comic art by Jan Sanders
Cartoon by Jan Sanders, 1973.

Jan Sanders was a Dutch cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his amusing cartoons depicting sailors. Sanders made dozens of highly detailed illustrations, depicting a tiny sea captain, sailors and other shipping crew members in witty situations. His cartoons often have a satirical, erotic undertone. Sanders' cartoons have been published outside The Netherlands too, including in English, French, German and Spanish. 

Early life and influences
Jan Sanders was born in 1919 in Kwadijk, in the northern coastal province North Holland, not far from the town Purmerend. Contrary to what one might expect from a cartoonist who made maritime cartoons, Kwadijk wasn't a harbour town. Sanders' parents didn't have a maritime profession either. His father was a common worker and his mother a teacher. From a young age, Sanders was interested in drawing. His talent was discovered by a drawing teacher at the Hogere Burgerschool (a kind of higher level of secondary school). His main graphic influences were Ronald Searle, Carl Giles, William Heath Robinson and Rowland Emmett. During World War II, Sanders graduated at the Rijksopleidings-instituut voor Teekenleraren Amsterdam and became a teacher . He was additionally active as an amateur theatrical director. From the 1980s on, he also taught art classes at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. 

Cartoon by Jan Sanders.

Sanders is best known for the maritime-themed cartoons he drew for Sigma Coatings, a Dutch paint company established in 1972 (since 2008 part of PPG Industries). To promote Sigma, Sanders made several colorful cartoons to show off the abilities of their paint products. As a running gag, he always added a paint bucket in the background. There are usually also a few dogs in the vicinity. Sanders' cartoons were often collected on calendars and in books. 

While his cartoons covered various topics, the majority feature sailors. Sanders had fun portraying them in stereotypical, satirical situations. The seamen are naturally seen on deck, obeying their captain and keeping everything clean. Sometimes they deal with storms or are shipwrecked. When ashore, the sailors flock to the nearest harbour town, where they get new tattoos, guzzle themselves drunk or have fun with prostitutes. Although most of Sanders' sailors are different in look, the captain usually has a more distinguishable appearance. He is a short-sized man with a large bushy moustache. It could be suggested that all of Sanders' maritime cartoons feature an ever-changing shipping crew, serving under the same captain. From this regard it is close to an episode-driven situation comedy based on the same cast. 

Sanders also made illustrations for the Dutch harbor and ship building company, often brainstorming with its principal over potential ideas. Funny enough, Sanders had only been at sea once in his entire life and never sailed further than about 20 kilometers (roughly 12 miles).

comic art by by Jan Sanders
Cartoon by Jan Sanders, used as the front cover for ''t Kan Verkeren' (1978). 

His cartoons were collected in several albums, the first appearing in 1978. Some titles are ''t Kan Verkeren' (which had a foreword by famous Dutch poet C. Buddingh, Meulenhoff, 1978, reprinted by Van Dobbenburgh, 1984), 'Loos Alarm' (which had a foreword by Dutch columnist Simon Carmiggelt, Meulenhoff, 1980), 'Lik op Stuk' (1982), 'Rukwinden' (Van Dobbenburgh, 1983), 'Jan Sanders' Schetsboek' (1984), 'Tussen Wal en Schip' (Van Dobbenburgh, 1985) and 'Een Eerbaar Zeemansleven' (Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1989). The Dutch Rijksmuseum Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum) brought out a special book chronicling Sanders' career, titled 'De Woelige Wereld van Jan Sanders/The Turbulent World of Jan Sanders' (1994). Publishing company Lourens Uitgaven released a special book to celebrate the artist's 80th anniversary, 'Jan Sanders 80' (Lourens Uitgaven, 2000).

Various books by Sanders were translated in other languages. The most popular example was 'Tussen Wal en Schip', which was translated in English ('Old Sailors Never Die'), French ('Les Vieux Loups de Mer', Glénat) and German ('Zwischen Deich und Meer'). While best-known for his maritime cartoons, Sanders also made several cartoons about the Olympic Games. They were released in 1984 as 'Satirische Spelen' (Van Dobbenburgh, 1984) to tie in with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984). 

In 1985, Jan Sanders was awarded the Ton Smits penny. 

Death, legacy and influence
Jan Sanders died in 2000, at the age of 81. Even though he wasn't a comic artist pur sang, he had a great influence on many in the field, including Eric Schreurs and Peter van Straaten.

Political cartoon published in Branle-bas de combat, depicting news events of 1979. We see an oil sheik, Russian head of state Leonid Breznhev and U.S. President Jimmy Carter trying to seduce a nude woman, representing Afghanistan, which succumbed in a civil war that year, with both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. giving financial and military support to the conflict. In the left corner we see Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife flee Iran after ayatollah Khomeini - depicted in the right corner - took power. In the lower center we see Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin grin and embrace one another, as the Camp David treaties established peace between their countries. In the right corner we spot Pope John Paul II waving a thurible and Chinese president Deng Xiaoping getting excited over the prospect of moving his Communist state to a more Capitalist stateform. The rest of the illustration is filled with images of warfare, executions and severe industrialisation. 

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