Promotional comic strip for the Shell Junior Club (Olidin #23, 1961).

Joop Wiggers was a Dutch graphic artist, lay-out desiger, publisher and entrepeneur. He is best-known as the publisher of Jan Kruis' family comic 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen', and the initiator of the franchise's merchandising line.

Early life and career
Born in 1937, Joop Wiggers met Kruis in the early 1960s. They both worked for the Van Maanen advertising agency, directed by Eddy de Smet, the father of future comic artist Peter de Smet. Wiggers and Kruis worked on campaigns for Shell, DAF and Porsche, while they also contributed to Olidin, the magazine of the Shell Junior Club. While Kruis produced comic series like 'Tommy' and 'Baldino', Wiggers did lay-outs and supervised the production, but he also made illustrations. His recurring character was Jantje, the mascot of the Shell Junior Club, who appeared on editorial pages, covers and an occasional promotional comic strip. Other members of the Shell Junior Club were Stientje and Gertje, who appeared in comic strips by Jan Kruis. Kruis and Wiggers continued to cooperate after their Van Maanen period. One of their joint productions was Goed Gekleed (1967), an advertising magazine for a purchasing association for expensive men's fashion stores. Already in this period, Joop Wiggers showed a keen eye for business. He self-published posters, board games and children's booklets. Other important contributors to Olidin were Emile Brumsteede, Wim Giesbers, Friso Henstra, Niek Hiemstra, Hans G. Kresse, Jan Kruis, Ted Mathijsen, Joost Rietveld, Chris Roodbeen, Jan van der Voo, P. Visser, Dick Vlottes, Carol Voges and Piet Wijn


Spread from Olidin #23, 1961.

Jan, Jans en de Kinderen
On 12 December 1970, Kruis began his 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen' gag page in the women's weekly Libelle. However, publisher De Spaarnestad was in the middle of a reorganization, and refused to launch a book collection at the time. The artist approached his friend Wiggers with the idea, who was enthusiastic right away. Over the course of a chat in the pub, Kruis gave Wiggers the publishing rights of his strip. Without any formal agreement, a bestselling comic book series was born. To fund the first album of 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen', Wiggers took a mortgage on his house. It was published in a print run of 30,000 copies by Joop Wiggers Producties B.V. in 1972 and was an instant hit. Twenty-four further albums and a host of commissioned publications were produced by Wiggers until 1998. At the height of their collaboration, Wiggers published 150,000 copies per album.


Jan Kruis and Joop Wiggers compiling the 'Jan Kruis' career overview book in 1995.

For thirty years, Joop Wiggers and his wife Beppie served as Jan Kruis' "commercial right hands" and agents. Wiggers saw the commercial possibilities of the fictional Tromp family and also initiated a wide range of merchandising. Towels, teapots, canisters, watches, T-shirts, eiderdowns, posters, socks, placemats, service, puzzles, perfumed toilet calendars and other items saw the light. The merchandising especially propelled the family's big red cat into an instantly recognizable mascot. Since Jan Kruis came from the advertising industry himself, he had no issues with the commercial exploitation of his creations. On the occasion of the comic's twenty year anniversary, Wiggers initiated a CD/audio cassette with songs related to the series. The song texts were written by Jan Kruis and Willem Wilmink, while Harry Bannink composed the music. In the mid-1980s a television adaptation was made in cooperation with Han Peekel and Wouter Stips. Two more prototypes for an animated series were made with animator Gene Deitch in the mid-1990s, but the project was cancelled. The Dutch postal services released a series of 'Jan, Jans en de Kinderen' stamps in 1998. Between 1992 and 1999, Joop Wiggers also published eight albums of 'Vijftien en een 1/2', the comic strip by Jan's daughter Andrea Kruis for Margriet magazine.

Final years and death
Jan Kruis announced his retirement in late 1998, and sold the rights to his characters to VNU (now Sanoma), the publisher of Libelle magazine. The production of the comic was transferred to the editorial offices in Hoofddorp under direction of Joop Wiggers' assistant Mariken Swildens, while VNU also acquired the rights to publish the books. It marked the end of a collaboration of nearly thirty years, but Kruis and Wiggers remained close friends. In the late 1990s Joop and Beppie Wiggers moved from Breukelen to Antwerp, Belgium. Coincidentally, Joop Wiggers passed away little over a week after Jan Kruis, on 28 January 2017.

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