure comic 'Tom Potter van de Geheime Dokken-politie' (1945-1946). In the 1960s, he joined Paul Ausloos in the production of the celebrity newspaper comic strip about 'Het Manneke' (1962-1963). He was best-known for his literary cabaret shows in the Antwerp bar De Koperen Haan, and for his stage and set designs.

Kleine Zondagsvriend
Marc Payot - many comic-related resources write his name as Mark Payot - was born in 1923 in Antwerp, where he also attended the Art Academy. Working under the collective pen name Pam, the brothers Marc and Tom Payot were present in the first issues of the Flemish comic magazine Kleine Zondagsvriend (KZV), initially a supplement of the family magazine Zondagsvriend, but after ten issues an independent comic weekly. The brothers created 'Tom Potter van de Geheime Dokken-politie' (1945-1946), an adventure serial created in a Clear Line reminiscent of Hergé's 'Tintin' stories. In the initial four-page supplement issues, 'Tom Potter' appeared on either the front or back page in alternation with the 'Tijl Uilenspiegel' feature by Ray Goossens. The serial continued its run in the independent KZV magazine until 1946. By then, the magazine's artist team was filled up with newcomer Bob De Moor.

Het Manneke
Marc Payot's other comic work was made in collaboration with the graphic artist Paul Ausloos, with whom he also designed covers for the Suspense pocket books of the publishing house Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij. By 1962, the two men were working on the comic strip about the popular TV character 'Het Manneke' ("The Little Man"). Wearing a black hat, bow-tie, checkered shirt and large scarf, Het Manneke was created in 1961 by the Belgian comedian Jeff Cassiers for a series of pantomime slapstick shorts, usually showed on the Flemish public channel BRT 1 (nowadays Eén) before the evening news broadcasts. In the same year that Cassiers first performed him on TV, the character was adapted into a gag-a-day comic strip, published in the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and the magazine Kwik. Jef Cassiers himself wrote the gags, while Pil was the original artist. Much like the TV sketches, the 'Manneke' gags were told in pantomime. In 1962, Pil retired from the feature and was succeeded by the duo Ausloos and Payot, who continued the strip until the TV broadcasts ended in the following year. The 'Het Manneke' strips were collected in two books by Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij in 1963.

Theatre work
Besides graphic arts, Marc Payot was active the Antwerp theatre scene. With Matthieu De Heyder and the cinematographer Frans Buyens, he founded the theatre society Pompei, that performed literary cabaret shows with political and social satire in a small hall for 70 spectators of the Antwerp café De Koperen Haan. By the 1954-1955 theatre season, Payot and Tony De Quinze were in control of the productions, and in the following years, they wrote most of the shows together. After that, Payot worked as a set designer for the Belgian broadcasting company BRT, the Flemish avant-garde chamber theater company Nederlands Kamertoneel, the Great Limburg Theater and the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels.

Later life
In the 1970s, Marc Payot was head of publicity with a savings bank, while also producing publications for the Antwerp city council. Marc Payot died in a traffic accident in 1989. Between 19 April and 26 May 1991, a retrospective of his work was organized in the Cultural Centre of Deurne.


De Koperen Haan cabaret in the mid-1950s with (from left to right) Bert Ilegems, Marc Payot and Annie Augusteyns. (Photo: Archive De Koperen Haan).

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