Floris by Remco Polman
'Floris van Dondermonde' (2013). 

Remco Polman is a Dutch comic creator and animator, most of the time working in a creative partnership with Wilfred Ottenheijm. Starting in the 1990s as part of the Iris collective, they have been regular scriptwriters for Dutch Disney comics and Mark Retera's 'Dirkjan' newspaper strip, before creating their own humor gag comic, 'Floris van Dondermonde' (2012- ). With Jantiene de Kroon, Polman and Ottenheijm run the Mooves animation studio, through which they have worked on films based on 'Dirkjan' and Windig & De Jong's 'Heinz', and on personal productions like 'Mortel' (2006) and 'Camouflage' (2021).

Early life
Remco Lee Polman was born in 1969 in Enschede, but spent a large part of his childhood in Hoensbroek in the south of Limburg. As a child, he already enjoyed drawing and reading comics. Although he started with the classics, he eventually developed an interest in comics from all sorts of genres. As the main influences on his own comics, he ranks the 'Donald Duck' stories by Carl Barks, as well as the work of more subversive cartoonists like Kamagurka, Windig & De Jong and Yann & Conrad. He has a keen interest in absurdism, particularly the humor of the British sketch group Monty Python. Philosophically, he is intrigued by the cruelty and indifference of both mankind and the universe, which, combined with his sense for anarchism and anti-authoritarian attitude, is reflected in satirical form in his work.

Between 1987 and 1995, Polman studied Philosophy 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. Retera became an prominent influence on Polman's own humor style. Another important friendship was formed with Communication Science student Wilfred Ottenheijm, with whom Polman 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.

comic from Iris, by Remco Polman (1995)
Title comic of Iris magazine, which was drawn by another artist in each issue.

Iris magazine
In 1991, a group of Nijmegen students joined forces to launch the amateur comic magazine Iris, of which the dummy issue appeared in the same year. 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. Remco Polman was present in every one of them, creating a host of one-shot humor strips, made either alone or in collaboration with a fellow cartoonist. One recurring Polman feature was 'Merrie en d'r Ponny'. With Reinder Dijkhuis, he made episodes of the 'Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan' series, which also appeared in Impulse magazine.

cover from Iris, by Remco Polman
Cover for Iris #12 (1995).

Studio Iris
In 1992, Remco Polman was one of the initiators 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, Wilfred Ottenheijm, 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. As early as 1992, Remco Polman had sold his first script to the Dutch Disney editor Thom Roep. A five-year hiatus between 1999 and 2004 aside, he has remained an important contributor to the Dutch Disney comic production ever since. Several of Polman's early stories were drawn by Mau Heymans, with whom he also co-scripted a couple of stories. Most of Polman's Disney comics were written in tandem with Wilfred Ottenheijm, but he has also worked on stories with Paul Hoogma and Frank Jonker. 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. While Polman's Disney output has been almost exclusively dedicated to the Duck characters, he has also written occasional stories with characters like Jose Carioca, B'rer Rabbit and Mickey Mouse.

'Vera en Victor', comic strip about volunteer work.

Studio Mooves
Simultaneously with Studio Iris, Polman and a friend ran the copywriting and illustration agency Naar Origineel Recept, based in Arnhem. Between 1994 and 1998, they produced funny tear-off calendars and school diaries for the Bruna publishing house. However, by the late 1990s, it had become clear that both this firm and Studio Iris were not attracting enough commercial assignments to become profitable.

Instead, Polman and Wilfred Ottenheijm 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 in Amsterdam (with the exception of a six-month artist-in-residence period in Beirut in 2010). Nowadays, Mooves is partially operated from Amsterdam by Polman and De Kroon, while Wilfred 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.

"Coloring picture for lazy people", cartoon made by Remco Polman and Wilfred Ottenheijm for one of the 'Dirkjan' tear-off calendars, which eventually went viral online (without crediting the creators).

In addition to animation, Polman and Wilfred 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 Polman and Ottenheijm have remained involved as gag writers and artists. For the annual 'Dirkjan' tear-off calendars, they have also produced additional cartoons to alternate with the gag strip reprints. Polman participated in the production of the 'Dirkjan' strip until 2017, after which Sandra Vlemmix joined the team as inker.

Floris van Dondermonde by Remco Polman
'Floris van Dondermonde' (Eppo #4, 2012).

Floris van Dondermonde
With a similar sense for offbeat humor and spoof, Polman and Wilfred 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 is constantly trying 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 the occasional visual or verbal anachronism. Sandra Vlemmix has assisted on the inking for several episodes.

'Alice in Particle Land', comic for CERN (2013).

Comics in commission
Through Mooves, Remco Polman has also worked on a couple of commercial comics. Since 1999, he has worked irregularly with scriptwriter Frank Jonker on 'Vera en Victor', a gag strip for the Dutch Society of Volunteer work (NOV). Appearing in publications like Sport- en Vrijwilligerskrant and an annual agenda, the gags bring Vera and Victor in all kinds of national and international situations in which volunteers are indispensable. For the educational publisher Bekadidact, Polman and Ottenheijm have collaborated on the 'Detective Denkwerk' strip, starring a rhino sleuth. In 2013, Polman teamed up with several Belgian high-school students that had visited the CERN center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, to create the comic strip 'Alice goes to Particleland', about article physics. The plot is a partial parody of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland', illustrated by John Tenniel

Graphic contributions
Either alone or in collaboration with Jantiene de Kroon and Merel Barends, Remco Polman has contributed to the free comic papers that circulated in specific Amsterdam neighborhoods, initiated by Maia Matches: Orient X Press (2012), Wat Wil West (2014) and Oeverloos (2016). 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, Polman and Ottenheijm 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.

Wat Wil West by Remco Polman
'A Tale Of Two Houses', contribution to Wat Wil West (2014).

However, the core business of the Mooves team remains animation. The team has produced two animated films with Mark Retera's Dirkjan character, 'Het Elixer' (2008) and 'DirkJan Heerst' (2010). In 2012, the team worked with Aimée de Jongh on the production of 'Aurora', an animated shorts about a girl finding her way through a dark forest full of ghosts. Remco Polman was also supervising animator for the feature film based on Windig & De Jong's comic strip 'Heinz' (2018), directed by Piet Kroon. Their work in commission is mostly done for educational or informative purposes, for instance for the website of popular science magazine Quest, the city of Venlo and several universities. In 2017, Mooves produced an animated film based on a gripping comic by Merel Barends about the suicide of her brother.

In between, the team works on personal projects. In 2006, Remco Polman released his solo short 'Mortel', a film contemplating isolation, human aggression and fear, telling the story of two identical men who discover each other in a stone dungeon. 'Mortel' premiered in 2006 at the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht as the pre-film to Paul Verhoeven's film 'Zwartboek' (English title: 'Black Book'). Distributed throughout the Netherlands by the Film Museum, 'Mortel' circulated Dutch movie theatres preceding 'You the Living' by Roy Andersson. In 2007, 'Mortel' was chosen as the official Dutch submission for the Oscars in the category "Animated Shorts". That same year, the short continued to win the NFTVM Award for animation.

Film poster for 'Camouflage' (2021).

In 2016, Remco Polman and Jantiene de Kroon began production of their next solo short, 'Camouflage'. Released in 2021, 'Camouflage' is a dystopian thriller that follows the story of office clerk Amouf, who desperately tries to hold his life together while the world around him gets darker and darker. Fully hand-drawn, the film premiered in April 2021 at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam. Since then it has circulated to much acclaim on international festivals. In the Netherlands, 'Camouflage' was nominated for a "Gouden Kalf" award on the 2021 Dutch Film Festival, while it won the 2022 Nancy Award at the Kaboom Animation Festival and the Shortcutz Award for "Best Animation" on the Amsterdam Shortcutz festival. The short notably gained much praise in Latin and South America, winning awards in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Over the years, Remco Polman has also done performances, including acting on stage, playing in bands and doing voice acting for animations. In the early 2000s, he was a member of the Mens & Vis theatre group, where one of his roles was Prospero in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. Since the 1990s, he has performed as singer and guitarist in several indie bands, starting with De Sexfuckers, Horst Keller Kollektief and Onder Kelvin, which all contained one or more members of Studio Iris. Since 2017, he is a member of the band Panama Paupers, together with fellow comic artists Tonio van Vugt (guitar & vocals), Menno Kooistra (drums) and Alex Wesselink (bass).

Wilfred Ottenheijm and Remco Polman, self-portrait.


Inducks entry

Series and books by Remco Polman you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.