Bob De Moor, an interior designer

Throughout his whole life Bob De Moor would work on all kinds of interior design, just like Hergé actually did. Nothing exceptional, in the end we all have gone through that process before heading to IKEA (to name just one store). But things get a bit different when you can actually draw as well as the aforementioned two gentlemen.

Stefaan De Moor told me during one of our meetings that his father would often draw a design interior, and that happened every time he had stayed at a hotel, holiday house at the coast or had visited a friends house whose interior left a good impression on him: “He would create an own design, but it would remain just that, a design (laughs).” Stefaan also recalled that he once drew a complete house including an inside/outdoors swimming pool: “And no, we never had a swimming pool in the house!”

An interior design by Bob De Moor, probably late 40s, early 50s.
An interior design by Bob De Moor, probably late 40s, early 50s.

Today we present you one of these drawings which we found in the archives of the family De Moor.

The drawing presumably dates from the late 40s, early 50s looking at the interior design of what looks like a living room. There’s another hint that this is a late 40s, early 50s living room, there is no television set nor a space designated for it.

So let’s see what further elements we find back which might have pushed Bob De Moor to create this drawing. A couple of things leap out. The sofa on the left is embedded by what looks like a book cupboard, which must have looked practical to Bob De Moor. Next is the big white lamp; the size of it stresses the importance, he absolutely wanted it to be there. We continue further to the back and see cottage curtains (and influence from the anglophile Edgar P. Jacobs?). On the right we find a red seat, the colour is quite vivid and actually attracts a lot of attention, again a sign that De Moor absolutely wanted to have this furniture part of the design. Finally there’s the Art Deco styled small table and the carpet with what looks like a french fleur-de-lis pattern. The same pattern – albeit with inverted colours – can be found in front of what looks like a bookshelf in an open fire.

Although the drawing looks like it was never completely finished, you get a vivid idea of what inspired De Moor around that time, as far as the interior of houses is concerned that is. There are a lot more of these drawings which we will reveal bit by bit…

The test drawing for the 1973 version of ‘De Leeuw van Vlaanderen’

In July 1973, Bob De Moor would see his “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen” (after the historical novel written by the Flemish writer Hendrik Conscience in 1838) reissued in the CISO series, namely as CISO 13. For the occasion Bob De Moor completed a different front cover than the one used for the 1952 original and later versions, even post 1973 (such as the De Dageraad version from 1984 which was yet another version). What many don’t know however is that he first created various miniature covers, mostly in black and white, which in themselves are real pearls. But in the collection of Olivier Marin we found a test drawing, in colour…

You can see the different layers in the test drawing.
You can see the different layers in the test drawing.

The drawing itself is quite small, more or less 15 cm x 10cm, but what especially caught my attention was the fact that De Moor had completed the drawing using cut out layers. On the left we have added a picture taken from such an angle that you can see these layers. If you look carefully, you will see that the drawing exist of 3 different layers.

The first, ground layer, represents a whole lot of goedendags next to a big lion, which stands for Flanders.

The complete test version.
The complete test version.

A goedendag was a weapon originally used by the militias of Medieval Flanders in the 14th century, notably during the Franco-Flemish War (also the theme of “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen”). The goedendag was essentially a combination of a club with a spear. Its body was a wooden staff roughly five feet (150 cm) long with a diameter of roughly four inches (10 cm). It was wider at one end, and at this end a sharp metal spike was inserted by a tang. The name “goedendag” derives from Dutch meaning “good day”, with reference to the Bruges Matins massacre in 1302, at which the guildsmen of Bruges purportedly took over the city by greeting people in the streets, and murdering anyone who answered with a French accent. The Flemish themselves referred to the weapon as a “spiked staff” (gepinde staf). Another theory is that it’s related to Germanic/English “dagger”, so instead of “good day” it may have meant “good dagger”. “Dag(ger)” isn’t used anymore in current Dutch, while “goedendag” is still correct in current Dutch as “good day”.

The commercially available version from 1973.
The commercially available version from 1973.

The second layer shows the Flemish soldiers, ready to attack the French oppressors. And on the front row, the 3rd layer, we see Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Both protagonists have often been portrayed as patriotic heroes in Flanders because of their passion for Flemish identity. Flemish nationalists credit them with ensuring the survival of the Dutch language in the northern part of Belgium.

But there are several differences with the final version. First of all, as you can see, the test version shows CISO 15 (that would later be Willy Vandersteen‘s Ridder Gloriana’s “De Staalblauwe Boeddha” in the CISO series). Bob De Moor would also change the lettering as used for the title. Plus the subtitle as put in the bottom of the drawing would change from “Het epos van 1302 naar het boek van H. Conscience” to simply “De Slag der Gulden Sporen”. Furthermore you will see that the style of this test drawing and the final drawing is quite different. Where the test drawing is a more sketchy approach, with very warm colours, the final cover artwork turned out to be cold offering a (over?)purified drawing style which he would later improve for the Cori albums from 1979 on. The colours in the final versions are, let’s be honest, rather boring and miss the warmth and depth from the test drawing. Other differences include a different axe in Breydel’s right hand, the missing hand of de Coninck on the left shoulder of Breydel, a few different helmets and slightly differently drawn goedendags.

Bob De Moor was a welcome guest in the CISO series under the editorial control of Danny de Laet. CISO 8 for instance had already seen the publication of another Bob De Moor chef-d’oeuvre, namely “De Kerels van Vlaanderen”.

2 covers, 2 different colours for Danny De Laet’s ‘Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderen (en Elders)’

In 1977 Brabantia Nostra would release a 248 pages counting book titled “Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderen” by CISO founder and editor Danny De Laet. The cover of this book was drawn by Bob De Moor en shows Monsieur Tric (Troc) leaning on a globe with several comic strips on it plus the onomatopoeias as used in comics. If you are into details, you might also recognise the prehistorian dimorphodon, which was one Franquin used here and there (did Bob De Moor wanted to refer to Franquin there? Who knows). It also has 2 planets on the left.

On the left the 1969 version, on the right the 1977 version.
On the left the 1969 version, on the right the 1977 version.

But not many know that this drawing actually dates from 1969 when it was used for the first time as a cover for a catalogue (titled “Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderens en Elders”) of an exhibition by the Museum of for Flemish Cultural Life (Museum voor het Vlaamse Culuurleven) in Antwerp, Belgium. The exibition ran from March 1 1969 until April 1 1969. The catalogue itself included illustrations by Marc Sleen, Jean-Pol, G. Van Raemdonck, Pink, Buth, Jan Waterschoot, Willy Vandersteen, W. Dolphyn, E. Ryssack, R. Demoen, J. Broeckx, Berck, Jef Nys, Leo Fabri, Van Nerum, Kabou, K. Biddeloo, Rik, Marie Brouyère, Gray, Dani Dacquin, G. Declercq, Erik, Constant Haay, Jarga Van Krell, A. Panis, Ever, Grapjos, H. Leemans, Hugoké, Jo-El Azara, Bob Mau, Merho, Sylvain, Pom, Arle, Ludy Sels, M. Steurbaut, Piet Tibos, Vance, Roderyck, etc..The text were, just like the book “Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderen”, written by Danny De Laet.

There are several colour differences you can see between both covers. The “Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderens en Elders” shows a globe which is coloured in orange, with Monsieur Tric‘s pants being in green just like the floor, his collar vest is yellow, also the planets are in yellow with a red rocket circling one of it. Also all of the onomatopoeias are in a yellow balloon. And let’s not forget the yellow pencil and rubber on the floor.

Too much yellow and that must also have been what Danny De last though because for the 1977 cover version of “Het Beeldverhaal in Vlaanderen”, almost all the colours changed. The globe got 3 different colours (pink, blue and yellow) with the standard of the globe getting a blue and dark brown colour. Monsieur Tric’s pants are now blue and his collar vest becomes orange. The floor gets a grey colour and the planets turn blue (with a yellow disc) and red (with a blue rocket circling it). All of the onomatopoeias are now added in text ballon each in different colour. The pencil on the floor becomes blue and the rubbers turns into green.

We have posted both versions so you see the difference.

Bob De Moor inspired by Hergé’s ‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ for ‘Bloske & Zwik, Detectives’?

In 1949, the Poperinge (Belgium) publisher Sansen released a comic by Bob De Moor called “Bloske & Zwik, Detectives” (read also: Bob De Moor’s most expensive album available now? A first edition from “Bloske en Zwik, Detectives” from 1949). The story itself had seen a pre-publication in ’t Kapoentje from December 6th, 1948, until April 28, 1949. Today we pick out 2 strips from this story, namely the first 2 ones from page 16 of the album. The scan comes from a mint copy Bob De Moor‘s nephew Ludo Van Looveren provided us.

The first 2 strips from page 16 of the album "Bloske & Zwik, Detectives".
The first 2 strips from page 16 of the album “Bloske & Zwik, Detectives”.

The reason why we choose these 2 strips is because they resemble some of the antagonists we find back in the Tintin album “Cigars of the Pharaoh” (French: “Les Cigares du Pharaon”) by Hergé: hooded bandits. In both albums the hooded characters are part of a secret criminal society. In “Cigars of the Pharaoh” they are part of an international drug smuggling enterprise. In “Bloske & Zwik, Detectives” they are using the chemical factory Oxy & Co to abduct labourers and conduct radioactive experiments on them. In both albums a lot of the action happens in a secret underground facility. And just like in the Tintin album, the masked villains are in fact people everybody knows and never would have suspected in the first place.

Is this all a matter of coincidence? Maybe, but by 1948 Bob De Moor was already very familiar with the style of Hergé whose work he adored a lot, so it wouldn’t be to far fetched to think that John Van Looveren and Bob De Moor had loosely inspired their story on some of the elements we also find back in the famous Tintin album.

The “Cigars of the Pharaoh” album was the 4th album of the adventures of Tintin and was serialised weekly from December 1932 to February 1934 in the children’s supplement (Le Petit Vingtième) of the conservative Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle. In 1955, it was re-drawn (partially by Bob De Moor) and coloured in Hergé’s distinctive ligne-claire style for republication by Casterman.

On a side-note, the language used in “Bloske & Zwik, Detectives” and more precisely in the 2 strips we publish here is rather archaic, but that’s how (Flemish) Dutch was written back then. Some words have even completely disappeared in written or spoken language. For instance the first case features the verb ‘verneuken’ (english for what literally means ‘to cheat’) which later on would get such a negative sexual connotation (the origin of the verb being ‘neuken’ which stands for having sexual intercourse but said in a very rude way as if you would use ‘to fuck’) that it was preferred to no longer use it, especially in teen comics.

Barelli dissected – from polaroid to drawing for ‘Barelli in bruisend Brussel’ (part 3)

A few weeks ago we presented you the first and second article in a series of articles that will treat the genesis of the 1988 album “Barelli in bruisend Brussel”. The assistant of Bob De Moor for that album was Geert De Sutter, who took care of the background/decors in the album. Since both men only had a few months to complete the album they had to work rather fast. To get the work done in such a short time, Geert De Sutter decided to get himself a Polaroid camera and use that to sketch the decors.

The 15th page in the "Barelli in Bruisend Brussel" album.
The 15th page in the “Barelli in Bruisend Brussel” album.

Today we will handle a detail from page 15 and more precisely the 3rd case on the page. The metro station entry has in the meantime changed, and despite going through Google Street View (the Anspach Avenue) we haven’t been able to locate the current spot (and Geert De Sutter couldn’t really remember, after all it’s more than 27 years ago). If you know where this picture was taken, let us know.

The middle strip of the 15th page in the "Barelli in Bruisend Brussel" album. Bob De Moor already inked the characters.
The middle strip of the 15th page in the “Barelli in Bruisend Brussel” album. Bob De Moor already inked the characters.

The 3rd case in which the polaroid was used as documentation has an interesting detail, the traffic light. The colourist actually made a small error. If you look well, you’ll see that the traffic light has the red light in the lowest position whereas it should be placed in the highest position. Colourist for the album was Hanelore Vantieghem, we tried reaching her for some feedback on her overall work on the album but to no availability so far.

We also present you the 2nd strip from that page which is already partially inked (by Bob De Moor), Geert De Sutter would then ink the decors and send the page back. We are able showing you this because Geert De Sutter took scans of each step of the working procedure.