Prof. Cumulus, by Gerard Wiegel
Professor Cumulus

Gerard Wiegel was a Dutch illustrator, cartoonist and illustrator, who often signed with the somewhat illegible signature "Wiel". He was active as a comic artist for children's magazines in the 1960s and 1970s with contributions to Okki and Kris Kras. His best-known creation was 'Professor Cumulus' (1967-1970) for De Volkskrant. For 55 years, he was the cartoonist for Cobouw, a daily newspaper for the contruction industry.

He was born as Gerard Clemens Maria Wiegel in Amsterdam in 1926. During World War II, he had his first job with an insurance bank, where he brought around the mail. He couldn't show up for work one day because his shoes were worn-out. With his talent for drawing, he managed to falsify bread coupons, which helped his family through the Hunger winter, a period of heavy famine in the occupied Dutch western provinces in 1944-1945. On 7 May 1945 Wiegel was present on Dam square, when German soldiers in the Grote Club aimed fire at the crowd celebrating the liberation. He was subsequently fired from the bank for his absenteeism, and spent one year in a hospital because of tuberculosis in his leg. He eventually settled in The Hague.

Flossie by Gerard Wiegel

Wiegel began to focus on a career as a cartoonist in the 1950s. He targeted German magazines, because they offered a better fee, and saw his work published in the Neue Illustrierte and Frankfurter Illustrierte. In The Netherlands, he began his cartooning career in several specialized magazines and newspapers. He had a monthly strip called 'Conny' (1958-1965) in Co-op Nieuws, an internal magazine of Co-op supermarkets. Also for Co-op, Wiegel made cartoons and illustrations for the information booklets 'Even iets lekkers maken' (about cooking, 1966) and 'Eigenhandigheidjes' (about domestic chores, 1968) by Hans van Holten. In Disco Discussies, a magazine for grammophone enthusiasts, he drew 'Hoezepoes' (1958-1960). Wiegel began his longtime association with Cobouw in 1961. For 55 years, he had a regular spot in this daily magazine for the construction industry, first on the frontpage and then on the opinion page. In 1970 and 1971 he also contributed a weekly strip called 'Ouwe Jongens' to this publication.

Professor Vliegop

Between 1958 and 1962 he made the pantomime comic strip about the cat 'Flossie' for the weekly radio/TV guide of broadcasting company VARA. In the 1960s, Wiegel's work also made its appearance in children's magazines. He made illustrations, cartoons and comic strips like 'Tiep' (1960-1965) and 'Professor Vliegop' (1962-1965) in the literary and artistic children's magazine Kris Kras. For the Malmberg school magazine Okki, he developed the little Eskimo 'Kimo', whose adventures first appeared in 1965. A girl Eskimo was added to the series, which appeared under the title 'Kimo en Kaja' from 1970 to 1975. His earlier creation 'Professor Vliegop' evolved into Wiegel's best-known comic strip, 'Professor Cumulus', whose adventures appeared in newspaper De Volkskrant from 1967 until 1970.

Kimo, by Gerard Wiegel 1963

In addition, Wiegel made an advertising strip for Tomado called 'Diederik Draad' (1965), the comic 'Tiener' (1965) for De Spiegel and the comic book 'De Wegpiraten', starring the character Ron Spetter, for the waste disposal company VAM in 1974. In 1976 and 1977 he made the political comic strip 'In Betere Kringen' for the weekly magazine Accent. He made the 1972 election poster for the liberal political party VVD. It featured party leader Hans Wiegel, who according to the artist must have been a distant relative.

Wiegel's wife Elly opened Gallery Clemar in The Hague in the mid 1970s. Its mission was to organize expositions of illustrations, cartoons and comic strips made for magazines, books and newspapers. She felt this artistic work was overlooked at the time. Gerard Wiegel was among the first whose work was presented. A street named after 'Professor Cumulus' is part of the "comics heroes" district of Almere since 2004. 

Gerard Wiegel's association with Cobouw ended in 2016, when it changed from daily to weekly publication. He had drawn thousands of cartoons for the publication, and apparently never missed a single issue. The artist was 89 at the time. Gerard Wiegel passed away in the following year, on 21 March 2017. Cobouw praised him for his humor, positivity and work ethic in their in memoriam.

Final Cobouw cartoon

Series and books by Gerard Wiegel in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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