Gerben Valkema began his artistic career in 1996 with contributions to fanzines like Impuls, that was edited by Reinder Dijkhuis and Kilian Hekhuis, and De Stripper. He self-published two small books called 'Grappen en Grollen' in 1996 and 1997 and was a member of Studio Jan Kruis from its creation in 1999 until its demise in 2007.
As an apprentice, he assisted Daan Jippes on 'Hoi Pipeloi', short illustrated stories with Jeroen and Catootje, two of the main characters from 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen', for Bobo. Shortly afterwards, he became one of the main artists of the regular 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen' page in Libelle.
In addition to his work for Studio Kruis, Valkema has done contributions to Okki ('Luuk en Lotte' with Frank Jonker) and Razzafrazz, and cooperated with Jan-Dirk Barreveld on the strip 'Corduroy' in Myx. He has drawn covers for licensed properties like Tom & Jerry, Donald Duck and even Bamse in Sweden. He also makes comics for the educational magazines of the publishing house Zwijsen. His comic 'Tommy' has appeared in Roetsj, and 'Kik' appeared on the backpages of school magazine Maan Roos Vis.
Valkema created the daily strip about the cynical little girl 'Elsje' together with Eric Hercules in 2007. The strip is published in several regional newspapers in the Netherlands. Valkema and Hercules collected the 'Elsje' gags in a series of self-published books, before the collection was transfered to Rob van Bavel's Don Lawrence Collection. One page gags starring 'Elsje' are additionally published in Eppo magazine.
Heer Bommel en de i-Padden
In 2012, Valkema joined forces with his former Studio Kruis colleague Michiel van de Vijver to set up Kijk en Lees, a label through which they publish their educational children's comics (Valkema's 'Kik' and Van de Vijver's 'Joep') in book format. In 2012 it was also announced that Valkema would become the artist in the case of a revival of Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes en Heer Bommel' strip. Valkema's first Bommel story was 'Heer Bommel en de i-Padden', a story written by Patty Klein in commission of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals NVB.
In 2016, he was one of the six Dutch artists to draw a comic book starring Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' for S.O.S. Children's Villages, based on a story by a Dutch celebrity. Valkema made the story 'De grandioze gitaar' with singer-songwriter Guus Meeuwis. The other other artists involved were Eric Heuvel, Michiel de Jong, Hanco Kolk, Gerard Leever and Romano Molenaar.
Since 2016, he is part of "The Wolfpack", a creative team of Standaard Uitgeverij assigned to come up with new ideas for spin-offs with Willy Vandersteen's classic creations, following the success of 'Amoras' and 'J.Rom Force of Gold'. The other members are storyrunner Johan De Smedt, film director Vincent Bal, comics colorist and animator Tom Metdepenningen and the Dutch/Flemish comic authors Bruno de Roover, Lectrr, Stedho, Romano Molenaar and Aimée de Jongh.
Eric Hercules, Elsje and Gerben Valkema