El Spectro meets Bob De Moor in ‘Trans-Amazonie’

In 2013 the second volume in the El Spectro series by graphic artist Yves Rodier and storywriter Frédéric Antoine was published: “Trans-Amazonie”.

el-spectro-bob-de-moorSo what does that have to do with Bob De Moor you may think. We all know that Yves Rodier is a huge Bob De Moor fan (if you don’t, then you should check out this interview we had with Yves Rodier on the matter), so it wasn’t really a surprise that Bob De Moor also showed up in the album… as a mechanic called Salvatore!

The image we show you today comes from issue 26 of the comic magazine L’Immanquable in which the second El Spectro album “Trans-Amazonia” saw a pre-publication. It was kindly sent to us by Alain Demaret. If you want to have that album in your collection, know that the El Spectro albums can still be ordered via Amazon.

Here’s what Yves told us a while back when we asked him about El Spectro: “I’m not really a fan of Mexican wrestling … In fact, I’m not a fan of wrestling at all! But I’m quite a fan of the films of Mexican wrestlers from the 50s-60s, “El Santo”, “Blue Demon”, “Mil Mascaras” and so on. That was my first inspiration for “El Spectro”. The subject of my comic is more connected to the Franco-Belgian clear line than one would say at first sight. El Spectro is a classic hardcore hero, just like Tintin or Bob Morane are. Being a ‘luchador’ is only a pretext to travel around the world (he is a star of the ‘Lucha Libre’), and be athletic, know how to fight, to be adventurous, and wear a mask that makes him instantly recognizable (like the haircut of Tintin, Spirou‘s costume, the Asterix helmet, etc …). So I managed to combine my love for the Mexican Luchadores movies, adventure, spy and horror movies of the 50s-60s with the Franco-Belgian comics. This is probably a combination that has never been done before, but I think my series is a continuation of those of Tintin, Gil Jourdan, Bob Morane, Spirou, Michel Vaillant, Dan Cooper, etc … A Mexican wrestler as a hero, well worth a Belgian reporter, a French detective, a race car driver, or a Canadian airman I’d say, right?”

Paul Henri Charles Spaak with beard after a long trip

In the archives of the family De Moor there are several cartoons which refer to political situations that took place. Since the events often took place more than 60 years ago, it’s not always easy to understand what was the real political background of these cartoons.

The undated cartoon featuring a bearded Paul Henri Charles Spaak.
The undated cartoon featuring a bearded Paul Henri Charles Spaak.

Today I’m going to dissect a cartoon, which seems to have been drawn between 1946 and 1948. The cartoon shows a man descending from an airplane, surrounded by what looks to be journalists.

If that would be the only lead, I wouldn’t know what to think of it. However, on the back of that drawing you can see 2 lines. The first is the title Bob De Moor gave to this cartoon, the 2nd is the line that had to go under the drawing to give the cartoon its meaning (at least back then). The title reads “When Spaak arrives”, the legend of the cartoon says: “I’m sorry gentlemen, I can’t speak to you… my beard is obstructing me.”

Paul Henri Charles Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972)
Paul Henri Charles Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972)

We are probably dealing with a cartoon about Paul Henri Charles Spaak. Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972) was a Belgian socialist politician and statesman, who served as Prime Minister of Belgium (1938–1939, 1946 and 1947–1949), as the first President of the United Nations General Assembly (1946–1947), as the first President of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952–1954), as the first President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, then called the Consultative Assembly (1949–50), and as the second Secretary General of NATO (1957–1961).

Lot’s of roles, but it’s my guess that the cartoon is about him being the Belgian Secretary of State (1946-1949). The fact that we see Spaak descending from a plane indicates that he has been traveling abroad (in Belgium politicians don’t travel by plane for local duties) and considering the style used here by Bob De Moor, I’m inclined to think we are dealing with a cartoon from 1947-1948.

One small details though, Spaak didn’t have a beard in real life… So, it’s pretty sure that De Moor’s joke is exactly about that. Perhaps Spaak had been away for quite some time and hence the beard? Unless we can find the publication where this cartoon appeared, it will be pretty difficult to get the meaning of it all.

A previously unknown sketch for the 2nd page of ‘Barelli et la mort de Richard II’

A week ago I was bidding on an original of Bob De Moor on eBay, unfortunately my much too late arrival in Ankara (caused by the terror attack in Ankara) made it impossible to keep up with the auction biddings like I had planned and I saw I got outbid by 5 euro when I was finally able to check the eBay app on my smartphone, whilst waiting to pass the border control. I contacted the seller if at least he could make me some decent scans of the drawings before he’d ship the drawing off to the new owner, alas, it was already sent and I haven’t heard from the new owner yet. So, you’ll have to do with the photos from the seller.

The previously unknown sketch for the 2nd page of "Barelli et la mort de Richard II".
The previously unknown sketch for the 2nd page of “Barelli et la mort de Richard II”.

The page I bid on is quite an exceptional finding, it’s the second page from the 1980 short story “Barelli et la mort de Richard II”. The interesting thing about the unfinished page is that you can still see the original pencil drawings which Bob De Moor had used to complete the actual page. Something which is quite rare. On top the structure of this second page (and not page 8 as the seller says) is different to the second page from the album, and that’s where it gets really interesting, and that’s also why I was so keen on getting this page and scanning it for you all to see.

The first strip counts 5 frames in the final version, 4 in this demo version. The 5th one where he enters the room with requisites for the theater actors is not included. Instead Barelli is still outside in the second strip (the demo version) whereas he is walking through the room in the final version. The action in the demo version starts only in the second frame of strip 2. However, that scene no longer has text balloons in it in the final version, perhaps to create more tension.

The final version for the 2nd page of "Barelli et la mort de Richard II".
The final version for the 2nd page of “Barelli et la mort de Richard II”.

It’s kinda logical that De Moor decided to put some more action in these first 2 strips. On the other hand, the cliffhanger he had in the 2nd strip in the demo version is moved towards frame 2 in the 3rd strip in the printed version. In the printed version Barelli sees that the intruder has turned off his torch, this element is totally lacking in the demo version.

Strip 3 in the demo version starts with Barelli finding an open suitcase, you can see that De Moor has studied 2 different angles for this situation. Speaking of a different angle, you will also notice that Barelli’s head (strip 4, frame 1) is leaning to the left in the demo version, but to the right in the final version. It emphasises the speed of the running intruder. The rest of that last strip follows the same order.

Text wise there are quiet a few differences, but due to the not so good photos I’m not really able deciphering everything.

If you were the buyer of this item, please get in touch!

War scene in water colour by Bob De Moor

Today I present you a rather rare item which I found in the archives of the family De Moor.

Water colour on paper. Notice the B in the bottom right corner.
Water colour on paper. Notice the B in the bottom right corner.

The undated drawing is very unlike Bob De Moor as you can see. The realistically drawn scene represents a war scene with a US soldier observing an enemy camp somewhere in a tropical country. Tropical because the plants shown in the image look tropical.

The scene makes me believe that this scene is about the war against the Japanese troops in Asia during World War 2. Now, where exactly this scene is situated is not really easy without the context surrounding the drawing of course but during World War 2 Japan occupied the following territories, so take your pick as far as the country that harboured this scene:

  • Several regions in mainland China – 1938 – 1945
  • French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) – July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945
  • Hong Kong (UK) – December 12, 1940 – August 15, 1945
  • Thailand – as an ‘allied’ state although induced – December 8, 1941 – August 15, 1945
  • British New Guinea – December 27, 1941 – September 15, 1945
  • Philippines (USA) – May 8, 1942 – July 5, 1945
  • Guam (USA) – January 6, 1942 – October 24, 1945
  • Dutch East Indies – January 18, 1942 – October 21, 1945
  • Portuguese Timor – February 19, 1942 – September 2, 1945
  • Malaya (UK)- March 27, 1942 – September 6, 1945
  • Andaman Islands (India) – March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945
  • Singapore (Singapore) – March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945
  • Kingdom of Sarawak (UK) – March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945
  • Brunei (UK) – March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945
  • Borneo (UK) – March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945
  • Nauru – August 26, 1942 – September 13, 1945
  • Wake Island (USA) – December 27, 1941 – September 4, 1945
  • Burma – 1942–1945
  • Gilbert Islands (UK) – December 1941 – January 22, 1944
  • Christmas Island (Australia) – March 1942 – October 1945
  • Attu and Kiska Islands (US) – June 6, 1942 – September 27, 1943

If anyone has an idea for what this picture was used, please let me know at bernard.vanisacker@gmail.com .

Fee & Fonske or Mieleke & Dolf?

Between 1949 and 1951 Ons Volkske featured the adventures of Fee & Fonske under the name “De Fratsen van Fee en Fonske” (which would also appear as “De avonturen van Mieleke en Dolf” both in Kuifje Weekblad… and Ons Volkse), see also our article “Mieleke & Dolf / Bouboule & Noiraud make their entry in 1949”. As you can see, the name of the series is not the same as both main characters saw their name changed from Fee & Fonske to Mieleke & Dolf for Kuifje Weekblad., (and apparently Ons Volkske followed in a later stage). Not that Bob De Moor paid much attention to the difference as you can see in today’s example where he mixes the names.

Here Bob De Moor uses different names for the main characters than the title of the series.
Here Bob De Moor uses different names for the main characters than the title of the series.

Good to know, the series consists of 100+ strips but was never published in its chronological order, instead you see the numbering going up and down (when he uses the ‘Bi’ signature or no signature at all) and disappearing (when he ads ‘Bob De Moor’ as signature or no signature at all). Also the haircut of the characters changes all the time which makes us believe that De Moor already had this series prepared a bit before they were published.

In the example we offer today you can see that despite the fact that the series is called “De Fratsen van Fee en Fonske”, the names used in the strip are Mieleke en Dolf. It doesn’t really make it easy to correctly complete the chronology of this 66-year old series.

Overtime you can see that the drawing style gets more and more refined hinting at his involvement in the Hergé studios.

This series has unfortunately never been published in book format, except for an extremely limited run (we talk about 50 copies at maximum) via Jean-Pierre Verheylewegen in 2001 (or 2002), but this publication didn’t include all of the strips ever published. At the moment I am collecting all the missing strips and have already been able tracing a lot, including the one you saw today.

A house in De Kempen – undated drawing by Bob De Moor

During the Christmas period following Bob De Moor‘s death in 1992, his wife Jeanne De Belder sent out a Christmas Card with a drawing De Moor had made in the late 50ies / early 60ies. It’s was Luc De Meulenaere who tipped me off on this particular card. While cruising through the archives of the family De Moor one drawing caught my attention, it was the original of the card!

The original drawing by Bob De Moor, notice the grey colours.
The original drawing by Bob De Moor, notice the grey colours.

Something that is quite visible when you compare the print version and the final version is the greys used in the original drawing which disappeared in the printed card version, a pity because it gives the original an extra dimension, especially the night sky.

The drawing which could be found on a Christmas card Jeanne de Belder sent out in 1992.
The drawing which could be found on a Christmas card Jeanne de Belder sent out in 1992.

On the right of the drawing you can see a penciled message reading “Ki n° 47 page 26” and under that “<- 9 cm ->”. It could be that “Ki” (or is it a badly written “Kj”?), stands for ‘Kuifje’. Since we don’t have all the Flemish Tintin issues we can’t check if that drawing is indeed in one of the number 47s made between 1954 and let’s say 1965. If anyone has these issues, feel free to let us know!

The drawings depicts a scene which could have come straight from one of those lovely Robert & Bertrand albums by Willy Vandersteen (although that series only started in 1973). You see an older man (with a beard) reading a book whilst sitting in the entrance of his house.

Diving back in history, the house has a big resemblance with the houses you could find in De Kempen, a region in Belgium and the Netherlands, also called Kempenland or Campine in English, in late 1800, early 1900. Another clue is the Scots pine you see on the right which is a typical tree you can find in De Kempen due to the sandy soil.

A picture which was published in the book "Mijn land in de kering 1830-1980. Deel 1: Een ouderwetse wereld 1830-1914" (2008) by Karel Van Isacker.
A picture which was published in the book “Mijn land in de kering 1830-1980. Deel 1: Een ouderwetse wereld 1830-1914” (2008) by Karel Van Isacker.

And that I’m probably not far away from the truth shows this picture on the left, which I coincidentally found in a book by Karel van Isacker (not family of me, though he was a professor of my twin brother – also named Karel Van Isacker). The book “Mijn land in de kering 1830-1980. Deel 1: Een ouderwetse wereld 1830-1914” (2008) gives an idea how people lived between 1830 and 1914. And that very picture dates from 1900 from a family living in De Kempen in Belgium.

If anyone has a clue where the drawing was used for in the end, please send an email to bernard.vanisacker@gmail.com .

‘De zwarte draak’ – the complete version – confirmed for Fenix 110

A few months ago we wrote that the team behind Brabant Strip had been able to find the original newspaper clippings of the 1954 Snoe and Snolleke story “De zwarte draak” (“The black dragon”). We now can confirm that the re-edition – in its complete version including the 4 missing strips from the Standaard Uitgeverij version – will be released as Fenix 110 by the end of 2015. We’ll update asap on what the cover artwork will be based on.

Notice the difference in language in both versions.
Notice the difference in language in both versions.

This re-edition is important for many reasons. The original version of this story as published in De Nieuwe Gids (and related newspapers) from 12 October 1953 until 30 January 1954 was in a flemish dutch. That very cosy language got annihilated when the Casterman and Standaard Uitgeverij re-editions replaced it by a dutch which was way too much ‘dutchified’. Both editors (and especially their translator) seemed to have forgotten that Snoe and Snolleke were Flemish and not Dutch to start with.

Next, no less than 4 strips were missing in the first album edition. Brabant Strip will edit this album in black & white in its Fenix Collection including the 4 missing strips.

The re-furbished “De zwarte draak” was originally supposed to be published by Casterman in 1989, but in the end it was Standaard Uitgeverij which would edit it in 1993.

We can also confirm that the newspaper clippings from the “Het Geheim van Vulcania”, the follow-up album from 1954, have also been retrieved. Also this album will be released in album format via Brabant Strip in 2016.

Willem (Koelbloed) De Vrijbuiter in colour

On October 1948 ‘t Kapoentje published the final page of “Willem De Vrijbuiter” (later renamed “Willem Koelbloed” for the publication in De Volksmacht in 1949) which was one of the more realistic stories Bob De Moor would create in his early career and which together with for instance “De Verklikker” (KZV 1949) would form a test platform for his Flemish Trilogy albums.

The final page of "Willem De Vrijbuiter" as published in 't Kapoentje in 1948.
The final page of “Willem De Vrijbuiter” as published in ‘t Kapoentje in 1948.

In 1984 Brabantia Nostra would release “Willem Koelbloed” for the first (and last?) time in album format, more precisely in a split album format together with the 1949 story “De Verklikker”. Just like the other albums by Brabantia Nostra also this one would only be released in black and white only. Note that also in this case there was no trace of the original drawings since those have since gone lots or have ended up in private collections, unreachable to the bigger public.

The final page of "Willem Koelbloed" as published in the album by Brabantia Nostra in 1984.
The final page of “Willem Koelbloed” as published in the album by Brabantia Nostra in 1984.

Today you can see the original colour version of the last page of this 1948 story just like it was published in ‘t Kapoentje some 67 years ago. The scan we took has been slightly altered in order to bring out the colours a bit more clearly but it remains very close to how it was printed. As you can immediately see, the colouring was not exactly perfect on this page as the blue colour was not correctly implemented (unlike the other colours). However, it surely gives this old story that extra touch. Look for instance at the supporting colour used for the text fragments which separates them way better from the other drawings compared to the black and white version. Note also the different heading of the page which is graphically more interesting than the rather boring version of De Volksmacht.

This is again an example of one of those older Bob De Moor stories which would benefit from a reissue in its original coloured version, if only in a limited collector’s only run.

‘Het Mollenrijk’ in colour in Gazet van Antwerpen in 1992

Last year we wrote about a significant difference in a sequence of Bob De Moor‘s Snoe & Snolleke album “Het Mollenrijk” as published in the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuws van de Dag and the version of the albums as published by Bédéscope. The two versions were finally included in one edition, that by Brabant Strip in 2003 (a highly recommended version).

3 strips in colour from the version as published by Gazet van Antwerpen in 1992.
3 strips in colour from the version as published by Gazet van Antwerpen in 1992.

But there’s actually another (4th) version – which never has been put in album format – and that’s a coloured upgraded version which was published in the Flemish newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen from February 5 1992 until May 16 1992 as a 2 strip comic.

First of all, it’s pretty clear that this coloured version was based on the actual drawings, the print is very clear and not based on newspaper strips. Unlike the reedited albums in colour in the Snoe & Snolleke series, the drawings here have remained like they were without alterations (Geert De Sutter confirmed that he never touched these drawings). That is with the exception of the 4 strips (of which you see 3 on the right) which Bob De Moor had altered for the Bédéscope version and which were not part of the original to begin with. One change ruins the pleasure a bit, namely the texts. Also here all text balloons have modern dutch, but highly sterile and very dutch sounding, including – horror oh horror – the ‘Oom Watje’ instead of Nonkel Zigomar…

There are more albums like this one which saw a coloured publication in Gazet Van Antwerpen with altered texts (but without redrawn parts) and which never were published in album format afterwards. The albums involved include: “De Gele Spion” (there was only a French version of this coloured album published in a Boogaloo edition), “De Blauwe Vinger”, “De Spaa-Motor” and “De with Mau-Mau” which mid-through was published in one strip and not as a double strip as was the case with all other coloured reprisals in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen.

The reason for these stories to be published like this might be pretty simple. Keep in mind that by then Bob De Moor was already seriously ill and it would have been impossible for him to oversee the preparation for the coloured re-publications since numerous alterations had to be done to the material. Most probably that is the reason why these 5 albums never saw a release in colour via RijpermanCasterman or Standaard Uitgeverij.

We will update this story as we have requested some details from Johan De Moor.

The cover for ‘War In The Cosmos’ which never got used for a French reprint

Whilst cruising through the archives of the family De Moor, I stumbled on a drawing which appeared to be a never published before front cover for a new french version of “Oorlog In Het Heelal”. “Oorlog In Het Heelal” was originally created by Bob De Moor for the weekly magazine Ons Volk in 1949. It got 2 later publications, but only in magazines and never as a standalone album. Both the dutch written Ciso and the french written Comics 130 magazines would publish the story some 20 years later: Ciso in issue 5/6 (1971) and Comics 130 in issue 9 (1974).

The never published before cover artwork of the unreleased re-edition of "Guerre Dans Le Cosmos".
The never published before cover artwork of the unreleased re-edition of “Guerre Dans Le Cosmos”.

The first publication in Ciso issue 5/6 (1971) included 10 pages on Science Fiction in Flemish and Dutch comics by Danny De Laet, the story “Pilot Storm” by J.J. Nieuwstraten preceded by a short introduction (33 pages), an introduction on Bob De Moor (3 pages), an 1974 artwork by Bob De Moor for the album and “Oorlog In Het Heelal” (32 pages). A last page includes a rather good oversight on De Moor’s bibliography until then. The back of the magazine features a cartoon by Bob De Moor which has basically no link with anything featured in the magazine itself. An extra let’s say.

The cover of Comics 130 which was NOT by Bob De Moor.
The cover of Comics 130 which was NOT by Bob De Moor.

The second publication was in French in Comics 130 magazine in 1974 included the 32 page counting “Guerre Dans Le Cosmos”, alas with a cover which was not by De Moor (although it is being sold as such on eBay and related sites), a special on Bob De Moor (4 pages), “L’ambassadeur” by Semjoa (8 pages), the price Saint-Michel 1974 (2 pages) and a mini-special on Mike Ploog.

Prices for both items are between 29 to 70 Euro depending on the quality. If you haven’t yet added them to your collection now is the time to act, because it has come to our attention that items featured on the Bob De Moor site tend to be searched for a lot once it has hit our pages. Consider that to be a nice side-effect :).

Note that the print quality in both magazines was far from being splendid, but that should probably be attributed to the material that had to be worked with – which looks like cleaned up copies from old magazines.

The drawing we show you today however shows that there were plans to reedit this story somewhere in the late 80s (1987-1989) in France, not via Rijperman as the placement of Bob De Moor’s name would make you believe, but via another partner. The project was however abandoned. Expect more details in the near future… On the bottom of the drawing Bob De Moor also placed the following remark for the publisher: “Tirer bleu + film trait sur Shoeller Merci!”.

We’ll get back on this as Johan De Moor is right now rebooting his internal drive to dig up some more details… :).

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