George van Raemdonck is considered by many as the artist who introduced comics in The Netherlands. Born in Antwerp into a wealthy family, he was initially sent to the Antwerp conservatory to study the violin. He also showed a keen interest in painting and in 1903, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he was a pupil of Franz Courtens. Around this period, he made his first illustrations for popular novels and the illustrated weekly Lange Wapper.
The Belgian artist had to flee to Holland because of the outbreak of World War I. He began an association as a political cartoonist with Dutch magazine De Amsterdammer in December of that same year. The writer A.M. De Jong was impressed by Van Raemdonck's work and asked him to illustrate his 1917 children's book 'Vacantiedagen'. Van Raemdonck made the switch from De Amsterdammer to De Notenkraker in 1920 and until 1936 he kept drawing political gags and covers for this magazine.

original newspaper drawing by George van Raemdonck

Meanwhile, George van Raemdonck became one of the first Europeans to draw a daily comic strip. Between 1922 and 1937, the text-strip 'Bulletje en Boonestaak', written by De Jong and drawn by Van Raemdonck, appeared 4,428 times in the daily newspapers Het Volk and Voorwaarts.
The comic about two rascals in by now a classic, especially since the writer made no attempt to give his comic any educational aspects. The main characters were cheerfully swearing, vomiting, using violence and walking around naked during the 15 years of the strip's run. Unfortunately, newspaper Het Vrije Volk felt obligated to censor the comic during the reprint from 1947 and 1951, and this version was also used in the book collections (1949-1959).

Boefie en Foefie, by George van Raemdonck (Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 31/10/1931)
Boefie en Foefie (Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 31/10/1931)

'Bulletje en Boonstaak' was the first Dutch comic that was translated into another language. It appeared in Germany in 1924 and a French edition followed in in 1926.
Besides this classic and wildly popular strip, Van Raemdonck also created some other lesser-known comics, like the text-strip 'Appelsnoet en Goudbaard', that he made with De Jong for Blue Band from 1925 to 1927. His animal strip 'De stoute streken van Boefie en Foefie, de rattenbengels' appeared in regional newspaper like Utrechts Nieuwsblad in 1931. In his home country, he made comics like 'Tijl Uilenspiegel', 'Smidje Smee' and 'Robinson Crusoë' with writer L. Roelandt (Jef van Droogenbroeck) for daily Vooruit from 1964.

original newspaper drawing by George van Raemdonck

During his career, Van Raemdonck published thousands of political gags, illustrated 81 books and created many paintings. He died January 28, 1966 at the age of 78. In the Dutch city Almere two streets were named after Bulletje and Boonestaak and one after Van Raemdonck, all part of the "Comics Heroes" district.

Cover for De Notenkraker, by George van Raemdonck 1933

Covers and stories from De Notenkraker

Series and books by George van Raemdonck in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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