Elvis Presley cover illustration for Wordt Vervolgd #66 (1986).

Ger Rijff was a Dutch comics artist, who gained notice with his hippie comic strip 'De Vogels' (also known as 'Daan en Dodo', 1970-1971), drawn for audiences of rock fans. He was notorious for contributing to various sex parodies of popular comics franchises, such as 'Tintin', 'Lucky Luke', 'The Smurfs' and 'Suske en Wiske'. Yet it would be condescending to just put him away as an obscure cartoonist of lewd spoofs. Rijff was equally respected as an expert and author on various articles and books about Elvis Presley.

Early life
Gerrit Johannes Rijff was born in 1951 in Amsterdam. Like many youngsters of his generation he was mezmerized by rock 'n' roll, especially its king, Elvis Presley. His brother - who was seven years older - was a genuine teddyboy or "nozem" as Dutch rebellious teens were called in the 1950s. He bought many 45' vinyl singles, which Rijff enjoyed as well. Along with his fascination for rock, Rijff also developed a passion for the United States. He loved Hollywood movies, jukeboxes, large cars, drive-ins... in short: Americana in general. He would collect photographs and other imagery about these topics. U.S comics were naturally a point of interest too. He tried copying these drawings and friends and family told him that he had genuine talent. While still a high school pupil Rijff followed a two year course in decoration painting, learning how to provide lettering to posters.

De Vogels by Ger Rijff
'Daan en Dodo', featuring a cameo by Willy Vandersteen's Lambik (from Muziek Parade).

Comics
Rijff was still a teenager when he created his first newspaper comic, 'De Vogels' (1970-1971) for the local papers De Dordtenaar and Brabants Dagblad. The comic revolved around a bunch of hip, young people and was a typical product of the hippie era. Its title literally translates to "The Birds", but the word "vogel" was also a trendy word used by Dutch hippie teens at the time, meaning as much as "dude" or "guy". Rijf provided illustrations for rock magazines such as Muziek Parade - which published 'De Vogels' under the title 'Daan en Dodo' (1971) - and Aloha. The pirate radio station Radio Noordzee published a book in 1973 for which Rijff created the comic strip on the cover.

Drukwerk
Already hanging out in the fringe of the comics scene, Rijff became a freelance artist in 1974 and took a job at Har van Fulpen's publishing company Drukwerk in 1980. He designed many rock 'n' roll postcards, covers and posters for them about Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, but also about 1970s glam rock stars like T.Rex, David Bowie, The Sweet, Gary Glitter and Mud. For the bootleg record label Fort Baxter Rijff designed many covers too. The comics magazine Wordt Vervolgd printed several of Rijff's "Rock 'n' Roll heroes" illustrations as well.

Lucky Luke parody by Ger RijffSuske en Wiske parody by Ger Rijff

Sex parodies
Rijff was a graphic contributor to several sex parodies of popular comics series, which were popular in the early 1980s and caused heated debates about the boundaries between parody and plagiarism. Rijf and Ben Jansen drew most of the infamous pornographic spoof 'De Sex Avonturen van Suske en Wiske', better known as 'De Glunderende Gluurder' (1982), which parodied Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske'. An article in StripNieuws #64 (2016) claims that Jansen drew the second and third story with some of his Studio Arnhem colleagues, so perhaps Rijff was responsible for the first? He might also have only illustrated the cover (the version with Sidonia in suspenders). Vandersteen himself bought a copy of the book and said in an interview that it was merely the toll of fame: "It's to be expected. I do like the fact that my work inspires others to make naughty parodies. My dedicated fans really know that I don't make these phony stories myself." Yet when another 'Suske en Wiske' parody came out that same year, 'De Keizerkraker' (1982, by Johnn Bakker) Vandersteen's publisher Standaard Uitgeverij decided to take legal action. They lost their case initially, but in appeal it was decided that the imitation of the main characters went further than necessary to be just a parody and both books were eventually pulled back from the shops, again increasing their value as collector's items. Nevertheless 'De Glunderende Gluurder' was reprinted in its entirety in issue #7 (1 May 1990) of Jan Bucquoy's short-lived controversial magazine Dol / Belge. 

Rijff also drew new cover illustrations for the early 1980s reprints of Paul Schuurmans' 'De Sex Avonturen van Lucky Luke', which spoofed René Goscinny and Morris' 'Lucky Luke'. He furthermore illustrated the cover for Jan Bucquoy's 'Een Jonge Reporter Aan de Rol' (translated in French as 'La Vie Sexuelle de Tintin', 1982), a sex parody of Hergé's 'Tintin'.


One of Ger Rijff's many "brylcreem illustrations" for Muziek Parade (1975).

Elvis Presley
In the 1970s Rijff visited the United States a few times, where he tried to meet his idol Elvis Presley. In 1975 he was in Memphis, Tennessee, where he heard that Elvis was hospitalized because of an overdosis. He managed to get to the 16th floor of the hospital, but wasn't allowed to enter the room. While he never met him personally Rijff did see the artist perform three times, albeit in the dawn of his career, namely 1976 and his final two concerts before his death in 1977. From 1976 on Rijff published a huge amount of (photo) books about Presley and 1950s rock 'n' roll, including 'Elvis Presley: Echoes of the Past' (1976), 'Long Lonely Highway' (1984), 'Faces and Stages: An Elvis Presley Trime-Frame' (1986), 'Florida Close-Up' (1987), 'Elvis Close-Up' (1988), 'Memphis Lonesome' (1988), 'Elvis: The Cool King' (1989), 'Elvis: Fire in the Sun' (1991), 'The Voice of Rock 'n' Roll' (1993), 'Growing Up With The Memphis Flash' (1994), 'Inside Jailhouse Rock' (1994), '60 Million TV Viewers Can't Be Wrong' (1994), 'Songs of Innocence Rattle & Roll' (1995), 'Shock, Rattle & Roll' (with Michael Ochs, 1997), 'Steamrolling over Texas' (1997), 'Studio B Blues' (1998), 'Inside King Creole' (1999), 'The Hottest Thing That's Cool' (2001), 'Inside Loving You' (2003), 'The Rock 'n' Roll Years: My Wish Came True' (2003) and 'Inside G.I. Blues' (2006).

Rijff's huge collection of Elvis memorabilia contained rare photographs and musical singles, which U.S. book and film companies often asked to use for their projects. He was directly involved with 'The King of Rock 'n' Roll. The Complete '50s Masters' (1992) CD project and the theme night 'A Blue White Xmas', where Dutch artists like Arthur Ebeling, Erwin Nijhoff, Frederique Spigt, Mieke Stemerdink and Wally Tax performed Elvis covers in a Christmas atmosphere, with DJ Fontana as special guest. Rijff was beloved in many Elvis fanclubs and, together with a friend, hosted a website, www.elvisechoesofthepast.com.

Final years and death
Over the course of the 1980s Rijff eventually stopped drawing altogether, in spite of the efforts of his friends to convince him otherwise (Frits Jonker allegedly began a Ger Rijff Fanclub for that sole purpose). In 2003 Rijff fell ill, which ended his career and made him more reclusive. In 2015 the Dane Henrik Knudsen organized an exhibition of Rijff's artwork, complete with a catalogue booklet, 'Cartoons & Rock 'n' Roll Tunes' (2016). Ger Rijff passed away in 2019 at the age of 67.


Back cover from Wordt Vervolgd #70 (1986), depicting Buddy Holly. 

Rijff's Elvis website

Series and books by Ger Rijff in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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