Het Avontuur op de Rivier, by Van den Uyl (1939)
'Het Avontuur Op De Rivier' (De Amsterdammer, 1 June 1939). 

Willem den Uyl was a mid-20th century Dutch illustrator, who made the text comic 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' (1939) with writer Piet Adriaan de Rover for the Dutch Christian newspapers De Standaard and De Amsterdammer.

Life and career
Almost nothing is known about the artist Willem den Uyl (officially, his name was spelled as "Willem den Uijl"). He was a relative of Joop den Uyl (1919-1987), the future party leader of the Dutch socialist party PvdA and the Dutch Prime Minister in the period 1973-1977. In the years prior to World War II, Willem den Uyl was affiliated with the Dutch Christian democratic anti-revolutionary party ARP. For the 1929 elections, during which the ARP had no less than twelve party leaders, Den Uyl designed the election posters. Only the one with the name of Prof. Dr. H. Visscher has been preserved. Den Uyl was also affiliated with the party newspaper De Standaard and its printeries Drukkerij De Standaard and Drukkerij Holland N.V. In 1943, he provided the illustrations for the commemorative book dedicated to the 25 years of loyal service of director Albert Jongman, 'Albert Jongman 18 November 1918-1943'.

1929 ARP election poster and illustrations for the commemorative book for director Albert Jongman (1943).

Avontuur op de Rivier
Credited as only "Den Uyl", he provided the illustrations for the 1939 comic serial 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' ("Adventure on the River"), that ran in both De Standaard and the "Christian social daily" De Amsterdammer. Serialized between 9 January and 6 July 1939, the text captions were written by Piet Adriaan de Rover (1903-1970), a writer who enjoyed some media fame by reading from his work during the children's hour on national radio. He came from a family of skippers and therefore often wrote nautical stories. Also set in the maritime world, De Rover's comic strip 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' starred two Dutch cabin boys, Jan Rietdekker and Dirk Dykhuizen.

Het Avontuur op de Rivier, by Van den Uyl (1939)
'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' (De Amsterdammer, 29 April 1939).

Jan is the son of the captain of a tjalk (a small river boat intended for carrying cargo), while Piet's father drowned "a year before our story starts". One day, the boys discover a piece of paper in the river. It turns out to be a letter with instructions for a secret meeting at night. Curious, the children paddle to the location, where they discover that a group of thieves want to rob the ship of Jan's father. With help from the local police officer, they decide to ambush the robbers before they can strike. Despite the title, only the first half of the story actually takes place on a river. As the plot thickens, a thief sabotages a floe that Jan and Dirk use to go fishing. The unfortunate kids then float off to the ocean, where they discover that the three thieves are part of a much larger and more professional gang. All ends well, though, with the police bringing the criminals to justice.

Like most Dutch comics at the time, 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' was presented in text comic format; each episode was presented with one or two panels, accompanied by two heavy text captions. In the credit of the first episode, the name of writer P.A. de Rover is misspelled as "R.A. de Rover". This is corrected the next day, but inexplicably the mistake keeps returning a few times throughout the story, only to be rectified again in the next episode. When 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' was concluded, Den Uyl gave De Rover a cameo, addressing the readers. The author hints at a possible sequel, saying there are still a few unresolved plotlines. De Rover promises the readers that he'll tell them all about it, if something might happen, but first he wants to "light his pipe". Despite this promise, there was never a follow-up. It appears that Den Uyl and De Rover never made another comic strip either. Perhaps 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' wasn't much of a success, but the Dutch mobilization on the eve of World War II is also a plausible explanation.

Het Avontuur op de Rivier, by Van den Uyl (1939)
Portrait of P.A. de Rover, as featured in 'Het Avontuur op de Rivier' (De Amsterdammer, 6 July 1939)..

Series and books by Willem den Uyl you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.