Is it possible to speak of the advantages of a dying medium? Right now comics don’t seem to be in particularly good shape. Where magazines like Eppo and the new Dutch Mad used to be made for kids, they now appear to be produced mainly for the grown-ups that used to be kids when they last read those magazines.
On the other hand, a mature audience for comics can lead to mature comics. A good TV series about comics did not seem viable one or two decades ago (Han Peekel made a valiant but ultimately not too successful attempt with Wordt Vervolgd, To Be Continued), but last Saturday cartoonist Jean-Marc (Fokke & Sukke) successfully took up that dusty gauntlet and started a new documentary series about comics called Het Beeldverhaal (The Comic). In this first episode he introduced us to the world of the Dutch autobiographical comic, talking to Jan Kruis, Gerrit de Jager, Maaike Hartjes, Barbara Stok, and others.
Van Tol’s boyish enthusiasm works infectiously. In the seventh episode, he is full of admiration for Willy Linthout whose Jaren van de Olifant (Age of the Elephant) is a personal comic about the death of his son. In the episode about superheroes, he is surprised to learn that a copy of the first Superman story was sold for more than one million dollars.
One of the advantages of having Van Tol as a presenter is that he knows what he is talking about, being a comics artist himself. “Many of the authors we talked to thought that was refreshing,” says [editor Pieter] Klok.
Seven more episodes have been produced that discuss amongst others Belgian comics, superhero comics, manga, newspaper strips and underground comics.
(Video: Youtube / Martijn Tervoort)