'De Verstrooide Loodgieters' (Furore #26, 2020).

Luuk Smeets is a Dutch comic artist, writer and poet, and the driving force behind the small press comic magazine Venlo-Internationaal.

Life and career
Luuk Smeets was the brother of the highly original oddball of Dutch comics, Mark Smeets. They were born in the coastal province of Zeeland, and later the family relocated to the Maastricht area in the southern province Limburg. While Mark's art appeared in several Dutch underground publications of the 1970s, Luuk remained relatively unknown. Sometimes the brothers cooperated on a comic story, for instance on 'Klein Provinciaal Nieuws' in the sixth issue of Windig & De Jong's Gezellig & Leuk magazine (1984). In 1981, Luuk Smeets self-published a collection of his poetry under the title 'Gekooide Vrijheid' ("Caged freedom").

'Klein Provinciaal Nieuws' by Mark and Luuk Smeets, from Gezellig & Leuk #6 (1984). 

In 1998, Luuk and Mark Smeets launched the small press magazine Venlo-Internationaal. The publication with a very limited print-run of about 60 copies was described as "a family magazine for Venlo and the rest of the world". It contained the completely incomprehensible adventures of Hay & Huub, and also the whereabouts of Ruk Römkes, the cracked reporter of the local newspaper. The brothers also unfolded a zany project called 'Venlo-World', a plan to rebuild the old fortified town of Venlo as an amusement park in the Groote Heide nature reserve. The local soccer club should exactly re-enact all its historical games in the neighbouring stadium.

christmas card by Luuk Smeets
Christmas card by Luuk Smeets (2007). The caption reads: "Who doesn't belong here in the cosy month of December?" 

The magazine Venlo-Internationaal quickly gained a cult status for its absurdism and utter lack of logic. Luuk was forced to continue on his own after Mark Smeets' death in 1999. By then, two issues had appeared under the imprint Les Bureaux Lumas Publications. Afterwards, new installments of Venlo-Internationaal were released on an irregular base. Each volume is filled with made-up stories, jokes and letters. Luuk Smeets applies the same nonsensical approach as his brother, albeit in a more naive drawing style. Like his brother however, Luuk's artwork reveals Hergé's 'Tintin' as a main source of inspiration.

Venlo International, by Luuk Smeets
Venlo Internationaal issues #3 (2000) and #4 (2001).

Mark Smeets legacy
Over the years, Luuk Smeets has operated as a caretaker of his late brother's legacy. Together with Fake Booij, Piet Schreuders and René Windig, he compiled the extensive retrospective 'Mark Smeets - De Triomf Van Het Tekenen' (Scratch Books, 2016), as well as a facsimile publication of Mark Smeets' 1993 sketchbook.

Luuk Smeets has also contributed to Piet Schreuders' irregularly appearing pop culture magazine Furore. In the 26th issue, dated January 2021 (but in fact published in September 2020), Smeets drew a parody of Theo Funke Küpper's classic comic strip 'De Verstrooide Professor' ("The Absent-minded Professor") under the title 'De Verstrooide Loodgieters' ("The Absent-minded Plumbers"). He also contributed an article detailing about Joe Orlando's plagiarism of Hal Foster.

Still from an interview with Luuk Smeets by Omroep Venlo (23 October 2019).

Series and books by Luuk Smeets you can order today:


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