comic art by Jan Sanders

Jan Sanders was a Dutch cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his amusing cartoons depicting sailors. He drew and painted in a highly detailed, satirical style, showing sea captains, sailors and the rest of the shipping crew in funny situations. His work has been published in English, French and Spanish.

Jan Sanders was born in Kwadijk, The Netherlands in 1919. His father was a common worker and his mother a teacher. During World War II he graduated in drawing, and became a teacher and freelance illustrator. 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. Apart from his work as an illustrator he was also an amateur theatrical director.

Sanders gained national acclaim for the calendars he made for Sigma Coatings, a painting factory. The pictures he drew for these calendars stand out for their cartoonesque quality and great humorous detail. While he made cartoons about various topics, the majority usually involve sailors. They are seen at sea, dealing with navy commands, stormy weather, shipwrecks, games, celebrations or their fellow crew members. Other cartoons depict them having fun in bars, meeting prostitutes or spending trips on land. As a running gag referring to Sigma Coatings, Sanders always included a paint bucket in many of these cartoons. He 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

His cartoons were collected in several albums, the first appearing in 1978. Some titles are ''t Kan Verkeren' (1978), 'Loos Alarm' (1980), 'Lik op Stuk' (1982), 'Rukwinden' (1983), 'Jan Sanders' Schetsboek' (1984), 'Satirische Spelen' (1984), 'Tussen Wal en Schip' (1985) and 'Een Eerbaar Zeemansleven' (1989). In 1985 the artist was awarded the Ton Smits penny. 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, such as 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 succombed 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 filed with images of warfare, executions and severe industrialisation. 

Series en boeken door Jan Sanders op voorraad in de Lambiek Webshop:

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