Tag Archives: Standaard Uitgeverij

1954 Snoe en Snolleke album ‘De zwarte draak’ finally to be released in original version in 2015

Good news reaches us from the Brabant Strip headquarters. The team behind Brabant Strip have been able to find the original newspaper clippings of the 1954 Snoe and Snolleke story “De zwarte draak” (“The black dragon”) during a foray at the Vossenplein in Brussels.

Notice the difference in language in both versions.
Notice the difference in language in both versions.

This re-edition is important for many reasons. First of all, as you probably know, the original version of this story as published in De Nieuwe Gids (and related newspapers) from 12 October 1953 until 30 January 1954 was in a flemish dutch. That very cosy language got annihilated when the Casterman and Standaard Uitgeverij re-editions replaced it by a dutch which was way too much ‘dutchified’. Both editors (and especially their translator) seemed to have forgotten that Snoe and Snolleke were Flemish and not Dutch to start with.

Next, we also showed you in the past that a lot of drawings for these re-editions were adapted because they were printed in colour. A move which makes sense. Also, some drawings were completely changed as you can see here and in the case of this upcoming album, no less than 4 strips were missing in the final re-edition (it’s not sure why these 4 strips were not included, perhaps Bob De Moor didn’t find them useful enough or the originals were missing or it simply wouldn’t have fit in the 46 pages that were planned for the album version – we’ll update this when we find more info). Brabant Strip will edit this album in black & white in its Fenix Collection including the 4 missing strips. On the left you can see an example of the newspaper clipping versus the version as edited by Standaard Uitgeverij.

Note that the re-furbished “De zwarte draak” was originally supposed to be published by Casterman in 1989, but in the end it was Standaard Uitgeverij which would edit it in 1993. 22 years later we now will finally also have the original version in black & white!

And that’s not all, it seems like it that also the newspaper clippings from the “Het Geheim van Vulcania”, the follow-up album from 1954, have been retrieved. Also these ones will be released in album format, in 2016. Until now only a poor photocopy bootleg version of the album was being sold here and there.

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.

Another insight in the color preparation of the Johan & Stephane (Snoe & Snolleke) album ‘De Gele Spion’

UPDATE: Pierre Gay worked on these particular pages. We added his comments.

Between 1987 and 1994 Boogaloo, Casterman, Rijperman, and the Standaard Uitgeverij would re-release 8 Johan & Stefaan (Snoe & Snolleke) albums in color. As we reported already a while back, this coloring included redrawing as well as you can see in this earlier article on “De Gele Spion”, some weird Dutch phrases and words plus brand new covers.

The strips 117-120 from "De gele spion"
The strips 117-120 from “De gele spion”

Today we show you 2 more plates which were adapted by Bob De Moor for a release in color, again from the 1954 story “De Gele Spion”. The pages we show you today include the strips 117-120 and 125-128. As you can see on the first 4 strips the whitening Bob De Moor‘s assistent Pierre Gay applied didn’t only serve to get rid of the black shadows and decors but also to detail people in the front which he originally added in total black (see the last case of strip 118 for instance or the first case of strip 119). He also removed the original strip numbering and wrote them again on in pencil on the border of the pages.

Pierre Gay – the last artist to be hired at the Studio Hergé – worked on this particular pages and recalls: “This is a job I have done (the adaptation). All what you see in bright white used to be inked in black, to look like shadows on the black and white release. The idea was to draw over these shadows to get details for the color release of 1986 (Editor’s note: the album was released in color in 1987). The texts were masked under white parts of paper glued onto them for bilingual versions. The “dirty” marks on the texts are remains of glue.”

As we remarked already, some collectors have restored similar pages in their original form, not all that difficult since the white paint is soluble in water.

The strips 125-128 from "De gele spion"
The strips 125-128 from “De gele spion”

Note that the Dutch version of “De Gele Spion”, although announced for a 1988 release in color in Dutch via Casterman, was only released in French in color in 1987 via the Casterman distributed Boogaloo imprint. As a result Brabant Strip released it in 2004 in their Fenix Collection, the original black and white one in Dutch (à la Bob De Moor) that is with the black still intact. Another album, “De rode caballero” also never saw the day of light in color in Dutch, although prepared and announced by Casterman in 1989. “De zwarte draak” was announced by Casterman but in the end released 4 years later via Standaard Uitgeverij.

The list of (un)released albums in color in Dutch:

  • De gele spion (Casterman – 1988) announced but never released in Dutch
  • Het haatserum (Casterman – 1989)
  • De sigaren van koningin Thia (Casterman – 1989)
  • De schat van Baekelandt (Casterman – 1989)
  • De zondebokken (Casterman – 1989)
  • De rode caballero (Casterman – 1989) announced but never released in Dutch
  • De zwarte draak (Casterman – 1989) announced but never released
  • De zwarte draak (Standaard Uitgeverij – 1993)
  • Het geheim van Vulcania (Standaard Uitgeverij – 1993)
  • De schele zilvervos (Standaard Uitgeverij – 1994)

Bob De Moor as ghost artist for a reissue of Willy Vandersteen’s ‘Tijl Uilenspiegel’ in 1991

Here’s a detail from the career of Bob De Moor which is not that well known. Online for instance there is no single website mentioning this. But here you have all the details. We expect this story to develop further so a follow-up story will most probably happen.

The cover as drawn by Willy Vandersteen
The cover as drawn by Willy Vandersteen

All starts in 1949. That year the comic adaption of Hendrik Conscience‘ “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen” by Bob De Moor is published in the flemish edition of the Tintin weekly, Kuifje. One of the readers is extremely impressed: Willy Vandersteen, the father of Spike and Suzy. He wouldn’t be the only one being impressed by De Moor’s work, also Hergé was. 2 years it was Vandersteen’s turn to show what he was capable off when Karel Van Milleghem – the chief editor of the Kuifje weekly and a flemish nationalist – asked Vandersteen to create a historical comic based on a flemish hero.

Willy Vandersteen decided to go for a comic based on Tijl Uilenspiegel aka Till Eulenspiegel, an impudent trickster figure originating in Middle Low German folklore, namely in Germany, Denmark, the Low Countries, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy. For the ‘petite histoire’, Tijl Uilenspiegel made his main entrance in English-speaking culture late in the nineteenth century as Owlglass, but was first mentioned in English literature by Ben Jonson in his comedic play “The Alchemist” or even earlier – Owleglasse – by Henry Porter in “The Two Angry Women of Abington” (1599). But Vandersteen’s Tijl Uilenspiegel was based on the 1867 novel by Charles De Coster, “De Legende van Uilenspiegel”.

Page 40 as drawn by Willy Vandersteen
Page 40 as drawn by Willy Vandersteen

He wouldn’t stick to just that novel so for the first album Vandersteen chose to go for setting based on the “Eighty Years’ War” or “Dutch War of Independence” (1568–1648). The story started in the Kuifje weekly on September 26 1951, a special issue celebrating the 5th anniversary of the weekly. The story was called “Opstand der Geuzen” and was an immediate success not in the least by the way of drawing which reminds of the detailed way of working he also used for the (golden) period Spike and Suzy were published in the Tintin weekly.

Not surprisingly Leblanc asked Vandersteen to continue the series. But you’ll learn more on the follow-up album in another article when we show you how Bob De Moor was involved there as well.

Today we’ll focus on that very first story because Bob De Moor was asked to help out the Vandersteen heirs when in 1991 a republication of the story via the Standaard Uitgeverij was imminent. De Moor’s help was needed because the Vandersteen studios could no longer locate the original drawings of the pages 39 and 40 and also lost the artwork of the cover. Bob De Moor at that time saw his Johan & Stefan re-published via the Standaard Uitgeverij.

Page 40 as drawn by Bob De Moor
Page 40 as drawn by Bob De Moor

Bob De Moor redrew both pages and while he was at it also corrected frame 2 and 5 on page 40 (can you spot the 2 corrections?). For the rest De Moor stayed extreme faithful to the original drawings. Only here and there you can notice some minor differences. Since the cover artwork was missing Bob De Moor also redrew the cover artwork which was also used for the reprint in the Kuifje weekly in 1991. A trained eye will immediately recognise a typical ‘Cori’ hand for the soldier on the front for instance and there are some more give aways if you look carefully.

The cover as drawn by Bob De Moor
The cover as drawn by Bob De Moor

In that respect Bob De Moor has a lot in common with Dirk Stallaert who nowadays is also ‘recreating’ various album covers for reprints of some of the Vandersteen collection (and other series for which the artwork has been lost overtime). Just like Bob De Moor Dirk Stallaert seems to have no problem to appropriate a certain style.

Bob De Moor and Willy Vandersteen were really good friends, it would result in extra good  family ties later on as we will show. We can only imagine that it must have been with a lot of pride and true friendship that Bob De Moor re-created the work of Willy Vandersteen who died a year earlier, in 1990.

The squint-eyed silver fox cover artwork as it changed overtime

The original cover drawing
The original cover drawing

In 1956 the album “De schele zilvervos” (dutch for”The squint-eyed silver fox”) by Bob de Moor was released. This 4th album in the ‘Nonkel Zigomar, Snoe en Snolleke‘ series has a peculiar twist in the original cover artwork if you compare it to later editions. In the very first artwork (which you can see on the left) you see a fox next to the gunman. In a later version that fox would be replaced by a real squint-eyed fox – the animal also appeared as such in the album. De Moor completely redrew the cover adding more details to the sleigh and to the equipment of both the gunman and Uncle Zigomar.

The reworked version
The reworked version

Note that the later versions saw the dutch tekst rewritten (with less Antwerp-flemish) too. Luckily enough the adaptation kept the flemish character (with a humor that was quite like the one from Willy Vandersteen) very alive. Next to this the pages also underwent a facelift as de Moor was well aware that the stories were from his hectic period when he was working both at the Hergé Studios and also still delivering strips for the daily ‘Nieuws van de dag’. The biography “De klare lijn en de golven” (order here) learns us that Bob de Moor found an assistent, Geert de Sutter, who reworked the pages re-drawing the text balloons (which in the original versions were quite irregular), he also removed the shadow silhouettes in the foreground and replaced them by line drawings. The albums were then published in color by Casterman and Standaard Uitgeverij.

Also noticeable, in the early days the series was called ‘Nonkel Zigomar, Snoe en Snolleke’ whereas later on it would be renamed as ‘Snoe en Snolleke’ and even later would be completely rebranded as ‘Johan en Stefan’ in 1987 (not coincidently the names of 2 of Bob de Moor sons though they never were asked if they were ok with it so it seems).