Tag Archives: Ronald Grossey

A previously unpublished cartoon drawing by Bob De Moor from 1943

A few days ago we received a mail including a scan of a drawing Bob De Moor had made on February 24, 1943. This drawing, which has never been published before, was included in a A5-sized notebook owned by Lily Schmutzer (1922 – 2000).

Here’s a detail of the drawing, further down below you can see the complete drawing.

bob-de-moor-1943

It’s her daughter, Carine Weve, who contacted us and one thing led to another and after a few mails back and forth we can offer you today not only a previously unpublished drawing but also the context of how the drawing ended up in the notebook of Lily Schmutzer and also a bit of her own story which explains why she kept the notebook.

It’s thanks to her and especially her daughter Carine Weve that you can now discover this early work on this website, 73 years after it was created.

But let’s first sketch a bit the historical context. Lily Schmutzer was Dutch and was born in 1922. When the 2nd World War broke out, the family Schmutzer moved to Antwerp just like many other Dutch people. Not all that surprising as the Germans had used a lot more aggression to overrun the Netherlands compared to what happened during the annexation of Belgium. For instance they had bombed Rotterdam and Middelburg despite the fact that the Dutch had already surrendered. Add to that that it soon became clear that the royal family had gotten away in secret leaving their compatriots in the hands of the Germans who would install a Zivilverwaltung (aided by the bloodthirsty NSB aka the Nationaal Socialistische Beweging) compared to the somewhat more civilised military-led regime aka Militärverwaltung we would know in Belgium.

It’s highly probable that the family Schmutzer left during this period, but precise data are not known although we know Lily Schmutzer followed lessons at the ‘Academie voor Schone Kunsten’ from 1940 until 1945. And that’s where she met Bob De Moor. 3 years younger than her he would start his first year at the Academy in 1940, aged 15. Both Bob and Lily finally ended up in the same ‘portrait class’ in 1943 where the ‘professor’ was teaching (more on this character further down).

The drawing Bob De Moor made in Lily’s notebook also has some notations by Lily Schmutzer indicating who is who on the drawing. Note that Bob De Moor was using ‘Bob’ as signature and equally was known as Bob De Moor (and not Robert De Moor) with his fellow students. For the purists, Lily wrote ‘Bob de Moor’ with ‘de’ instead of ‘De’, an error which would be made a lot in the decades to follow.

Below is the A5-sized notebook.

tekeningenboekje

And here is the actual drawing. If you look really well at the drawing, you can still see the pencil drawings under the ink:

unnamed-13

The handwritten indications say: Bob de Moor (zelfportret), Willy Mertens (tekenaar van Prof + Hels – unreadable – zie verder), Bob S’anter‘.

For those not speaking Dutch, ‘zelfportret’ means self portrait in English. ‘Prof’ refers to a ‘professor’ who managed the portrait classes and he seems to have been a recurrent character as the notebook of Lily Schmutzer has several annotations of him.

We haven’t found any references on the 2 other characters depicted in the drawing and they were also not mentioned in Ronald Grossey‘s book “De klare lijn en de golven”.

However, Carine informed us that the note under the name Willy Mertens refers to a drawing further in the notebook where Mertens portrayed their professor portrait drawing (called Leclercq or Leclerc) together with another student Roger Helsmoortel.

On that page Lily Schmutzer also noted that the professor died in a V2 bombing in 1944. She also noted that Willy Mertens died in 1976.

The notes were mostly added years later “which shows that according to me at least her time at the academy must have been very important to her”, says Carine Weve.

The drawing itself depicts De Moor and his two fellow students as Zazous. You can read a lot more on the subject of the Zazou movement in this article we published in August last year: Zazouing with Bob De Moor in 1945.

The notebook of Lily Schmutzer reveals some extra information regarding the circumstances in which the students had to work. The war is clearly present in her comments spread throughout the pages. For 1943/44 she writes: “… door het in de schuilkelder zijn, slechts 1/4 werkjaar.” (“By being in the shelter all the time we only completed 1/4 of a year’s work”) And Carine also says that her mother told her children that because of the war there was no heating. Pictures taken during the academic year 1941/42 have comments like “‘s Morgens hingen de ijspegels aan onze beelden en moesten we eerst de buitenkant ontdooien. En dan kregen we wéér een maand vacantie.” (“In the morning we first had to defrost the outside of our sculptures because there were icicles hanging from them. And then they gave us again a month worth of holiday.”) In the picture below the thick coat Lily is wearing indicates that it was very cold in the classroom.

mama-kunstacademie

“In the end my mum never worked as a visual artist. She became a mother of a family of 5 children – and was by then madame Lily Weve-Schmutzer, Weve being her husband’s family name – and gave us a youth where we lived around a (dining) table where we drew and pieced things together. And ‘everything was possible’,” recalls Carine. Two of the 5 kids would go to the arts academy. Sylvia Weve for instance became a multi-award winning illustrator of children’s books, among others. She for instance illustrated translated books by Roald Dahl and Mikael Engström. You can find her website right here.

Although Carine didn’t mention it in her correspondence, she is actually also active as a visual / conceptual artist and has seen her work exhibited in The Netherlands, China, Poland, the USA, Germany and Belgium. You can find some more info on her work right here.

Many many thanks go to Carine Weve for the info and pictures provided.

Zazouing with Bob De Moor in 1945

In “Bob de Moor. 40 ans de bandes dessinées, 35 ans aux côtés d’Hergé” you could read that Bob De Moor was part of the Zazou movement in the early 40s in Antwerp, Belgium. Today we show you a drawing which Bob De Moor made in 1945. For those who have read Ronald Grossey‘s book “Bob De Moor – De Klare Lijn en de Golven“, you might recognise it as it is featured (in small) in the photo addendum.

The Zazous originated as a jazz related subculture in France during World War II. The Zazous were young people wearing big or garish clothing (similar to the Zoot suit fashion in America a few years before) and dancing to swing jazz and bebop. Men wore large striped lumber jackets, while women wore short skirts, striped stockings and heavy shoes, and often carried umbrellas. But it was also a politically inspired movement as it reacted against the ultra-conservative morality of the Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. The Zazous even went so far to even organise dance competitions against soldiers from the occupying forces.

Zazouing with Bob De Moor in 1945, taken from the De Moor archives.
Zazouing with Bob De Moor in 1945, taken from the De Moor archives.

The Zazous were numbered in the hundreds rather than thousands and were generally between 17 and 20. There were Zazous from all classes, races, and both sexes but with apparently similar outlooks. There were also German Zazous, but they were heavily persecuted. The Hamburg and Berlin based Swingjugend for instance had many of their followers imprisoned in concentration camps, while many of the Cologne based Edelweiss Pirates were hanged by the Nazis.

The Zazou movement soon entered Belgium and caught on in Antwerp, Brussels, Liège, Ghent and Ostend. Not surprising they also got into trouble with collaborating youth movements – such as de Dietsche Militie/ Zwarte Brigade – which would for instance attack a concert of Belgian swing bandleader Jean Omer in Antwerp. Bob De moor was present at that concert and lost one of his Zazou styled shoes. Surprisingly enough the German Nazi occupiers invited Omer to record the jazz standard “Stardust”  for the German Telefunken company.

The Zazous were also not so well regarded by the more ‘intellectual’ part of the cultural scene during World War 2. The people behind the poetry magazine Podium, especially Gerard van Elden, for instance considered the Zazous to be worthless when it came to culture. Nevertheless Bob De Moor soon joined the movement, attracted by the jazz DNA of the movement and most probably also the anglophile attitude.

In the drawing – made in 1945 – we present you today, you can see a man wearing a large hat, a lumber jacket, narrow trousers and tie with high shirt collars. He is also wearing thick-soled shoes, with white (?) socks. A moustache and greased long hairs complete the picture.

So far the background on this period in De Moor’s life during World War 2.

The genesis of the cult car Citroen traction avant 22 model drawing by Bob De Moor (part 3)

In the past few months we dedicated 2 articles to the cover drawing which Bob De Moor completed in August 1992 for the 1994 publication “La 22, Enquête sur une mystérieuse Citroën”. The book, written by Hervé Laronde and Fabien Sabatès and published via the French publisher Rétroviseur, features the very last drawing Bob De Moor would complete before succumbing to cancer in August 1992. That this is indeed the last drawing he would make had been confirmed by De Moor’s wife Jeanne De Belder.

The drawing as pencilled by Geert De Sutter
The drawing as pencilled by Geert De Sutter

A few days ago Geert De Sutter, who has assisted Bob De Moor on several (new and re-published) albums, sent us a scan of the pencil drawing of this cover and he also told us how Bob De Moor and he worked together to complete this cover artwork. Bob De Moor made a rough sketch of what he wanted on the cover after which Geert De Sutter started drawing the actual cover.

It was however Bob De Moor himself who inked the drawing and as it seems he didn’t change any detail during this procedure as Geert De Sutter also confirms (see also page 386 of the Bob De Moor biography by Ronald Grossey where this particular drawing has been referenced).

The documentation of Bob De Moor for the Citroën cover.
The documentation of Bob De Moor for the Citroën cover.

Geert also provided us with a scan of the documentation which Bob De Moor had sent him in order to draw the Citroën. You can see this original reference material on the left. You’ll notice that the original source material used was quite old (it was a very old model after all).

With this 3rd article we have been able to show you the complete genesis of this particular Citroën drawing. We have several other such examples which will show you bit by bit. Thanks to Geert De Sutter for the material provided.

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.

Logo Willy Vandersteen’s De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) was based on Bob De Moor’s ‘Lion of Flanders’

In 1959 the Studio Vandersteen was working on getting the first 40 page album released of De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight), namely “Het gebroken zwaard” (The broken Sword). For the title page Vandersteen’s publisher Wim Goderis was looking for a vignette, more precisely a vignette with De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) waving with his sword while being seated on a prancing horse…

The back of the 1952 edition of Bob De Moor's "De Leeuw van Vlaanderen".
The back of the 1952 edition of Bob De Moor’s “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen”.

Wim Goderis found his inspiration on the back of the cover of Bob De Moor‘s “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen” which was published by the Standaard Uitgeverij (the one he worked for) in 1952, a detail which was also documented on page 93 in Ronald Grossey‘s must-read book “Studio Vandersteen – Kroniek van een legende (1947-1990)”.

For the non-Flemish readers, De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) is probably not all that well-known. It is a Belgian Flemish comic book series set in medieval Europe starring Johan, the Red Knight, easily recognizable by his red tunic. While the first twelve albums gave a general impression of Johan wandering around in medieval Flanders, the later stories would include a lot more different aspects such as the Arthur legend, Bahaal and much more.

The logo on the title page of the first De Rode Ridder album.
The logo on the title page of the first De Rode Ridder album.

Originally The Red Knight was conceived by Leopold Vermeiren as a character for several short stories he started to write and publish in 1946. Willy Vandersteen wrote the first album with Leopold Vermeiren and Karel Verschuere. Although Vandersteen would continue to write and draw the albums (up until number 44) a lot of the work was already completed by various studio assistants including his son Robert ‘Bob’ Vandersteen, the previously mentioned Karel Verschuere, Frank Sels, Karel Biddeloo and Eduard de Rop.

The cover of the first De Rode Ridder album, "Het gebroken Zwaard".
The cover of the first De Rode Ridder album, “Het gebroken Zwaard”.

From number 44 on, “Drie huurlingen”, Karel Biddeloo would write and draw the stories independently and include science fiction and fantasy elements. After the death of Bideloo, the duo Martin Lodewijk (scenarios) and Claus Scholz (drawings) would continue the series.

Claus Scholz is no stranger to the Flemish comic readers as he was also helping out Hec Leemans on his excellent Bakelandt series from 1986 on.

An interview with Ronald Grossey, author of the new Bob De Moor biography

Ronald Grossey
Ronald Grossey

A while ago we had an interview with Ronald Grossey, author of the book “Bob De Moor. De klare lijn en de golven; een biografie”. Grossey isn’t exactly what you can call a new bee in the world of comics. Ronald Grossey (born in Antwerp in 1956) is a flemish author and publisher. In 1979 he founded his own publishing company Exa, which in 1987 would merge with Rudy Vanschoonbeek‘ Dedalus. Between 1995 and 2000 he worked as a comic editor for Standaard Uitgeverij in Antwerp. He also wrote several articles for the magazines Humo, Knack, Robbedoes, Kuifje and was also chief editor for the Suske & Wiske weekly. Next to this he wrote several comic scenarios and books touching the comic world.

In 2007 Ronald Grossey published "Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990"
In 2007 Ronald Grossey published “Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990”

A book that many flemish readers will know is his now sold out book 2007’s “Studio Vandersteen, kroniek van een legende 1947-1990” which was published by Roularta Books. It handles the life and work of Willy Vandersteen and is actually a must have in order to understand Vandersteen properly.

So it was just a matter of time before he would also touch that other big flemish comic author Bob De Moor. In 2013 “Bob de Moor. De klare lijn en de golven” was published by Vrijdag.

We talked with Ronald Grossey and to keep it easy for you we also referred here and there to the pages in the book. If you haven’t ordered this book yet, do so now, it’s available right here. A French version is coming up, we’ll inform you via our newsletter when it’s ready for ordering.

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Your chance to co-interview the Bob de Moor biographer Ronald Grossey

5977-1aThe author of the Bob de Moor Biography “De klare lijn en de golven” (Eng: “The clear line and the waves”), Ronald Grossey, will be interviewed for the Bob de Moor Facebook page and website. If you have (a) question(s) for him after reading the book (or perhaps even if you haven’t read it yet), post it below in the comment field. The best will be picked out. Deadline: Sunday 6 April 2014!

The book is still available right here, but be quick.

For your info, Ronald Grossey, scenario writer of many comic series and author of several children books, also wrote the since long sold out 454 page counting book “Studio Vandersteen: Kroniek van legende 1947 – 1990”. That book is now considered to be the bible when it comes to Willy Vandersteen. As we reported before, the Bob de Moor book is also a must have in your book collection!