Fred Penner by Lou Visser
'Fred Penner'.

Lou Visser was an Dutch mid-20th century comics artist and illustrator. During the 1930s he made some short-lived comics of a satirical nature for De Groene Amsterdammer and Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad. The former magazine also ran his gag comic 'Toto' (1936). After World War II he was active as a children's book illustrator and made some newspaper text comics. Visser is, however, best remembered for drawing several pulp comic books like 'Fred Penner' (1953-1962) and local productions of 'Tarzan'. 

Toto, by Lieuwe Visser (De Groene Amsterdammer, 1936)
Introduction of 'Toto', 1936.

Early life and comics career
He was born in 1911 in Rotterdam as Lourens Jacobus Reinier Visser, where he got his technical education at the HTS. He, however, chose for an artistic career, and started out in the early 1930s making satirical strips for De Groene Amsterdammer and Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad about the developments in nazi Germany. From 1936 on he also drew a gag strip about the dog 'Toto' for De Groene Amsterdammer. Visser's children's book 'Jip en Tip op Avontuur' was published by Helmond in 1938.In 1945 he drew 'Gerrit en Wijbrand', a picture story about a duck and an owl. He tried to get it published by De Gulden Pers in Haarlem, but with no luck. De Gulden Pers did publish his book 'Dribbeldra, Koning der Langneuzen' (1947), which was first serialized in the VARA radioguide De Radiogids. The story is about the feud between a family with long noses and a family with turned-up noses.

Koning der Langneuzen, by Lieuwe Visser
'Dribbeldra, Koning der Langneuzen'.

Fred Penner
In the 1950s, he became an artist with the publishing house ATH, run by Arnoldus Teeuwen in Rotterdam. He developed the "picture novel" ("beeldroman") series 'Fred Penner', of which 98 comic books were published between 1953 and 1962. The character started out as a journalist, but the strip became a western from the fifth book on. The size of the publication was also changed from oblong to classic comic book format. The comic lasted longer than most other action-filled picture novel series, which had all succumbed to the anti-comics propaganda of the Dutch government and educators by the mid-1950s.

Later life and career
Visser also drew the comical back-up feature 'Babel en Knetterton' in the 'Wanak' comic book in 1957, but was succeeded by Martin Lodewijk from issue #3 on . In 1958 he replaced Dick Vlottes as the cover artist for ATH's 'Tarzan' comic books. He used the covers of the Dell comic books as his main source of inspiration. Lou Visser had an advertising studio at the Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam. He passed away in 1981. His daughter is Dutch visual artist Eveline Visser.

Fred Penner, by Lieuwe Visser

Identification problems
Because most of the 1950s comic books were done anonymously, for years there have been speculations about the true identity of their artists. Martin Lodewijk had mistakenly identified the 'Fred Penner' artist as "Dick Visser" in interviews from the 1960s and 1970s. He blamed this mistake on the more formal customs of addressing people in the 1950s, as a result of which first names were often unknown. The name Dick Visser as the artist of 'Fred Penner' thus appeared in Hans Matla's comics catalogue, and in Evelien and Kees Kousemaker's comics encylopedia 'Wordt Vervolgd' (1980). Adding to the mystery was the presumption that Dick Visser was a pen name of Albert Winands, who drew picture novels as Albert Survie. Also, the author of Visser's pre-ATH work is listed as "Lieuwe Visser" in 'Wordt Vervolgd'. To make matters even more complicated, a picture novel called 'Francesco Domati' was published in Heerlen by Winants (no relation to Albert Winands) and credited to Dick Visser. Although this artist remains yet to be identified, there seems to be no relation to the ATH artist. Ron de Laat of the Tarzan-fansite "Holland meets ERB" made an end to most of the above speculations, when he tracked down Lou Visser's son and provided more information about the artist on his website in 2005. 

Series and books by Lou Visser in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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