Tag Archives: Mon Van Meulenbroeck

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…