Tistjen Dop, by WEgé (Willy Geets)
Tistjen Dop

WEgé is the pen name of the Flemish comics artist Willy Geets. He is best known for his unemployed comics hero 'Tistjen Dop' (1979-1987), and for the many cartoons and comic strips he has made for local papers from his hometown Rijkevorsel.

Geets was born in 1954 and grew up reading Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' and most notably Marc Sleen's 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' and 'Nero'. He had the ambition to become a comics artist himself, and applied for a job at Studio Vandersteen. Vandersteen had no vacancy, and Geets enrolled at the Academy of Ghent, where he studied graphic arts. He had his first job with a printing firm, and started making comics on the side. His first published comic strip was the gag strip about the bird 'Kartoffel' (1975). It appeared in Jan Smet's comics information magazine Stripgids and also in Ekspres, a free local magazine from Turnhout.

After fulfulling his military service and losing his job, he was approached by Ekspres editor Walter van den Broeck to make another comic strip for them. Geets had already developed a comic inspired by his own experiences with unemployment, resulting in the creation of 'Tistjen Dop' ("doppen" is a Flemish expression for receiving unemployment pay). The character debuted in Ekspres in 1979, and continued to appear in the weekly until 1987. The publishing house Zinje collected the comic in four albums: 'Van De Kaart!' (1983), 'Op Zwart Zaad' (1984), ''t Is Geen Werk' and 'Van de Regen in de Drop' (1986).


Suske Wiet, with guest appearance of Merho's 'Kiekeboe' (1998)

During the 1980s, Geets reached over a million readers when 'Tistjen Dop' appeared in De Volksmacht, the magazine of the Christian Workers' Movement. The comic was furthermore published in publications of the Communist and socialist parties, and in a newspaper for the unemployed. WEgé based his gags on the news of the day and ended his comic after about ten years because of lack of further inspiration. The character lives on in the comic book store Tistjen Dop, which was opened by Ad Hendrickx in 1986. On the occasion of the store's thirtieth anniversary in 2016, Hendrickx released another album with previously unpublished gags, 'De Verloren Episodes'.

Willy Geets lives in the Rijkevorsel (in popular speech "Veussel") in the north of Belgium, and is the house artist of the local monthly De Brug since the 1990s. With Yaack Bakker he created the comic strip 'Suske Wiet', a fictional inhabitant of the community. The strip is notable for its guest contributions of Erika Raven and Merho in 1998. WEgé is still the cover artist and cartoonist of De Brug's successor De Nieuwe Brug (since 2011), and also makes posters and promotional artwork for local events. Geets regularly adds cameos of his musical hero Frank Zappa in his artwork.


Cover for De Brug, with Frank Zappa reference. The line "A real nice place to raise your kids up" is a reference to Frank Zappa's song 'Centerville' from his album/film '200 Motels' (1971).

www.tistjendop.be
Wouter Adriaensen's interview with Willy Geets and Yaack Bakker

Series and books by WEgé in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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