Michiel van de Pol is a Dutch illustrator and graphic novelist, best-known for his autobiographical comics. He graduated from the Art Academy of Tilburg in 1989, and subsequently worked as a sculptor. He received grants to develop his projects, which were shown at exhibitions. He made his first proto-comics as guidelines for the construction of these works. Van de Pol eventually made self-published mini-comics, which he sent to all his favorite comic artists. He especially received tips and tricks from Maaike Hartjes, one of the leading artists of comic diaries in the Netherlands. He did his first professional comics work in 1996, when he made the comic 'Mol' and wrote a couple of scripts for SjoSji magazine.
His most personal work, however, was the drawn diary he kept from the moment his first son was born, also in 1996. He originally self-published it under the title 'Opgedrongen Boekie', and later as 'Medicijnman' (Michiel's day job was delivering medicine). In August 2000, the first collection of his autobiographical work was released by De Prom/De Fontein, with the title 'Medicijnman of: het Getekende Leven van Michiel van de Pol'. After that, Silvester published his next two books: 'Een wolk op pootjes' (2002) and 'Michieltjes jongenshart' (2006), his first longer story that dealt with the artist's struggles in finding love. By then, Van de Pol was mostly publishing his drawn diaries as a webcomic under the title 'Cartoondiarree' ("Cartoon Diarrhoea").
His autobiographical comic won the Comics Contest held by the Amsterdam daily Het Parool in 2006, and ran in this paper for two years, while further autobiographical work by Van de Pol was published in NRCNext, Eisner, Brabants Dagblad and Zone 5300. A 'Cartoondiarree' collection was published by Oog & Blik in 2007. He was one of the autobiographical comic artists involved in the daily newspaper feature 'ECHT' in NRC.Next between March 2006 and January 2007. The project was initiated by Margreet de Heer, and also included Floor de Goede, Maaike Hartjes, Gerrie Hondius, and Barbara Stok.
ECHT Michiel (NRC Next, 17-10-2006)
While Van de Pol's stories are generally based on true stories, he also makes use of metaphors and exaggerations, while his childlike, yet effective drawing style adds to the absurdity. He published his first full-length graphic novel with 'Terug naar Johan' (Oog & Blik, 2010), a touching coming-of-age story about friendship, adolescent dreams and first love. He added more fictional elements to spice up his story in the follow-up, 'Scherpschutters' (Oog & Blik, 2012), which deals with Van de Pol's difficult relationship with his father. He switched to complete fiction for the critically acclaimed 'Spotters' (Oog & Blik, 2016), a sensitive graphic novel about a quiet and withdrawn plane spotter who gets into a relationship with a writer who loses herself in her fantasy world.
Besides his comics, Van de Pol has made illustrations and cartoons for NRC Handelsblad, Flair, Quest, HP/De Tijd, Nieuwe Revu, Veronica Magazine, StripNieuws and works for commercial clients through Hans Buying's Comic House agency. His often absurd cartoons show influences from Gary Larson and Gummbah, and have been collected in the book 'Balletjes' by Jean-Marc van Tol's publishing house Catullus in 2009. Michiel van de Pol is also for hire as a live cartoonist for business events. He has won the Clickie Award for best web-comic with 'Cartoondiarree' in 2010, and the Willy Vandersteen Prize for 'Terug naar Johan' in 2011.