Famous Flemish comic collector Yves Kerremans contacted us a few weeks ago with a drawing by Bob De Moor he had found back in the daily Het Nieuws van den Dag of 2 November 1960. It depicts Sinterklaas on a roof full of antenna. Since it’s December 6th tomorrow, the day of Sinterklaas we thought it to be the perfect gift to all of our lovely young readers :).
For those unknown with the phenomenon of Sinterklaas. He is a mythical figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins based on Saint Nicholas. Other names for the figure include De Sint (“The Saint”), De Goede Sint (“The Good Saint”), De Goedheiligman (“The Good Holy Man”) in Dutch; Sintekloi in West-Flemish; Saint-Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in Frisian; and Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish.
Sinterklaas is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on 5 December, the night before Saint Nicholas Day in the Northern Netherlands and on the morning of 6 December, Saint Nicholas Day itself, in the (Roman Catholic) southern provinces, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northern France (French Flanders, Lorraine and Artois). He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Suriname. What many don’t know is that he is the primary source of the popular Coca Cola Christmas icon of Santa Claus.
But in Belgium we celebrate the original one and so did Bob De Moor in 1960!
The drawing, signed as Bob De Moor, was made for the ‘Help Sinterklaas’ action run by De Standaard Soc. for the charity “Werken voor het Sinterklaasfeest der behoeftige kinderen” which would for years help children in need, focusing a lot on helping out disabled children from 1967 onwards. Many comic artists would contribute in the years to follow including Marc Sleen, Willy Vandersteen, Paul Geerts, Karel Biddeloo and so on.
In this particular drawing you see Sinterklaas struggling to go over the roofs due to the many TV antennas blocking his way. To understand the joke, you need to know that TV had only been introduced in Flanders in the year 1957. By 1960 it had become very popular not in the least thanks to the Worldexpo of 1958 when special antenna’s had been installed across Belgium to improve the broadcast signal. As a result hundred thousands of roofs suddenly had all kind of ugly TV antenna’s placed on it. 1960 was also the year that the BRT (Belgische Radio en Televisie) was born (formerly known as NIR).
It’s not De Moor’s most elaborated drawing, but it does have his typical humour. And it won’t take you much effort to imagine Once Zigomar in the role of Sinterklaas. In short, a small drawing, but with quite a lot of history around it.
Thanks a lot to Yves Kerremans for this very rare gem!