Pipo by Jan van der Voo
'Pipo de Clown'.

Jan van der Voo is a Dutch cartoonist, comic artist and illustrator, who has contributed predominantly to publications aimed at children. Early in his career, he worked alongside Jan Kruis on a great many advertising comic strips for candy brands, as well as the comic features 'Baldino' (1963) and 'De Kleine Hertog' (1963) in Olidin, and 'Moeps Pepernoot' (1974) in Story. For Donald Duck weekly, he teamed up with scriptwriter Wim Meuldijk to create a comic feature based on Meuldijk's children's TV series 'Pipo de Clown' (1969-1973), followed by new comic adventures of an earlier Meuldijk creation, 'Ketelbinkie' (1974-1979). Additionally, Jan van der Voo's illustrations were featured prominently in the school magazines Taptoe and Okki, and also in educational books published by Malmberg, Wolters-Noordhoff and Zwijsen.

Early illustration work by Jan van der Voo for De Havenloods (1960).

Early life
Jan van der Voo was born in 1938 in Barendrecht, a town bordering to the south of the Dutch harbor city Rotterdam. He grew up reading newspaper comics like Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes en Heer Bommel' and Piet van Elk's 'Bim', and enjoyed drawing these characters in his classroom's chalkboard. Another favorite was 'Johan and Peewit' by Peyo from Spirou magazine - a series that later inspired Van der Voo to use a clean and accessible drawing style for his own children's comics. Among his other artistic influences were the illustrators Jan Wesseling and Carl Hollander. His father - a book keeper - was initially not that fond of his son's artistic ambitions, but by the time the young cartoonist earned his first money from advertising assignments, he became more supportive.

De Metroriet
'De Metroriet' (1960).

Early career
Jan van der Voo attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam, after which his professional career took off. Because of a broken leg, he could not fulfill his military service, and instead spent all his time drawing. One of his first assignments was 'De Metroriet' (1960-1961), a comic strip starring a gnome. The comic reported the construction of the Rotterdam subway in the free local newspaper De Havenloods. After De Havenloods, Van der Voo moved on to illustrate articles in the local daily newspaper De Maasbode. Around the same time, he won a contest held by the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd shipping company, which resulted in a paid assignment of designing six menu cards for the ships' restaurants.

'De Kleine Hertog', from Olidin (5 May 1963).

Collaboration with Jan Kruis
In the early 1960s, Jan van der Voo also began a fruitful collaboration with Jan Kruis, another Rotterdam-based artist. Sharing a studio in the south of the city, the two men initially worked on assignments from Eddy de Smet's advertising agency Van Maanen in The Hague, mostly on advertising comic strips. By 1963, Van der Voo was helping Kruis with his comics for Olidin, a children's magazine of petrol company Shell, distributed freely among members of the Shell Junior Club. From a script by Jan Kruis, Jan van der Voo drew the second adventure of the medieval minstrel 'Baldino' ('Baldino en de Tovenaarsleerling', 1963), as well as the one-shot serial 'De Kleine Hertog' (1963), about a little duke who is mistaken for a cook's boy and sent on a sea trip. Other important contributors to Olidin were Emile BrumsteedeWim Giesbers, Frits GodhelpFriso Henstra, Niek Hiemstra, Hans G. Kresse, Ted Mathijsen, Joost Rietveld, Chris Roodbeen, P. Visser, Dick Vlottes, Carol Voges, Joop Wiggers and Piet Wijn.

Sjokoprins strip by Jan van der Voo
Advertising comic for the chocolate cookie brand Chocoprins, published in Pep.

Van der Voo eventually joined Jan Kruis in his own studio, creating advertising comics and illustrations under the banner "Jan Kruis Producties". Joining the team were the artists Wim Giesbers and Martin Lodewijk. Notable productions were a great many advertising strips, mostly for candy brands, that appeared in comic magazines like Donald Duck and Pep. Starting in 1962 - during their Van Maanen days - and lasting well into the 1970s, their creations included 'Max' for Mars candy bars, 'Tim' for Treets, 'Bounty Eiland' for Bounty, 'Koos' for Kodak, 'Mieke en Wouter' for Milky Way, 'Sjokoprins' for De Beukelaer and 'De Broodversierders' for De Ruijter; all written by Kruis and drawn by Van der Voo.

'Moeps Pepernoot', from Story magazine (1974).

The collaboration between Jan van der Voo and Jan Kruis lasted until the mid-1970s, when the Van der Voo family moved to Zweelo, a town in the Drenthe countryside. One of their final joint creations were the daydreams of 'Moeps Pepernoot' (1974), a comic feature appearing in the early issues of the gossip magazine Story - with additional scriptwork by Patty Klein. The two men remained close friends, especially when the Kruis family moved east as well. Van der Voo's son Jeroen stood model for the character Jeroentje, the quick-witted neighbor kid in Kruis' signature comic 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen'. For Jan Kruis' 2007 illustrated adaptation of Multatuli's 'Woutertje Pieterse', Jan der Voo provided the illustrations for a dream sequence.

Ketelbinkie by Jan van der Voo
'Ketelbinkie' (Donald Duck #37, 1975).

Pipo de Clown & Ketelbinkie
Jan van der Voo's best-known work in comics were the eight serials starring 'Pipo de Clown' (1969-1973), made with writer Wim Meuldijk for Donald Duck weekly. The feature was based on the TV series of the same name - written by Meuldijk and broadcast between 1958 and 1980 - about a circus clown and his wife Mammaloe, who travel the world with their donkey-driven house trailer. During the 1960s, Meuldijk wrote text stories with his characters, illustrated by Jan Wesseling and published in the magazines Donald Duck and Margriet. Even though he made a test page, Wesseling showed no interest in drawing the comic version as well, so the job went to Jan van der Voo. The series was launched in 1969 as a replacement of the 'Tom Poes' comic by the Toonder Studio's, for many years Donald Duck's regular non-Disney comic feature. In 1970, Meuldijk and Van der Voo's first story, 'Pipo de clown in Miniland', was released in book format by publisher De Geïllustreerde Pers. Even though 130,000 copies were sold - an impressive amount for a Dutch-language comic book - the series was discontinued. In 1973, four new books were published by Skarabee.

In 1973, Wim Meuldijk dropped the 'Pipo de Clown' comic in favor of a reboot of his 1940s comic creation 'Ketelbinkie', a boy with superhuman strength. After two serials drawn by Jan van Haasteren, the series continued with four additional episodes, drawn by Jan van der Voo between 1974 and 1979.

Cover illustration with André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe', made by Jan van der Voo for Sjors magazine.

Children's magazine illustrator
By the 1970s, Van der Voo had become one of the most sought-after illustrators for Dutch children's magazines. His clean and humorous artwork was perfectly suitable for younger readers, and his ability to adapt other artist's styles made him a useful production artist. Between 1967 and 1971, he illustrated four text stories for Donald Duck weekly, and around the same time, he became a prominent artist for the comic magazine Sjors. Van der Voo illustrated many of Sjors's editorial pages, most notably the mail section and the fun fact feature 'Snippers', which included the gag strip 'Gnompfie' (1970). He also designed story headers and made cover drawings with the magazine's licensed characters, including André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' and Peyo's 'Johan and Peewit'. In the mid-1970s, he also made cover illustrations for the Dutch comic book collections of the British 'Billy Bunter' comic.

Pots, by Jan van der Voo
'Pots', from Okki magazine (8 April 1978).

Since the late 1960s, Van der Voo was also a prominent illustrator for the school magazines published by Malmberg. He provided Taptoe magazine with most of its early 1970s cover drawings, and made posters, games and story illustrations for Okki, Jippo and Bobo, as well as their annual seasonal books. With writer Patty Klein, he made the comic strip about the dog 'Pots' (AKA 'Joep, Jolleke en Pots', 1976-1977) for kindergarten magazine Okki. Educational publishers like Zwijsen and Malmberg also requested his services for their schoolbooks and teaching methods.

Okki voorplaat door Jan van der Voo
Cover illustrations for the 3 May 1969 issue of Okki and the 6 November 1971 edition of Taptoe magazine.

New Zealand period (1982-1997)
In the early 1980s, Van der Voo was increasingly worried about the nuclear arms race and environmental problems, and the family moved to New Zealand. Arriving there in 1982, Van der Voo spent two years making political cartoons for the New Zealand Herald, while his wife ran a fashion boutique in Devonport, the harborside suburb of Auckland. By the mid-1980s, he was drawing educational material for young children again, most notably the 'Sunshine Books' series for reading and calculating by the Wright Group. The books, illustrated by Van der Voo, were distributed all over the world, appearing in the USA, the UK, Finland and China, among other countries.

Sequential illustrations for a recipe page in Jippo magazine (12 May 1979).

Even een Piraatje
In 1997, the Van der Voo family moved back from New Zealand to the Netherlands, settling once again in the province of Drenthe, this time in a farm house in Emmen. He continued to work for educational publishers, such as Zwijsen and Wolters-Noordhoff, and also returned to making comic strips. Between 2004 and 2006, his vertically-shaped pirate gag strip 'Even Een Piraatje' ran in the comic magazine MYX. In 2010, a landscape-format book collection was published by Het Stripschap, and two digital collections were made available on John Croezen's Stripwinkel.nl site. In May 2014, the local paper Leeuwarder Courant started publishing Van der Voo's previously unpublished 'Piraatje' strips, as well as some new ones. In that same year, Fons Kolkman and his publishing imprint Favoriet launched the 'Jan van der Voo Collectie', that contained new book collections of Van der Voo's 'Pipo de Clown' and 'Ketelbinkie' stories.

Experimental comic strip for Pep magazine #20, 17 May 1974. Translation: "Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! After you!"

Expositions of Jan van der Voo's work were held at the 2008 Kampen comic festival and during a 2009 show in the Stripmuseum Groningen. On 22 October 2005, during the Stripdagen comic festival in Houten, Jan van der Voo was awarded the Bulletje & Boonestaak Plate for his distinguished contributions to comic art in the Netherlands. Dik Bruynesteyn and Dick Vlottes, two other veterans of Dutch comics, received the same award that year. 

'Even Een Piraatje'. 

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