Toestanden in Suriname, by Martin Ruijters
'Toestanden in Suriname'.

Dutch painter and retired drawing teacher Martin Ruijters is the father of underground cartoonist and graphic novelist Marcel Ruijters. The elder Ruijters made his own debut as a comic artist with autobiographical comic books like 'Toestanden in Suriname' (2011) and 'De Iconoclast' (2013). He was 75 at the time, making him the oldest known person to debut as a comic artist for two years. As of today, he is the fourth-oldest man and fifth-oldest known person to hold that record. 

Early life and career
Ruijters was born in 1938 in Daniken, a hamlet near Geleen, in the province of Limburg. The countryside boy grabbed the opportunity to expand his world view by fulfilling his military service in Suriname, then still a Dutch colony. There, he developed a keen interest in the jungle and the culture of the Indian and Maroon populations. Back in civilian life, Ruijters initially became a house painter, like his father was before him. He subsequently worked in the Mosa ceramics factory in Maastricht for a couple of years, before landing a job as a drawing teacher on a technical school.

Post-retirement
Ruijters retired from this profession after 30 years, after which he devoted all his time to landscape painting. Especially the Limburg hills and villages have been fruitful sources of inspiration.

Graphic novels
At this point, Ruijters' son Marcel had established himself as an award-winning comic artist, earning international acclaim with his medieval-themed graphic novels. Martin Ruijters followed in his son's footsteps, and made his debut with a comic chronicle of his experiences in Suriname, called 'Toestanden in Suriname' (2011). It was published in black-and-white by the TRIS Contacten foundation. A re-edition in color is planned for 2021. Martin Ruijters subsequently made a comic report of his cycling tours in the Limburg environment, called 'De Iconoclast' (2013). 

A member of the local history society Heemkunde Geleen, Ruijters made the comic stories 'Wae zeet geer dan' and 'De patsj van Teun' for their eponymous magazine. The comics, written in dialect, were based on stories his parents had told him and on his own childhood recollections from shortly after the war. The city of Geleen before its liberation from the Nazi oppressor was the subject of Ruijters' autobiographical comic 'Wo ist der Bahnhof' (2019), which was serialized in the free local paper Via.

Age record
When Ruijters published his graphic novel 'Toestanden in Suriname' (2011) he was, at age 75, the oldest known person who debuted as a comic artist. Two years later he was surpassed by the current record holder Rao Pingru, who published his graphic novel 'Our Story' (2013) when he was 90-91 years old. Other honorable contenders are another Dutchman, Cor Blok, who was 82 when he debuted with 'The Iron Parachute' (2015) and Klaus Voormann, whose 'Revolver 50. Birth Of An Icon' (2016) was published at age 79. This makes Ruijters the fourth-oldest known man to debut as a comic artist in history. The oldest known person in general is a woman: Geneviéve Gautier, whose comic book, 'Les Aventures du Pingouin Alfred' (2017), came out when she was 95 years old. 


'Wo ist der Bahnhof' (Via, 1 August 2019).

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