End sequence from 'De Andere Wereld' (1979, art by Piet Wijn and Marten Toonder).

Marten Toonder was an influential Dutch comic writer and artist, whose creation 'Tom Poes en Heer Bommel' (1941-1986) has become an icon of Dutch comics, lifting the medium to literary levels. As head of the Toonder Studio's, he pioneered in professionalizing the Dutch comic and animation industries, providing job opportunities and a place to learn for many young writers and artists. Comic productions by the Toonder Studio's dominated the Dutch print media from the 1940s through the 1980s, while the firm's animation department provided thousands of advertising and other commercial films. In 1983, the Toonder Studio's released the first animated feature film created on Dutch soil, 'Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel' ('The Dragon Who Was, Or Wasn't He?'). While Toonder is mostly associated with the daily adventures of the white cat Tom Poes (Tom Puss) and his bear friend, the nobleman Olivier B. Bommel (Oliver B. Bumble), he was also the creator of other popular newspaper comics, including 'Kappie' (1945-1972), 'Panda' (1946-1991) and 'Koning Hollewijn' (1954-1971). Often working within the funny animal and fantasy genre, Marten Toonder was a true fabulist whose unforgettable characters serve as witty archetypes of human personalities. His productions stood out for their high-quality artwork and clever storytelling, characterized by subtle social satire and inventive wordplay. Particularly the 'Tom Poes' comic was filled with Toonder's eccentric, antiquated and colorful use of language. Certain words and expressions he created have even entered the Dutch language, an achievement that earned him a literary status unprecedented by any other cartoonist in the Netherlands. No other Dutch-language comic author has been the subject of so many books, studies and essays, which not only cover his body of work, but also his controversies and complex personality.

Tom Poes en de Superfilmonderneming by Marten Toonder
'Tom Poes en De Rare Uitvinding' (art by Marten Toonder and Wim Lensen).

Early life and education
Marten Toonder (often erroneously referred to as "Maarten Toonder") was born in 1912 in the portal city of Rotterdam, South Holland, into a family originating from the eastern Dutch province of Groningen. His father, Marten Toonder Senior (1879-1965), was a sea captain in the Dutch merchant navy and often away from home for long periods of time. Marten's younger brother Jan Gerhard Toonder (1914-1992) would later become a well-known writer and poet. As a child, Marten Toonder was a huge bibliophile, devouring many classic novels and poetry collections, but he also enjoyed the foreign comics his father brought along from his long journeys across the world. During his school years, he got acquainted with the captain's daughter Phiny Dick, who became his girlfriend and eventually his wife. Graduating from secondary trade school in 1931, Marten Toonder wanted to study at the Drawing Academy ("Teekenacademie"), but his father was opposed to the idea. Instead, Toonder Senior brought his 19-year old son along on a sea trip to Argentina, hoping he could encourage Marten for a nautical career. Yet the voyage had the opposite effect. While stationed in Buenos Aires, Toonder met an American animator who once worked for Pat Sullivan and was now a student of the local comic legend Dante Quinterno. The identity of this American is still a source for debate: Toonder always said the man was called Jim Davis, although the only known animator by that name was born in 1915 and would have been sixteen years old at the time. The animator gave the young Marten some drawing tips firsthand, and also introduced him to a written cartooning course by Quinterno. On their way back to the Netherlands, Marten Toonder told his father about his new determination to become a cartoonist. Toonder Senior gave his son an ultimatum: Marten had one year to make a living out of this ambition, otherwise he had to learn a "real" profession.

Back in Rotterdam, Toonder first fulfilled his military service and then enrolled at the local Academy of Fine Arts. Unsatisfied with the teaching methods, he dropped out after just three months. The young man felt he could learn more by studying the work of artists he admired, making clipping books with their work for inspiration. In addition, he took private lessons with the painter-restorer Arie van Rhijn and the painter-glazier Evert Warffemius, who had ateliers in one of the top floors of Rotterdam's first skyscraper, the "White House". Over the years, Toonder was influenced by Dutch artists (E.M. ten Harmsen van der Beek, Freddie Langeler, Anton Pieck, Eppo Doeve), American cartoonists (Rudolph Dirks, Harold Foster, George McManus, Alex Raymond, Burne Hogarth, Wyncie King), American illustrators (Norman Rockwell, C.C. Beall), classic European illustrators and fine artists (Gustave Doré, John Tenniel, Treyer Evans, Heinrich Kley, Wilhelm Busch) and South American comic creators (Jose Luis Salinas, Rodolfo Claro). A major influence on Marten Toonder's early comics were the British 'Rupert Bear' stories by Mary Tourtel. His passion for animation was fuelled by the work of Walt Disney, the Fleischer brothers, Pat Sullivan and Paul Grimault. As a filmmaker, Marten Toonder was also inspired by the movie directors Fritz Lang, René Clair, Ingmar Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock. Later in his career, Toonder also expressed admiration for some of his contemporary cartoonists, such as Al Capp, Walt Kelly, H.G. Kresse, Dick Matena and René Hausman.

Bram Ibrahim, by Marten Toonder
'Bram Ibrahim' (29 December 1934).

First published comic strips
In 1933, Toonder published his first comics, collaborating with his writer brother Jan Gerhard. Between 6 February and 23 June of that year, their comic strip 'Bram's Avonturen' appeared in the children's corner of the Christian newspaper De Nederlander. Written by Jan Gerhard and drawn by Marten for the Vereenigde Persbureaux press agency in The Hague, this adventure comic about an Arab merchant was then syndicated to other newspapers, sometimes under the title 'De Vroolijke en Griezelige Avonturen van Bram Ibrahim' ("The Fun and Scary Adventures of Bram Ibrahim"). Throughout 1933 and 1934, the strip ran in De Zuidwillemsvaart, De Morgen, Nieuwe Hoornsche Courant, De Avondpost, Winschoter Courant and De Zuidwillemsvaart, as well as the weekly K.R.O. Gids voor de Jeugd. Together with a couple of school mates, Marten and Jan Gerhard Toonder additionally ran a short-lived advertising agency, Ibis Studio. By July 1933, Marten Toonder managed to sell his gag strip 'Tobias' to the Helmond publishing company, who ran it in their monthly magazine Ideaal.

'Fik en Fok' (ABC, 1933).

Nederlandsche Rotogravure Maatschappij
However, Toonder's early comic productions were hardly financially rewarding. The deadline his father had given him - stating that within one year he should be able to live from his art - was getting closer. Luckily, in October 1933, Toonder found employment as an all-round staff illustrator with the Leiden-based printing and publishing company Nederlandsche Rotogravure Maatschappij. Stationed in an office corner behind a wobbly drawing table, Toonder's first assignment was taking over the comic strip 'Ukkie Wappie' (1933), that appeared in both the Flemish magazine ABC and the Dutch weekly Het Weekblad voor U (which merged shortly afterwards with another title, Unicum). 'Ukkie Wappie' was originally a translation of the American 'Perry Winkle' newspaper comic by Martin Branner. When the American source material dried out, the publisher had assigned one of its own artists to continue the feature, but wasn't satisfied with the result. When Toonder took over the Rotogravure version of 'Ukkie Wappie', he quickly gave it his own spin. His rendition commenced on 12 November 1933 in ABC under the title 'Fik en Fok' (1933-1937). After a couple of weeks, the same comic also appeared in Het Weekblad voor U, but then under the titles 'Ukkie Wappie en Pukkie Waffie' (1933-1934) and 'Uk en Puk' (1934-1939).

Historically, the Rotogravure's 'Ukkie Wappie' was the first Dutch rendition of Martin Branner's 'Perry Winkle', but not the only one. In 1938, publisher De Spaarnestad hired Frans Piët to create another local version of Branner's comic, which resulted in the popular 'Sjors van de Rebellenclub' feature and eventually the long-running 'Sjors en Sjimmie' franchise.

Benefiting from the tips and tricks he got from the experienced cartoonist Eppo Doeve, Toonder learned his trade by making all sorts of artwork, including one-panel cartoons, funny comic strips and more realistically rendered stories and illustrations. A chance meeting with the British comic artist Roy Wilson on a train ride from Leiden to Rotterdam proved career-changing. Wilson showed Toonder a copy of the British comic magazine Funny Wonder, and gave a speed course in drawing in a more energetic, dynamic style. During the second half of the 1930s and early 1940s, Toonder's artwork appeared in most of the Rotogravure magazines, including Unicum, Cinema & Theater and the promotional Extra Magazine for the Jamin stores. Abroad, his artwork appeared in ABC (Flanders), Bonjour! (Wallonia) and A-Z Luxemburger Illustrierte Wochenschrift (Luxembourg), all magazines printed by the Rotogravure for the Brussels-based Dutch publisher Jean Meuwissen. Toonder's comics were seldomly limited to one magazine, and ran in several publications at the same time. Notable early creations were the celebrity comic based on the popular film duo Laurel & Hardy (1933) , the humor comic 'The New Nonsens Film Cy.' (1933-1935) and the gag cartoon series 'Wat Er Ook Gebeur', Houdt Je Goed Humeur' (1934-1935) in the film and theater magazine Het Weekblad Cinema & Theater. That same magazine also ran Toonder's gag comic 'De Avonturen van Bello' (1939), about a funny dog. 'De Doodende Straal' (1937-1939) was one of the few realistic comics made by Toonder, appearing in the Meuwissen magazines.

'Thijs IJs' (1934).

Gaining independence
Even though, as a staff artist, Marten Toonder had to work exclusively for the Rotogravure, he created many comic strips on the side. Between March 1934 and October 1938, he and his brother Jan Gerhard made 52 adventures starring the polar bear 'Thijs IJs' for the daily newspaper Nieuwsblad van het Noorden and some other regional newspapers. The 'Thijs IJs' strip was created as a replacement for another white bear, the British 'Rupert' by Mary Tourtel. Because of Marten's employment with the Rotogravure, the comic was initially credited to only Jan Gerhard Toonder, but it was in fact a true family enterprise. While Jan Gerhard did the writing, Marten created the pencil art, after which Phiny Dick provided the inking. As enjoyable as the 'Thijs IJs' stories were, they still show an artist in his formative years. However, elements from these early creations later reappeared in the 'Tom Poes' stories. Some plotlines were reused and the character dynamics between Dicky Dons the cat and the polar bear Thijs IJs already echo Tom Poes and Olivier B. Bommel. Even Bommel's iconic catchphrase, "Een eenvoudige doch voedzame maaltijd" ("A simple but nourishing meal"), was already used in the 'Thijs IJs' comic.

A more obscure comic strip drawn by Toonder was 'Pat en Pom', about two boy scouts. Written by M.P. van Valckenborgh, it ran between 21 October and 17 December 1935 in Nieuwe Apeldoornsche Courant, and was then picked up in the following years by several other local newspapers. In 1937, Marten Toonder also tried his hand at prose and wrote a non-illustrated detective novel, 'Tim MacNab Zoekt Copy' (1937). The experiment was not successful and fell into obscurity for 75 years, only to be rediscovered and republished in a limited edition by De Bezige Bij (2012) and then in a collection for the general public by Personalia ('Tom MacNab Zoekt Kopij', 2017).

By 1935, Toonder had such a lucrative workload that he could marry his girlfriend Phiny Dick and start a family. The couple had two sons, Eiso Toonder (1936-2014) and Onno (1944-1999). In the 1950s, they adopted two daughters that came from an orphanage in Jakarta, Indonesia: Jeannette (1948-1992) and Mari-Lou (1944-2000). In the early years of their marriage, Toonder and Dick regularly collaborated on their comics. Phiny helped her husband with inking, drawing and writing, including on the early 'Tom Poes' strips. And Toonder briefly took over his wife's comic 'Doris en Daantje' (1935) in Extra magazine during the final months of her pregnancy. For a couple of weeks in 1940, he did the same for the comic strip 'Tijs Wijs, de Torenwachter', when the original cartoonist Willy Smit fell ill. By the early 1950s, Phiny Dick dropped most of her professional cartooning and illustration work to focus on raising her family.

'De Avonturen van Dikkie en Dunnie'. 

Leaving the Rotogravure
Despite Toonder's high production in the 1930s, the Great Depression was still in effect and he was often faced with salary cuts from the Rotogravure. To be able to supplement his income, he desired more independence. In the autumn of 1938, Toonder was allowed to work from home and by September 1939, he quit his day job as staff artist altogether. Turning freelance, his activities expanded by illustrating several books, greeting cards (for publisher De Muinck & Co) and advertisements. His former employer, the Rotogravure in Leiden, however remained one of his main clients, hiring Toonder to continue his ongoing comic features. For Paraat, a junior magazine for grocery shop clients, Toonder drew such strips as 'Kareltje en Koolwit' (1938), 'Puckie Pek en Pa Perzik' (1938) and 'Dikkie en Dunnie' (1938). Between 1940 and 1943, the latter feature reappeared in the Rotogravure magazines, including the Dutch edition of Bravo!.

Originally a Flemish magazine, Bravo! started as a co-production between the Belgian-based publisher Jan Meuwissen and the Dutch printer Rotogravure. However, the outbreak of World War II caused distribution problems, and the magazine continued as two separate titles. In December 1940, Meuwissen launched a new Belgian version in both Dutch and French, having among its early contributors the comic creators E.P. Jacobs and Jacques Laudy. In the Netherlands, the Rotogravure reworked the original Bravo! into a children's supplement for its magazines Unicum (1940-1941) and Cinema & Theater (1941-1942). The majority of this Dutch version's pages were filled by Toonder and Auke Tadema, including such Toonder productions as 'Jim en Soe' (1940), 'Jopie en Joris' (1940-1942), and another realistic effort, 'De Koning van het Oerwoud' (1941-1942). One of Toonder's final comics for the Rotogravure was the detective feature 'Slim en Sloom, Speurders' (Unicum, 1942-1943). Largely unknown by Marten Toonder's post-war fandom, this early period in the author's career was chronicled in the 2016 book 'De Tekentafel Wiebelde Een Beetje' ("The Drawing Table was a Bit Wobbly") by Dick de Boer and Loek Donders, published by Cliché.

De Koning van het Oerwoud, by Marten Toonder
'De Koning van het Oerwoud' (Bravo!, 1940).

Diana Edition
Now an independent artist, Toonder began establishing a portfolio of comic strips that he could sell to newspapers and magazines. In August 1939, he signed a contract with the Austrian agent Fritz Gottesmann (1899-1945), who had just moved his Diana Edition International Press Service to Amsterdam. Gottesmann had been running Diana Edition in Vienna since 1935, syndicating comic strips and editorial features to newspapers and magazines across the world, most notably Argentina. When in 1938 Hitler occupied his native Austria during the Anschluss, the Jewish Gottesmann fled the country and set up shop in the Netherlands. During his meeting with Gottesmann, Toonder presented the agent a portfolio of comics and drawings, including 'Japie Makreel', 'Tim Slim', 'Wolle Waf', 'Don Sombrero' and a still unnamed white cat. Gottesmann however preferred the young cartoonist to do another task, namely ghosting several of the agency's existing features. In all the political turmoil, Gottesmann had lost contact with his top cartoonists: William Timym and Erwin von Barta, creators of respectively 'Der Chef' (1938-1940) and 'Hannibal' (1938-1945). For several years, Toonder ghosted these pantomime gag strips, which appeared in the Argentinian magazine Leoplán and some local Dutch newspapers.

Japie Makreel, by Marten Toonder
'Japie Makreel' (from Doe Mee).

Still, Diana Edition also picked up some of Toonder's own creations. The Mexican 'Don Sombrero' (1940-1945), for instance, appeared in the Arnhemse Courant (1940-1941) and, under the title 'Pancho Sombrero', in the Argentinian magazine Leoplán (1943-1944) and the Swedish paper Götesborgs-Posten (1940-1945). The adventures of sailor 'Japie Makreel' (1940-1942) found a spot in the Dutch children's magazine Doe Mee!. To keep up with this newfound workload, Marten Toonder hired Wim Lensen as his first assistant in July 1940. By then, the Netherlands had been invaded by Nazi Germany. It was just a matter of time before Jewish entrepreneurs would be stripped from their businesses.

To safeguard the future of his firm during the Nazi occupation, Gottesmann made Marten Toonder his business partner. Within a year, Jewish people were banned from all public organizations, institutions and other aspects of social life. In September 1941, Gottesmann signed over his share of Diana Edition to Toonder, with the agreement that when the war was over, the venture would be returned to him in its current state. History however took a tragic turn. On 14 August 1944, Fritz Gottesmann was arrested during a raid at his home address. After a stay in the Westerbork transit camp, he was put on a train to Auschwitz, coincidentally the same transport as Anne Frank and her family. He was later sent to Mauthausen, where he died from pneumonia on 25 February 1945.

During the war, Toonder and his assistants continued most of the Diana Edition features, while also adding a new one to its catalog. Since the Nazis banned the import of American and British comics, Dutch artists were assigned to fill the vacant places in Dutch newspapers. To replace Walt Disney's 'Mickey Mouse' comic in the newspaper De Telegraaf, Toonder dusted off his sketches of a cute white cat, unknowingly laying the groundwork for his future comic empire. Had Fritz Gottesmann survived the war, he would probably have been part of this history.

First Tom Poes story, Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde (a.k.a. 'De Laarzenreuzen')
Strip from the first Tom Poes story, 'Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde' (AKA 'De Laarzenreuzen', 1941).

Tom Poes - the early years
Between 16 March and 18 April 1941, De Telegraaf serialized Toonder's 'De Avonturen van Tom Poes', a story that would later receive the title 'Tom Poes Ontdekt Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde'. Like most Dutch newspaper comics at the time, 'Tom Poes' was a text comic, with captions printed underneath the images. For the first six episodes, these text captions were written by Toonder's wife Phiny Dick, who also named the character after a popular Dutch pastry, tompouce. Although the series also features human characters, 'Tom Poes' is most of all a funny animal comic. His adventures take place in a fairy tale world, set in an undisclosed time period. In the third story, 'In Den Tovertuin' (12 July-13 August 1941), Tom meets a rich landlord, the bear Olivier B. Bommel (Oliver B. Bumble). The naïve and self-important bear prides himself being a "tender nobleman to whom money doesn't matter". Yet he often gets carried away by his big mouth, because he never thinks before he acts. Although he presents himself as a dignified person, he is usually the first to panic when danger is about and begs Tom "to think up a ploy." His humorous behavior endeared him to readers and he soon became Tom Poes' best friend. In the story 'De Drakenburcht' (1941), Bommel received his signature car, De Schicht. His home became castle Bommelstein, where, from 'De Zieke Hertog' (1942) on, he is served by his loyal labrador butler, Joost. Tom would often visit him there. Although 'Tom Poes' was still a straightforward children's comic during World War II, the stage for its post-war success and increasing higher stature was set.

Czech version of the first 'Tom Poes' story.

Building a studio
During the early 1940s, Marten Toonder and his assistant Wim Lensen were dealing with a considerable amount of comic production. Apart from the 'Tom Poes' comic, they also continued features for Bravo! magazine and the Diana Edition agency. To take care of the business side, Toonder found a new associate in Jan Bouman (1912-1978). In November 1941, Bouman started merchandising deals related to 'Tom Poes', including the popular 1942 board game 'Het Spel van Tom Poes'. To take care of all the extra projects, new co-workers were hired, including the artists Cees van de Weert and Jan Scheffer. Toonder's brother Jan Gerhard and cousin Dirk Huizinga joined as writers and editors. Between 1941 and 1945, the adventures of Tom Poes were adapted into several stage plays by the Tierelantijnen Tooneel, starring comedian Wim Sonneveld. The plays were written by Jan Gerhard Toonder and novelist Hella Haasse (of 'Oeroeg' fame).

Even though the 'Tom Poes' comic increased in popularity - by December 1941 it also ran in the Czechoslavakian children's magazine Punt'a - Toonder's main ambition was to make an animated film. In June 1942, he and Bouman joined forces with another ambitious animator, Joop Geesink, founding the Geesink-Toonder Teekenfilmproducties studio. Already active in the field, Geesink brought several of his co-workers along, including his brother Wim Geesink for the finances, and his animation crew, consisting of Henk Kabos, Frans van Lamsweerde, Geertje Knoef, John van der Meulen, Mary Oosterdijk, Carol Voges and Henk Zwart. Work was divided between Joop Geesink's home studio at the Amsterdam Vijzelstraat and Toonder and Bouman's new offices at the Keizersgracht.

During their partnership, Toonder and Geesink produced animated shorts for companies like the Dutch Railways and Philips. However, Toonder had a bigger plan: an animated feature film starring 'Tom Poes'. To help out with the ever-expanding production, the studios hired animators, secretaries, errand boys and other personnel. Among the artists that joined during the war years were Henk Albers, Albert van Beek, Richard Klokkers, Jan Dirk van Exter, Henk Sprenger, Wim Boost, Siem Praamsma, James Ringrose, Wim Bijmoer and Frits Godhelp. Some eventually moved from the animation department to the comic division, and vice versa. A large part of the comic production was handled by the studio staff. In later years Toonder always kept a close watch on the 'Tom Poes' comic, but during the war several stories were fully handled - both story and art - by his studio workers Carol Voges, Corrie Hazendonk and Wim Lensen. Another print project was the picture book 'Het Recept van Pinneke Proost' (1943) for the gin brand Kabouter. The story was written by Toonder and illustrated by Henk Kabos, Cees van de Weert, Frans van Lamsweerde and newcomer Hans G. Kresse, but the book remained unpublished until a 1995 collector's edition was released by John Wigmans.

The Toonder-Geestink team-up didn't last long. Toonder wanted to make hand-drawn animated films, while Geesink was more interested in creating stop-motion and puppet films. The two men also differed in character. Geesink was a jovial extravert, Toonder more quiet and inward. In March 1943, their joint venture was dissolved, with Toonder's part of the firm continuing as Toonder-Bouman Filmproducties. In 1944, he used his experiences with Joop and Wim Geesink as inspiration for his comic story 'Tom Poes en De Superfilmonderneming' (1944), in which Tom Poes and Bommel get involved in movie production.

'Tom Poes en de Superfilmonderneming' (1944), artwork by Toonder Studio's.

World War II
While other entertainment firms in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II had come to a halt, Toonder and his studio team managed to keep working on their productions. His role during the war years has been the subject of criticism and debate. For one, Toonder and his family were registered with the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer, a Nazi-controlled institution that supervised all cultural and artistic productions in the Netherlands. Without registration, artists, architects, writers, journalists, musicians, film actors and stage performers were no longer allowed to work in their profession. Many artists refused to work under German control, but Marten Toonder did sign up. Registered since 15 February 1942, Toonder could continue his comic and animation projects without much interference. Another fact held against Toonder was that his planned short film 'Tom Puss. Das Geheimnis der Grotte' was funded by the German film company Degeto. Also, his 'Tom Poes' comic strip ran in De Telegraaf, a newspaper appearing under Nazi supervision.

On the other hand, by continuing production with German funding, Toonder was able to keep his studio running. That way, many of his artists - including the less skilled ones - were safeguarded from exportation to Germany for forced labor. The team deliberately kept a slow pace with animating their feature film. In three years time, only eight of the short's eleven minutes were completed. For this film adaptation of the first 'Tom Poes' newspaper serial, the role of the limping midget Pikkin was subtly modeled after the real-life handicaps of German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and the Reich Commissioner for the German-occupied Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart. After the war, the original comic story was re-released in book format under the new title 'Tom Poes en De Laarzenreuzen' ("Tom Puss and the Boot Giants"), in which the robbing giants made more direct references to the raiding German occupiers in their military boots.

In September 1944, the southern half of The Netherlands was liberated by the Allied Forces. But the northern part of the country remained under Nazi occupation for another grueling winter. Since the Toonder Studio’s were located in Amsterdam, they had to endure six extra months of hunger, war and Nazi oppression. Due to a lack of food, paper and sufficient electricity, Amsterdam's professional and cultural life came to a halt. As many of the studio employees had to go into hiding, production of the 'Tom Poes' film slowed down even more. On 20 November 1944, halfway through the story 'De Chinese Waaier', Toonder also discontinued his 'Tom Poes' newspaper comic in De Telegraaf. By then, the newspaper had just appointed the SS officer Henri "Hakkie" Holdert as new chief editor. Even though De Telegraaf had been Nazi-controlled since the start of the occupation, the editors hadn't been actual Nazis up to that point. Toonder consulted a physician to declare himself manic-depressive and unable to continue working.

Toonder's motivations for discontinuing 'Tom Poes' at this moment in time have been much criticized. Since the Nazis were clearly losing the war, many feel this act was only motivated to polish up his reputation for when the war was over. Toonder himself claimed that the events during the final war year had made him realize that De Telegraaf had become the symbol of the "wrong side". Whatever his reasons, Toonder and his artist team became important contributors to the Dutch resistance. They falsified documents and helped the resistance workers Dick van Veen and Jo Pellicaan with their illegal printing service D.A.V.I.D. (an acronym for "De Algemeene Vrije Illegale Drukkerij" - "The General Free Illegal Printing House”). From a so-called "second division" of the Toonder Studio’s in the Amsterdam Spuistraat, D.A.V.I.D. printed illegal newspapers like Vrij Nederland, Het Parool and Trouw, as well as booklets of the publishing company De Bezige Bij. Toonder and his co-workers Henk Kabos, Wim van Wieringen, Carol Voges and Hans G. Kresse provided anti-Nazi illustrations for several D.A.V.I.D. publications, most notably the illegal paper Metro (1944-1945). In the early post-war years, D.A.V.I.D. continued its activities, for instance by publishing the first book collections of the 'Tom Poes' strip. In 1982, Marten Toonder was therefore honored with the Resistance Memorial Cross.

Saint-Nicholas celebration of the Toonder Studios in 1944. Marten Toonder is in the middle with mitre.

Marten Toonder Studio's
After the Liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945, Toonder had to rebuild his company. Because his firm had worked on a Berlin-funded film during the Nazi occupation, he was forbidden to be active in the Dutch film industry for one year. Newspaper De Telegraaf received a publication ban for its wartime associations, leaving Toonder without a home for his 'Tom Poes' strip. During the final war year, Toonder's relationship with partner Jan Bouman had soured, leading to a heated separation between the two business partners. The clever salesman Anton de Zwaan became Toonder's new partner in his new post-war enterprise. Since former Diana Edition owner Fritz Gottesmann had died, his agency was officially dissolved, after which Toonder and De Zwaan continued the Marten Toonder Studio's as a partnership, located at the Singel/Reguliersdwarsstraat in Amsterdam. Toonder's retired father, Marten Toonder Senior, joined the firm as commercial advisor. With the war over, a great many newspapers and magazines - both national and regional - appeared or returned to the market, many in need for comic strips to offer entertainment alongside the news of the day. To fulfill this need, the Toonder Studio’s started building a portfolio of comic strips. With his keen eye for syndication, Ton de Zwaan managed to get these comics published in the Netherlands and in other European countries.

Apart from a couple of new creations by Toonder himself, new series were launched, including the funny children's comic strips 'Robby' by Hans G. Kresse in Trouw (1945-1946), 'Olle Kapoen' by Phiny Dick, Coen van Hunnik and Richard Klokkers in Amsterdamsch Dagblad and then Algemeen Handelsblad (1945-1955) and 'Tekko Taks' by Henk Kabos and James Ringrose in De Nieuwe Nederlander and then Trouw (1946-1971). Besides humor features, the studio also ventured into epic adventure tales, the most notable being 'Eric de Noorman' by Hans G. Kresse, running in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. The series started out as a merger between separate concepts developed by Toonder and Kresse. Working freelance from home, Kresse had created a heroic Norseman named Leif. Around the same time, Toonder asked him to further develop his idea, involving the lost civilization of Atlantis. The result was a compromise, in which the Norseman - now renamed Eric - was stranded on the coast of Atlantis. Between 1946 and 1951, Toonder actively worked with Kresse on the plots of the 'Eric de Noorman' comic, at the time still fantasy-oriented. Later, Kresse continued the feature on his own, turning it into one of the most iconic Dutch historical adventure comics of all time. Later additions to the studio's realistic adventure comics output were 'Piloot Storm' by Henk Sprenger (1947-1969) and 'Aram van de Eilanden' by Piet Wijn (1950-1961).

New Toonder series
With the 'Tom Poes' daily strip on hiatus due to the publication ban of newspaper De Telegraaf, Marten Toonder spent the first post-war years developing new comic series. Besides co-creating 'Eric de Noorman' with Hans G. Kresse, he set up new comical features that carried the typical Toonder art style, humor and language. 'Kappie' (1945-1972) and 'Panda' (1946-1991), followed by the relaunch of the 'Tom Poes' daily (1947-1986) and 'Koning Hollewijn' (1954-1971), formed the core of his studio's syndication portfolio for many years. In general, Toonder would write and draw a couple of episodes himself, and then leave most of the production to his studio workers, while overseeing overall quality control and giving final approval. Prominent scriptwriters in the early years were family members like Jan Gerhard Toonder, Phiny Dick and cousin Dirk M. Huizinga. Later scriptwriters included Lo Hartog van Banda, Harry van den Eerenbeemt and Andries Brandt. Hartog van Banda became Marten Toonder's main co-plotter, working on most of his taskmaster's series. In later years, Marten's son Eiso Toonder worked as scriptwriter on many of his father's creations. For the pencil art and layouts, the team-up of Ben van 't Klooster (characters) and Ben van Voorn (backgrounds) had an important role in the overall look and feel of the Toonder comics. Many young artists who would later become prominent comic creators in their own right had their start as pencil artists for one or more Toonder comics, including Jan van Haasteren, Fred Julsing and Dick Matena. Main inkers on duty were in-house staff artists Frits Godhelp and Richard Klokkers. In later years, Piet Wijn proved to be Marten Toonder's most loyal companion, who at one point penciled all four comics at the same time!

'Kappie'. 'De Gehaaide Potvis'. Cover illustration for a landscape format book. 

The first new Toonder creation to debut after World War II was 'Kappie'. On 27 December 1945, the first episode appeared in the Dutch newspapers De Nieuwe Courant (in 1951 renamed to Het Vaderland) and Algemeen Dagblad. The text comic revolves around the mustached captain Anne Wobke - nicknamed Kappie - who sails the seas on his tugboat De Kraak with his crew, consisting of the angst-ridden navigator Tjeerd Duizendschoon ("De Maat"), chief engineer Siep Tuitkan ("De Meester") and Chinese cook Ah Sing. While in the earliest test strips, drawn by Hans G. Kresse, Kappie was a sturdy sailor, Toonder eventually made the hero small and friendly. Toonder's main inspiration were his childhood experiences in the atmospheric Rotterdam harbor scene and the stories he heard from his sailing father. With a colorful cast on board of a ship, the studio had limitless story possibilities, set all over the world.

Toonder wrote and drew the first 1945-1946 'Kappie' serial himself. He might have scripted some of the following episodes too, but eventually Dirk Huizinga became the regular writer. Throughout the strip's run, Lo Hartog van Banda, Harry van den Eerenbeemt, Andries Brandt and Eiso Toonder have been the feature's writers, with Mary Oosterdijk, Frits Godhelp, Joop Hillenius, Ton Beek, Jan van Haasteren, Dick Vlottes, Fred Julsing, Terry Willers, the Spanish Selecciones Illustradas agency and eventually Piet Wijn taking care of the art duties. Marten Toonder Senior gave technical advice on naval matters, from marine equipment to sea storms. Until 12 July 1972, 141 'Kappie' serials ran in Het Vaderland and Algemeen Dagblad. Additionally, Ton de Zwaan sold the feature to over 20 local newspapers in the Netherlands, as well as international newspapers in Belgium (in Flemish in De Gazet van Antwerpen and in French as 'Cappi' in Le Soir), Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, South Africa and Suriname. Dutch book collections were published by D.A.V.I.D., De Muinck & Co, the Friesche Vlag factory, Andries Blitz, Wolters-Noordhoff and Skarabee.

First appearance of Panda and Joris Goedbloed (1946, art by Marten Toonder).

While Toonder is mostly remembered for 'Tom Poes', his longest-running and most widely distributed newspaper strip was 'Panda' (1946-1991). Also a comic with text captions, the main hero is a little panda bear, sent out into the world by his father to learn a trade and earn income. On his journeys, the naïve bear is confronted with many tutors and employers, who are not all that trustworthy. In many ways, the 'Panda' comic was very similar to 'Tom Poes', as it was also set in a fantasy world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Panda not only had a similar design as Tom Poes, his butler Jeremias Jollipop strongly echoed Bommel's butler Joost. Panda's nemesis, the sly fox Joris Goedbloed (George Goodfellow), was a crossover character that also made appearances in five 'Tom Poes' stories. One of the most intriguing characters in Toonder's universe, Goedbloed is a villain whose crooked plans often cause trouble for the main characters, but he nevertheless has a sense of decency. If he realizes he went too far, he will help solve the matter and restore the damage done. One particular celebrity fan of Joris Goedbloed was the Irish poet, playwright and novelist Brendan Behan (of 'The Hostage' fame), who was able to quote the character's phrases by heart.

First appearing on 23 December 1946, the 'Panda' comic ran uninterruptedly for a period of 45 years in over 25 Dutch regional and local newspapers. On 31 December 1991, it was the last of the Toonder newspaper comics to come to an end. The 'Panda' comic was well-received abroad, appearing in over 30 German newspapers and magazines, as well as newspapers in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the Dutch Antilles, Curaçao, South Africa, Indonesia and Australia. The comic particularly reached great popularity in England and Ireland, where it ran as 'Little Panda' in The Daily Mail, The Evening News and The Irish Press. Between September 1957 and July 1959, the French publisher Artima released a monthly comic book named after Toonder's creation. The Toonder Studio's created two versions of the daily episodes: as a traditional text comic for the Dutch publication and as a balloon comic for the syndicated foreign publications. In 1977, the adventures of 'Panda' appeared as a balloon comic in the Netherlands as well. Dutch book collections were published by the J. Hoste, De Muinck & Co, Andries Blitz, Wolters-Noordhoff, Skarabee and Hans Matla's Panda imprint.

Like 'Kappie', Toonder took care of the early stories himself, although some sources credit their scripts to Jan Gerhard Toonder and Phiny Dick. Regular scriptwriters for the series have been Dirk Huizinga, Lo Hartog van Banda, Harry van den Eerenbeemt, Eiso Toonder, Patty Klein, Harrie Geelen and Ruud Straatman, while Ben van Voorn, Harry Hargreaves, Terry Willers, Jan Steeman, Jan van Haasteren and Jaap Lamberton have pencilled stories. The artist with the longest tenure on 'Panda' was Piet Wijn, who also wrote many of his own stories.

Tom Poes balloon comic from Kleine Zondagsvriend #26, 1950. Artwork by Toonder Studio's.

Tom Poes: weekly balloon comic
After World War II, with his new studio up and running, Toonder was eager to restart his 'Tom Poes' newspaper comic. However, he was still under contract with De Telegraaf, the newspaper that was banned from publication due to its wartime associations. Instead, Toonder and his team transformed the 'Tom Poes' comic from the daily text strip format into a comic feature with speech balloons for magazine publications. The first periodical to pick up the 'Tom Poes' balloon comic was the former resistance paper Ons Vrije Nederland, which ran 21 stories between 1945 and 1950. From 1947 to 1955, an additional 23 stories were produced for the Belgian weekly De Zondagsvriend and its youth supplement Kleine Zondagsvriend. Some of these stories were reworkings of earlier episodes from the newspaper strip, others were new.

Even though the 'Tom Poes' newspaper comic was restarted in 1947, production of the balloon comics continued. In the early 1950s, the 'Tom Poes' comic appeared in Wereldkroniek (1951-1954) and AVRO Radiobode (1954-1955), until it found a more regular spot in the magazines of publisher De Geïllustreerde Pers, Donald Duck (1959-1969) and Revue (1957-1966). While Toonder was involved with the writing of the early balloon comics, eventually the entire production was handled by his studio, with Lo Hartog van Banda becoming the main scriptwriter, and artists like Frits Godhelp, Wim Lensen, Ben van 't Klooster and Richard Klokkers providing the core of the artwork. The Revue stories stood out for their beautiful full-color rendering by Wim Lensen, while the Donald Duck serializations introduced a whole new generation of children to Toonder's creations. It was the first comic without Disney characters to appear in this weekly's pages. While simultaneously the 'Tom Poes' newspaper dailies evolved into clever social satire, the weekly balloon comics in Donald Duck remained funny adventure stories aimed at children. Tom Poes and Bommel were familiar faces in Donald Duck weekly until 1969, when characters from other non-Disney comics took their place. Between 1980 and 1988, the 'Tom Poes' comic returned in Donald Duck's pages with reworkings of earlier stories from the Wereldkroniek and Revue serializations. In 1999 and 2000, Dick Matena worked with Toonder on new balloon stories for Donald Duck, but the reboot ended after two stories due to creative differences.

Cover of Tom Poes Weekblad
Cover illustrations for Tom Poes Weekblad.

Tom Poes Weekblad
With the 'Tom Poes' balloon comic, the Toonder Studio's had produced its first comic feature aimed at magazines. In the neighboring country Belgium, comic magazines like Spirou and Tintin were quickly becoming market leaders. Between 28 November 1947 and 30 June 1951, the Toonder Studio's released their own weekly magazine, named after its signature hero: Tom Poes Weekblad. This way, the studio hoped to build up its readership by attracting a new generation of children. The magazine was also intended as a try-out for new comic features. If a comic proved successful with the Tom Poes Weekblad readers, Anton de Zwaan would take samples with him on his sales trips abroad. For the first time, Toonder's studio workers were allowed to develop their own comic strips, and even sign them with their own name. Several of the new features were indeed syndicated to other newspapers and magazines, including Wim van Wieringen's 'Simpelman', Frits Godhelp's 'Bas en Van der Pluim', Wim Lensen's 'Sim en Pans', Ben van 't Klooster's 'Filo Fop', James Ringrose's 'Blix Kater'. Toonder himself developed the adventures of 'Baron Bluff en Bartholomeus' (1948-1949), about a not-so-smart baron and his butler. The artists on duty were Albert van Beek and Frits Godhelp. In 1950 and 1951, Tom Poes Weekblad was additionally added as a supplement to the newspaper De Volkskrant, but for this publication retitled De Bommelbode. Both the magazine and the newly syndicated comic strips were not commercially successful however, and Tom Poes Weekblad ended after four years. A lot of the magazine's material was recycled for Pum Pum, a new Belgian weekly launched in 1951, for which the Toonder Studio's also produced new comics and illustrations.

Tom Poes: the Bommel saga
With their varied supply of comic series, the Toonder Studio's were gradually becoming the main producers of newspaper comics in The Netherlands. Despite all the new creations, the character of 'Tom Poes' remained the foundation of the company's success. By 1947, the studios were producing 'Tom Poes' balloon comics, while the publisher De Muinck & Co collected the earlier newspaper serials in landscape-format booklets. The daily strip, on the other hand, had been on hold for two and a half years. In early 1947, Marten Toonder was approached by one of his former D.A.V.I.D. associates, Joop Lücker, to restart the feature. Its new homebase would become De Volkskrant, of which Lücker was editor-in-chief. On 10 March 1947, the new 'Tom Poes' serial, 'De Wonderdokter', took off in both De Volkskrant and the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant (which later merged into NRC Handelsblad). Since the comic had originally run in De Telegraaf, this newspaper felt they had the exclusive rights and sued. A judge ruled in Toonder's favor, and Tom Poes' new daily adventures could continue in De Volkskrant.

In the post-war episodes, the comic slowly turned into a true cultural phenomenon. Originally, 'Tom Poes' was a children's comic with occasional jokes and references that adults could enjoy. But as both the author and his craft matured, Toonder turned to writing more sophisticated stories with satirical and philosophical layers. As it turned out, some encouragement was needed before the comic found its proper tone. Around 1950, editor-in-chief Joop Lücker complained about the quality of the new 'Tom Poes' stories, feeling the plots just went from A to B and had no character depth. Although the sensitive Toonder was initially hurt by Lücker's harsh words, he eventually took his editor's advice to heart. From then on, the bear Olivier B. Bommel took the center stage, with his deep inner life becoming the instigator for many stories. Bommel proved to be the character that Toonder could relate to the most. In a way, he shared many character traits with his creator, like his archaic language, philosophical nature and social awkwardness. Soon, Bommel rose from Tom Poes' sidekick to the comic's new protagonist. Since most of the stories revolve around the noble bear, the newspaper series is often referred to as the 'Bommel Saga'. In the 1976 story 'Het Griffioen-Ei', Tom Poes doesn't even appear at all.

Several of the 'Tom Poes' settings and characters were already introduced during the wartime stories. In the later episodes, however, they fully came to blossom. Tom Poes' home town Rommeldam is a satirical metaphor for the average Dutch town. Various citizens serve as clever human archetypes, whose animal species give a hint of their personality. Bommel and his rival, the vain rooster Marquis de Canteclaer, are pompous yet utterly incompetent upper class people. Yet De Canteclaer overshadows Bommel in arrogance, since he looks down on everybody outside "his" class, and mixes French and Latin words and expressions in his remarks to underline this. The hippo Dirk Dickerdack is the equally narcissistic mayor. The bureaucrat hamster Dorknoper is obsessed with doing everything "by the book", and bulldog police officer Bulle Bas always makes wrong deductions. Meanwhile, the real crooks of the village are the dogs Hiep Hieper and Super, along with the mad scientist goat Joachim Sickbock. Grocer Garmt Grootgrut, a ram, constantly yelps that "little proprietors are always victim of misfortune." Rat reporter Argus has no qualms about publishing a sensational story, even if it lacks sources, and the llama psychiatrist Okke Zielknijper is quick with his diagnoses and even quicker to hand his patients expensive bills. The grouchy walrus sea captain Wal Rus has little patience for dealing with landlubbers and the utterly stupid, but happy and carefree goose Wammes Waggel is the village idiot.

The 'Tom Poes' universe also has a couple of human cast members. Professor Zbygniew Prlwytzkofsky, for instance, is a scientist of German-Polish descent, who often mixes German-sounding expressions in his language. His design and language are reminiscent of Der Inspektor from Rudolph Dirks' 'Katzenjammer Kids' comic. The black magician Hocus P. Pas is one of Tom Poes' antagonists and well known for his evil cackling laugh. Zwarte Zwadderneel is a sharp satire of preachers who believe everyone should pay for their sins, except themselves. Toonder used the real-life Dutch painter and art forger Joannes Diekmann - who once gave Marten and Phiny painting lessons - as inspiration for the character of Terpen Tijn, a poor painter who lives like a bohemian and frequently expresses deep theories about his art.

Tom Poes, by Marten Toonder (June 1941)
'Tom Poes en de Reuzenvogel'. 

In interviews, Marten Toonder often claimed that he kept the production of the 'Tom Poes' comic mostly to himself. However, many members of his studio team have worked on this feature, albeit under strict supervision of its creator. Unlike his other series, though, Toonder did keep full control over the 'Tom Poes' dailies. For plot outlines, he held story sessions with his main co-writer, Lo Hartog van Banda, but most of the final text captions were written by Toonder himself. Throughout the strip's run, Marten Toonder was personally involved in the final art and inking. Still, many pencil artists came and went, often filling in for only a couple of strips. Several of them later remembered Toonder for his harsh and non-diplomatic commentary. With his eraser and pencil, Toonder applied many corrections, a process he called "stuffing". Some pencil artists proved a suitable addition to the atmosphere of Toonder's stories. During the 1940s and 1950s, the duo Ben van 't Klooster (characters) and Ben van Voorn (backgrounds) provided most of the pencil art, establishing much of the comic's graphic legacy. Artists like Frits Kloezeman, Terry Willers, Dick Vlottes and Dick Matena had stints on the comic, after which Fred Julsing Jr. became the regular pencil artist (1965-1971). For the rest of the strip's run, Piet Wijn was Marten Toonder's loyal penciller. His poetic and atmospheric artwork proved a perfect match with Toonder's clean inking.

When chief editor Joop Lücker was fired from De Volkskrant in 1964, Toonder withdrew his comic from the paper out of solidarity with his old friend. 'Tom Poes' then became a regular fixture in NRC Handelsblad, while also appearing in over 20 local newspapers throughout the Netherlands. After the war, 'Tom Poes' was additionally published in English ('Tom Puss'), French ('Tom Pouce'), German ('Tom Puss'), Spanish ('El Gato Tom'), Danish (the magazine Århus Stiftstidende), Norwegian ('Tom Pus'), Swedish ('Tom Puss'), Finnish ('Mirri Vikkelä'), Czech ('Macícek') and Indonesian, with publications in multiple newspapers and magazines in Belgium, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Suriname, Curaçao, Indonesia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa. For these publications, the daily text strips were reworked into balloon comics. Between December 1958 and March 1962, Éditions Mondiales in France published a monthly magazine with the character, called Tom Pouce. In the Netherlands, book collections of the 'Tom Poes' comics were published by D.A.V.I.D., De Muinck & Co, Andries Blitz and De Bezige Bij, while additional on-demand books were created in commission of KLM, the savings bank Rijkspostspaarbank, Niemeijer, and other commercial clients.

First appearance of Koning Hollewijn in 1954
First appearance of Koning Hollewijn (1954, art by Ben van 't Klooster, Ben van Voorn and Marten Toonder).

Koning Hollewijn
It wasn't until 1954 before the last of the great Toonder series was launched. On 20 March of that year, 'Koning Hollewijn' began serialization in De Telegraaf, the newspaper that had originally run the 'Tom Poes' strip during the war. Because after World War II 'Tom Poes' had moved to De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf asked Toonder to develop a new comic feature of the same caliber. Hollewijn is the wise and cautious monarch of a fictional country, ruling from his palace Koudewater. He is assisted by his impulsive and jumpy secretary Wiebeline Wip. Other dignitaries in the king's court are Prime Minister Dreutel, butler Pieter Plichtpleger, general Hoetentoeter, police inspector Kernslijper, court detective Euvel, court scientist Dr. Kerndrayer and court painter Halbo Hoep. Trouble in the kingdom is usually caused by the shrewd businessman Magnus D. Daalder, the anarchist Zwederik Loser, the criminal couple Alexander and Troubelle Solouche or the witch sisters Anna and Cobra Mork.

'Koning Hollewijn' has the same satirical edge as the post-war 'Tom Poes' comics, though with an emphasis on politics. Hollewijn's country and government were modeled after the Dutch society; Prime Minister Dreutel even shared his looks with the Dutch Prime Minister Willem Drees. Another difference with the 'Tom Poes' comic was the graphic style. The 'Hollewijn' was less poetic and cartoony, with a more semi-realistic rendering. Unlike other Toonder series, not that many studio workers worked on this particular feature. Throughout the feature's run, Marten Toonder remained personally involved in the plots. Initially, Toonder wrote the stories together with Lo Hartog van Banda, who also played an instrumental part in the comic's development and character creation. In the final years, Toonder plotted the stories with son Eiso. In the early stories, Marten Toonder inked most of the characters, while Ben van 't Klooster and Ben van Voorn did the rest of the art duties. In the late 1950s, Toonder no longer participated in the artwork, after which Jan Wesseling took over. From 1960 until the final episode on 26 June 1971, Piet Wijn was the main artist.

Throughout its run, 'Koning Hollewijn' appeared exclusively in De Telegraaf and its companion paper Het Nieuws van de Dag. Since the comic was specifically satirizing Dutch politics, it was not syndicated to many other countries. Newspapers in Denmark and Sweden ran 'Koning Hollewijn', while the French publisher Éditions Mondiales released his adventures in its own pocket book series, under the title 'Arthur' (1959-1962). Dutch book collections were published by Andries Blitz, Skarabee and Mondria.

Letterhead of the Toonder Studio's, 1950.

Toonder Studio's: animation vs. comics
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Toonder Studio had established itself as the center of the Dutch professional comic industry. Besides comics, Marten Toonder had also initiated a new animation department. Among the early productions were three animated shorts starring Tom Poes and Olivier Bommel,  commissioned by Philips: 'The Haunted Castle' (1947), 'The Magic Music' (1948) and 'In Dreamland' (1949). During a trip to the United States, Toonder's sales representative Ton de Zwaan had a meeting with Walt Disney for professional advice. Disney suggested hiring the English animator Harold Mack, who, together with his wife Pamela, joined Toonder's animation department in 1949. The team was reinforced by the Danish animators Børge Ring, Bjørn Frank Jensen and Per Lygum, as well as the French animator Philippe Landrot and the English background painter Alan Standen. Longtime camera operator from the 1940s through the 1980s was John van der Meulen. The team worked on several other films for Philips, including 'Plucky Panda's Penny' (1949) and 'Tom Puss and The Legend of Loch Ness' (1950), and also created the 'Hugo' series of educational shorts to promote the Marshall Plan in Germany (1952). While the Toonder Studio's mainly worked on commercial films for advertisements or corporate clients, they received artistic praise and even some international awards for their independent shorts 'De Gouden Vis' (1952) and 'Moonglow' (1954).

However, in these early years, the animation department hardly made any money. In fact, most of the profits from the comics were used to fund the film projects. This led to more and more arguments between Toonder and his business partner Ton de Zwaan, who didn't understand why he didn't just stick to his far more profitable comics. In 1953, their collaboration ended, and De Zwaan left to start his own company, Swan Features Syndicate. He took most of the studio's non-Toonder comics with him, leaving Toonder behind with only his own creations and without talented artists like Hans G. Kresse, Henk Sprenger and Henk Kabos. After De Zwaan's departure, the syndication of the Toonder comics was handled by Jaap Back, who had joined the studios in 1948 after a previous career with the French Opera Mundi agency.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the comics portfolio was supplemented with new funny animal comics ('Birre Beer' by Phiny Dick and Ton Beek, 1954-1959, followed by 'Holle Pinkel' by Andries Brandt, 1960-1964), a science fiction serial ('Martin Evans' by Lo Hartog van Banda, Ben Abas and Dick Vlottes, 1955-1959), historical adventure ('Otto van Irtin' by Gerrit Stapel, 1955-1961) and romantic drama ('Het Dagboek van Marion' by Jan Wesseling and Thé Tjong-Khing, 1958-1962). In the late 1950s, Marten Toonder himself worked on the development of a new comic called 'Student Tijloos'. While some sample strips were drawn by Jan Kruis, the project was eventually shelved. Between 1961 and 1963, the 'Student Tijloos' comic was revived and reworked by Lo Hartog van Banda, who turned the main hero into a romantic student, who changed disciplines in every episode. His philosophically-themed adventures were serialized in Algemeen Dagblad, and drawn by Gerrit Stapel and Thé Tjong-Khing.

'Heer Bommel en de kwinkslagen' (pencils by Piet Wijn, 1972).

By the early 1960s, Toonder had visited Ireland a couple of times and fell in love with this fairy tale-like country. He was fascinated by its natural environment; some of the landscapes actually resembled sceneries from his comics. Plans were made for a permanent move, but first he had to settle his business matters in the Netherlands. His intention was to set up shop in Ireland and continue his creations from there. Before moving to Ireland himself, he sent his son Eiso ahead to make the preparations for both a film/TV venture (Toonder Film Ireland Ltd.) and a comic agency (Pollaphuca Ltd.). In May 1963, Pollaphuca was set up to provide the Toonder Studio’s in the Netherlands with artwork for Marten Toonder's ongoing comic series. By transferring production to Ireland, Toonder could not only keep his creations under his own care (the Dutch Toonder Studio’s were by then listed on the stock exchange), but also keep the costs low. Thanks to Irish law, he didn't have to pay taxes for sums rolling in from Amsterdam, only for royalties (which were therefore advised to be named "production costs" on the invoices). The English artist Terry Willers was the most important local artist working through Pollaphuca on the 'Tom Poes' comic. By late 1964, it was clear that both Pollaphuca and Toonder Film Ireland Ltd. were doomed. Both companies never got off the ground and were disbanded even before Marten Toonder moved to Ireland himself.

In September 1965, Toonder and his wife Phiny Dick finally relocated to Eyrefield Lodge, a mansion in Greystones, Ireland. Now free from running a stressful business, Toonder dedicated most of his time to the 'Tom Poes' comic, while also keeping artistic supervision over 'Kappie', 'Panda' and 'Koning Hollewijn'. The mysticism of the Irish countryside proved a profitable source of inspiration for new stories. The final new comic series with Marten Toonder's direct participation was 'De Goeroe' (1970-1980), a project created by Eiso Toonder. Marten Toonder designed the main characters, and often helped his son with writing the philosophical gags. While the newspaper strip appeared with the credit byline "Peter Abel", the artwork was cut-and-paste imagery from stock images by Piet Wijn and Terry Willers. 'De Goeroe' ran for a full decade in De Telegraaf and also appeared in Tintin, the Haagsche Courant, Het Rotterdams Nieuwsblad, as well as in English in The Irish Times under the title 'The Guru'.

New era for the Toonder Studio's
Through correspondence and occasional visits, Marten Toonder remained involved with the Toonder Studio's as a creative advisor, but the day-to-day business was managed by the new director, Bert Kroon. In 1966, the Toonder Studio's relocated to the castle in Nederhorst den Berg, where they were eventually joined by the team from Joop Geesink's puppet film studio, Dollywood, as well as Geesink's live action division Starfilm. The Toonder animation department was joined by the productive scriptwriter Harrie Geelen, and became leading in the production of TV advertising films, instructional films and other commercial productions. Working for clients in the Netherlands, Germany and England, the team explored several techniques, varying from classic animation to clay animation, tabletop animation and live-action.

The new head of the comic studio was Andries Brandt, who also wrote many of the new productions along with his pupil, Patty Klein. New newspaper comics included the mystical 'Horre, Harm en Hella' by Brandt, Klein and several artists (1968-1971), the philosophical adventure series 'Arman & Ilva' by Lo Hartog van Banda and Thé Tjong-Khing (1969-1976), the investigations of 'Myra van Dijk' by Georges Mazure (1970-1972), the adventures of the quirky 'Aafje Anders' by Brandt, Klein and Jan van Haasteren (1971-1973) and a comic series based on the historical TV series 'Floris van Rozemondt' by Gerard Soeteman and Gerrit Stapel (1972-1976). In addition to their output for newspapers, the Toonder Studio's also created comics for magazines, such as 'Puk en Poppedijn' by Piet Wijn in De Spiegel (1964-1974), 'Polletje Pluim' by Dick Matena and then Jan van Haaseren in Prinses (1967-1971) and 'Distel' by Lo Hartog van Banda and Børge Ring for Sjors (1970-1974). The team additionally produced comic stories with licensed characters for magazines like Donald Duck, De Flintstones and the German Fix und Foxi, as well as illustrations and picture stories for toddler's magazine Bobo.

In 1971 and 1972, Toonder canceled respectively his comic series 'Koning Hollewijn' and 'Kappie'. Only 'Tom Poes' and 'Panda' continued. In the following years, several of the studio's other comic features came to an end as well. As the comic division was becoming less profitable - and director Bert Kroon had more passion for animation - the department was closed down in 1974. To take care of the production work, only the staff artists Richard Klokkers, Frits Godhelp and Jaap Lamberton remained at the Nederhorst castle.

Animation: 'Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel'
Ever since the start of his ventures in animation, it was Toonder's dream to create a feature film starring his characters Tom Poes and Bommel. Throughout the years, his animation studio had become a leading provider of animated shorts for advertisements and educational videos, but these time-consuming projects were never as profitable as his comics. At the initiative of (and with the funding by) film producer Rob Houwer, a feature-length film with 'Tom Poes' finally came about. The movie's plot was based on the 1957 'Tom Poes' story 'De Zwelbast', in which Bommel discovers a dragon who grows to enormous size when he gets agitated. The screenplay adaptation was written by Bjørn Frank Jensen and Bert Kroon in cooperation with the director, Harrie Geelen. By the time of its release, 'Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel' ("The Dragon Who Wasn't (Or Was He?)", 1983) was the first animated feature film created in the Netherlands. The picture did Toonder's style justice and was professional enough to receive official congratulations from both Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company.

On 20 January 1986, the final 'Tom Poes' story, 'Het Einde van Eindeloos' ("The End of Endless"), reached its conclusion in newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Olivier B. Bommel married his sweetheart Doddeltje, ending in a celebration with a huge banquet. In a scene that puzzled many longtime fans, Tom Poes then quietly leaves the party and goes his own way outside. Some felt it was odd that Tom left his old friend behind without even saying goodbye. Other readers saw it as a perfect poetic ending. Tom Poes had met Bommel during one of his journeys. The last 45 years he had stayed at his castle, more or less to keep an eye on him in case of trouble. Now that the bachelor bear was settled, it was only natural that would go out and roam the Earth again.

Since 'Tom Poes' had been a mainstay in newspapers for four decades, the final episode naturally received nationwide news coverage. At readers' demand, NRC Handelsblad then reprinted older episodes for the next twelve years. When in 1998 they decided to give other comics a chance, it still led to complaints. Meanwhile, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, who commenced publication of 'Tom Puss' in February 1946, ran the series uninterruptedly until 2001. By the time 'Tom Poes' came to an end in The Netherlands, the only Toonder comic still in production was 'Panda'. Marten's own involvement had already ended in 1977, when the 'Panda' feature switched format from text to balloon comic. 'Panda' ran for another five years, and came to an end on 31 December 1991, marking an end of an era in which Toonder series dominated Dutch newspapers.

Tom Poes - Horror de Ademloze (ep. 754), by Marten Toonder
'Horror de Ademloze' (pencils by Henk Kabos and Ben van 't Klooster). In this story, Marten Toonder satirizes the perception of the comic medium by moral guardians.

Prestige and success
More than any other comic creator in the Netherlands, Toonder was widely praised for both his artistic and literary qualities. In the post-war decades, moral guardians in The Netherlands regarded comics as utter pulp, prone to make young readers too lazy to read or even go off the straight and narrow. Newspaper comics were generally deemed an exception. Their dialogues and descriptions were traditionally printed in text captions underneath the images, making them similar to an illustrated story instead of an action-packed comic story. Of all text comic newspaper features, Toonder's series stood out. They were family friendly, without being infantile, and had satirical depth and clever morals. His use of cultivated language was unique, and brought forth many neologisms on the way. His work contained themes that were close to the author, such as philosophy, astrology and mysticism. Between 1967 and 1991, publisher De Bezige Bij collected the "Bommel saga" in their collection of "Giant Literary Pockets", giving more emphasis on the texts instead of the artwork.

As Toonder's writing was closer to literature than that of other comic strips, many notable Dutch literary authors championed Toonder. The poet and novelist Cees Buddingh praised him as an "excellent satirist whose work is highly recommended to any beginning writer." He claimed his stories were "one of the few Dutch-language writings destined to remain classics." Gerard Reve, famous for writing 'De Avonden', wrote: "Tom Poes is great literature, even though few realize it." And when Jan Wolkers (of 'Turkish Delight' fame) was declared the winner of the P.C. Hooft Prize in 1989, he rejected the honor, because "Toonder ought to have received it years ago." Still, Toonder did receive another prestigious Dutch literary honor: in 1954 he was the first and only comic artist to be inducted in the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde ("Society of Dutch Literature").

'De Bovenbazen', artwork by Dick Matena and Marten Toonder. The narration and dialogue are prime examples of Toonder's colorful writing.

Several of Toonder's series are admired for their witty social and political satire. 'Koning Hollewijn' is a clever parody of Dutch politics, while the 'Bommel' comics are a more allegorical satire of human nature. Bommel's world is set in a mixture between past and present. Some characters and elements are reminiscent of a medieval, baroque or Victorian era, while others are typical of the mid-20th century. Toonder uses archetypes from fairy tales, such as gnomes, magicians and talking animals. Yet at the same time, modern-day phenomena like cars, radio and television exist too. It gives his comics both a timely and timeless atmosphere. The author frequently discussed sociological and philosophical questions. Certain tales deal with the friction between the individual and the masses, different social classes and nature versus technology. In the 'Tom Poes' story 'Het Overdoen' (1957-1958), for instance, Bommel is faced with the opportunity to literally correct his past by going back in time. During the story, he learns a valuable lesson that one can also restore one's mistakes in the present. The 1963 serial 'De Bovenbazen' is often named Toonder's masterpiece. The tale centers on ten businessmen who live in isolation at the top of a mountain. They start a bet with Bommel, which he wins and makes him part of their exclusive company. The story unfolds as a clever commentary on economics, business monopolies and wealth distribution. The story also introduced the word "bovenbaas" into the Dutch language, which refers to the out-of-touch "bosses at the top".

The daily 'Tom Poes' stories are a veritable treasure trove of clever satirical commentary on a variety of topics: politics ('De Talisman', 1947, 'De Grote Barribal', 1965, 'De Maanblaffers', 1967, 'De Wind der Verandering', 1975), war ('De Kneep van Knipmenis', 1951, 'De Spalt', 1983 ), psychiatry and quacks ('Het Iksel', 1953, 'Het Stenenbeenprobleem', 1957), nuclear energy ('De Split-Erwt', 1957), economics ('De Windhandel', 1959, 'De Pasmunt', 1965, 'De Zonnige Kijk', 1976), insurance ('De Hachelbouten', 1960), refugees ('Het lemland', 1960-1961, 'De Bevrijding van Sollidee', 1968, 'De Andere Wereld', 1979), television ('De Killers', 1964-1965), mass hysteria ('Het Monster Trotteldom', 1964, 'Het Platmaken', 1969), consumerism ('De Slijtmijt', 1970), the generation gap ('Het Nieuwe Denken', 1966, 'De Hup-Bloemerij, 1968, 'De Mob-Beweging, 1970), pollution ('De Doorluchtigheid', 1974), sensational media ('De Kaligaar', 1975, 'De Gekikkerde Vorst, 1977), religion ('De Grote Onthaler', 1977) and the UN ('De Unistand', 1979).

'Tom Poes en het Kukel' (1963, art by Ben van 't Klooster)

An outstanding aspect of Toonder's stories was the exceptional writing and inventive use of words. Many cartoonists before him collaborated with teachers, journalists or novelists to provide them with stories to illustrate. A few wrote their own tales. In both cases, the text captions were generally straightforward and mostly served to drive the narrative forwards. Starting with the post-war 'Tom Poes' stories, Marten Toonder's writing showed more artistic ambition. He developed a colorful and eccentric style of writing, closer to literature than most comic texts. He loved to play around with words and expressions. Some were deliberately archaic, others purely invented. Several of his neologisms have become part of everyday Dutch language and are now included in Dutch-language dictionaries.

In 'Kwetal, de Breinbaas' (1949-1950), for instance, the word "denkraam" was introduced to refer to someone's ability to think and understand. The word "grootgrutter" to refer to a large supermarket is a bastardization of the character Grootgrut, who ironically is just a small store owner. The expression "kommer en kwel" was introduced in 'De Hachelbouten' (1960) and refers to misery. The term "minkukel" was derived from 'Het Kukel' (1963) and is nowadays used to refer to stupid people, even though in the original tale it describes people with low creativity. The word "zielknijper" (literally "soul pincher") to describe a psychiatrist is often thought to be invented by Toonder, since the psychiatrist in 'Tom Poes' is literally named Zielknijper. But in reality the word goes back to the writings of 19th-century novelist Multatuli, which is presumably where Toonder got it from, since his work was mandatory reading in Dutch language classes at the time.

Toonder's linguistic highlights weren't just restricted to the narration. Practically every character in his comics received his or her own catchphrases and distinctive way of talking. The sly fox Joris Goedbloed speaks mock Flemish, the posh rooster Marquis de Canteclaer drops French and Latin words in his speech, while professor Prlwytzkofsky mangles Dutch and German. Argus the reporter rat speaks streetwise slang, while Dorknoper, Sickbock, Zielknijper and Zwadderneel converse in more pseudo-intellectual and sophisticated monologues. Even Bommel, who fancies himself a lord, tries to sound like a dignified gentleman, while butler Joost remains polite and well-mannered no matter the situation. These subtle aspects made Toonder's characters believable as individual personalities.

To this day, Toonder's use of language remains unique in Dutch-language comics, to the point that it received the eponym "Toonderiaans" ("Toonderian"). His writing style is instantly recognizable and has often been imitated and parodied. His creative use of words and expressions can even be enjoyed without the accompanying drawings. A rare feat for a comic artist, bringing him on par with the German comic pioneer Wilhelm Busch. Even when his staff did the majority of the production work, Toonder always kept an eye on his texts, making sure they fit his personal literary standards. For every book reprint, the texts were fully revised and amended, if deemed necessary. In 1987 and 1989, two poetry collections by Marten Toonder were published, 'Hanezang' and 'Vleugeljaren', presented as if they were written by the 'Tom Poes' character Marquis de Canteclaer. To learn more about Marten Toonder's linguistic work, Pim Oosterheert's 'Van Aamnaak tot Zwirkvlaai' (2005) and 'Bommelcitaten' (2005) are a welcome addition to any fan's collection.

During his lifetime, Toonder received numerous honors and awards. In 1954, he was the first and only Dutch comic artist to be inducted in the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde ("Society of Dutch Literature''). On 2 May 1982, he was named Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. On 17 September of that same year, he received the annual Stripschapprijs from Dutch comic appreciation society Het Stripschap, and on 22 October, he was awarded the Resistance Memorial Cross for his contributions to the Dutch resistance during World War II. On 23 October 1992, he received the literary Tollensprize for his entire body of work.

Ben van 't Klooster's biting cartoon after Toonder's interview with Sonja Barend (1982).

For most of the second half of the 20th century, Marten Toonder's studio was the biggest and most successful comic studio of the Netherlands. Many young comic artists had their start there, either as a trainee, staff artist or freelance artist-for-hire. Like many artists who establish a lucrative enterprise, Toonder could be a difficult taskmaster. He acted by intuition - sometimes prompted by the alignment of the stars - and constantly changed his mind about how he wanted things. Former co-workers, including relatives, have described him as demanding, insensitive and harsh in his commentaries. Over the years, several artists left the studio dissatisfied. Others - like Dick Matena - were more vocal and pushed back, and were able to maintain a lifelong respect and friendship with their former tutor.

Toonder's refusal to publicly credit, or even acknowledge, his co-workers' important contributions to his comics also hurt his reputation. In December 1964, Toonder's main scriptwriter Lo Hartog van Banda gave an interview to Haagse Post magazine. Unbeknownst to Banda, the reporter combined this interview with a highly critical yet well-researched analysis of the Toonder Studio’s. Toonder was furious, particularly since it revealed the open secret that most of the actual production work was done by assistants. Even though Banda had nothing to do with the overall critical tone of and revelations in the article, Toonder took the matter personally. In a 1982 TV interview with Sonja Barend, he still minimalized the input of his co-workers, much to their chagrin. To vent his frustration about the transmission, former 'Tom Poes' penciler Ben van 't Klooster drew a gritty cartoon in which Toonder sweeps away all of his studio assistants, while Tom Poes remarks: "All these little men probably meant nothing." Though in Toonder's defense, the interview didn't give him much opportunity to elaborate. And his main co-worker of the time, Piet Wijn, never said anything negative about his taskmaster and preferred to stay out of the spotlight.

Much has been documented about Toonder's troublesome relationship with his children. In both Wim Hazeu's official biography and Robin Lutz's interview book 'Een Heer Vertelt', his personal and professional differences with his son Eiso Toonder in particular were widely covered. Even though Eiso was his father's confidential advisor and business deputy in the later stage of Marten Toonder's life and career, he couldn't count on much respect or gratitude.

Marten Toonder and Phiny Dick in 1942.

Final years and death
Toonder spent the final years of his life in bad health. In 1990, his beloved wife Phiny died. Two years later, his brother and confidant Jan Gerhard also passed away. In 1996, Toonder remarried with composer Tera de Marez Oyens, who was already terminally ill at the time. She died from cancer within the same year. The veteran author found some solace in writing his autobiography, published between 1992 and 1998 in four volumes. Still he felt troubled, contemplating how his legacy should be safeguarded after his death, leading to heated correspondences with his son Eiso, who pleaded to keep the rights within the family, while Toonder thought of giving the Toonder Studio's - at the time a mere corporate structure - more executive power. On 9 July 1998, the Toonder Erfdeel foundation was founded to take care of his artistic heritage. To guide copyright issues, the Toonder Auteursrecht foundation was established on 28 January 2000. But Toonder remained uncertain about several of the business aspects, not to mention if and how new stories with Tom Poes and Bommel could be written and drawn by other authors. He determined that no new text comics with Bommel should be made, since these carried Toonder's personality and style the most.

After undertaking a suicide attempt in early 2001, Marten Toonder’s family moved him back to the Netherlands, where the comic legend spent his final days in the Rosa Spier retirement home for artists in Laren. In 2002, the Toonder Studio's in the Nederhorst castle officially closed its doors. By then, the animation department was basically a one-man division led by Harrie Geelen, whose final project was the 13-part puppet animation series 'De Sommeltjes' for VPRO television. When Toonder died in 2005 at the age of 93, his passing made headlines in all Dutch-language media.

Legacy and influence
Marten Toonder and his characters remain towering figures in the Dutch comic world. Outside his home country, he is arguably the most recognized Dutch comic artist. With Hans G. Kresse and Pieter J. Kuhn, Toonder is often ranked as the "Big Three" of Dutch post-war newspaper comics, but his impact and influence on the industry as a whole is unsurpassed. His Toonder Studio's were for decades the leading production house for comic strips and animation. Almost every newspaper and comic magazine in the Netherlands ran at least one comic feature that carried the byline "COP. TOONDER STUDIO'S". The Toonder comics were also the first with professional syndication to other countries. From the 1940s through the 1960s, the Toonder Studio's were the stepping stone for a new generation of comic creators. Among the many famous Dutch comic artists and writers who began their career with Toonder were Hans G. Kresse, Piet Wijn, Henk Sprenger, Gerrit Stapel, Dick Matena, Fred Julsing, Ton Beek, Jan van Haasteren, Jan Steeman, Thé Tjong-Khing, Jan Wesseling, Frits Kloezeman, Willy Lohmann, Georges Mazure, Dick Vlottes and Patty Klein. Besides employing Dutch artists, the Toonder Studio's were also the first to recruit foreign artists for their production, for instance, the South African Alexander Podlashuc, the Welshman Harry Hargreaves, the British-Irish Terry Willers and Briton Robert Hamilton, as well as the Spanish Agencia Selecciones Illustradas agency.

In 1970, Hans Matla named his The Hague comic shop and subsequent publishing house after Toonder's 'Panda' character. First based in Alkmaar and then in Egmond aan den Hoef, Gallery Fi Donc - specialized in animation art - was named after a popular phrase by the Marquis de Canteclaer. Since March 2017, a bi-weekly opinion magazine - run by Bas Lubberhuizen and Theo Bouwman - is named after Marten Toonder's rat journalist Argus. Between 2010 and 2012, an annual Marten Toonderprijs was awarded to artists that had left their mark on Dutch comics, subsequently Jan Kruis (2010), Peter Pontiac (2011) and Joost Swarte (2012), before the awards lost their funding for cash prizes and were discontinued.

Since 1991, Toonder fans and collectors have been united in the Marten Toonder Verzamelaars Club (MTVC). In 2002, this club also launched the quarterly news and documentation magazine Toondertijd. With 1,600 members by the end of 2022, the MTVC is one of the largest associations of comic book enthusiasts in the Netherlands and is still growing. Since 16 June 1998, MTVC member Pim Oosterheert runs Museum De Bommelzolder, a documentation center and archive about Toonder's body of work, in the South Holland village of Zoeterwoude-Dorp. In July 2022, Bastiaan Koijck opened the Bommel & Tom Poes Museum in Assen, showcasing hundreds of objects from his Koijck's collection, including comics, drawings, figurines and games.

The 2006 tribute book 'Was Tom Poes maar hier - een hommage aan Marten Toonder' (De Bezige Bij, 2006) contained graphic homages by various artists, novelists and celebrities. To commemorate Marten Toonder's 100th birthday in 2012, a special exhibition around his literary work was held in the Letterkundig Museum in The Hague under the name 'Marten Toonder. Een Dubbel Denkraam'. For the occasion, a special 'Schrijversprentenboek' was compiled by Klaas Driebergen, providing a nice overview of Toonder's work and can be regarded as complementary to Wim Hazeu's 2012 Marten Toonder biography. In honor of the 80th anniversary of the Toonder Studio's, the Museum of Comic Art in Noordwijk organized the exposition '80 Years Toonder Studio's - The Greatest Dutch Comic Portfolio', curated by Rob van Eijck and Willem Feltkamp.

Bommel statue
In honor of Marten Toonder's 90th birthday, the city of Rotterdam erected this six-meter public monument on Friday 12 July 2002, featuring several characters from the famous Toonder comic 'Tom Poes en heer Bommel'.

Availability of Marten Toonder's work
Over the years, many reprints and luxury collections of Marten Toonder's series have been published. Between 1991 and 2002, a 41-volume luxury series that chronologically compiled all 177 'Tom Poes' newspaper stories was published under the title 'De Volledige Werken', an labor-intensive project by comics collector Hans Matla and the Haagsch Bommelgenootschap. The text captions were revised and edited by Marten and Eiso Toonder, and the drawings were digitally restored from the original artwork. Matla's publishing house Panda later also released 33 volumes collecting the 'Tom Poes' balloon comics. When Matla retired from his publishing activities, Ton MacKaaij's Cliché imprint took over most of the collector's releases of Toonder's work. For the more average fan, literary publisher De Bezige Bij has released several series collecting the Bommel saga, first the reprint series with red linen spines (2006-2008), then the complete chronological collection with blue linen spines (2008-2018).

Revivals of 'Tom Poes'
For a long while, it seemed that Tom Poes and Bommel had died with the retirement of their creator. During the 1990s, the characters appeared in a merchandising line by Dutch department store HEMA. Tom Poes has been the mascot for products ranging from cat litter to cat food. In 1999 and 2000, two new balloon comic stories were made by Marten Toonder and Dick Matena for Donald Duck weekly. Between 2001 and 2004, a series of promotional books made for pharmaceutical company Pfizer with scripts by Patty Klein and artwork by Wil Raymakers. These projects were still created when Marten Toonder was alive. Before his death, Marten Toonder appointed both Dick Matena and Wil Raymakers as his successors with regard to Bommel. Over the years, both artists have provided new cover illustrations for book collections.

Since Toonder's death, his copyrights and royalties are managed by the Stichting Toonder Auteursrecht, with his grandchildren Irwin and Milou on the board. Since 2008, new projects with Marten Toonder's creations are supervised by the Toonder Compagnie BV, headed by Willem Feltkamp. In March 2010, the Compagnie acquired the remaining assets of the defunct Toonder Studio’s, after which a large part of the archives were donated to the Literature Museum in The Hague. The first new book project with Toonder's creations was 'Heer Bommel en de I-padden' (2012) by writer Patty Klein and artist Gerben Valkema, commissioned by the Dutch Association of Librarians. For the migration magazine VertrekNL, Dick Matena created the new 'Tom Poes' balloon comic 'De Pas-Kaart' (2013). In later years, the young artists Henrieke Goorhuis and Tim Artz have worked on several new Bommel-related projects. Goorhuis illustrated the story books 'Het Lastpak' (De Bezige Bij, 2016), written by children's novelist Henk Hardeman, and the "Little Golden Book" 'Tom Poes en het Cadeautje Voor Heer Ollie' (Rubinstein, 2017) by Sjoerd Kuyper. Tim Artz has provided cover illustrations for re-releases of the 'Tom Poes' balloon comics by Uitgeverij Cliché. For Stripglossy magazine, he also drew a new story called 'De Tijdverdrijver', based on an unused script from the 1980s by Ruud Straatman.

Bommel and Tom Poes also proved their vitality through other tributes. In 1998, the 'Tom Poes' story 'De Trullenhoedster' (1966) was adapted into a theatrical musical, followed in 2012 by the musical 'De Nieuwe IJstijd' by the Opus One ensemble. Between 2007 and 2010, 76 'Tom Poes' stories were adapted into audio plays for Dutch radio. Still available on the NTR website, the plays introduced a whole new generation to Marten Toonder's creations.

Self-portraits by Marten Toonder
A chronological overview of self-portraits by Marten Toonder. 

Several Toonder characters have been honored with monuments. Between 1955 and 1959, a miniature city based on Rommeldam was erected in Oisterwijk, for which novelist Godfried Bomans held an introductory speech. On 14 April 1964, a statue of Olivier B. Bommel was unveiled on the Koningin Emma square in the town Den Bommel in the province South Holland. The original sculpture was made in grog clay by André Henderickx. On 24 May 1997, this clay statue was replaced with a bronze sculpture, made by Harr Wiegman. The old sculpture moved to an elementary school, named after Ollie B. Bommel, but since 2016 it has been relocated to the Tuindorp daycare center. On 2 May 2002, a 6 meter high fountain depicting the Toonder characters Tom Poes, Marquis de Canteclaer, mayor Dickerdack, professor Sickbock and painter Terpen Tijn was unveiled on the Binnenrotteplein in Rotterdam, close to the Blaak train station. This "Ode to Marten Toonder" was sculpted by the collective De Artoonisten.

Since 2003, several roads and streets in the Comics District of the Dutch city Almere have been named after Toonder (Marten Toonderlaan, Marten Toonderpad) and his characters (Tom Poesstraat, Ambtenaar Dorknoperlaan, Burgemeester Dickerdacklaan, Joostlaan, Kapitein Wal Ruslaan and the Koning Hollewijnstraat). Other streets and lanes named after Marten Toonder exist in Utrecht, Kloetinge, Nijmegen and Culemborg. On 16 June 2022, a sculpture of the rat journalist Argus was placed in front of the Betty Asfalt Complex at the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam. The statue was made by Saske van der Eerden, at the initiative of the editors of the Argus opinion magazine. The choice for this specific location was not random: in past decades this street was the homebase for several newspaper offices.

Parodies and plagiarism
Like any popular comic artist, Toonder has been the subject of a huge number of parodies. Among the more notable titles were 'Heer Bommel en De Weerbaarheidsgedachte' (1961) by Harrie Geelen, 'Paul Poes en de Plagiatoren' (1964) by Fred Julsing, 'Heer Bommel en de Superconcentratie' (1969) by Els Nijkamp, 'Heer Bommel en De Tabakssmokkelaar' (1969) by Martin van Amerongen, 'Dalt Wisney's Tom Puss' (1971) by Aart Clerkx, 'Heer Bom en het Militair-Industrieel Complex' (1971) by J.C. v.d. Vlak en Bob Slobbers, 'Heer Bommel en de Ziekers' (1971) by Th. E. Kothlas Altes, 'Heer Bommel en het Ipsen der Pronen' (1974) by T. v.d. Pas and A. Beenhakker, the porn parody 'Strip-Tease. Een Heer van Stand Relaxt!' (1981) by Henk R. Mondria and Jan Dienske and the political parody 'Olivier B. Bommel in Nicaragua' (1985), scripted by Karlos and drawn by Querulijn Xaverius Markies de Canteclaer van Barneveldt. The Indonesian artist Krist plagiarized Olivier B. Bommel in his comic book 'Pak Doblang' (1977), only pairing the bear with a monkey instead of a cat.

Secondary literature
Marten Toonder is the most-studied Dutch-language comic author. Dozens of books and essays have been written about his use of language, characters and social satire. Toonder himself chronicled his memoir in the autobiographical trilogy, 'Vroeger Was De Aarde Plat' (1992), 'Het Geluid van Bloemen' (1993) and 'Onder Het Kollende Meer Doo' (1996). Also recommended is 'Marten Toonder. Een Heer Vertelt' (Synthese Rotterdam, 2010) by Robin Lutz, a collection of interviews with an elderly Marten Toonder about his career, spirituality, life and death. For those interested in Toonder's life, Wim Hazeu's biography, 'Marten Toonder' (De Bezige Bij, 2012) is a must-read, along with Hazeu's additional biopic, 'Het Geheim van Marten Toonder' co-written by Willem Feltkamp and Klaas Driebergen (De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2019). A deeper study about Marten Toonder's vision of life and his spirituality through his statements was 'De Tao van Toonder' (Panda, 2005), written by Frank van Hartingsveld, member of the Haagsche Bommel Genootschap.

One of the main experts on Toonder's life and work is writer and researcher Klaas Driebergen, who shares his knowledge through self-published books, lectures and his weekly 'Bommeldingen' newsletter. One of Driebergen's notable publications was an overview of all available 'Bommel' studies, co-compiled with Hugo Klooster ('Bommel Literatuurgids - Een overzicht van tachtig jaar Bommelstudie', 2020). The inner workings of the Toonder Studio's have been meticulously researched by Jan-Willem de Vries. Highly recommended is his book about the studio's animation department, 'De Toonder Animatiefilms' (Silvester, 2012), which came with a DVD containing 35 of the Toonder Studio's animated films. Between 2017 and 2019, De Vries self-published an 18-issue magazine series about the history and backgrounds of the comic division of the Toonder Studio's, later compiled in a two-volume book collection by Cliché. In 2022, Cliché also released 'Uit de Archieven van de Toonder Studio's', a two-volume book collection compiled by Willem Feltkamp with unique and original artwork from the studio archives.

Connection with Lambiek
Lambiek will always be grateful to Marten Toonder for illustrating the letter "B" in our encyclopedia book, 'Wordt Vervolgd - Stripleksikon der Lage Landen', published in 1979. In 1997, Lambiek published the 'Bommel Concordantie' (1997), a reference book about Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes' by Henk van den Ham and a group of students from the Amsterdam School of Applied Arts.

The final panel from 'Het Einde Van Eindeloos' (1986).



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