'Wolven'.

Ward Zwart was a Belgian graphic novel artist and illustrator, who worked for several national and international clients. During his short life and career, he released several zines, story collections, as well as two graphic novels in cooperation with writer Enzo Smits: 'Wolven' (2016) and 'Ik Kom van Ver Maar Blijf Niet te Lang' (2020).

Themes and style
He was born in 1985 in Antwerp as Ward Kuyper. His educations at the Sint-Lucas Schools of Arts in Antwerp and Ghent remained unfinished; he quit both schools after two years each. He first came to notice in the underground scenes of Antwerp and Ghent with his melancholic pencil and charcoal drawings. They appeared on posters, blogs and in home-made zines from the mid-2000s on, and were reflections on his own daily life and of youth culture in general. The artist found his inspiration in old books, photographs, curiosities and the internet. In interviews he expressed no particular interest in comics. Animals like wolves and hares were often present in his artwork, which also revealed a sense of humor, despite its sober undertone. His snapshot-like drawings often followed an improvised narrative, with a strong emphasis on atmosphere. In 2007 he had his first solo exhibition in the Choosy Gallery in Brussels, which was followed by shows in Mechelen, New Zealand and Luzern (Switzerland). He has participated in many group exhibitions throughout Antwerp and in other Belgian cities, but also in Frankfurt (Germany) and Helsinki (Finland).

Publications
In 2007 Zwart began releasing zines with his art, including the 'Portraits' series (2007-2008), collaborations with Ephameron and about 50 other titles. More formal book collections of his drawings and illustrations were 'Herd Animals' (Bries, 2009), the self-published 'Mosty Cola' (2012) and 'I'm a Bat' (Extrapool, 2013). He also published stories on the online platform Pulp de Luxe, and saw his illustrations published in several Flemish newspapers and magazines, including Trends, Weekend Knack, De Morgen and De Standaard. Commercial clients also requested his services, such as the Flemish Opera, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and the Flemish Government. Internationally, Zwart could rank Vice Magazine, Google +, the ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, HBO, the New York Times and a Russian cultural magazine among his clients.


'The Eating of the Wolves' (published on Pulp de Luxe).

Wolven
In 2014, Bries released 'Wolven' ("Wolves"), a graphic novel Zwart made in collaboration with scriptwriter and film maker Enzo Smits. The book collects three stories set in the disaster-struck rural town Hazenberg in the summer of 1995. The interlinked segments explore the pain of adolescence through a young skateboarder who loses touch with reality after injuring his head, three friends who set out to search a strange creature wandering the woods, and a loner who reluctantly accompanies a friend to a party. The book was a success within alternative circles and received positive reviews, leading to a second edition after the first 800 copies had sold out. 'Wolven' was published in French by Les Éditions Même Pas Mal in 2018.

Ik Kom van Ver Maar Blijf Niet te Lang
After this first release, Zwart and Smits created another graphic novel. The title, 'Ik Kom van Ver Maar Blijf Niet te Lang' (Bries, 2020), translates literally as "I come from far, but won't stay too long". As it implies, the book's major themes are leaving and coming home. Just like their first collaboration, the 1990s form the story's timeframe. The failed musician Gus Jenssen returns to his birthtown, even though he had sworn he would never set foot in it again. At the same time, three aspiring local kids dream of having fame and success like their favorite rock hero, coincidentally also Gus Jenssen.

Death
Sadly, Ward Zwart hasn't lived to see the release of his latest graphic novel. The artist passed away on 26 October 2020. He was barely 35 years old.


'Ik Kom van Ver Maar Blijf Niet te Lang'.

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