A mega-rare decor for Belvision’s “King Ottokar’s Sceptre” 1957 animation by Bob De Moor

Between 1955 and 1958 Raymond Leblanc‘s Belvision studios worked on several animation adaptations of some of Willy Vandersteen‘s Spike and Suzy albums (that’s English for’Suske en Wiske’ for those wondering) for the Flemish television NIR. Included were “Het Spaanse spook” (“The Spanish Spook”), “De bronzen sleutel” (“The Bronze Key”), “De gezanten van Mars” (“The Martian Ambassadors”) – of which an excerpt in Dutch can be watched below – and so on. If you’d watch those animation films you surely would notice that the animation was very rudimentary. It was a far cry from what American and Japanese studios were producing at that time. Then again, both Jos Marissen and Karel Van Milleghem – the only 2 people working on those animations at Belvision at that time – had never made animation films before. It would only be after the arrival of Flemish animation pioneer Ray Goossens (and old colleague of Bob De Moor at the AFIM studios remember) that Belvision would really grasp the technique.

Here’s a part of the Dutch spoken animation version of “De gezanten van Mars” by Belvision as made in 1956.

Despite its shortcomings the series proved to be successful in Flanders and Leblanc started dreaming…

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Bob De Moor’s 1944’s watercolor painting ‘La caravelle’

The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork "La caravelle"
The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork “La caravelle”

In March 2009 the Art Value auction house based in Drouot-Montaigne, Paris (France) auctioned a watercolor painting/drawing which Bob De Moor made back in 1944. Called “La caravelle” it was made as an illustration for a book or story which never was edited (so the prospectus says). The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork was sold for 750 €. It’s highly doubtful that this drawing was really called “La caravelle”, a french word. It’s more likely it was called “Het karveel”, in Dutch, that is if it had a name at all. A caravel was a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.

A different scan.
A different scan.

The picture we show you here is only an upgraded example of a picture which was provided by Art Value (we have asked for a bigger sized one, but got not answer back yet). On the drawing we see a boat holding the name “Bleef het maar duren”  aka “If only it lasted” in English. A better scan we found after the initial posting of this article revealed the letters more clearly. De Moor filled the ship with all kind of comical situations: a boatsman/captain steering the ship with handles, a sailor smelling the stench of a latrine bowl being emptied in the sea, a man in a canon ready to be fired, sables with plasters, and so on.

We are not sure when the drawing was realized, we only know it was somewhere in 1944 as the drawing was signed ‘Bob 1944’. If it was after the liberation of Antwerp, it should be dated after September 4th, 1944. If it was before it meant Bob De Moor made it during the time he was forced by the German occupier to work in the Erla factories in Mortsel near Antwerp. ‘Forced’ because the AFIM studios of Ray Goossens got closed due to the refusal of the studio chiefs to move their activities to Germany’s UFA studios. Several collaborators went into hiding to escape forced labour but Bob De Moor was less lucky. Not that it would stop his art activity as he drew a lot of anti-German cartoons during that time.

Note that Erla was a German company in Mortsel which also repaired the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane of the Luftwaffe. It was the target of an allied bombing campaign on April 5th 1943 which went horribly wrong. Only 4 of the 599 1000-pound bombs hit the factory while all the other bombs hit civil targets resulting in 936 dead, including 209 children. 1.342 people got wounded and 1.259 houses were destroyed. Although only 4 bombs hit the Erla factory the fire caused poisonous smoke killing 307 employees.

If you have more info or a better scan of this painting/drawing, then please contact us.

1947 story by Bob De Moor – “Le mystère du vieux château” – to be re-released in French too

A page from the original 1947 edition, in French.
A page from the original 1947 edition, in French.

Coming up (the precise date is not yet known, but it should be in Fall of 2014) is a new edition of “Le mystère du vieux château” in French. As you already know from our previous post about “Le mystère du vieux château” there will also be an edition in Dutch, to be released by Brabant Strip on 1000 copies, called “Het Mysterie van de oude burcht”. The edition in French will be released through La Crypte Tonique (which already released some really cool stuff from Paul Cuvelier for instance) and is planned to be released on 300 copies. Yup, 300, so you better make sure to lay your hands on at least one cope. Once we have ordering info, we’ll let you know.

The cover of the Dutch version to be released by Brabant Strip.
The cover of the Dutch version to be released by Brabant Strip.

Both version will be released in their original version based on restored films. The french version will – as far as we understood – have the original lettering while the Dutch version will be the first ever in Dutch. So it will be interesting to see what lettering will be used and how the translation will turn out as this has been a problem with some of Bob De Moor‘s work. Barelli for instance has undergone some pretty bad translations back in time as it was originally written in French but pretty poorly translated in Dutch, and also the updated versions of Johan and Stéphan weren’t really to be called excellent, on the contrary – ‘watje’ still hurts whenever you read it.

In the next days we’ll talk some more on the topic of “Le mystère du vieux château” and especially about the original publisher Campéador. And as an extra you’ll also get a glimpse of that lost album called “Prins Hara-Touri” which was supposed to be the next album the duo John Van Looveren and Bob De Moor had planned with Campéador.

An interview with Ronald Grossey, author of the new Bob De Moor biography

Ronald Grossey
Ronald Grossey

A while ago we had an interview with Ronald Grossey, author of the book “Bob De Moor. De klare lijn en de golven; een biografie”. Grossey isn’t exactly what you can call a new bee in the world of comics. Ronald Grossey (born in Antwerp in 1956) is a flemish author and publisher. In 1979 he founded his own publishing company Exa, which in 1987 would merge with Rudy Vanschoonbeek‘ Dedalus. Between 1995 and 2000 he worked as a comic editor for Standaard Uitgeverij in Antwerp. He also wrote several articles for the magazines Humo, Knack, Robbedoes, Kuifje and was also chief editor for the Suske & Wiske weekly. Next to this he wrote several comic scenarios and books touching the comic world.

In 2007 Ronald Grossey published "Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990"
In 2007 Ronald Grossey published “Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990”

A book that many flemish readers will know is his now sold out book 2007’s “Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990” which was published by Roularta Books. It handles the life and work of Willy Vandersteen and is actually a must have in order to understand Vandersteen properly.

So it was just a matter of time before he would also touch that other big flemish comic author Bob De Moor. In 2013 “Bob de Moor. De klare lijn en de golven” was published by Vrijdag.

We talked with Ronald Grossey and to keep it easy for you we also referred here and there to the pages in the book. If you haven’t ordered this book yet, do so now, it’s available right here. A French version is coming up, we’ll inform you via our newsletter when it’s ready for ordering.

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The very last drawing Bob De Moor ever made was for the cult car Citroen traction avant 22 model (part 2)

In the bottom left corner you can see the date 08-1992
In the bottom left corner you can see the date 08-1992

On June 14th we posted an article about the very last drawing Bob De Moor ever made. Some doubted this was the case and we received various emails asking if this was really the last drawing. It was, not only did confirm Johan De Moor this when meeting him on June 20th, also Bob De Moor‘s wife Jeanne De Belder confirmed this after De Moor died.

Petja van den Hurk sent us a scan of a Christmas card in black and white holding the drawing Bob De Moor had made for the 1994 book “La 22, Enquête sur une mystérieuse Citroën” by Hervé Laronde and Fabien Sabatès. The 179 page book was about the legendary ‘Citroen traction avant 22‘ and had a cover created by Bob De Moor. The card is dated 08/1992 (left bottom corner) which means the drawing was finished by Bob De Moor the same month he died.

The bottom left corner holds the lext "<-- his last drawing"
The bottom left corner holds the lext “<– his last drawing”

But to make it even clearer, on the back of the card you can read a text in dutch, which we translated: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and a good comic year (signed) Jeanne De Belder”. And in the left bottom corner she added an arrow pointing to the left (the cover of the card that is) with the text: “his last drawing”.

So if there ever was a discussion possible, this drawing unravels the ‘mystery’ once and for all.

The very last drawing Bob De Moor ever made was for the cult car Citroen traction avant 22 model (part 1)

bob-de-moor-la-citroen-22Update: Part 2 of this story can be read right here.

In 1994 the French publisher Rétroviseur published the book “La 22, Enquête sur une mystérieuse Citroën” by Hervé Laronde and Fabien Sabatès. The 179 page book was about the legendary ‘Citroen traction avant 22‘ and had a cover created by Bob De Moor.

Very special about this drawing is that it would also be the final, very last, drawing which Bob De Moor would make before succumbing to lung cancer on August 26 1992. Behind the wheel we see Barelli and next to him his good friend Inspector Moreau. The setting of the image is Paris in the 1930s, you can see the Arc de Triomphe in the background and a French Policeman.

As you all know probably Bob De Moor has created quite a lot of artwork for Citroen over the years, we all know the 4 part Citroën adventures which Bob De Moor drew whilst working for the Studio Hergé (and if not, don’t worry, we’ll be picking this up in the near future), and he also did illustrations for various Citroën calendars. It must have been a real honour for De Moor to be able to deliver the cover for this book, which seems to have been in production for quite some years (since it was only released in 1994 and Bob De Moor died in 1992), as it talks about the cult Citroën car which never left production and of which only 22 prototypes were produced.

The book itself offers numerous illustrations in color and black & white on this cult car. The history in short goes something like this. The Citroën Traction Avant itself was an automobile which was produced by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1934 to 1957 but the 22 one was another story. Back in the early 1930s Citroën planned two variants that never entered production, since there was not enough funding available to develop them, except as running prototype vehicles. One was an automatic transmission-equipped model, based on the Sensaud de Lavaud automatic transmission, the other a 22 CV model with a 3.8 liter V8. The transmission was a “gearless” automatic, using the torque-converter alone to match engine revolutions to the drivetrain revolutions, much like the Dynaflow Transmission introduced later in the USA. The car was supposed to have a less spartan interior than the other Traction Avants and it was to feature Citroën’s own new V8 engine. About twenty prototypes were made, but the project was canceled at the start of 1935 after the company’s bankruptcy. The resulting Michelin takeover led to a level of financial discipline. The prototype 22CVs were probably all destroyed.

“Destination Moon” in 1985 by Bob De Moor

Poster from Comic Reddition 15 and the original - Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart
Poster from Comic Reddition 15 and the original – Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart

In issue 15 of the German comic info magazine Comic Reddition released in November 1989, the publisher added a 2 colour poster of a cover by Bob De Moor for a Danish and American  edition of the double album collectors’ edition of “Destination Moon”/”Explorers on the Moon”.

The New York Methuen Children's Books 1989 edition of "The Making of Tintin: Mission to the Moon".
The New York Methuen Children’s Books 1989 edition of “The Making of Tintin: Mission to the Moon”.

The drawing was made in 1985 and is based (not traced!) on the last frame from page 15 of the album “Destination Moon” where Tintin and co check out the unmanned sub-scale prototype of the rocket — the “X-FLR6” (resembling a V-2 rocket). De Moor was assisted by Pierre Gay on this one. The latter took care of parts of the decor. As you can see, the drawing itself differs quite a bit from the original; the whole drawing is bigger to start with (but that was clear already, wasn’t it ?).

On the left you can see the colored version used for the New York Methuen Children’s Books 1989 edition.  This edition also included a full colour section on how these 2 adventures came into being.

Here are some changes/differences:

  • Tintin has a different pose showing his left arm completely,
  • The right arm of engineer Frank Wolff is visible completely now, and as you can see, he stands on Snowy’s space suit
  • The complete head of Professor Calculus is visible,
  • Captain Haddock has been placed more to the left and has a slightly different pose,
  • Bob De Moor corrected an error in the original drawing where no screws were visible in the scaffolding (bottom left)
  • The scaffolding is completely re-designed. Then again, it was De Moor’s favourite hobby at the Studio Hergé when he arrived and started working on this album…,
  • A colouring error entered the game, though; the lower part of the rocket is partially white whereas it should be red,
  • The ‘chariot’ seen on the left from the two engineers holding a map, has been replaced by more modern looking equipment,
  • Bob De Moor added white to distinguish better the electric cables in the air, plus, he drew the cables on the ground differently.
Cover of issue 15 of the German comic info magazine Comic Reddition released in November 1989
Cover of issue 15 of the German comic info magazine Comic Reddition released in November 1989

The issue of this magazine also gave some more info on Bob De Moor‘s involvement in the studio plus a picture of Bob De Moor during the opening of the CBBD (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée) in Brussels, Belgium, and a drawing which he made to depict Tintin surrounded by reporters (we’ll show that one later). Furthermore you’ll find extensive articles on Enki Bilal, Jacques de Loustal, and part 6 of ‘Hergé’s Universum’ including the (German written) letter by Bob De Moor to the staff of the magazine confirming that it is indeed Edgar P. Jacobs you can see on page 40.

Bob De Moor’s most expensive album available now? A first edition from ‘Bloske en Zwik, detectives’ from 1949.

Front cover 1949 album "Bloske en Zwik, detectives"
Front cover 1949 album “Bloske en Zwik, detectives”

In 1949, publisher Sansen in Poperinge released a comic by Bob De Moor called “Bloske en Zwik, detectives”. The story itself had been pre-published in ’t Kapoentje, in colour, from December 6th, 1948, until April 28, 1949. Today, 65 years later, this first and only edition is yours for a mere 1.000 to 1.500 €. Needless to say that it isn’t one of the most sold items on eBay and related websites. As a result, not many of our visitors will have read this album, and it thus remains one of those stories that definitely demand a reprint.

Although it’s pretty sure who made the drawings, Bob De Moor, it’s not very clear who wrote the script for this story. According to an interview Karel Driessen had with Bob De Moor, the scenario was by journalist Gaston Durnez. Flemish journalist and writer Gaston Durnez (who would work with Bob De Moor on a comic based on the life of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in 1949) was also a good friend of comic author Marc Sleen and worked on some Nero material where he introduced… Detective Van Zwam.

A scan from the ’t Kapoentje issue 53 from December 30th 1948
A scan from the ’t Kapoentje issue 53 from December 30th 1948

So Durnez was very familiar with the writing of scenarios for this type of comics. It’s not that weird if it turns out that he also wrote a detective story for Bob De Moor. However, the comic was created via Artec Studios (credits for the Sansen edition which you can see on the image of the cover clearly show this), the company Bob De Moor had set up with his brother-in-law John Van Looveren. Van Looveren did both the business part and some script work. It’s actually possible that Bob De Moor mixed up some facts in the interview we refer too, and that the scenario was by John Van Looveren instead. We’ll try to get this sorted out and will update this article accordingly.

Not many pages of this story are known to a wider public, we picked out a scan from the ’t Kapoentje issue 53 from December 30th 1948. And now fingers crossed that this rarity gets re-released!

Tour de France 1952 with Bob De Moor

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

On June 25th, 1952 the Tintin weekly presented a cover by Bob De Moor for the article “Dans les coulisses du Tour de France” (2 pages) which itself would be illustrated by 12 more drawings by Bob De Moor.

In De Moor’s cover you see the sportsmen passing over sets (also known as Belgian blocks), passing Paris (you’d think the Eiffel Tower would be on the last strip though), small hills and villages, into the snow-covered mountain hills.

As you can see, the cover artwork bears a lot of resemblance with the cartoons which were used in the newspapers of that period, using a panoramic view.  Who doesn’t remember those very energetic Tour de France drawings by Buth (Thomas Pips, …). Even Marc Sleen would touch on the subject more than once and even saw an album “Het Rondecircus” released on the Tour de France. Sleen would also follow the tour between 1947 until 1964 and see his ‘current sports affairs’ cartoons published on a daily basis.

Page 1 of the actual article (Click to enlarge)
Page 1 of the actual article (Click to enlarge)

Now back to Bob De Moor. He would also include such a cartoonist on his cover for the Tintin weekly, namely on the second strip on the left if you look well. For those old enough to have witnessed the old style cycling tours, you will recognize the publicity train of soap, (cheap & bad) sponges, chewing gum and other marketing give-away vehicles that followed a tour. Add to that the assembled press in all its forms. For those who like details, Bob De Moor signed his name in ‘wave’ format, following the line of the road going up and down.

It’s fair enough to think that De Moor also depicted a few real life people in the cover, such as the painter of the Nylon-board, the cartoonist, the journalist on the motorbike on the 3rd strip, and so on. If anyone has a clue who these people are, let us know! We also suspect that he added Fausto Coppi on the second strip as the 2nd cyclist from the right. Not entirely impossible since this later Tour winner was already quite popular.

Page 2 of the actual article (Click to enlarge)
Page 2 of the actual article (Click to enlarge)

The 12 other drawings inside this Tintin issue are not all just contextual, some also act as a cartoon. The text itself handles all the different people that intervene in the actual tour, from technical people to journalists, and also explains some of the cliché habits. For Bob De Moor ‘gefundenes fressen’ to create some funny drawings of course.

The 1952 Tour de France itself was the 39th Tour de France, taking place June 25 to July 19, 1952. It was composed of 23 stages over 4807 km, covered at an average speed of 31.739 km/h. Newly introduced were the arrivals on mountain peaks.

The race was won by… yes, the same Italian Fausto Coppi whom we suspect to be in the cover. Coppi dominated the race, winning five stages and the mountains classification, and was a member of the winning Italian team. His dominance was so large that the Tour organization had to double the prize money for second place to make the race interesting. At the end, Coppi had a margin of almost half an hour over the second-ranked cyclist, such a margin has never been achieved again ever since.

Haribo France goes exploring the moon with Tintin

Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart
Copyright © Hergé / Moulinsart

In 1985 the Studio Hergé was approached by the French publicity agency APM to complete a project for candy producer Haribo, just for the French market we assume. The theme for the Haribo-publicity had to be “Explorers on the Moon” and the design was meant to be on small candy bags. Although we aren’t sure if this merchandise was ever produced or sold in 1986 when it was supposed to be launched, one of the project drawings did survive and was auctioned earlier this year – in April to be precise – for € 350.

The drawing was made by Bob De Moor and measures 17 x 29 cm. The design has little to do with candy, let alone gummy bears, so it’s our guess that Haribo just wanted Tintin on the bags whatever the cost. Nevertheless, it’s a nice way to see how these commercial projects came to life.

For the non Haribo ‘connaisseurs’, Haribo is a German confectionery company, founded in 1920 by Johannes Riegel, Sr.. Headquartered in Bonn the name is an acronym for Hans Riegel, Bonn. Haribo made the first gummy candy in 1922 when Hans Riegel, Sr. made the first Gummibärchen (little gummy bears). After Hans Riegel, Sr. died during World War II, his son, also named Hans Riegel, took over the company. Haribo expanded its operations, taking over many local confectionery manufacturers in countries all over the world. Haribo is one of the biggest manufacturers of gummy and jelly sweets in the world, with its products mainly consisting of gummy bears, other jelly sweets and liquorice. The company has five factories in Germany and 13 throughout the rest of Europe, and sales offices in almost every country in Europe, as well as in the United States and Australia.

And that you can read Tintin and eat Haribo sweets at the same time is confirmed right here.