Tag Archives: Willy Vandersteen

2 more ‘Help Sinterklaas’ cartoons by Bob De Moor surface

In December 2016 this site published an article titled “Sinterklaas with Bob De Moor in 1960” showing a cartoon which was published in the daily Het Nieuws van den Dag of 2 November 1960 (and which Yves Kerremans sent to us).

The drawing in that article depicts Sinterklaas on a roof full of antenna and 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. But I always wondered whether there were some other drawings by De Moor for that charity due to the date the cartoon was published (there was still time before the actual 6th of December, the day when Saint Nicholas actually visits the children).

A few weeks ago Peter Van Hooydonck informed that he had found some more of these drawings, namely in issues of the daily Het Nieuws van den Dag. The ones he found were dated November 23 and November 26/27 1960.

The one from November 23 1960 shows a father and mother looking at a destroyed (exploded) chimney and roof saying: “De Sint moest toch geen tanks brengen voor onze Jan!” (Dutch for: “The Saint was not supposed to bring tanks for Jan!”).

2 more 'Help Sinterklaas' cartoons surface

The second drawing, from the weekend newspaper of November 26/27 1960, shows an angel ready to push the button to launch a rocket (filled with presents) shaped in the form of Saint Nicholas’ miter. Notice that the legs of the rocket are clearly inspired by the rocket from the “Destination Moon”/”Explorers on the Moon” Tintin albums.

2 more 'Help Sinterklaas' cartoons surface

Below is the drawing we could find in Het Nieuws van den Dag of 2 November 1960.

Sinterklaas with Bob De Moor in 1960

Thanks to Peter Van Hooydonck for the great detective work!

Sinterklaas with Bob De Moor in 1960

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 :).

Sinterklaas with Bob De Moor in 1960

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!

Johan De Moor pays tribute to Bob De Moor’s Balthazar for the upcoming Comic Strip Festival in Brussels (02-04/09)

From September 2 through September 4 you can visit the Brussels Comic Strip Festival in the Brussels park.

The festival has been celebrating comics of all kinds in Brussels since 2010, and welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year. Young or old, amateur or specialist, there is always something for everyone among the many activities on offer.

For the 2016 edition, the Brussels park will be hosting comic museums, dozens of publishing houses, exhibitions, book shops, comic sellers, conferences, workshops and hundreds of authors signings. The Brussels Comic Strip Festival also includes a night-time show at Brussels Park, the Balloon’s Day Parade, the Comic Strip Festival’s Rally, comic strip exhibitions and activities throughout the city.

From September 2 through September 4 you can visit the Brussels Comic Strip Festival in the Brussels park. The festival has been celebrating comics of all kinds in Brussels since 2010, and welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year. Young or old, amateur or specialist, there is always something for everyone among the many activities on offer. For the 2016 edition, the Brussels park will be hosting comic museums, dozens of publishing houses, exhibitions, book shops, comic sellers, conferences, workshops and hundreds of authors signings. The Brussels Comic Strip Festival also includes a night-time show at Brussels Park, the Balloon's Day Parade, the Comic Strip Festival’s Rally, comic strip exhibitions and activities throughout the city. We have been there for the past few years and it's always a delight meeting authors, publishers and friends. For Bob De Moor fans, there is a big chance you'll be able to complete your collection there as there are always shops present which also cater to the more 'conservative' comic strip fans. But, let's get back to Bob De Moor, or more precisely his son Johan De Moor who has completed the official artwork for the Festival's posters. On the poster we not only Tintin, the Smurfs, Ric Hochet, Thorgal, the Chevalier Ardent, etc., but also Balthazar. I'm sure you will recognise a lot other characters including a reference to Willy Vandersteen ("De schat van Beersel"). We all know that especially Balthazar is one of Johan's favourite characters, so that doesn't come as a surprise. Quite a nice poster this one is!

We have been there for the past few years and it’s always a delight meeting authors, publishers and friends. For Bob De Moor fans, there is a big chance you’ll be able to complete your collection there as there are always shops present which also cater to the more ‘conservative’ comic strip fans.

From September 2 through September 4 you can visit the Brussels Comic Strip Festival in the Brussels park. The festival has been celebrating comics of all kinds in Brussels since 2010, and welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year. Young or old, amateur or specialist, there is always something for everyone among the many activities on offer. For the 2016 edition, the Brussels park will be hosting comic museums, dozens of publishing houses, exhibitions, book shops, comic sellers, conferences, workshops and hundreds of authors signings. The Brussels Comic Strip Festival also includes a night-time show at Brussels Park, the Balloon's Day Parade, the Comic Strip Festival’s Rally, comic strip exhibitions and activities throughout the city. We have been there for the past few years and it's always a delight meeting authors, publishers and friends. For Bob De Moor fans, there is a big chance you'll be able to complete your collection there as there are always shops present which also cater to the more 'conservative' comic strip fans. But, let's get back to Bob De Moor, or more precisely his son Johan De Moor who has completed the official artwork for the Festival's posters. On the poster we not only Tintin, the Smurfs, Ric Hochet, Thorgal, the Chevalier Ardent, etc., but also Balthazar. I'm sure you will recognise a lot other characters including a reference to Willy Vandersteen ("De schat van Beersel"). We all know that especially Balthazar is one of Johan's favourite characters, so that doesn't come as a surprise. Quite a nice poster this one is!But, let’s get back to the subject of this article. Johan De Moor has completed the official artwork for the Festival’s posters (thanks to Alain Demaret for the info). On the poster we not only find the characters such as TintinSmurfette, Ric Hochet, Thorgal, the Chevalier Ardent, etc., but also Balthazar. Yep, that funny abstract character which De Moor developed in 1975. We all know that especially Balthazar is one of Johan’s favourite characters, so that doesn’t come as a surprise.

I’m sure you will recognise a lot other characters including a reference to Willy Vandersteen (“De schat van Beersel”). Quite a nice poster this one is!

Working hard with Bob De Moor in 1949

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.

Page 30 of "De Koene Edelman - Het Heilige Leven Van Johannes Baptista De La Salle".
Page 30 of “De Koene Edelman – Het Heilige Leven Van Johannes Baptista De La Salle”.

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.

Gag 107 of "De Lustige Kapoentjes".
Gag 107 of “De Lustige Kapoentjes”.

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”).

Page 15 of "Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd".
Page 15 of “Het Halsnoer met de Groene Smaragd”.

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.

Page 10 of "De Slaven van de Keizer".
Page 10 of “De Slaven van de Keizer”.

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.

Expect some more of this pearls in the future!

The test drawing for the 1973 version of ‘De Leeuw van Vlaanderen’

In July 1973, Bob De Moor would see his “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen” (after the historical novel written by the Flemish writer Hendrik Conscience in 1838) reissued in the CISO series, namely as CISO 13. For the occasion Bob De Moor completed a different front cover than the one used for the 1952 original and later versions, even post 1973 (such as the De Dageraad version from 1984 which was yet another version). What many don’t know however is that he first created various miniature covers, mostly in black and white, which in themselves are real pearls. But in the collection of Olivier Marin we found a test drawing, in colour…

You can see the different layers in the test drawing.
You can see the different layers in the test drawing.

The drawing itself is quite small, more or less 15 cm x 10cm, but what especially caught my attention was the fact that De Moor had completed the drawing using cut out layers. On the left we have added a picture taken from such an angle that you can see these layers. If you look carefully, you will see that the drawing exist of 3 different layers.

The first, ground layer, represents a whole lot of goedendags next to a big lion, which stands for Flanders.

The complete test version.
The complete test version.

A goedendag was a weapon originally used by the militias of Medieval Flanders in the 14th century, notably during the Franco-Flemish War (also the theme of “De Leeuw van Vlaanderen”). The goedendag was essentially a combination of a club with a spear. Its body was a wooden staff roughly five feet (150 cm) long with a diameter of roughly four inches (10 cm). It was wider at one end, and at this end a sharp metal spike was inserted by a tang. The name “goedendag” derives from Dutch meaning “good day”, with reference to the Bruges Matins massacre in 1302, at which the guildsmen of Bruges purportedly took over the city by greeting people in the streets, and murdering anyone who answered with a French accent. The Flemish themselves referred to the weapon as a “spiked staff” (gepinde staf). Another theory is that it’s related to Germanic/English “dagger”, so instead of “good day” it may have meant “good dagger”. “Dag(ger)” isn’t used anymore in current Dutch, while “goedendag” is still correct in current Dutch as “good day”.

The commercially available version from 1973.
The commercially available version from 1973.

The second layer shows the Flemish soldiers, ready to attack the French oppressors. And on the front row, the 3rd layer, we see Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Both protagonists have often been portrayed as patriotic heroes in Flanders because of their passion for Flemish identity. Flemish nationalists credit them with ensuring the survival of the Dutch language in the northern part of Belgium.

But there are several differences with the final version. First of all, as you can see, the test version shows CISO 15 (that would later be Willy Vandersteen‘s Ridder Gloriana’s “De Staalblauwe Boeddha” in the CISO series). Bob De Moor would also change the lettering as used for the title. Plus the subtitle as put in the bottom of the drawing would change from “Het epos van 1302 naar het boek van H. Conscience” to simply “De Slag der Gulden Sporen”. Furthermore you will see that the style of this test drawing and the final drawing is quite different. Where the test drawing is a more sketchy approach, with very warm colours, the final cover artwork turned out to be cold offering a (over?)purified drawing style which he would later improve for the Cori albums from 1979 on. The colours in the final versions are, let’s be honest, rather boring and miss the warmth and depth from the test drawing. Other differences include a different axe in Breydel’s right hand, the missing hand of de Coninck on the left shoulder of Breydel, a few different helmets and slightly differently drawn goedendags.

Bob De Moor was a welcome guest in the CISO series under the editorial control of Danny de Laet. CISO 8 for instance had already seen the publication of another Bob De Moor chef-d’oeuvre, namely “De Kerels van Vlaanderen”.

Bob De Moor pays tribute to his drinking buddy Willy Vandersteen in 1990

On Wednesday August 29th the Flemish newspaper De Morgen published a series of article around Willy Vandersteen who had died the day before. On page 5 of the Focus extra they also published an article about Bob De Moor‘s friendship with Willy Vandersteen plus a cartoon Bob De Moor had made the day before for the occasion.

Willy Vandersteen (15 February 1913 – 28 August 1990) was a Belgian creator of comic books and is best known for Suske en Wiske (published in English as Spike and Suzy). His career spanned 50 years during which he created a large studio and published more than 1,000 comic albums in over 25 series, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide. Hergé even called him “The Brueghel of the comic strip”.

The 1990 tribute to his friend Willy Vandersteen.
The 1990 tribute to his friend Willy Vandersteen.

In the article itself Bob De Moor says that Vandersteen has been a big influence for him when he started out as a comic artist. The article also relates how De Moor was asked to join the Vandersteen Studio, which he declined as he wanted to work for the Hergé Studios. It’s no surprise that the article also includes some lines on how Hergé has had a big influence on the work of Willy Vandersteen. It resulted in what would be Vandersteen’s best albums, also known as the blue series with such albums as “Het Spaanse Spook”, “Het Geheim van de Gladiatoren”, “Het Gouden Paard” and so on. Bob De Moor also says that with the death of Willy Vandersteen he has lost a very good friend with whom he usually went out drinking until very early in the morning.

That latter detail from their friendship is also shown in the cartoon Bob De Moor made, and which we show you today. The drawing shows De Moor and Willy Vandersteen (disguised as the Spanish Ghost) having a drink. Bob De Moor says: “You need to come and haunt us a bit more often Willy, then we can have a drink like in the good old times of the Gard Civic!” The Gard Civic was the jazzclub-to-be in Antwerp situated at the Stadswaag, but it no longer exists. However, it’s clear that both men were regulars at the establishment.

The name of the pub referred to Garde Civique or Burgerwacht which was a Belgian militia created in October 1830 shortly after the Belgian Revolution. As a formation, it acted as a quasi-military “gendarmarie”, with the primary role of maintaining social order within Belgium until its disestablishment in 1920.

But let’s continue to check this cartoon. If you look well, you can also see a jug of beer called “Geuze Lambik” standing on the ground next to Bob De Moor. It’s a wordplay referring to the Gueuze beer (or Geuze) which is a type of lambic, a Belgian beer (lambic being replaced with Lambik, the Flemish name of a character in the Spike and Suzy stories). Good to know, Vandersteen based the name on… Gueuze Lambic, the beer he loved so much. And the circle is round.

Artec Studios’ hidden collaborators: Mon Van Meulenbroeck (part 2)

A few days ago you could read an article on the work Armand “Mon” Van Meulenbroeck did for Artec Studios, the company founded by Bob De Moor and John Van Looveren. Today we present you another comic which has always been attributed to Bob De Moor, but which is not by Bob De Moor at all: Tim & Tom.

Up until today people claim this is Bob De Moor's work.
Up until today people claim this is Bob De Moor’s work.

The page scan we present you today comes from an issue of the 1949 (another source indicates it was published in 1951) edition of the weekly youth journal ‘t Kapoentje. The comic series is called ‘Tim en Tom’ and the story is called “Tim en Tom erven een Kasteel” (“Tim and Tom inherit a Castle”) and this story has always been said to be by Bob De Moor in many publications (with some writers saying that “one can clearly recognize the Hergé-esque influences…” Really?). Weird, because it doesn’t take much time for anyone familiar with the work of Bob De Moor (or drawing as a matter of fact) to raise a few question marks when seeing this page. The style as used in the drawings has close to nothing in common with what Bob De Moor drew around that time. It also showed some very clumsy drawing (shoes, hands, …) which – although Bob De Moor was working at speed tempo around that time – you would not expect from him. But, the story did come from the Artec studios, you can see the Artec Studios signature on the second strip, and that for instance led to the people from Stripofiel claiming that ‘Tim en Tom’ was by Bob De Moor in their issue nr. 8 from 1974. Danny De Laet – who first also attributed the series to Bob De Moor, rectified his judgement in “De Vlaamse Strip Auteurs” (published by De Dageraad in 1982) on page 43 saying that the ‘Tim en Tom’ story was “definitely not by Bob De Moor”.

An almost sure thing is that the drawings were made by a flemish comic author, the use of ‘ge’ (flemish for ‘you’) was never used in the Netherlands for instance. It’s also seems to be a one-off story which was published in both KZV and in t’ Kapoentje, but which seems to have been interrupted only to be continued in Het Wekelijkse Nieuws. So it doesn’t seem like it that the editorial staff of ‘t Kapoentje were all that happy about the result of the work.

But who was the artist then behind this ‘Tim en Tom’ then? John Van Looveren possibly was the storyteller (he did love the castle theme a lot), but who made the graphics? Armand “Mon” Van Meulenbroeck comes to mind (again), after all, he was the only comic artist ever to be paid by Artec Studios next to Bob De Moor. Compare the first case in the unfinished drawing in this article with the second case in the first strip of today’s scan and you will see a few similarities. But as a whole, it’s a mixed bag of influences; you’ll will recognize a Willy Vandersteen touch (see the postman) next to a not so well executed Hergé imitation.

If you ask us, Bob De Moor didn’t provide rough sketches for this series like he did for the cartoon series we talked about. The series is far from being a graphic chef d’oeuvre, but as a historical document it serves its purpose rather well. After all, the few years that the Artec Studios were active, represented a very important milestone in the history of the flemish comic scene, whether it was Bob De Moor or not making the drawings.

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.

Bob De Moor and Tibet helped Willy Vandersteen to complete second album T(h)ijl Uilenspiegel

On August 4 you could already read how Bob De Moor was asked to help out the Vandersteen heirs when in 1991 a republication of the Tijl Uilenspiegel story “Opstand der Geuzen” via the Standaard Uitgeverij was imminent. As we explained in that article 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 redrew both pages plus the cover artwork.

The cover as drawn by Willy Vandersteen for the Tintin weekly but inked by Bob De Moor.
The cover as drawn by Willy Vandersteen for the Tintin weekly but inked by Bob De Moor.

Today we continue with Bob De Moor‘s involvement in Willy Vandersteen‘s Tijl Uilenspiegel, but this time way back in time. It’s the year 1953 and after the success of the first story, “Opstand der Geuzen”, Tintin publisher Raymond Leblanc asks Vandersteen to create a follow-up story. Small detail, initially artistic director Hergé was against publishing this second chapter. But nevertheless two weeks after the final page was published of “Opstand der Geuzen”, a new story started, “Fort Oranje”.

But unlike Bob De Moor who by then enjoyed his job at the Hergé Studio (despite still continuing the daily comic Snoe & Snolleke for the daily newspaper De Nieuwe Gids for instance), Vandersteen was still undergoing the deadly daily publishing deadline for the De Standaard/Het Nieuwsblad newspapers in which he published Spike and Suzy (“De tamtamkloppers”, “De knokkersburcht”, “Het geheim van de gladiatoren”, “De circusbaron”, …). On top of that came his weekly Spike and Suzy pages for the Tintin weekly (“Goud voor Rome” / “Le Gladiateur – mystère”). So it doesn’t take rocket science to see that such a publication rhythm was simply a bit too much, even for Willy ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Vandersteen. Some helping hands were needed.

He asked 2 Belgians working at the Tintin weekly for help: his friend and colleague Bob De Moor and french speaking Tibet (Rik Ringers, Chick Bill). Both accepted. We know for sure that Bob De Moor inked the cover of “Fort Oranje” (the one from the Tintin weekly because the album cover as you know it was created in 1955 and Bob De Moor was not involved in the creation of that one). We write ‘inked’ because it is often said on fora etc. that De Moor has also drawn the cover, which is not true. Besides inking the cover he also helped on the decors for that same album. It’s close to impossible to trace back who did what in that album, so we will leave it up to your imagination. But make sure to check the way the trees, bushes and plants have been drawn and compare these to the plants you can find in for instance the first Cori album (Ciso 18). You’ll notice quite some similarities. And since the story has quite a lot of ships featured it’s not unthinkable that Bob De Moor also worked on those too.

It’s being said here and there that Karel Verschuere also collaborated on this album. However Ronald Grossey’s Willy Vandersteen biography “Studio Vandersteen – Kroniek van een legende 1947-1990” only names Bob De Moor and Tibet as having worked on this second Tijl Uilenspiegel album. Since all protagonists are dead, we will never know for sure of course.

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.