A few weeks ago I was able to trace back a few copies of Hop!, a French comics magazine. In issue 25 of that magazine, dating from 1981, there’s a 4 page article written by Jean Marie Smits on the flemish production by Bob De Moor including a drawing which hasn’t been republished before.
We got in touch with Smits to know something more on the background of this drawing, but he unfortunately couldn’t recall from where exactly the drawings originated. However he guessed it had probably been published in Ons Volkske which ran from 1932 until 1988. Next to Bob De Moor you can also find work from Gommaar Timmermans, Hurey, Gilbert Declercq, Gert Ronde, Karel Verschuere, Jo-El Azara, Tibet and many other Kuifje related collaborators.
The drawing shows a moustached person resting in a sofa while enjoying a cigar and some liquor. You can recognise a steel pocket hip liquor flask on the table next to the bottle and a drinking glass. It’s our guess this drawing dates from the time De Moor was working on his first Barelli album. You can recognise the typical legs De Moor was drawing around that time (we’re speaking of the period 1949-1951).
This 64 page issue is actually full of interesting material apart from the Bob De Moor link, to start with the cover drawing which is a Le Rallic one (there’s some Hergé elements in there if you look well). Le Rallic, full name Étienne Le Rallic (1891–1968), was a French illustrator and comics artist. The 5 page coverage based on an interview Jean-Claude Rochereau had with this artist is a must read if you are unaware of this talent. A bit further in this issue you also find the short story “La Cavalière du Texas” by Le Rallic.
Hop! could rely on quite an international brigade of collaborators and not surprisingly we also find the Flemish comic connaisseur Danny de Laet back in that list.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.