De Vleermuis #5 - 'Atoomduivels'.

Albert Winands, who used the pseudonym Ab Survie, was a Dutch comics artist who blossomed during the 1950s. He created the masked crusader series 'De Vleermuis' (1958), but most of his other work during this decade was done as an assistant. He ended his comics career after his military service, but made a brief return 25 years later with the science fiction comic 'John Tarac - vogelvrij' (1982). A few years before his death he enjoyed an unexpected revival, which even led to reprints of his older comics and publications of previously unpublished work. 

Early life and career
Albertus Matthijs Wilhelmus Winands was born in 1940 in Beverwijk. He was barely 16 years old when he became an assistant of Dick Vlottes, working on local production of monthly 'Tarzan' comic books. One of the books he inked and drew was 'Tarzan en de Witte Pygmeën' (1956). 

Cover from De Vleermuis, by Albert WinandsAtoomduivels by Albert Survie

De Vleermuis
In 1958 Arnoldus Teeuwen of the publishing house ATH asked Winands to make a comic book called 'De Vleermuis' (1958). The stories revolve around a masked vigilante, King Craem, who lives in London and dresses as a bat to solve crimes. Many people have incorrectly assumed that Winands based this character on Bill Finger and Bob Kane's 'Batman', but in reality the main inspiration was Norman Daniels' 'The Black Bat' (1939), a pulp novel hero which, incidentally, was also the inspiration for Batman. In an interview, Winands claimed that he never even heard from Batman at that point. Superhero comics didn't really catch on in the Netherlands at the time and the earliest Dutch-language translations of the series only happened in 1966, when the TV show became massively popular. 

Winands drew six stories starring De Vleermuis: 'Keren Doden Terug?', 'Het Monster van Parijs' (published as a two-parter), 'Spreek of Sterf', 'Atoomduivels' and 'Op Jacht'. After six issues the publisher discontinued the series. A seventh issue was completed but never published, and the original artwork is lost. It has not been recorded why the series was terminated? Copyright problems with the original 'The Black Bat' may have been possible, but the witch hunt in the Netherlands against "violent comics" at the time seems a more likely reason. 

De Vleermuis, by Albert Winands
De Vleermuis #4 - 'Spreek Of Sterf'.

Toonder Studios
Winands tried his luck at the famous Marten Toonder Studios, where he was hired as an inker and colorist. He had to quit this job when he was called up for military service. However, after returning to civilian life he was not hired again. Winands therefore quit the comics industry for the next two and a half decades. He opened a photo studio and was active as a portrait painter. 

John Tarak by Albert Survie
John Tarac - 'Vogelvrij'. 

John Tarac
In 1982 he was unexpectedly asked by Henry van Hooff to make a comic for his alternative comics magazine Coyote. Winands hereby made the sci-fi story 'John Tarac - Vogelvrij', which he signed with the pseudonym Ab Survie. Unfortunately the magazine sold its final issue before the comic could be published. Since Winands still had a couple of pages to go anyway, he didn't offer it to other magazines either. 

Revival 
It took until the next century before Winands' work attracted more general interest, which revitalized his career. On the comics-related website Stripster the entire 'John Tarac' story was put online in 2005. 'De Vleermuis' also enjoyed a revival, as many fans of 1950s pulp stories and people incorrectly describing it as a "Dutch 1950s version of Batman" called for reprints. Johan de Neef, the provider of the Stripster site, searched for the copyright holders, but publishing company ATH didn't exist any longer. He eventually tracked down Winands' e-mail address and obtained the publishing rights. This led to reprints of old 'De Vleermuis' episodes in the Hip Comics series by Windmill Comics. Johan de Neef, Gerard de Werken and Willem Heeman made new stories as well, in collaboration with Winands, who also redrew some of his 1970s unpublished comic stories for Windmill. De Neef took the precaution to check up with DC Comics to prevent legal problems. 

Death
Albert Winands passed away in his hometown Beverwijk in 2016.

Albert Winands
Young Albert Winands at Dick Vlottes' house.

Series and books by Albert Survie in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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