'Victor de Turenne' (De Vrije Zeeuw, 1962).

Dick de Wilde was a Dutch book and advertising illustrator, comic artist and graphic designer. As an illustrator of children's literature from the 1960s through the 1980s, he was known for his well-documented historical drawings. The rare comic series he worked on also featured mainly heroic sword-slingers. Besides assisting Hans G. Kresse on 'Matho Tonga' and 'De Jeugd van Eric de Noorman' for the Belgian market, De Wilde most likely made his own newspaper text comic 'Victor de Turenne' during the 1950s and 1960s. He signed this work with W. Gerritsen or, shortened, "W. Gerr".

Early life and career
De Wilde was born in 1905 in Rotterdam. At the age 18 he became a bookkeeper at a commercial office in Brussels, before ending up as graphic designer for Unilever's in-house advertising agency Lintas. During evenings, he was for many years a teacher at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts. On the side, he worked on illustration assignments, such as the cover and interior illustrations for 'Wolfram, De Zoon van Graaf Ottokar', an advertising booklet for several Dutch savings banks, published in the summer of 1951. The text was written by noted children's book author A.D. Hildebrand. It was the first in a long line of historical heroes he would draw.

Wolfram, de zoon van graaf Ottokar, by Dick de Wilde

Work for Hans G. Kresse
De Wilde made his first venture into comics in the early 1950s, when he assisted Hans G. Kresse on some of his productions. 'De Jeugd van Eric de Noorman' for instance, a serial about the younger days of Kresse's signature hero 'Eric the Norseman'. It appeared as the cover feature of the Flemish magazine Pum-Pum from 1951 until 1955, but Kresse had quickly lost interest. Therefore De Wilde was brought in as illustrator, while Gerrit Stapel took care of the later installments. De Wilde, Stapel and also Piet Wijn furthermore worked on the fourth installment of Kresse's series about Native American 'Matho Tonga', which appeared in Het Laatste Nieuws in 1954.

First episode of 'Victor van Turenne' (De Vrije Zeeuw, 26 April 1958).

Victor de Turenne
Research of the Comics Documentation Centre, affiliated with the Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam, has pointed out that Dick de Wilde was also responsible for the newspaper comic 'Victor de Turenne' (or 'Victor van Turenne'). De Wilde signed each episode with "W. Gerr", an abbreviation of his supposed pen name W. Gerritsen. He applied a style similar to that of Kresse and Stapel, while his detailed depictions of castles and his realistic brush work brings Hal Foster's 'Prince Valiant' to mind as an inspiration. This historical text comic appeared in Dutch regional newspapers in the late 1950s and early 1960s through Anton de Zwaan's Swan Features Syndicate. The series stars the heroic Victor, eldest son of the count of Turenne (France), who joins Godfrey of Bouillon on his crusade to Palestine.

The Swan Features archives contain original artwork for stories 1, 2 and 15, indicating that there must have been at least fifteen stories. So far, only the first two stories have been traced back in Dutch newpapers. 'Onder de Blauwe Vaan van Lotharingen' appeared in De Vrije Zeeuw from 26 April until 9 July 1958, followed by 'De Schrik der Saracenen' from 31 July through 6 October 1962. The series has also appeared in Groninger Courant in 1959.

'Victor de Turenne' (De Vrije Zeeuw, 1962).

Children's book illustrator
By the time of his semi-retirement in the 1960s, De Wilde began a productive second career as an illustrator of children's literature. He worked essentially on historical books, for which he took great care in the correct historical depiction and atmosphere, feeling that the sole purpose of the illustrations were supporting the text. From the start, he illustrated several (re)editions of popular books by Johan Fabricius, most notably his best-known book 'De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe' (1960), about three young boys who sail to the Dutch East Indies aboard the Nieuw Hoorn with captain Willem Bontekoe. Other Fabricius books with drawings by De Wilde were 'Het Geheim van het Oude Landhuis' (1965), 'De Wonderbaarlijke Avonturen van Bartje Kokliko' (1975) and 'Toontje Poland. Een Alkmaarse jongen in de Dagen van Napoleon' (1977). De Wilde also illustrated Dutch editions of originally British books by Leon Garfield and Rosemary Sutcliff, and also historical books by Henk van Kerkwijk ('De Ontvoering uit De Swaan', 1967) and Miep Diekmann ('Mens Te Koop', 1977). He provided the artwork for several books about Dutch medieval history by Piet Huurdeman, such as 'Het Beleg van Haarlem' (1979), 'Van Alkmaar De Victorie' (1980) and 'Leidens Ontzet' (1981), as well as Nanne Bosman's 'De Bedelaars' (1986), 'De Troubadour van Carcassonne' (1987) and 'De Duivelskater' (1989).

Final years and death
Dick de Wilde retired from all his activities in 1988, and passed away in Breda on 12 September 1994.

From: 'De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe'.

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