Comics History

Dutch Comics 1920-1940

After the First World War, Holland experienced a sense of optimism. Many newspapers started publishing comics, initially meant for children, such as 'Jopie Slim en Dikkie Bigmans', which newspaper De Telegraaf had taken over from the British Evening Post. It was such a success, that soon Dutch comic artists were asked to make comics for other papers. The most famous comic of that time was 'Bulletje en Boonestaak', written by A.M. de Jong and drawn by George van Raemdonck for Dutch socialist paper Voorwaarts, started in 1922.

Bulletje en Boonestaak, by George van RaemdonckBulletje en Boonestaak on war-heroes:
"Don't you think it's wonderful to see a hero?"

"It's terrible," Boonestaak said. "And why is that man begging? He did so many heroic feats!"
"Yes," said Kalkhoofd, "That's because the dear home country likes it when you let your arms and legs get shot off, but it lets you figure out for yourself how to crawl around the world after that!"

This text-strip, which showed a cheeky irreverence of authority and even dared to depict its characters naked, fighting or vomiting, was not only popular with children, but adults as well. It ran until 1937, and was often criticized by concerned educators, but still stood out as one of the best Dutch comics of that time.

Tripje Kwartetspel

In 1923, the children's comic 'Tripje en Liezebertha' by Henk Backer appeared in newspapers, and soon gained tremendous popularity. All kinds of merchandise was developed, such as the above playing cards featuring characters from the series, but also musical instruments and candy.

Another very popular text comic was 'Snuffelgraag en Knagelijntje' by Gerrit Th. Rotman. It was first published in magazine Voorwaarts in 1924. When Rotman fell out with the editors of this magazine in 1927, it was continued by Albert Funke KüpperGerrit Rotman (who became famous for his 'Mijnheer Pimpelmans' series, started in 1927) picked up the comic about the two little mice again for another newspaper, and called it 'Piepneus en Bibbersnoet'.

Snuffelgraag en Knagelijntje, by Albert Funke K├╝pper

By the beginning of the 1930s, several American comics had reached the Netherlands and were printed in various newspapers and magazines. Comics like 'Popeye' and 'Mickey Mouse' were not only translated, but also imitated by Dutch artists who used them in their own strips, or even for advertising a great number of goods, from biscuits to shoes. A beautiful example of an adaptation of Popeye is this panel from 'Monki's Travels Around the World' by Bernard Reith, which appeared in Catholic children's magazine OKKI in the 1930s.

Monki and Popeye, by Bernard ReithMonki and Popeye, by Bernard Reith

No longer politically correct, but very amusing is 'De Lotgevallen van Pijpje Drop' by P. Koenen. The adventures of this little negro boy appeared in De Automaat, a magazine issued weekly by a petroleum oil company around 1930. Many other companies used comics to advertise their products - some just ripped off popular comics such as 'Popeye', others hired comic artists to work on elaborate series. Two of the Dutch artists who worked on such publications were Peter Lutz and M. Güthschmidt.

Pijpje Drop

A manufacturer of fruit jelly however, decided on a Dutch artist to draw an advertising comic. In 1935 Harmsen van Beek was asked to draw the adventures of 'Flipje, the little fruit man from Tiel'. Flipje appeared in a text comic which was printed on horizontal strips which could be collected in albums.

Flipje-strip, by Harmsen van Beek

Flipje became immensely popular and his stories have been reprinted many times. A completely new 'Flipje' album was released in 2002, containing text balloons for the first time.

Het Betoverde Bos ('The Enchanted Forest') by Greta BadenhuizenOpa Bol van den IJzeren Knol

Older generations still remember these endearing text-comics from the 1930s. One the left 1935's 'The Enchanted Forest', by Greta Badenhuizen and on the right 'Opa Bol van den IJzeren Knol'. The latter was published in 1939, to celebrate 100 years of State Railways. The creator of this work is unknown to us.

PAM's Wonderful Adventures, by Joe StenPAM bij de Maanapen, by Joe Sten

The newspaper strip 'Pam', by Joe Sten, appeared between 1939 and 1941 and was also published in these two albums: 'Pam's Wonderlijke Avonturen' and 'Pam bij de Maanapen'.