April 16, 2013

Thom Roep quits as Donald Duck editor after 39 years

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:14 pm

Comics writer Thom Roep (61) has announced in an interview with nu.nl that he will quit as Editor-in-Chief of one of the country’s most successful magazines of the past 50 years, Donald Duck.

Roep said the growing importance of the Internet for the franchise was his reason for leaving. All the major Disney characters have Dutch Twitter accounts and Roep feels that “it is no longer credible that I lead a team that is concerned with, and enthusiastic about, things that just do not mean as much to me. I am so old-fashioned that I read tweets from paper. I am a paper man. That is why it is time for a younger person to take over, somebody who is interested in the digital side of things. I do not want to be a pretender.”

Donald Duck was founded in 1952 as a weekly when other countries already had Disney magazines. The magazine managed to sell at least 300,000 issues each week until recently, mainly because it relies on subscriptions. Roep thinks its success stems from the fact that “[the magazine] is passed from generation to generation. Parents want to give their children the same pleasant childhood memories as they had. Let’s be honest though: if the magazine did not exist and it was started now, it would not manage to sell 10% of what we sell now. Would a white duck in a sailor suit be successful?”

Sales figures have been dropping—currently they are at 278,000 issues—and publisher Sanoma have been producing themed issues to get more advertisers on board. Today a special issue about the inauguration of the new king was released (see illustration). It contains a story, Abduckation, that according to Roep refers to a famous saying that was popular around the time Beatrix became queen. I am guessing this refers to ‘geen woning, geen kroning’ (no coronation when there is a shortage of houses), the slogan under which squatters disrupted Beatrix’s inauguration.

Roep wants to return to writing comics. In the past he has written the Douwe Dabbert series which was drawn by Piet Wijn.

See also: Students prefer Donald Duck magazine over serious newspaper.

Disclaimer: I have written stories for Donald Duck magazine.

(Image: Donald Duck)

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January 20, 2009

Squatters driven out by thugs, police puts them back in

Filed under: Architecture,General by Branko Collin @ 3:29 pm

Last Sunday a group of thugs who were sharing a building complex in the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam with a group of squatters drove out the latter with the use of force, wounding three of the squatters. At the end of the fight, the police installed the squatters back in the building, and arrested 14 members of both groups. One of the squatters was taken to a hospital with a double fractured jaw.

The squatters told Parool (Dutch) that the thugs spoke Russian with each other and partly consisted of builders that were staying nearby. Quote thinks (Dutch) that the owner of the Vinkzicht buildings, Cornelis Komen, may have paid the thugs to drive off the squatters. Komen denies the allegations.

The buildings have had no designated use since 1972 until Komen bought the six buildings in 1999 for 1.6 million euro each, with the plan to wreck them and build a hotel in their stead. That plan came under heavy fire from the neighbourhood, which managed to convince city hall to declare the gables monuments.

The top floors of the buildings are rented out in so-called anti-squat constructions where a tenant gets a short-term lease typically at a low price. Sometimes, you can score magnificently large housing this way for a price way below the going rate of the average shoebox an Amsterdam resident calls their castle, though I hear that with the housing shortage in the city even the anti-squat rates have gone up.

Squatting is mainly legal in the Netherlands (albeit often frowned upon) because of a constitutional right to domestic peace. The police may not invade your home, even if your means to acquire the home may have been less than legal. The house owner must then go to court and prove they have a pressing need with their property to get the squatters evicted. Neighbours tend to prefer squatters over slowly decaying houses.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard of thugs being used to evict people. The university grapevine in Nijmegen had stories of students being evicted this way, but I cannot remember a single proven one.

This is one of those stories that spawns two new questions for every answer you find, so I’d rather field any actual questions our readers have.

Totally off-topic: many congratulations to Orangemaster for getting her Dutch driver’s license! Wootalicious!

Link: Radio Netherlands, the only medium I could find so far that thinks the fight was between two groups of squatters.

(Photo of the Kinkerstraat by Wikimedia user Ilonamay, some rights reserved)

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