Since 2010 I got to make comics for student magazine H/Link, periodical of the The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Alas, the paper is folding now – the magazine will continue in cyberspace, but no longer with my comic.
So it’s time to look back at four years of student life and the woes and fortunes of Fenneke, Dave, Fatima, George and their teacher Johan.
This was the first comic, which appeared in the autumn of 2010:
Student Dave was the most carefree of the lot – he devoted most of his time to his sports:
While Fatima tended to be daunted a bit by the demands of the educational system:
Fenneke and international student George found out they had special interest in each other (this strip I have posted earlier this year in my Valentine blog):
And their somewhat disillusioned teacher Johan struggled through classes as well:
It was great fun to come up with new stories for this cast, and often the editor of H/Link tipped me on issues that were going at school.
Such as communication troubles at the helpdesk:
The installation of new printers and the influx of new students after another school had been discredited:
The new canteen:
The scandal of the USB-fraud:
And the evacuation after a power outage:
The cast grew into older years and welcomed new students:
And even George adapted nicely to this foreign environment:
It’s kind of fitting that the strip ran for four years, just as long as their studies would have taken them. So I ended the run of the H/Link-strip with their graduation and farewell:
Thanks H/Link and The Hague University! It has been a pleasure. And goodbye for now, Fenneke, Dave, George, Fatima and Johan! Who knows, they’ll pop up in another incarnation some day…
In my earlier blog about the life of Dutch King William I I showed my comic about his youth – now we skip to his adolescence. He had pretty rough teenage years, with war looming all around and a very indecisive and incompetent father who eventually fled the country. Here’s the comic I did about that memorable flight, by boat to England, on a cold wintery day in 1795.
This event has been portrayed in many contemporary drawings – here’s one of them:
The middle figure is William’s father, also called William (but the fifth instead of the first, as his son would be – yes, it’s all a bit confusing but logical when you know that William’s father was the fifth stadholder and Willem Junior declared himself the first King).
William V was a pudgy, decadent and incapable man – even with the artistic flattery of the day this is what he looked like:
The comic panel I made is part of a traveling exhibition assigned by Museum Meermanno in The Hague.
Last week, Dutch astronaut and innovator Wubbo Ockels died at the age of 68. This came as a shock to everyone of my generation who sat glued to the TV screen as a child in 1985, when he went into space. The day after I heard the news, I made this comic:
These pages will be part of the new book I’m working on, World Domination: a Discovery in Comics.
Today is the 142nd birthday of famous philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell. He is the one who undermined the indisputability of logic by posing his famous Paradox, which I drew in my book Science: a Discovery in Comics as follows:
If you really want to get into Bertrand Russell though, you should read Logicomix, which is an excellent graphic novel about Russell’s life and work, as well as about the making of a graphic novel about logic.
The point of Russell’s Paradox is that it is unsolvable, and therefore questions the base of logic – but if this were a riddle, I’d answer that the barber must be a woman.
(which goes to prove, I guess, that in the nineteenth century the idea of a woman shaving men’s beards went against all logic)
This year and the next, The Netherlands celebrate their 200th anniversary as a Kingdom. Museum Meermanno asked me to make ten panels about the life of William I, first King of The Netherlands, responsible for the (first) constitution. Last week, these panels were officially revealed in the Public Library in The Hague, and after 2nd of June they will travel to different libraries all across the country.
The panels turned out great: they are big, 120 x 80 cm, and consist of my comic, Yiri’s colors and an explanatory text by historian Marc Kleijnen. At the same time, text and comics have been published in a cool glossy magazine that has been distributed in schools.
Here is the first panel in translation, about William’s youth:
William’s teacher Leonhard Euler also makes an appearance in my book Science: a Discovery in Comics. He was a brilliant mathematician, and gave the world the most beautiful formula ever conceived:
If you are a Dutch library interested in having the panels as an exposition, or a school wanting to purchase the magazine (cheap!), please contact Museum Meermanno.
I’m very proud to announce that my longest running comic character, Mijntje or Minnie as I’ve called her in english, is out now as a digital comic – the first of a series, containing both old material dating back as far as 2004, and completely new never-seen-before adventures.
For people who know me solely from my educational graphic novels Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics – my Minnie comic is something completely different: these are one-page gag comics with lesbian/bisexual themes, and sometimes feature nudity or even (oh dear) full on girl-on-girl sex. There is one huge similarity with my other works though: Minnie is definitely educational.
Mijntje started in 2004 when I was still a budding comic artist, hoping for an opportunity to start a regular 1-page comic in a magazine so I could really develop a character with a background story, friends & family. This opportunity came when someone tipped me that lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij was looking for a new comic artist.
After a short briefing by editor Maria van Oosten on what she was looking for in a comic (aimed at younger audience, including bisexuals, not just lesbians), the figure of Mijntje entered my brain like a redheaded hurricane, fully fledged – there was no struggle in defining her character or appearance, it was like she had always been out there, waiting for a chance to lodge herself in my drawing hand.
Sometimes comics write themselves like that and it’s a wonderful experience, like floating. Mijntje’s comics have never been hard to write, I just have to think up a situation and Mijntje-in-my-head automatically dictates the dialogue.
I called her Mijntje because “mijn” means “mine”, and she’s been mine from the very start.
With Mijntje came her girlfriend Mia, who’s a bit more level-headed, introverted and loyal, and they’ve been together ever since the beginning. Sure, I’ve given them some challenges with Mijntje’s loose behavior, and I toyed with the idea of inflicting a break-up on them, but I didn’t have the heart. The worst they had was a full-on crisis after Mijntje slept with another girl – I made that into one long story, drawn on 24-hour comics day in 2006, it’s been unpublished up until now but will appear in Minnie’s second issue.
In Minnie #1 I have gathered some of the early stories: Minnie’s break-up with her boyfriend Ruben, the first real sex with Mia, her coming out with her mother and at her work, Minnie meeting Mia’s two lesbian mothers. The issue starts with a 3-page story that I recently drew, about Minnie as a little girl. Two pages of this story appeared in magazine Zij aan Zij, along with an interview with me, to celebrate Mijntje’s Tenth Anniversary.
I’m extra thrilled that Minnie is out as a comic now because after 2006, when I made a small booklet containing the first 15 comics, there have been many plans to publish more of her adventures – but they all fell flat. It wasn’t until last year, when Northwest Press published ten Minnie-pages in the anthology Anything That Loves: comics beyond gay and straight, that a way opened up to this international leap. Publisher Zan Christensen of Northwest Press is giving her and me this wonderful digital opportunity, and I hope Minnie will reach many new readers this way.
One of the comics in this issue I’ve made into a Videoscribe – you can see it by clicking on this picture:
Click on the picture and it will take you to the YouTube video:
I’m pretty proud of this. I used Sparkol Videoscribe to make it, a program that’s perfect for my kind of bring-your-comics-to-life animation.
The duration is just under five and a half minutes, which is an eternity on the internet – but I calculated that if I had done the timeline of the earth on the same scale as I did the Middle Ages (a thousand years in three and a half minutes), this animation would have been 30 years.
Yes, THIRTY YEARS!
Foreign book publications always remain a bit imaginary and abstract to me – until the moment the book actually arrives and I can hold it physically in my hands. Today, a package from Korea arrived with not one but TWO of my titles: Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics!
They look GREAT!
They have actual dust jackets, and underneath the cover is stylishly minimal:
The inside looks great, too! It’s very weird though, to see my drawings combined with a language I absolutely do not understand. Nice weird.
Thank you, Bulkwang Publishing and of course the Amo Agency, who acted as an in-between.
A long time ago, following in the footsteps of my parents, I chose to study theology, and I even graduated – so it’s only by a happy quirk of fate that I’m a comic artist now and not a minister in some faraway parish… Thank God!
Maybe somewhere, in a parallel universe, I DID become Reverend De Heer after all. I’m exploring the alternative life I could be leading in this comic I’m making for the Dutch Protestant Church Ministers Union Magazine:
(The “picturesque parish of Brokkenhoek” is a spoof on the actual village of Okkenbroek, where I grew up. The church and rectory as I draw them are exactly the same as the church my father was minister of and the house we lived in – only mirrored)
I’m actually quite enjoying drawing my parallel life.
Although, if I had become a minister, my title would probably rather be: “Irreverend De Heer”.