Ahmed by Chris Roodbeen
'Ahmed' (Olidin #19, 8 October 1959).

Chris Roodbeen was a Dutch illustrator, best-known as a prominent courtroom sketch artist. From 1970 until his death in 2017, he covered several famous and smaller trials. Earlier in his career, he was active as a cartoonist, illustrator and comic artist for newspapers and magazines. For the children's magazine Olidin, he drew 'Ahmed' (1958-1961) and 'De Roemrijke Avonturen van Papom' (1962-1963). 

Early life and career
Christoffel Marinus Roodbeen was born in 1930 in Rotterdam. He studied at the local Academy of Fine Arts and subsequently worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for advertising agencies.

'Papom' (Olidin #3, 1962).

Between 1958 and 1963, he was one of the regular comic artists for Olidin, a promotional children's magazine for petrol company Shell, produced by the Van Maanen advertising agency. Roodbeen drew six stories of the Arabian hero 'Ahmed' between 1958 and 1961, followed by the balloon comic 'De Roemrijke Avonturen van Papom' in 1962-63. Along with Dick Vlottes, Roodbeen was one of the artists of Olidin's short historical true stories and gag strips. Other important contributors to Olidin were Emile Brumsteede, Wim Giesbers, Frits GodhelpFriso Henstra, Niek Hiemstra, Hans G. Kresse, Jan Kruis, Ted Mathijsen, Joost Rietveld, Jan van der Voo, P. Visser, Dick Vlottes, Carol Voges, Joop Wiggers and Piet Wijn

'De Vliegende Kleermaker', a historical story for Olidin #19 (8 October 1959).

Other magazines
Besides Olidin, Roodbeen's illustrations appeared in women's magazines like Margriet and the local newspapers Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad and Haagsche Courant, while he made political cartoons for Elsevier. In the 1970s, Roodbeen made comic strips and drawings for the Malmberg school magazines Okki, Taptoe and especially Jippo, for which he illustrated the opening pages that welcomed the reader. He also provided illustrations for educational publications by the publishing house Wolters-Noordhoff.

Illustrations for the welcome pages of Jippo magazines #13 and #22 of volume 1977-1978.

Courtroom sketches
In the 1970s, Roodbeen began working as a courtroom sketch artist for the Haagsche Courant. From 1981 until his death in 2017, he drew exclusively for daily newspaper De Telegraaf. Since photographers are not allowed in Dutch courtrooms, newspapers and press agencies often send sketch artists to make an artistic impression. Roodbeen was known for his detailed portraits, which had the right balance between a neutral realistic view of the situation, and the characteristics which reflect the mood and character of the accused. According to his obituary in Het Parool (written by Nina Rijnierse, 11 April 2017), Roodbeen had a crafty trick to get the best seat in the courtroom. Whenever a court case started, it was usually not on time. While he and the other courtroom artists were waiting at the door, he told them a joke about a monkey in the Blijdorp Zoo. As he imitated the animal's mannerisms, he slowly moved closer to the door, so he could rush to the best seat once the case started. 

In the early decades, when papers published exclusively in black-and-white, Roodbeen's courtroom drawings were very detailed. Once color printing was introduced, he didn't draw all the people in the room any longer, since he had to color them all in. Another signficant change was that he was originally allowed to take scissors with him, to cut out all his separate drawings and paste them together on one paper. In the 21st century, safety precautions made an end to this practice. .

Among his best-known sketches were of the kidnappers of Freddy Heineken (Willem Holleeder and Cor van Hout), master crook Heer Olivier, gypsy king Koko Petalo, Volkert van der Graaf (the murderer of Pim Fortuyn), far-right politician Geert Wilders, heavyweight kickboxer Badr Hari and nurse Lucia de Berk (who later turned out to be innocent).  Between 17 December 2016 and 12 March 2017, an exposition of his courtroom artwork, 'Uit Het Leven Getekend. Rechtbanktekeningen van Chris Roodbeen', was held at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. Other famous Dutch courtroom artists are Aloys Oosterwijk and Felix Guérain. 

Final years and death
Roodbeen remained active until three weeks before his death. Since 2009, he worked mostly in association with journalist Saskia Belleman. One of his final drawings was of Bart van U., the murderer of former Dutch politician Els Borst. In 2017, Chris Roodbeen passed away from prostate cancer, shortly after his 87th birthday. He lived and worked in Woudrichem. Two days after his passing, during a court hearing against the harassers of politician Sylvana Simons, the judge took the time to offer his condolences to Roodbeen's fellow sketch artists. In Roodbeen's honor, the other artists present had kept one seat vacant, covered with a pencil, sheet of paper and eraser. On 2 July 2019, about 10,000 pieces of original artwork were donated to the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision ("Beeld en Geluid").

Willem Holleeder and Cor van Hout, kidnappers of beer brand tycoon Freddy Heineken, 22 January 1987.

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