Dutch comics
Earliest publications 1858 on
Languages Dutch
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European comics

Dutch comics are comics made in the Netherlands. In Dutch the most common designation for the whole art form is "strip", while the word "comic" is used for the (usually) soft cover American style comic book format, usually containing translated US superhero material. This use of the English word for that format could cause confusion in English language texts.

The sharing of a language with part of Belgium has played a part in the importance Franco-Belgian comics acquired on the Dutch market. There could be a point in considering the Flemish and Dutch comics as one group, as they share a lot, but differences are rather easy to identify.

Of course "strip" has a frivolous meaning too, which has been used more than once in promotion material, but it has nothing of a meaning to suggest it is not serious, like "comics" does in English.


The history of Dutch comics goes all the way back to 1493, but the oldest work that is still really part of the public mind in the Netherlands is Mijnheer Prikkebeen, an adaptation of Rodolphe Töpffer's "Monsieur Cryptogame" by J.J.A. Gouverneur in 1858; the book combined Töpffer's pictures with little funny poems describing what happened under it. The black and white text-under-pictures format would dominate the form of comics produced in the Netherlands well into the second half of the 20th century. In humorous and satirical magazines (of which there were about 20 around 1890) illustrations developed to illustrated stories and even stories entirely told in illustrations, with which the art form was already present in the country before the end of the century, but it remained confined to one-shots. The series started in the newspapers, with in 1919 the (reputedly) first Dutch newspaper comic: Yorbje en Achmed. The first success was "Jopie Slim en Dikkie Bigmans"(originally "Billy Bimbo and Peter Porker") in De Telegraaf in 1921, originally published by the London Evening News. As a reaction many papers got their own comics produced either in the Netherlands, or imported. Rupert Bear is an example of such an import becoming a sort of icon for a paper. In 1922 the first Dutch popular stars appeared: "Bulletje en Boonestaak" their socialist engaged series was published into 1937 (as seen in them going to the London Evening News to beat up (rightwing) Jopie Slim and Dikkie Bigmans). Their series was the first Dutch series to be translated into German (1924) and French (1926). Later that year the first Dutch comics magazine came on the market. They did not last long, but were not the last ones either. Others followed, with both home products and (Anglo)-American imports. The use of imported characters in comics produced in the Netherlands was not very unusual. The German occupation in 1940 prevented further Anglo-American imports and led initially to a greater production of native material. Nazi censorship and paper shortage worked to the detriment of the comics field, but the period still gave birth to Dick Bos and the "Beeldroman".

After liberation the publication of comics boomed, initially mostly in picture novel format, which was followed in the late 1940s by the anti-comics furor, which did hardly or not include the newspaper comic strips. The 1950s saw the truly Dutch comics and the arrival of Donald Duck on the Dutch scene. The 1960s were the time of the magazines and the first US-superheroes. The mid 1970s were the start of the decline of the comics magazines, which continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Nowadays the market is fragmented: there are always imports, the small press circuit, the reprints, the online comics and Donald Duck and whatsoever is the latest rage for kids, the great names still active, but as it always has been the art form is alive and kicking, with kicking to be understood as being engaged in politics and society in a rather outspoken way.


Dutch school

A format not unique to the Netherlands but so common there that it got the designation "Hollandse school". It consists of a strip of pictures (usually without any text in it) under which a block of text tells the story again, usually with so much detail that it might well be possible to enjoy the story without the pictures, but often the pictures and text complement each other. Famous series in this format are: Bulletje en Boonestaak, Tom Puss, Oliver B. Bumble (not limited to this format, and published on a large scale with the pics very small), Kapitein Rob, Eric de Noorman and Pa Pinkelman(republished even completely without any pictures!), as well as Rechter Tie (Judge Dee). The series appeared usually in newspapers first, after which usually collected editions were published (oblong). Later many stories were republished in books or albums, some of them are republished still.

Picture novel ("Beeldroman")

A format born out of paper scarcity in WW II. The booklets are small (about the size of a box of cigarettes) and have usually one picture on every page. The first, most famous, longest running and last series in this format is Dick Bos, which explains that "Dick Bos boekje (=booklet)" became a synnonym for the format. This format got the worst of the Dutch equivalent of the Wertham craze. The Dutch name of the format has been used as translation for graphic novel as well.

Oblong books

Booklets in which newspaper comic strips were collected in a more or less unchanged form, giving them their characteristic shape. Heroes in these books were rather civilian, they often married in the run of their adventures, had a job like king, engineer or captain of a ship, got children, with other words mostly keeping the traditional family values unchallenged in a rather fantastic setting. As the anti-comics craze in the Netherlands did not have the newspaper comic as target, these booklets prepublished in Newspapers, were mostly accepted as OK too.

Comic book

The comic book as format (akin to the US format), for Dutch comics came into being when the picture novels disappeared as a result of the craze against them. It lasted for some time, but disappeared.


Nowadays most published comics are published in albums, akin to France and Belgium. Comics albums are considered the equivalents of books, and unlike magazines, they have no cover date and are often reprinted.

Comic Magazines

Dutch comics magazines use(d) to have a cover of the same paper as the rest of the magazine, they tended to be rather anthology like, with several short stories and/or episodes from long ones. Many of those stories were collected and reprinted in the album format. It is/was rather common for the magazines to contain a mix of Dutch made and imported stories.


Styles vary wildly in Dutch comics, from masters of realism like Hans G. Kresse to the semi-realism of Jean Dulieu, to the more charicatural "ligne claire" artists like Peter de Smet to the wild style of Hein de Kort. There is no real "Dutch" drawing style, there are just the styles of individual Dutch artists.

Famous series

Famous artists

External links

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