Brammetje Bram, by Eddy Ryssack 1997
Brammetje Bram - 'De Steen der Wijzen'.

Eddy Ryssack was a Flemish comic artist and animator, best known as the creator of the humorous adventure series 'Brammetje Bram' (1970-1983). The adventures of a 17th-century cabin boy were not only a success in the Dutch magazine Eppo, but also translated in French ('Colin Colas') and German ('Pittje Pit'). Ryssack also created the gag comic 'Opa' (1975-1983) for Eppo and the strange forest creatures 'Les Schmouks' (1975) for Tintin magazine. Earlier in his career, Ryssack was additionally notable as an animator at TV Animation Dupuis, the animation studio of publisher Dupuis. Later in his career, he was an active promotor of Belgian comics. He worked as chairman of the Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde (Flemish Independent Comics Guild), and co-founder of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. Ryssack also designed various mascots, including Woepie the rabbit (Het Laatste Nieuws), Nostradamus (Snoeck's Almanack) and Le Chevalier de la Bulle (Belgian Comic Strip Center). His elastic and expressive drawing style, typically featuring bulbous-nosed characters, is instantly recognizable. 

Early life and career
Eddy Ryssack was born in 1928 in Borgerhout, near the city Antwerp. He showed an early talent for drawing and was mostly self-taught. His only academic training was a one-year course by fine artist Alfred Ost, when Ryssack was 12 years old. After his military service, Ryssack worked ten years at an insurance firm. It wasn't until 1953 before he sold his first illustrations and cartoons to the publishing house Dupuis. They were published in the French-language weekly Le Moustique and their Dutch-language sister magazine Humoradio (nowadays Humo). 

Kapitein Matthias
Four years later, in 1957, Ryssack created the comic 'Kapitein Matthias', based on the Flemish TV sitcom 'Schipper Naast Mathilde' (1955-1963). The celebrity comic was published in Humo, scripted by controversial journalist and opinion maker Johan Anthierens. Around the same time another short-lived comic strip, based on the same TV show, 'Geschipper Naast Mathilde' (1960), was syndicated in De Zondagmorgen, created by Willy Vandersteen, Eduard De Rop and Eugeen Decamps.

'Kapitein Matthias'.

Maurice Rosy and other influences
In the 1950s Ryssack joined Maurice Rosy's art studios at the publishing house Dupuis, where he worked alongside Arthur Piroton, Jamic and Salvé. Ryssack was strongly influenced by the clarity and simplicity of Rosy's artwork. Later he was also inspired by the comics of André Franquin, Albert Uderzo, Berck and Fred Julsing, as well as the animator Stephen Bosustow ('Mister Magoo'). Among his other influences were American cartoonists like Erich Sokol, Eldon Dedini and Jack Davis.

Animation career
From 1959 on, Ryssack was co-founder and head of the animation department TVA Dupuis (TeleVision Animation) in Brussels, which also employed Francis Bertrand, Charles Degotte, Jean Delire, Vivian Miessen, Michel Matagne, Gilbert Schats and cameraman Raoul Cauvin, among other people. The studio was launched as a competitor to the Belvision Studios, which Tintin-publisher Raymond Leblanc had founded in 1956. Ryssack was the director of three classic TVA productions, the artistic independent shorts 'Teeth is Money' (1962), 'Le Crocodile Majuscule' (1964) and 'Cinemaman' (1966). He also directed the first installments of the famous cartoon adaptations of Peyo's 'Smurfs' in 1961.

Patrick Lourpidon by Eddy Ryssack
'Patrick Lourpidon' ('Petrus Kwispedol' in Dutch).

During his TVA Dupuis years, Ryssack also published his first comic stories in the publisher's magazine Spirou. From 1959 on, he made several mini-books in cooperation with Maurice Rosy (the '1127' series), Jacques Devos, Lucien De Gieter and Yvan Delporte, as well as a series of short stories. In 1960, he created his first continuing story from a script by a certain M. Finas, starring the character 'Patrick Lourpidon'. In 1968-1969 followed 'Arthur & Léopold', a gag series about two fleas, and one of the first writing credits of Raoul Cauvin.

Arthur et Leopold by Eddy Ryssack
'Arthur en Leopold'. The two fleas make the mistake of travelling along with a wild duck, who is shot by a hunter. 

Brammetje Bram
Ryssack had a talent for organisation. By 1968 he was appointed chief of staff at the Dupuis magazines, while Ray Goossens replaced him at TVA Dupuis. However, Ryssack's tenure didn't last long, mainly due to his outspoken nature. By 1970 he decided to focus on a career as a freelance comic artist. Through Yvan Delporte, he found an important client in the Dutch publishing house VNU. He created the comic about ship boy 'Brammetje Bram' for their comic magazine Sjors from 1970 to 1975, as a replacement for Marcel Remacle's 'Ouwe Niek' ('Vieux Nick'). The crew of pirate ship De Zeemadelief ("The Sea Daisy") was completed by captain Knevel de Killer, the cat Knarf, the Chinese cook So-Wi-So, the alcoholic ship's doctor Salver Quak and the Viking Driek. During the first two years, editor Frans Buissink was responsible for the scripts, followed by another story by Jacques Bakker and short stories with Piet Hein Broenland and Michel Noirret. Few stories of Ryssack's Sjors period were eventually published in book format, although one was published in France under the title 'Les Aventures de Brieuc Briand' by Albin Michel in 1976.

Brammetje Bram by Eddy Ryssack
'Brammetje Bram en de Schat van Noer-Akhs'.

When the comic magazines Sjors and Pep merged into the magazine Eppo, 'Brammetje Bram' moved to the German market. Ryssack found a new home for his character Brammetje Bram at Koralle Verlag, who published new stories in Zack Parade and Zack under the series title 'Pittje Pit'. Ryssack's comic returned to the Dutch and French-speaking audiences in 1979, when Zack's counterparts Super As (France) and Wham! (Netherlands/Belgium) were launched. The French name for the character was from now on 'Colin Colas'.

Brammetje Bram, by Eddy Ryssack (1974)
'Brammetje op de Brug' (Sjors #46, 1974).

By now mainly a series of short stories, Ryssack either wrote his own 'Brammetje Bram' stories or worked with J. Alexander (a pen name of German author/director Gerd Von Hassler, although some sources wrongly credit Jacques van Melkebeke), Yvan Delporte and Peter Rosa (pen name for the artist's son Peter Ryssack). For the inking and coloring he was aided by Gilbert Declercq. When the publication Zack and Super As ended in 1980, new albums were published directly in album format by Hachette. The final 'Brammetje Bram' story was published in 1983. Despite its fragmented publication history, Ryssack has created about a thousand pages with his little pirate between 1970 and 1985. In the 1990s the German company Epsilon Verlag started publishing all 'Pittje Pit' stories in chronological order.

Opa by Eddy Ryssack

Ryssack continued to work for the Dutch publisher VNU and its comics division Oberon. He created 'Opa' (December 1975 - August 1983), a gag comic about a bunch of old people in a retirement home named 'Roest Rust'. Unfortunately, the old folks aren't given much rest. The grandpa from the title tries to drive away boredom, which brings him into conflict with the head of the home. Later gags were assisted by Berck and Peter Rosa. 'Opa' was a perfect outlet for Ryssack's cynical observations on how the elderly are mistreated by society. 

Ryssack also designed 'King Oberon', the mascot of publishing company Oberon since 1973. He also provided cover illustrations and contest pages for both Sjors and Eppo.

Latter-day comics
In addition, Ryssack made a story about strange creatures called 'Les Schmouks' ('De Schmaks') in cooperation with Michel Noirret for Tintin in 1976. He gave his sarcastic view on current affairs in the Belgian edition of Pilote in 1972-1973, illustrated Yvan Delporte's educational pages in Le Journal de Mickey and worked with Jean-Pol on the 'Annie en Peter' story 'De Kreet van Kwibus' (1984) and a comic story based on the German animated TV series 'Sport Billy' ('Een Rare Vogel' in Zonnestraal, 1983). In 1984 he wrote the script of 'Stuwadoors en Maneschijn' for the gangster comic 'Johnny Goodbye' by Dino Attanasio in Eppo. 

Schmacks, by Eddy Ryssack (1976)
'Les Schmouks'.

Advertising comics
With most of his ongoing series cancelled in the early 1980s, Ryssack's new comics of the 1980s were mostly advertising strips, often made in collaboration with Dani Dacquin. 'César et Rigobert' was a story in commission of Bio-Tex detergents in 1982, while the gag strip 'Tomcat' was designed to educate about the history and development of electricity, ordered by Electrabel. Among his final creations were the blue bunny 'Woepie', who served as the mascot of the weekly Wednesday children's page of newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and its sister paper De Nieuwe Gazet. 'Woepie' was also used in a public service campaign to remind children to be safe in traffic. He also appeared in 'Kiekeboe en het Laatste Woepie Nieuws' (1992), a special crossover comic with Merho's 'De Kiekeboes'. Ryssack also designed Nostradamus, the wizard mascot of the annual almanac Snoeck's Almanac. Eddy Ryssack focused on commercial artwork and graphic design, including several engravings and architectural designs. 

Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde
Together with Danny De Laet and Berck Ryssack was initiator and the first president of the guild of Flemish comic artists (De Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde), founded on 22 November 1978. Marc Sleen and Berck were vice-chairmen, with Merho, Dani Dacquin and Hec Leemans as other founding members. Jean-Pol was treasurer and comic historian Kris De Saeger secretary. Ryssack illustrated the front cover of the guild's book, 'Striptekenaars in Vlaanderen' (1982), which presented short biographies of all cartoonists who were members.

Belgian Comic Strip Center
Ryssack was also one of the co-founders of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. Ryssack oversaw the proceedings on the Dutch-language side, while Guy Dessicy and Michel Leloup took care of the French-language side. In October 1989, the museum opened its doors in the old Magasins Waucquez department store building designed by Victor Horta in the Rue des Sables/ Zandstraat. Jean-Claude Salemi made the poster for the opening day. Ryssack also designed the museum's mascot, 'Le Chevalier de la Bulle'. This knight was also featured in a series of gags, scripted by Jean Auquier. The Belgian Comic Center published one landscape format-shaped book with 'Le Chevalier de la Bulle' in 2002. 

Graphic contributions
Together with Frank-Ivo van Damme, Eddy Ryssack livened up the pages of 'Graaf Hugo van Craenhove' (Brabantia Nostra, 1972), a reprint of Hendrik Conscience's story of the same name. He provided illustrations for 'Weet Je Veel' (Oberon, 1976), a Disney game book, scripted by Yvan Delporte. Ryssack was one of several artists to make a graphic contribution to 'Pepperland’ (1980), a collective comic book tribute to the store Pepperland, to celebrate its 10th anniversary at the time. In 1987-1988 the publishing company Brain Factory International released a four-volume comic book series where Franco-Belgian comic authors visualized several songs by singer Jacques Brel in comic strip form. The first volume, 'Le Plat Pays' (1987) featured a contribution by Ryssack. His art also turned up in '6 Kerngezonde Stripverhalen' (1993), a collective bi-lingual comic book published by the Foundation for Cancer Treatment. 

Final years and death
By the early 1990s, the perfectionist and outspoken veteran artist Eddy Ryssack felt out of touch with the comic industry of the time. He was cynical about the new wave of luxury albums, silk-screen prints and bookplates, and figured these costly items would alienate the general public from the comics medium. He had to retire from his activities in 1994 because of health reasons and passed away in 2004 from a heart attack in a Ronse hospital. 

Eddy Ryssack (1982)
Self-portrait, 1982. 

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