After WWII, Europe was treated to full-colour comic magazines, notably Robbedoes (Spirou) and Kuifje (Tintin), both from Belgium. The Netherlands had Pep en Sjors, which later merged into Eppo, which then became Sjosji, which went tits up in 1999 because kids don’t read comics anymore. A bunch of middle-aged men then got together and declared they refused to live in the present.
Instead, they revived Eppo magazine (Dutch), the first issue of which is now in the stores. A hefty 99 euro will get you 25 issues, a year’s worth. The first issue is surprisingly light on advertisements, 2.3 out of 36 pages. I hope that’s not a bad sign. Eppo is first and foremost an exercise in nostalgia; the editors even brought back De Partners, one of the worst comics ever allowed to roll off a printing press. And the mag opens with space opera Storm, just like it used to. (Now we just have to wait for the letter pages to be filled again with debates between Storm haters and Storm lovers.)
I am not sure whether I should cheer on the re-introduction of a regular, mainstream comics magazine in the Netherlands—not counting Donald Duck magazine which is a phenomenon hors categorie. Reading the mag feels a bit like choosing a coffin—surely I am not yet that old? On the other hand, the big guns of yesteryear have lost nothing of their story telling genius. The new Franka reads like Largo Winch (friendship, betrayal, high finance, Ludlum in comic form really), Martin Lodewijk gets ever better at mixing the old-fashioned and the corny with current events in his hilarious spy parody Agent 327, and there’s even a comic version of Havank’s The Shadow by none other than Daan Jippes.
What the heck: cheer! What magazines like Eppo did was create an advertising platform for comic artists (Dutch), as I am sure this new incarnation will also do. That can only be a good thing.
Illustration: 3 panels from Franka story De witte godin (The White Goddess).