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 Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde (Flemish Independent Comics Guild), and co-founder of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

Early life and career
Born in 1928 in Borgerhout, Ryssack showed an early talent for drawing. Despite a one-year training by the fine artist Alfred Ost when he was twelve years old, he was mostly self-taught. It took a while before he would fully explore his talents on a professional basis, through. After his military service he spent ten years working at an insurance firm. By 1953 he sold his first illustrations and cartoons to the publishing house Dupuis, who printed them in their family weekly Humoradio (nowadays Humo) and its French counterpart Le Moustique.

Kapitein Matthias
Four years later, in 1957, Ryssack created the comic 'Kapitein Matthias', based on the Flemish TV serial 'Schipper Naast Mathilde' (1955-1963), also published in Humo and based on scripts by 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 Eugeen Decamps.

'Kapitein Matthias'.

Maurice Rosy and other influences
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'). Among his other influences were American cartoonists like Erich Sokol, Eldon Dedini and Jack Davis.

Animation career
From 1959, he was co-founder and head of the animation department TVA Dupuis in Brussels, which also employed Francis Bertrand, Vivian Miessen, Michel Matagne, Jean Delire, Charles Degotte 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

Brammetje Bram
By 1968 the organizationally talented Ryssack was appointed chief of staff at the Dupuis magazines, while Ray Goossens replaced him at TVA Dupuis. His tenure didn't last long, mainly due to his outspoken nature. By 1970 Ryssack 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 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, 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 were combined to form Eppo, 'Brammetje Bram' moved to the German market. Ryssack found a new home for his character 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 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

Meanwhile, Ryssack had continued to work for the Dutch publisher VNU and its comics division Oberon. He created 'Opa' (1975-1983), a comic about the restless life in a retirement home, which started in December 1975 and appeared in Eppo until 1983. It was the perfect outlet for his at time cynical view on how mankind treats its elderly. Ryssack 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. He furthermore provided cover illustrations and contest pages for both Sjors and Eppo.

Latter-day comics
In addition, he 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 furthermore wrote the script of 'Stuwadoors en maneschijn' for the gangster comic 'Johnny Goodbye' by Dino Attanasio in Eppo. 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.

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 children's page of newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, and 'Nostradamus' for Snoeck's Almanach. 'Woepie' also appeared in 'Kiekeboe en het Laatste Woepie Nieuws' (1992), a special crossover comic with Merho's 'Kiekeboe'.

Vlaamse Onafhankelijke Stripgilde
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 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 the 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. 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. Jean-Claude Salemi designed the poster for the opening day. Ryssack also designed the museum's mascot, 'Le Chevalier de la Bulle', naturally in his typical elastic and expressive drawing style.

Graphic contributions
He 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. 

Final years and death
By the early 1990s, the perfectionist and outspoken veteran artist felt out of touch with the comic industry of the time. He felt 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 from a heart attack in a Ronse hospital on 8 January 2004.

Eddy Ryssack (1982)

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