'Ogen Dicht' (2010), created by Johan de Rooij during 24 Hour Comics Day.

Johan de Rooij is a Dutch comic writer and editor. He first came to notice in the small press comic scene as driving force behind the irregularly appearing comic magazine De Lijn (2005-2011). He has since then worked as a scriptwriter on both personal and commercial comic strips in collaboration with many of De Lijn's contributors, most notably his brother David de Rooij. Between 2015 and 2020, he was editor of the Dutch Donald Duck pocket publications.

Early life
Johan de Rooij was born in 1981 in the Amsterdam-Noord borough. His father was singer and accordeon player Jos de Rooij (1955-2016), known locally as "the Troubadour of Noord". Both Johan and his younger brother David (1983) grew up as avid comic readers and collectors. Starting with Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske', Johan's interest eventually turned to the comic magazines Eppo and Sjors & Sjimmie Stripblad, which contained work by the core of 1980s/1990s Dutch mainstream comic artists. As a teenager, he called and visited several of his idols - for instance Hanco Kolk and Gerard Leever - wanting to know all the ins and outs. All this resulted in a keen knowledge of and network in the Dutch comic scene, which he used years later when constructing a "family tree" of Dutch comics, which showed the back and forth influences between domestic comic artists (and has been of great use to the Lambiek Comiclopedia).

'The X-Fools', by Johan and David de Rooij (1999).

Collaborations with David de Rooij
Johan's brother David proved to be the most talented in terms of drawing, but when David made comic stories for his high school newspaper, the two brothers often plotted together. Their collaboration continued when they got their first paid assignment from the teachers' magazine De Qvijver. Their first real comic series was 'The X-Fools' (2000-2001), a parody of the TV series 'The X-Files'. Three episodes appeared in the amateur comic magazine De Stripper. Over the years, Johan and David de Rooij have collaborated on several comic projects, both personal and in commission. These included 'Zonnetje Zonnebloem' for energy supply company Eneco, the story 'Het Lelijke Jonge Dwerggeitje' to the fairy tale anthology 'Sprookjes in Strookjes' (2006) and their regular comic series for two military union magazines. Between 2011 and 2014, they made comic strips with varying characters for OpLinie, the magazine of the AFMP, the General Federation of Military and Civilian Personnel. Their feature in De Marechausseevereniging had recurring characters: 'Bram en René van de Marechaussee' ("Bram and René of the Military Police"). David de Rooij eventually focused on a career in animation, from time to time still aided by Johan for scripts.

'Flarden' (2012), art by Abe Borst.

Serious and experimental comics
Johan's early efforts with brother David inspired him to try his hand at comics with more serious subject matter. His first experiment in this direction was the semi-autobiographical story 'Liefde' ("Love", 2000), for which Floor de Goede provided the artwork. In vain, they offered the story to Hanco Kolk and Peter de Wit's Pincet series of mini comics, but it took until 2005 before it was released in a self-published small press comic book. With Thijs Jansen, he created 'Sins of the Father' (2003), a story in English about U.S. President George W. Bush, directly motivated by the invasion of Iraq. In June 2003 it appeared online on the Stripster portal, and a Dutch version ran in De Stripper shortly afterwards. Years later, with artist Abe Borst, he made 'Flarden' ("Fragments", 2012), a series of seemingly abstract images and sentences that turn out to form a coherent narrative in the end. Another experimental story was his first solo comic 'Ogen Dicht' (2010), made in the Amsterdam comic shop Lambiek during the 24 Hour Comics challenge of 2010. Since Johan doesn't draw, the panels were filled with patterns, colors or photo collages.

De Lijn
Expanding his collaborations, he co-founded the small press comic magazine De Lijn with Rutger Ockhorst. Seven issues were published between 2005 and 2011, each with a different theme, title and format. After the dummy issue, De Rooij continued the role of editor and publisher on his own, emphasizing on graphical and narrative experiments. Notable was 'De Transparante Lijn' ("The Transparent Line", 2007), that consisted of separate sheets, each with different parts of the artwork. When put together, they form a complete comic story. 'De Verslavende Lijn' ("The Addicted Line", 2008) and 'De Ruimtelijke Lijn' ("The Spatial Line", 2009), were homages/parodies - both in content and lay-out - of Eppo magazine and the classic 1950s EC comic books. The comic stories in De Lijn were created by a new and upcoming generation of Dutch comic creators, often teamed up with established comic artists (including Evert Geradts, Peter Pontiac, Hendrik J. Vos and Peter de Wit). Editor Johan de Rooij wrote several of the scripts. Many De Lijn contributors later became professionals in the Dutch comic, animation and commercial art scene, most notably Rob van Barneveld, Agnes van Belle, Stephan Brusche, Aimée de Jongh, Emma Ringelberg and Martijn van Santen.

Unpublished photo comic (2013). Professor Barabas  from the 'Suske en Wiske' series has a cameo in the 7th panel.

Versatile scriptwriter
Simultaneously with the 2005 launch of De Lijn, Johan de Rooij began writing comics for magazines and commercial clients too. His output varies from youth comics and superhero comics to serious topics like sheltered employment and organ donation. Besides his co-productions with David de Rooij, he has worked with many other artists over the years, including Daniel van den Broek, Maarten Gerritsen, Ron Offerman and Nick Willemse. He was a contributing gag writer to Pieter Hogenbirk's strips 'De Pagina Monologen' and 'Rembrandt' in MYX magazine, and between 2010 and 2015 succeeded Margreet de Heer as scriptwriter of the comic features 'Bik' and 'Okki' in toddler's magazine Okki (both drawn by Adrie Janssen of the Tekenteam studio). Around the same period, he submitted scripts for stories with Disney characters to the Dutch Donald Duck weekly. He was present in Eppo #9 of 2017 with the short soccer comic story 'Degradatie', drawn by Charles Guthrie. Additionally, he remained active in the small press scene, making the gag strip 'Trui' (2006-2007) with Menno Kooistra and 'Jantje' series of mini comics (2016), parodies of children's picture stories drawn by Emma Ringelding.

'Jantje gaat naar de bliksem', art by Emma Ringelding (2016).

In addition to writing scripts, Johan de Rooij has done editorial work for several comic magazines and websites. He filled the news section of online comic portal Stripster, and he wrote and edited articles for MYX, StripNieuws and Strips2Go. Between 2015 and 2020, he was employed by publisher Sanoma as editor of the Dutch 'Donald Duck' pocket book series. He helped launch the 'Premium' and 'Classics' series, and introduced back-up pages with additional information about the comic stories and their creators.

Back doing freelance work in 2021, Johan has resumed his scriptwriting activities. One of his new collaborations is with Eppo magazine, co-writing the title comic, drawn by Pieter Hogenbirk. Through his own Tangent imprint, De Rooij released 'Oogcontact' (2021), a co-production with cartoonist Hallie Lama, about why one shouldn't take texts on shampoo bottles too literally.

Johan de Rooij (on the right) with Lambiek's Klaas Knol during 24 Hour Comics Day 2008 (Photo: Menno Kooistra).


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