cover of 'Eliminations' by Willem

Born and bred in de Veluwe, one of the most conservative regions of Holland, Willem has become one of the world's most unpredictable and sardonic cartoonists. While studying Fine Arts between 1962 and 1967, it all started with some early comix and cartoons for magazines like De Legerkoerier (The Army Courier), and with Willem's contributions to the legendary student magazine Propria Cures. There, he got in touch with Roel van Duyn, the editor of the paper for the hippie movement Provo.

Piet Por, by Bernard Willem Holtrop (Aloha #26, 1972)
Piet Por (Aloha #26, 1972)

Since Provo at that time didn't have an illustrator, Willem started working for them right away. In 1966 he caused quite a stir by portraying the Dutch queen Juliana as a prostitute in one of his cartoons for the Provo publication God, Nederland & Oranje. What followed was a persecution for lese majesty and a fine of 200 guilders. Following the demise of the Provo movement, his work appeared in De Nieuwe Linie in 1967. He moved to Paris, France in the following year, where his first cartooning work were contributions to L'Enragé during the May 1968 student strikes in Paris.

He subsequently became a regular contributor to Hara Kiri as well as its follow-up Charlie Hebdo. Willem's beloved themes such as fat women, biological warfare, crabs, small children and police violence were all represented in the many political cartoons, illustrations, puzzles, comix and texts for the magazine. He also served as a promotor of Dutch comic abroad with his own publication Surprise. He was eventually editor-in-chief of Charlie Mensuel. He also appeared in Benoît Lamy's documentary 'Cartoon Circus' (1972), a Belgian documentary about cartoons and comics,  in which he was interviewed alongside Siné, Picha, Roland Topor, Cabu, Jean-Marc Reiser, François Cavanna, Professeur Choron, Gal, Georges Wolinski, Joke and Jules Feiffer.

Prins Bernhard comic by Willem
Prince Bernhard comics about the Lockheed case

Ever since the late seventies, Willem has been contributing controversial daily cartoons to the French left-wing daily Libération. All through these years his output has been prolific, resulting in a veritable mountain of book publications, which are almost without exception hard to find. Luckily, in 1998, the editor Jean-Pierre Faur published the anthology 'Deadlines', a beautiful overview of the works of one of the most internationally renowned Dutch graphic artists.


In Holland his work has been published in books by De Harmonie, De Nieuwe Linie and Van Gennep, including 'Billy the Kid', 'Forty Dirty Drawings', 'Weg met de varkens', 'De vrolijke zelfmoord', 'Rust en orde' and 'De lotgevallen van Piet Por'. He has also continued to produce a weekly political cartoon for HP/De Tijd.

Willem hosted an exhibition in Galerie Lambiek in September 1998. He was honored with the Dutch comics prize, De Stripschapsprijs, in 2000. Willem was the first Dutch artist to receive the Grand Prix d'Angoulême during the 40th Angoulême Comics Festival in February 2013.

Lambiek will always be grateful to Willem for illustrating the letter "R" in our encylopedia book, 'Wordt Vervolgd - Stripleksikon der Lage Landen', published in 1979.

Willem exposition in Galerie Lambiek
Invitation for the Lambiek exposition

Willem biografie
(in dutch)

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


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