Thé Tjong-Khing is one of Holland's best known illustrators of children's books, but he has also left his mark in Dutch comics history. Thé was born in Purworedjo, Java in the former Dutch Indies. He grew up in a Chinese family (the familyname is Thé) and he studied at the Bandung Art Academy. He came to The Netherlands in 1956 to study at the Kunstnijverheidsschool (the future Rietveld Academy) in Amsterdam. He also found employment with the Toonder Studios, where his first assigment was drawing short stories for the British magazines Boyfriend and Valentine.
Student Tijloos - Het spiegelpaleis
Toonder noticed his talent for realistic drawing and Thé became Jan Wessling's assistant on the newspaper comic 'Marion', that appeared in De Telegraaf until 1961. Thé and Wesseling also worked on a couple of 'Koning Hollewijn' stories together. Thé's realistic drawing style suited Toonder and he was asked to succeed Gerrit Stapel as the artist of the newspaper comic 'Student Tijloos' in 1960. Thé drew one story for Algemeen Dagblad from a script by Lo Hartog van Banda and then left Toonder to become a freelance artist.
He focused on illustration and one of the first writers he worked with was Tim Maran. He returned to comics in 1967 when he drew a comic in the series 'Arendsoog' for Pep magazine. A year later he worked with fellow artist Jan van Haasteren and writers Andries Brandt and Patty Klein on two stories of 'Horre, Harm en Hella', another Toonder newspaper comic published in De Telegraaf.
Arman & Ilva
In 1968 Thé created 'Iris', a landmark comic book inspired by the pop-art movement of that decade, together with writer Lo Hartog van Banda. Between 1969 and 1975, Thé and Hartog van Banda produced their most famous series, the science fiction epic 'Arman & Ilva', that was drawn in a clear and cinematic style.
De Twee van Oldenhoek
Thé left the artwork to Gerrit Stapel in 1975 and then made 'De Twee van Oldenhoek' for girl's magazine Tina. In that same year co-launched the alternative comics magazine De Vrije Balloen. In this magazine, he a series of short stories that were later collected under the title 'Storende Verhalen'.
Lente in de k.centrale (De Vrije Balloen, 1977)
Tjong-Khing said farewell to comics in 1977 to devote himself to his passion, illustrating children's books. He evolved his realistism into a more stylized drawing style, and has since then illustrated about 300 children's books by authors liek Miep Diekmann, Dolf verroen, Els Pelgrom and Annie M. G. Schmidt. He has received many awards for his illustration work, but his comics have not been forgotten. Publisher Sherpa started with reprinting 'Arman & Ilva' in 2006.
Illustration for children's book
'De Wonderbare Reis van de Jongen' (1998)
Thé Tjong-Khing biography