Tag Archives: Artec Studios

Janneke en Stanneke, a 1948 series by Bob De Moor never published in album format (except for one story)

In 1948 en 1949 a new Bob De Moor (under the Artec Studios flag) series saw a publication: ‘Janneke en Stanneke’.

It was the weekly comic strip publication ‘t Kapoentje which published the different stories. ‘Stories’ because many people think that there is only one Janneke en Stanneke story, namely the one which in the end got re-published for the very first time in album format by Ciso Stripgids (via Brabantia Nostra) in 1989.

It’s not all that weird that many people are unaware of the other stories, because if you don’t get published, you easily get forgotten, and that is exactly what happened here.

Janneke en Stanneke, a 1948 series by Bob De Moor never published in album format (except for one story)

The stories got published in a weekly only and got forgotten over time by most people. However, if you paid attention when reading the 1989 publication, you could have seen that the 60-strips long story actually is the follow-up story to another Janneke and Stanneke story. It starts with a text reminding readers what happened just before.

Today we present you the strips 37, 38, 39 and 40 of an unpublished untitled story (in album format that is). Note that none of the Janneke en Stanneke stories actually had a title, which doesn’t really make it easier to know what you are looking at. The duo finds themselves in the company of indians this time.

Don’t look too much for a story, because the series is actually a collection of gas with a loose story woven into it, the same with the story published in album format. Nevertheless, it’s part of De Moor’s heritage and a very good way to see how Bob De Moor‘s technique improved over time.

In the page published today you can see that De Moor is still a bit clumsy as far as the structure of the page, strips and cases is concerned. There clearly was no plan when creating the story or the page in particular. Not surprising, that year he would complete at least 17 stories… so there was no time for much story development let alone a lot of preparation. Things had to move on, and fast because the contracts for new stories kept on pouring in at the Artec Studios.

You can also see that De Moor struggles when it comes to putting people in a position which is not just walking or standing still. Look at case 1 and 2 for instance where he clearly is not at ease with the way he has drawn things. Also the use of a black shadow in the first 2 cases is not well-done (he would excel in it later on in his career through).

Nevertheless, these are stories which definitely deserve a re-publication. We wouldn’t be surprised that the fine people at Brabantstrip will ‘attack’ this in the next months or years (hint hint hint!).

Working hard with Bob De Moor in 1949

By the end of July 1949 Bob De Moor agreed to start working for the Tintin weekly, first as a layout assistant to Evany aka Eugène Van Nyverseel, and this 2 days per week. More than 3 days would be overkill as Bob De Moor knew, because he was around that time busy with – take a seat – 12 (!!) series simultaneously. Nevertheless, even those 2-days would increase the pressure, not in the least by the trips back and forth to Brussels from Antwerp. The scans shown below (just click the images to see the full sized ones) were taken from material found in the archives of the family De Moor.

Page 30 of "De Koene Edelman - Het Heilige Leven Van Johannes Baptista De La Salle".
Page 30 of “De Koene Edelman – Het Heilige Leven Van Johannes Baptista De La Salle”.

To give you an idea of the workload De Moor was confronted with, we’ll show you what he had to deliver in November 1949 for the Flemish weekly youth magazine ‘t Kapoentje (a youth extra of the newspaper De Nieuwe Gids). In the issue of November 24 you find 4 stories which De Moor worked on, all signed as ‘Bob – Artec-Studio’s‘.

The first is “De Koene Edelman – Het Heilige Leven Van Johannes Baptista De La Salle” on a scenario written by Gaston Durnez which you find on page 2.

The clear drawing style was similar to the one used by Jef Nys, Jijé and Sirius for their comic adaptations of all kinds of biographies, Jijé’s “Don Bosco” probably being the best known one. The print in this issue is black on white with red as a supporting – non-dotted – colour.

Gag 107 of "De Lustige Kapoentjes".
Gag 107 of “De Lustige Kapoentjes”.

On page 7 you see “De Lustige Kapoentjes”, Bob De Moor‘s adaptation of Willy Vandersteen‘s “De Vrolijke Bengels”. The story behind this switch is a complicated one. Vandersteen had left De Nieuwe Gids to start work for De Standaard where he continued the series “De Vrolijke Bengels” in the youth weekly Ons Volkske. With Vandersteen gone, Marc Sleen – who was the chief editor of ‘t Kapoentje – decided to start a new series very similar to the popular “De Vrolijke Bengels”: “De Lustige Kapoentjes”. But instead of drawing it himself, he asked Bob De Moor to work on it. De Moor would work on the series until he joined the Studio Hergé in late 1949. After that Marc Sleen would continue the series. It wouldn’t be the only Vandersteen story De Moor would re-create (see this article on “Babbel & Co”).

Page 15 of "Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd".
Page 15 of “Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd”.

You’ll see that the style used in this page of “De Lustige Kapoentjes” is very similar to the clear line used in De Moor’s later work for the Tintin weekly. The clear line was already very much present there.

On page 10 you find the story “Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd”. The crime story itself would be published in 1988 by De Dageraad in a split album which also holds “De Slaven van de Keizer”. That’s 39 years after first being published in ‘t Kapoentje.

The style of this story is a little bit less developed than “De Lustige Kapoentjes” and looks more hasty. At the same time it also includes a more realistic style used for one of the villains (frame 5), but most of the characters in this story are not really developed graphically. The story would also remain a one-off project and never be turned into a series.

Page 10 of "De Slaven van de Keizer".
Page 10 of “De Slaven van de Keizer”.

The back of the magazine, page 20, features the 4th story of Bob De Moor: “De Slaven van de Keizer”. And this one is in full – partially dotted – colour as you can see. As written above this story would be published together with “Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd” in one single album in 1988 by De Dageraad. Alas, not in colour but in black and white which kinda damaged the overall quality of the series. However, if you want to get hold of this story, you either will have to buy all issues of ‘t Kapoentje featuring this story (expect to pay a lot) or get hold of the album issued by De Dageraad, which, let’s be honest, should be in your collection to start with :). Graphically De Moor is in his element, after all the story is taking him to the sea. The realistic style applied here by De Moor is topnotch and even reminds of Hec Leeman‘s excellent Bakelandt series.

Expect some more of this pearls in the future!

The windmill by Bob De Moor, 1947

In the past few months we have described several paintings which Bob De Moor painted in 1947 such as the smoking kid, a still life and a winter landscape. Today we show you a watercolour painting which we discovered in the archives of Ludo Van Looveren, a nephew of Bob De Moor, and son of John Van Looveren (Artec Studios). The painting represents a wooden windmill and both the signature (it’s identical to 1947 paintings which had a signature and date added) and colour use put this painting in 1947.

The wooden windmill by Bob De Moor
The wooden windmill by Bob De Moor

Although this is not exactly the best painting which Bob De Moor made, it showcases how the then 22-year old Bob De Moor is testing his craftsmanship. Unlike the winter landscape painting which he carefully completed, this windmill painting looks more like hasty work. You can for instance clearly see the original pencil drawings and a not so meticulous colouring of the whole. However, as a time document this painting certainly has its merits.

In the next days we will also present you yet another painting which a private collector reported to us just a few days ago.

Artec Studios’ hidden collaborators: Mon Van Meulenbroeck (part 2)

A few days ago you could read an article on the work Armand “Mon” Van Meulenbroeck did for Artec Studios, the company founded by Bob De Moor and John Van Looveren. Today we present you another comic which has always been attributed to Bob De Moor, but which is not by Bob De Moor at all: Tim & Tom.

Up until today people claim this is Bob De Moor's work.
Up until today people claim this is Bob De Moor’s work.

The page scan we present you today comes from an issue of the 1949 (another source indicates it was published in 1951) edition of the weekly youth journal ‘t Kapoentje. The comic series is called ‘Tim en Tom’ and the story is called “Tim en Tom erven een Kasteel” (“Tim and Tom inherit a Castle”) and this story has always been said to be by Bob De Moor in many publications (with some writers saying that “one can clearly recognize the Hergé-esque influences…” Really?). Weird, because it doesn’t take much time for anyone familiar with the work of Bob De Moor (or drawing as a matter of fact) to raise a few question marks when seeing this page. The style as used in the drawings has close to nothing in common with what Bob De Moor drew around that time. It also showed some very clumsy drawing (shoes, hands, …) which – although Bob De Moor was working at speed tempo around that time – you would not expect from him. But, the story did come from the Artec studios, you can see the Artec Studios signature on the second strip, and that for instance led to the people from Stripofiel claiming that ‘Tim en Tom’ was by Bob De Moor in their issue nr. 8 from 1974. Danny De Laet – who first also attributed the series to Bob De Moor, rectified his judgement in “De Vlaamse Strip Auteurs” (published by De Dageraad in 1982) on page 43 saying that the ‘Tim en Tom’ story was “definitely not by Bob De Moor”.

An almost sure thing is that the drawings were made by a flemish comic author, the use of ‘ge’ (flemish for ‘you’) was never used in the Netherlands for instance. It’s also seems to be a one-off story which was published in both KZV and in t’ Kapoentje, but which seems to have been interrupted only to be continued in Het Wekelijkse Nieuws. So it doesn’t seem like it that the editorial staff of ‘t Kapoentje were all that happy about the result of the work.

But who was the artist then behind this ‘Tim en Tom’ then? John Van Looveren possibly was the storyteller (he did love the castle theme a lot), but who made the graphics? Armand “Mon” Van Meulenbroeck comes to mind (again), after all, he was the only comic artist ever to be paid by Artec Studios next to Bob De Moor. Compare the first case in the unfinished drawing in this article with the second case in the first strip of today’s scan and you will see a few similarities. But as a whole, it’s a mixed bag of influences; you’ll will recognize a Willy Vandersteen touch (see the postman) next to a not so well executed Hergé imitation.

If you ask us, Bob De Moor didn’t provide rough sketches for this series like he did for the cartoon series we talked about. The series is far from being a graphic chef d’oeuvre, but as a historical document it serves its purpose rather well. After all, the few years that the Artec Studios were active, represented a very important milestone in the history of the flemish comic scene, whether it was Bob De Moor or not making the drawings.

Artec Studios’ hidden collaborators: Mon Van Meulenbroeck (part 1)

The Artec Studios were founded in order to sell Bob De Moor‘s comics with or without scenarios by John Van Looveren and this to a rather huge number of publications. However, some of these drawings were not (completely) by Bob De Moor. Due to the enormous work that Van Looveren contracted, several people started helping out. Today we present you such drawing which was completed by Armand “Mon” Van Meulenbroeck but which has been on the market as being a Bob De Moor drawing, just like several others.

The inked cartoon, signed AVM.
The inked cartoon, signed AVM.

Mon Van Meulenbroeck was an early friend of Bob De Moor and he was just like his friend Bob De Moor forced to work at the German Erla factory (see also our article on this 1944 painting by Bob De Moor where we talk about the Erla factory). That friendship led to Mon Van Meulenbroeck being asked to join the Artec Studios team to help with Bob De Moor‘s growing output.

The cartoon we present you today was signed by AVM which stands for Armand Van Meulenbroeck and dates from 1947/1948. It’s unclear whether Bob De Moor delivered him penciled indications, but there are indications to believe he did (De Moor literally said in an interview in the 70s that he did offer quickly penciled sketches and indications after which ‘a friend’ completed the final drawings). This procedure was also suggested in Ronald Grossey‘s biography of Bob De Moor. Sure thing is that Van Meulenbroeck tried to make his work in the spirit of De Moor’s including the same inking style which is similar to that of Bob De Moor. The gag is called “Hoger en Hoger!” (Higher and Higher).

The uncompleted almost completely erased penciled cartoon on the back.
The uncompleted almost completely erased penciled cartoon on the back.

But the ‘clumsy’ way Van Meulenbroeck drew the feet/shoes is a good indication that this is clearly not Bob De Moor at work. If you compare similar work (the shoes for instance, the postures, …) by Bob De Moor around that time you will clearly spot the difference (read the Brabantia Nostra books to spot it). The cartoon itself here shows a kid walking on stilts and apparently standing so high that he gets picked up by a low flying plane. Surprisingly enough, the back of the drawing revealed an almost completely erased cartoon. This incomplete cartoon included a joke about a tram which the leading figure is taking. Again you can notice the typical ‘wrong’ shoes by Van Meulenbroeck in the first frame.

Tomorrow we’ll show you another drawing which has been considered a Bob De Moor one by many, although it’s clear from the first frame that this is not Bob De Moor at work, at all.

The Artec Studios years have not been well documented over the years, making it very difficult to know who did what. In a document which Danny De Laet wrote in 1979 it’s said that Artec Studios also employed the Woodpeckers brothers Jef and François “Cois” Cassiers but the bookkeeping from Artec Studios only revealed payments to Mon Van Meulenbroeck.  which means that either the brothers Cassiers did everything for free or that they have never worked for Artec Studios at all.

Special thanks to Olivier Marin (“Les déesses de la route”, “Le mystère de la traction 22”, …) for letting us dig in his archives and Ronald Grossey for his feedback.

Babbel & Co, a flemish series pur sang, but when was it created? (Part 1)

Between February 1949 and January 1951 Bob De Moor saw another series published in the weekly lifestyle magazine Weekend besides Professor Quick, namely “De lotgevallen van Babbel & Co”. This one page series told the story of Evarist Babbel and his family consisting of his wife Hortense, and his kids Mon and Tinneke. Kept under close watch by his wife Hortense, Evarist did however manage to create a turmoil here and there, but so did his wife. As it happens, Evarist looked like an early more cheeky version of uncle Zigomar.

A sequence from this old Bob De Moor/Artec Studios story.
A sequence from this old Bob De Moor/Artec Studios story.

Some say that the series was a rip-off of Willy Vandersteen‘s “De familie Snoek” which was published between 1945 and 1954 (and rebooted between 1965 and 1972). Truth to be told, if you closely look at both series, there is little to no similarity to be found.

You will notice that the drawing style is not similar to that of the drawings De Moor would make for a series which was published around the same period: the adventures of “Tijl Uilenspiegel”. We say ‘published’, because we are not so sureBabbel & Co was also ‘created’ then.

Nevertheless, there are 3 possible explanations for this rather big difference in style.

  1. By January 1949 Bob De Moor had fallen out with his brother-in-law John Van Looveren with whom he had formed Artec Studios in 1948. The reason for the fall-out was the increased work pressure because apart from the series he made for Artec Studios Bob De Moor also started to work for the Tintin weekly in 1949. The whole packet turned out to be way too much work for De Moor. It forced him to deliver half completed drawings for Artec Studios, sometimes just rough pencil sketches while he kept his best work (and dedication) for the Tintin weekly. In short: rushed work. But even for a chameleon like Bob De Moor the style difference is rather big…
  2. A 2nd explanation is that the series might have been created much earlier. After the affair went to court in December 1950, Van Looveren lost, but the court also ruled that he was allowed to keep some drawings. It’s our belief that the pages for the series “De lotgevallen van Babbel & Co” were part of that deal where the Artec Studios could keep some pages and publish them after De Moor had left. Stylewise it is almost sure in this case that the pages were created before 1949/1950, although they only saw a release between 1949 and 1951. Good to know, both brothers-in-law would reconcile years later and burry the hatchet for good.
  3. A 3rd option is that this series was being worked on by one of the collaborators of Bob De Moor at Artec Studios, namely Mon Van Meulenbroeck. It is known that for at least one series De Moor only quickly penciled the drawings while another artist penciled and inked the rest. Was this the case here?

We’ll be coming back on this in a future article with even more details. For now, let those grey cells do their job…