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August 10, 2014

Miffy creator Dick Bruna retired two years ago

Filed under: Comics,Design by Branko Collin @ 10:34 pm

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Last month the retirement of 86-year-old Miffy creator Dick Bruna was suddenly world news. But there was nothing newsworthy about that fact according to Stadsblad Utrecht: Bruna retired two years ago.

“News about nothing”, Marja Kerkhof called it. She is the manager of publisher Mercis, the company that will continue to release new Miffy books based on an archive of Dick Bruna’s drawings of the past 60 years. “We will only use original drawings by Dick Bruna. We will not be using other artists.” Bruna has made over 3,000 Miffy drawings. Currently there are about 130 Miffy books.

Kerkhof used the sudden attention for Bruna’s retirement to squash rumours that the artist suffers from dementia in AD: “When I see him, and I visit him regularly, he knows exactly who I am, where we’ve met and how long we’ve known each other.”

Next year Bruna’s studio will be moved to and exhibited at Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The same year the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht, Bruna’s home town, will be Miffy-themed.

(Photo of Miffy in un-Bruna-like garb at this year’s Tour de France by Thomas Bresson, some rights reserved)

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July 14, 2014

Funny reflections on everyday life by Anne Stalinski

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:42 pm

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The name Daily Stalinksi promises daily updates of Anne Stalinski’s comics (as does the subtitle), but I think it would be better to read this as “reflections on the daily life of …” because the updates currently only appear every three or four days.

Anne Stalinski won the Comik Web Award for young, web-based talent earlier this year. Stalinski’s humour is a little cliché at times (A, in a dramatic voice: “Why haven’t I been invited?” B: “Did you want to go?” A: “No, of course not!”), but always good for a smile, which is all you can ask from a free web comic.

Shown here: “My good friend Pirmin has a tattoo. I asked him why. ‘Oh Anne… It happened on my 16th birthday…’ I expected a more elaborate explanation. It never came.”

Anne and her equally creative sister Eva hail from Haren in Groningen, a town famous for its botanical garden and its riots, and publish a fanzine together called Zuster.

(Illustration: Daily Stalinski, link: Holly Moors)

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June 15, 2014

Silly dilemmas on Tuesdays

Filed under: Comics,Weird by Branko Collin @ 12:16 pm

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There is this Facebook poll that proposes a silly dilemma each week for you to choose from. It’s called Dilemma op Dinsdag (Dilemma on Tuesday) and it seems to be a minor hit in that I see their dilemmas shared regularly.

The dilemma shown here: you either must read a Harlequin romance novel each week or change all your user names and e-mail addresses to wienerboy69 for the rest of your life. (The cartoon shows a business card for a government spokesperson called Jasper Jansen).

Some of the dilemmas of past Tuesdays were:

  • Nobody ever laughs about your jokes or you have to laugh every time somebody cries.
  • You have 100 almost identical keys on your key chain or you always give the third kiss on the mouth when greeting someone.
  • You never eat warm meals or everything you read, you read out loud.
  • Your clothes disappear once a month or you always have the hiccups when you wake up.

Dilemma op Dinsdag is made, it appears, by “some individuals from Utrecht and Amsterdam”, but the cartoons are drawn by Marloes Toonen.

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June 3, 2014

Donald Duck is getting married! Or is he?

Filed under: Comics by Orangemaster @ 8:52 pm

Donald Duck magazine is such a national institution in the Netherlands that when editor Thomas Roep quit after 39 years, it made the national news. The on-again off-again relationship between Donald Duck and Daisy Duck (called ‘Katrien’, or ‘Catherine’ in Dutch) will soon be a thing of the past here in the Netherlands, although the story line was bought from Denmark. In fact, the Netherlands and Denmark are the world’s biggest producers of Donald Duck stories.

Will the wedding actually take place? Who will Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie (in Dutch, Kwik, Kwek and Kwak) live with now? And what will Scrooge McDuck (in Dutch, Dagobert) cough up as a wedding present?

Way back when Disney was running Donald’s life in the 1950s, Daisy was portrayed as Donald’s long-term girlfriend, but after some nightmares Donald got cold feet and ran off to join the French Foreign Legion. Daisy then had other boyfriends, mostly sailors who eventually had to take off to war as well.

The Dutch press and surely the fans are worried that if the pair do tie the knot, the comic strip will come to an end. The Danes were inspired by the 1998 British-American film Sliding Doors, which features two separate story lines. Parodies of Dutch celebs will also be featured in the comic book, as they often do. And there are also spoilers that even I won’t read or tell you about.

(Links: www.nrc.nl, en.wikipedia.org)

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May 6, 2014

Dutch cartoon illustrates creative writing book

Filed under: Comics,Literature by Orangemaster @ 9:48 pm

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Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte provided drawings for “Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice,” by Catherine Lewis, a creative writing professor, publish in August 2013 and aimed at young readers. Lewis set out to explain literary elements through variations on the classic nursery rhyme, “Three blind mice ran after the farmer’s wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife.” Yes, good nursery rhymes have always been pretty rough.

What’s the farmer’s wife doing with heals on? Here’s what Swarte had to say:

“How do I make her a farmer’s wife? Well, I drew a farm, so the man holding a pitchfork is a farmer and the woman his wife. I gave her farmer’s overalls, but I had to put her in high heels to make her a lady—otherwise you’d have seen a long-haired guy.”

Look closely: one of the mice is female.

We’ve also told you about Joost Swarte designing a pair of glasses.

(Link and image: www.newyorker.com)

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December 4, 2013

Finnish edition of Zone 5300

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 4:35 pm

zone_5300_103-1The Rotterdam-based comics zine Zone 5300 has dedicated its last issue of the year to comics from Finland.

Pretty much all of the larger comics in the issue are by Finnish authors. Tiitu Takalo (illustration) wrote and drew It’s a Wonderful Life, a feel good tale about an aspiring writer who is down in the dumps and who gets her spirits lifted by a friend.

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zone_5300_103-3-petteri-tikkanenOther comics are Microkosmos by Jenni Janatuinen and Petteri Tikkanen (illustration), Tea and Beer by Jarno Latva-Nikkola, Post Mortem by Emmi Valve and Toivo by Tommi Musturi. Terhi Ekebom produced a beautiful story called What If, in which every panel takes up an entire page.

Interestingly, it felt like I knew these artists. I have the feeling that Finnish and Dutch comics artists perhaps use a similar visual language or have a similar sense of humour, it’s hard to determine exactly what the likenesses are.

There are also interviews with painter Elina Merenmies and regular Zone 5300 contributor Maria Björklund.

Ville Pirinen tells the story of high school gym teacher (illustration) who seems to suffer from short circuits that lead to regular injuries for himself and the occasional injury of others.

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Fool’s Gold tells the story of black Amsterdam-based singer Big John Russell and his 1960′s band The Clan, which featured instrumentalists in Ku Klux Klan outfits.

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September 28, 2013

The gifts her neighbour brings her

Filed under: Comics,General by Branko Collin @ 11:02 pm

Merel Barends is a cartoonist from Amsterdam. Her neighbour, J., “visits us almost every day. Sometimes he is drunk. Sometimes he is not. Often he brings a small gift.

Sometimes that gift is an old newspaper or a roll of peppermint. Sometimes he brings fenugreek or chocolate, because he feels Merel is too thin. Once it was statuettes: “if you look up on the Internet what they are worth, then we will split the profits.”

Link and photos: Merel Barends.

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June 24, 2013

Ninety-nine years of Tour de France in comic book form

Filed under: Bicycles,Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:11 pm

Next Saturday the hundredth edition of the toughest bicycle race on the planet will start, the Tour de France.

Dutch comics artist Jan Cleijne has written and drawn a book called Helden van de Tour (Heroes of the Tour) in which he reviews the past 99 editions.

Het Friesch Dagblad notes that with the hundredth Tour ahead of us, the market is about to be saturated with bicycle racing books. “But it looks like Helden van de Tour will be one of the winners. [...] A jewel of a graphic novel.”

Sevendays.nl writes: “Comics artist Jan Cleijne visits all the historic highs and lows, from World War I to the scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong, and talks about what the Tour is all about: endurance. He lets us experience the blizzards, the puddles, a 70 metre drop, glorious victories and molten asphalt. His drawings take on the colours of the stories, ochre during the climb of an arid Mount Ventoux, gray during the hellish ride of 1926 through the Pyrenees.”

“The book is an homage to a race that is worthy of its legends, but it also puts the focus where it hurts,” Zeit Online writes. “The author, born in 1977, is an enthusiastic amateur rider himself and it shows. His voice is critical throughout the book but also emphatic. Precise and loving are the brush strokes with which the Dutchman paints both the drama of the famous riders and the small anecdotes that take place near the sidelines. [...] It is a funny but also a serious book.”

You can find a couple of sample pages at Manners.nl under the ‘Klik dan hier’ link.

Illustration: “In 1951 the yellow jersey was worn for the first time by a Dutchman. His name was Wim van Est. He had never seen a mountain before in his life. The ascent was very slow. The descent was much too fast.” (Miraculously Van Est survived.)

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May 20, 2013

Spike and Suzy re-imagined

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 4:34 pm

Spike and Suzy (Dutch: Suske en Wiske) may still be the biggest selling comic in the Netherlands, but a sales drop of 75% in 16 years in their native country Belgium has urged Studio Vandersteen to look at ways to renew the franchise.

The result is a spin-off comic called Amoras in which all the popular characters have aged about eight years. Spike and Suzy are now in their late teens and the target audience is in that same region. Publisher Johan de Smedt told 7sur7, “Amoras remains faithful to the spirit of Willy Vandersteen, whose heirs have agreed to the project. But it is more brutal, more violent and it does not always end well.”

Suske en Wiske have always been the flagship comic of the Dutch language. Their popularity in the Netherlands led creator Willy Vandersteen to even change names to make them more palatable to a Dutch audience. Ragdoll Schalulleke (Antwerp dialect for ‘scallion’) for example became Schanulleke.

In this story, Spike and Suzy accidentally use professor Barabas’ time travel device to ‘flash’ to the island of Amoras, Spike’s original home land, but to the Amoras of 2046. The future Amoras has been colonized by the evil Krimson who believes that “history is a playground and a treasury”. The story ends on a cliffhanger and it’s quite a biggie as far as cliffhangers go, so be prepared to also buy the next album which should appear in November.

*) French: Bob et Bobette; American: Willy and Wanda. They sell almost a million albums each year in the Netherlands. In their home country they have to had to give the sales crown to Kiekeboe.

(Image: Standaard Uitgeverij / Charel Cambré)

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May 6, 2013

Dutch doctor cartoon: tasteless, funny or who cares?

Filed under: Comics,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:17 pm

Doctor (‘Medicine man’): ‘Jambalayla, Jambayla’ (= nonsense words, nothing to do with cooking)
Patient: Thank you… I feel much better already.
Caption: It should be easier for foreign doctors to practice here.

I personally know doctors and nurses with perfectly good diplomas from Eastern European countries that cannot or could not find work in the Netherlands, as their diploma was either not recognised or highly devalued.

After 14 years in the Netherlands, a land that generally hates to be politically correct, I can imagine that this cartoon didn’t even raise an eyebrow for most people. I’m not saying I agree, but I do understand why people didn’t have a problem with it: it’s a ‘far-from-my-bed-show’, the Dutch equivalent of ‘it doesn’t really concern me’, after all the medicine man is just a caricature not a real person, someone would say.

However, I also understand why some people would be offended at the depiction of a tribal sounding African-like Black person portrayed as a quack. I just think the cartoon is not that great (Hein de Kort does have his moments), but it does have a racial slant that could have been avoided.

The media have enough Dutch doctor mishaps to report about. Just today a Dutch doctor hit the presses for unnecessarily removing a man’s prostate in Leiden (in Dutch). The man had the same name as someone else. ‘Jambalayla, Jambayla’ to you, too.

(Link to more info, in Dutch: www.parool.nl)

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