Sebedeus en zijn ploeg, by Piet Tibos
'Sebedeus en zijn Ploeg'.

Piet Tibos was a Flemish painter, cartoonist, caricaturist and comics artist, who worked for the local newspaper Het Belang van Limburg in the 1950s and 1960s. He drew the humoristic adventure comics series 'De Avonturen van Sebedeus en zijn Ploeg' (1955), which never managed to rise above local obscurity, since only one attempt was made to collect it in album format. Later in his career a few stories were reprinted, but most of Tibos' original drawings are lost.

Early life
Piet Tibos was born in 1930 in Borgerhout. He was educated at the Academy and the "Stedelijk Instituut voor Sierkunsten" (Muncipal Institute of Decorative Arts), both in Antwerp. Like many Flemish cartoonists of his generation, he was strongly influenced by Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske'.

Graphic career
In the 1950s he became an illustrator and caricaturist for the newspaper Het Belang van Limburg, intended for people of the province Limburg, but also distributed in the rest of Flanders. Tibos made both political cartoons as well as illustrations for the paper's advertisements publications. On 21 March 1955 Het Belang van Limburg launched a weekly juvenile supplement titled 'Sneppeke'. It mostly contained translations from French-language supplement magazines like Recréation, La Libre Junior and Le Soir-Jeunesse, but also contributions from Dutch and Flemish artists, such as Beek's 'De Vrolijke Avonturen van Knikkebol' (1958) and 'De Drie Kousenkooplui' (1964-1965) by Studio Avan.

Sebedeus en Zijn Ploeg
On 2 August 1955 Piet Tibos launched his own comic strip, 'De Avonturen van Sebedeus en zijn Wielerploeg' (later shortened to 'De Avonturen van Sebedeus en zijn Ploeg') in Seppeke. The stories are set in Limburg and, like most Flemish comics of the time, written in juicy dialect with jolly, petulant comedy. The protagonist, Zebedeus, is a stupid but loveable doofus, flanked by a young boy, Mongske, and young girl, Marieke, which naturally draw comparisons with Lambik, Suske and Wiske from Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske'. The series' graphic style, humor and local atmosphere are also very Vandersteen-esque, though elements of Marc Sleen's 'Nero' can also be traced. Zebedeus' personality and physical look are comparable to Nero, while some plot elements in the story 'Het Rode Oog' are reminscent of similar scenes in older 'Nero' stories, like the brain transplants from 'Het Rattenkasteel' and mad people who think they are historical characters in 'Het Geheim van Matsuoka'.


'Het Rode Oog'.

Still, Tibos had enough personality of his own to keep the stories fresh and entertaining. About seven stories ran in the paper, namely 'De Grote Prijs van Achterpelt', 'Het Paard van Napoleon', 'Het Broebelende Fleske', 'Het Rode Oog', 'Sebedeus Heeft De Bip', 'De Bollendief' and 'Prinses Trapkenshaar'. Despite its long run, Het Belang van Limburg never wanted to invest in comic albums. Tibos eventually self-published one story in book format, 'Het Broebelende Fleske', with an edition of about 3.000 copies. Without proper promotion it was doomed to barely sell.

In 1985 'Het Broebelende Fleske' was reprinted by Standaard Uitgeverij, in the series 'Stripdossier' (issue #4) by Kris De Saeger, best known for his books about famous comics artists, such as 'Dossier Franquin', 'Dossier Cauvin', 'Dossier Nys', 'Dossier Walthéry' and 'Dossier Craenhals'. Since the original prints of this story were gone, old newspaper cut-outs were used and occasionally redrawn and cleaned up. A restored reprint of 'Het Rode Oog' also appeared in a winter-themed comic book special of Willy Linthout and Urbanus' series 'Urbanus', titled 'Tweede Wintertenenboek' (1993), alongside reprints of even older comics, such as Rudolph Dirks' 'The Katzenjammer Kids', Richard F. Outcault's 'Buster Brown' and the more recent comic, 'Tom Carbon' by Laurent Letzer and Luc Cromheecke.

Later life and death
After retiring from the comics industry, Tibos spent most of his time as a painter with his own gallery in Lier. He illustrated 'Een Droom Met Heel Veel Groen' (1966), a series of humoristic columns by comedian Louis Verbeeck, which was reprinted four times due to success. In 1967 Tibos established a printing company. In 1969 he was involved with the local elections, making satirical cartoons for the magazine De Koekoek. Tibos was also active in the environmental organisation Bond Beter Leefmilieu, department Oelegem, lead by priest Luc Versteylen. Versteylen would later found the Flemish political party Agalev (nowadays Groen!).

Piet Tibos passed away in Oelegem on 19 June 2009, shortly before his 79th birthday.

Announcement of Sebedeus en Zijn Ploeg
Announcement for 'Het Rode Oog'.

Series and books by Piet Tibos in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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