Figaro by Steve van Bael
Figaro - 'Het Masker van de Wereld' (2008)

Steve Van Bael is a Belgian comics artist. He is best known for his secret agent comics series 'Figaro' (2008-2010) and the sexy female journalist 'Iris' (since 2013). Van Bael furthermore created the satirical gag comics 'De Aarschotse Romeintjes' and 'Ergerlijk Eliootje' (2014) and various celebrity comics based on Flemish media stars like 'De Planckaerts' (2002-2003), 'Marc Coucke' (2016) and 'Baba Yega' (2018). 

Early life
Born in 1978 in Aarschot, Steve Van Bael completed his high school in 1997, and he was honored for his many contributions to the school's newspaper. The same year, he was contacted by a comic artist to do a promotional comic for a comics festival in Diest. He joined the Stripgilde, an organization of comics authors. He took drawing courses in Mechelen from Marc Daniels and Rik Dewulf. Van Bael draws his inspiration from Flemish classics like 'Kiekeboe' by Merho and 'Jommeke' by Jef Nys, and from the crime/detective series 'Gil Jourdan' by Maurice Tillieux and 'Soda' by Gazzotti and Tome.

Stam & Pilou / De Planckaerts / Link
In 2002, he joined Dewulf in Studio Max!, where he worked on the inking of 'Stam en Pilou' and 'De Planckaerts', a comic strip based on the eponymous reality TV series centering around Belgian cyclist Eddy Planckaert and his family. He also assisted Merho on 'Kiekeboe' in 2003, and was an allround artist on the series from 2006 to 2008. In 2003, he began working on his own detective series, 'Link'. The comic was published in the papers Het Belang van Limburg and Gazet van Antwerpen, and was collected in two albums by Dupuis. He launched his comic about secret agent 'Figaro' at Standaard Uitgeverij in 2008. Five albums of this series with several James Bond references were published until 2010. New books are published by Saga since 2014.

Link by Steve Van Bael
'Link' #2 - In Hart En Nieren

Iris and other comics
He has furthermore made a couple of educational comic books with Jan Kragt in commission of Eureducation, such as 'De 9 levens van Van Bommel (2012), 'Brandgevaar' (2013), 'Vechten voor vrede' (2014).  Van Bael publishes the gag comic 'De Aarschotse Romeintjes' in the official magazine of the village Aarschot, which caricatures local politicians, among them major André Peeters. In addition, his comic about voluptuous journalist 'Iris' (2011) has appeared in such publications as Menzo, Clint, P-Magazine and Ché. The character is based on a real life attractive woman, but Van Bael has refused to reveal her identity. While readers liked her comics series, Van Bael was only able to publish Iris' first comic book album in 2016. 

Political propaganda
Van Bael is also a prominent designer of advertisements for political parties, such as ROSSEM and Lijst Dedecker. In 2007 he got into legal trouble with an election poster which parodied Morris' cowboy comic 'Lucky Luke'. Jean-Marie Dedecker, party leader of Lijst Dedecker, was portrayed as Lucky Luke, while rival political party leaders Guy Verhofstadt (Open VLD), Johan Vande Lanotte (SP.A), Yves Leterme (CD&V) and Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) were depicted as the criminal gang The Daltons. Morris' copyright holders sued and won their case. 

Ergelijk Eliootje by Steve Van Bael
'Ergerlijk Eliootje' ('Horrible Little Elio'). The gag depicts Elio Di Rupo and party colleague Joëlle Milquet, who was then known as the head of the Parti Socialiste (PS). Di Rupo is shown being rejected by Milquet, which causes him to swear: "I never want a girlfriend again". This is a nod to Di Rupo's sexual orientation, since he was the first homosexual Belgian Prime Minister, and to Milquet's nickname "Madame Non", which she received after her firm resistance against constitutional reform.

Ergerlijk Eliootje
In March 2014 Van Bael created a satirical gag comic, 'Ergerlijk Eliootje', based on then Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who was also head of the Walloon socialist party PS. It depicts the fictious youth of Di Rupo. The comic was a reaction on Marco Paulo and Falzar's similar political gag comic, 'Bad Bartje', which satirized Flemish politician Bart De Wever of the Flemish-nationalistic and separatist party N-VA and also depicted him as a child. Originally 'Ergerlijk Eliootje' was signed with the pseudonym Spiritius, as the artist preferred staying anonymous. The scriptwriter nicknamed himself Leon. Many actually recognized Van Bael's graphical style, though Van Bael himself denied the rumors for a while, yet claimed he "knew the actual artist well". When a signed election poster for the political party ROSSEM featuring Di Rupo on a paper plane surfaced the mystery was finally solved. Van Bael had to admit he was the series' artist, but was insistant that he didn't draw the first few installments, which were made by a friend who preferred to stay out of the spotlight. The serie was eventually terminated when Di Rupo resigned as Prime Minister in the fall of 2014.

'Baba Yega'

Other celebrity comics
In 2016 Van Bael and Leon returned to satire with a celebrity comic book about Flemish businessman and chairman of the Belgian association football teams KV Oostende and Anderlecht Marc Coucke. This was no easy task for Van Bael, since he happened to be more of an Anderlecht supporter than KV Oostende. Thirty supporters of KV Oostende also received a cameo in the series after winning a special contest organized on Facebook. In 2017 Van Bael signed a deal with the local restaurant Brasserie Gempemolen in Sint-Joris-Winge, for whom he creates a monthly gag comic which is printed in their menu cards. The owner, Hans Meus, receives a cameo in each gag. A new celebrity comic by Van Bael saw light in 2018, when he created a comic book series about the mysterious Belgian dance group Baba Yega who won the TV talent show 'Belgium's Got Talent' and managed to make it to the final of the German equivalent 'Das Supertalent'. The plot of the comic book, 'De Orde van S.N.O.T.' (2018) is based on the eponymous movie about the band which came out the same year. In line with the group's pantomime stage performance their comic book equivalents also perform without any dialogue. 

Iris by Steve van Bael

Series and books by Steve Van Bael in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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