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

Eddy Ryssack was a Flemish comic artist and animator. He first made his mark with his work at the animation department of the publishing house Dupuis, before creating several popular comic series for international European publishing houses, such as 'Brammetje Bram' ('Colin Colas', 1970-1983) and 'Opa' (1975-1983). He was also an important player in several non-creative functions, such as chairman of the professional association of comic authors Stripgilde, and co-founder of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

Born in Borgerhout in 1928, Ryssack ranked among his early influences American cartoonists like Erich Sokol, Eldon Dedini and Jack Davis. He worked at an insurance firm before selling his first illustrations and cartoons to the publishing house Dupuis, who in 1953 printed them in their family weekly Humoradio (nowadays Humo). Four years later, he created the comic 'Kapitein Matthias', based on the Flemish TV serial 'Schipper Naast Mathilde' (1955-1963), also published in Humo and based on scripts of controversial journalist and opinion maker Johan Anthierens. Around the same time another short-lived comic strip was based on the same TV show called 'Geschipper Naast Mathilde' by Willy Vandersteen, Eduard De Rop and Gene Deschamps. During that same period, he joined Maurice Rosy's art studios at the publishing house Dupuis, where he worked alongside Arthur Piroton, Jamic and Salvé. Ryssack underwent great influence from Rosy's simplicity and clarity in his 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').

From 1959, he was founder and head of the animation department TVA Dupuis in Brussels, which also employed Francis Bertrand, Vivian Miessen, Jean Delire 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, 'Teeth is Money' (1962), 'Le Crocodile Majuscule' (1964) and 'Cinemaman' (1966), and also for the 'Mr Magoo' films and 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)

From 1959, Ryssack also published his first comic stories in the publisher's magazine Spirou. He made several mini-books in cooperation with Maurice Rosy (the '1127' series), Devos, 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

He left the animation studios in 1968 to become chief of staff at Dupuis, but decided to focus on his career as a freelance comic artist in 1970. 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 comics 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 Seadaisy") 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, while one story 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 comics magazines Sjors and Pep were combined to form Eppo, 'Brammetje Bram' moved to the German market. Ryssack found a new home for his character with 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 stories or worked with Jacques Alexander (presumably the pen name of Jacques van Melkebeke, while other sources say Gerd Von Hassler) and Yvan Delporte. 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
Opa

Meanwhile, Ryssack had continued to work for the Dutch publisher VNU and its comics division Oberon. He created 'Opa', a comic about the restless life in a retirement home, which started in December 1975 and appeared in Eppo until 1983. He also made the design for the character of 'King Oberon', who appeared as a mascot on the covers of the early Oberon albums in 1973.

In addition, he made a story about strange creatures called 'Les Schmouks' ('De Schmaks') in cooperation with Michel Noirret for Tintin in 1976, gave his sarcastic view on current affairs in the Belgian edition of Pilote in 1972-1973, and worked with Jean-Pol on the comic series 'Annie en Peter'. One of his final comics was 'César et Rigobert', a story in commission of Bio-Tex detergents in 1982, and a script of the gangster comic 'Johnny Goodbye' for Dino Attanasio in Eppo in 1984 ('Stuwadoors en maneschijn').

Schmacks, by Eddy Ryssack (1976)
Les Schmouks

Eddy Ryssack then focused on commercial artwork and graphic design, including several engravings and architectural designs. Together with Danny De Laet and Berck he was the co-initiator and the first president of the guild of Flemish comic artists (Stripgilde) in 1978. He was also one of the founders of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. Ryssack oversaw the proceedings on the Dutch-language side, while Guy Dessicy took care of the French-language side. This museum opened its doors in the old Magasins Waucquez department store building designed by Victor Horta in the Rue des Sables in October 1989. Ryssack also designed the museum's mascot, 'Le Chevalier de la Bulle', naturally in his typical elastic and expressive drawing style. He had to retire from his activities in 1994 because of health reasons and passed away from a heart attack on 8 January 2004.

Eddy Ryssack (1982)

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