Spaans Rood

 The new book went to the printer!




Two pages from Spaans Rood

 I've finished my new book, Spaans Rood (Spanish Red) and it is due in November (in The Netherlands and Belgium). Stay tuned!




In preparation

















Planned for autumn 2020, The Smuggler in Arabic (Nool Books).

L'Attentat






































My graphic novel based on the Harry Mulisch book, soon also in a French edition.

Jungle River Boat - new exotica mix

I've been a long time collector of exotica records. Here are forgotten and obscure tracks in a mix I did inspired by Love in times of cholera.



Recorded from 78rpm

dennis farnon - a casual affair/don banks - revolutionary research 1/frank rothman - jazz mysterioso/steve race - sioux night ride/don banks - revolutionary research 3/eric delaney - midnight melancholy/dennis farnon - the last voyage/don banks - fear/russ garcia - border trouble/library 78 - african rhythm 1 and 2/nino nardini - melody tropicale/e. sendel - astronautics/Horst Jankowski - haunting melody/library 78 - mallets/dennis farnon - in piper's wood/ralph dollimore - toady/don banks - revolutionary research 2/Ivor Slaney - carrasco/nino nardini - laguna beach/sam fonteyn - design for mambo/Ivor Slaney - jungle flute/don banks - revolutionary research 4/dennis farnon - monday's child/J. Scott - percussion abstraction/wolf droysen - uneasy dream/J. Scott - percussion fast-ride/gert wilden - belly dance/don banks - revolutionary research 5/freddie philips - el souk


The Smuggler: a few influences #3

Zdeněk Burian















If Zdeněk Burian (1905 - 1981, Czechoslovakia) had worked in the comics industry, he would have undoubtedly been employed in the cover-department. Of course Burian did loads of filler illustrations in pen for the books he illustrated, but these are forgettable when compared to the covers and splash pages he did in color or in greys. I think Richard Corben is the only comic artist I know who could do a whole comic book rendered like a cover. 



Here I talked about the Octobriana hoax of 1971, how Burian (and others) became a victim in this Cold War drama and how I used this historical event for my book De Smokkelaar (The smuggler). I dedicated the book to Burian because of how he inspired me when I was a child and because of how heroically he dedicated his life to illustration and how injustly he was treated because of his works inclusion in the hoax. He's the kind of artist you'd better not try to imitate but I can point out a few things I tried to at least incorporate.

 
 
Probably Burians style is best recognized by how his image is build up quite watery and misty. Some of it is as confidently splashed on watery paper as caligraphy from the Far East. The details were then added by applying light on parts and shading. Not only direct light, but all kinds of reflections and dilluted lights. Add to this vividness his sense of drama and the level becomes unreachable for most artists, so trying would be foolish.


In my book De Smokkelaar there are, luckily, quite a few underwater scenes where I could ommit the heavy contours typical for the rest of the book. This allowed for a bit of direct influence.






Burian illustrated classic science fction authors and early 'pulps' and some of his most enigmatic work was for Czech editions of Jules Verne books. His 20.000 leagues underwater is a book one could marvel at for hours on end.




In my book unfortunatetly there are no giant squids. In an earlier illustration for filmmagazine Schokkend Nieuws I did use these creatures.

In passing, there is a little reference to the many books Burian illustrated by the German writer Karl May. Karl May was very popular among Czechs (here the cover is in Hungarian, made by professor Kalman, a character I based loosely on Burian). When holidaying in Czechoslovakia in the 70s and 80s we always wondered at the amount of Wild West themed holiday parks and the amount of Czech country music on the radio. Burians influence was felt throughout.



Of course Burians best known work is of the prehistoric world. His work is scientific and heavily researched. What strikes you when you see his portraits of Neanderthals and Australopithecusses, is the kindness Burian added to their features. The one caveman-like portrait I did for De Smokkelaar, a cover for the ficticious Z.O.L.T.A.N. comic that features in it, doesn't have this quality I'm afraid.
This kindness extends to the Tarzan illustrations Burian did.
















In conclusion, here's one of Burians most lurid illustrations, done for a Robinson Crusoe edition. You'd have to see it printed on paper to fully appreciate it, but still. And another very enigmatic one for the Verne book, in which you can clearly see how much Richard Corben was influenced by him.


















And a feeble attempt of mine to do something just a little similar for the comic within a comic in De Smokkelaar.



The Smuggler: a few influences #2

The Octobriana-hoax

 

One saturday morning, sorry to say it was actually misty and damp, I walked along the canals of Delft. A bookseller was setting up his stall and my eye fell on the odd book Octobriana and the Russian Underground from 1971.

This book contains a very elaborate hoax pretending to be a collection of subversive comics made by secret artist-cells from all over the Soviet Union. The book has been forgotten and rediscovered many times. Reaching notoriority inbetween. Countless people before me bought it, believed the incredible story for a few pages, only to get a creeping hunch it couldn't possibly be true. Especially if you happen to be familiar with the styles of the Czech artists Bohumil Konečný and Zdeněk Burian, who's work was ripped off, stolen, altered and butchered for this strange publication. The red communist star was painted on randomly and subversive texts were added.

The perpetrator, one Petr Sadecký, a Czech deflector, turned out to be a childhood admirer of these Czech artists. He had stolen their work and abused it to find fame himself with the Octobriana hoax and discredit and corrupt the communist party in his home country at the same time.

Those who read my book De Smokkelaar (The Smuggler) will notice that I took this strange Cold War episode as the basis of the story, but I altered and skewed it to my liking.   



Sadecký's story becomes evermore unbelievable as you progress through his book full of forgeries. To add some authenticity he staged photo's of the alleged Soviet underground, sometimes featuring himself among the renegate artists.








Back home, the signature styles of Konečný and Burian were quickly recognized and the two were persecuted.




















Luckily Octobriana is now just a footnote in Zdeněk Burians biography and he is rightly remembered and celebrated as one of the biggest illustrators of the previous century. His influence is apparent in so many illustrators and comic artists who came after him. Richard Corben is a confessed fan and Frank Frazetta evidently looked at Burians work. In me and my brother, Burians work brought to life the earliest urge to draw when perusing his books our Czech mother Vera owned.

I'll write a bit about my passion for Burians work soon.



The Smuggler: a few influences #1

Ed van der Elsken, Johan van der Keuken and Bucket of blood

There are a few photographers I love and who's work was of influence on me when I drew my book De Smokkelaar (The Smuggler). These artists of course operated in the thick of it, recording history while it happened, whereas my work is that of an armchair time-traveler. Moreover, history and facts are greatly skewed in my book, so perhaps I've allowed their influence foolishly.

Needless to say, in saying I'm influenced, I mean to say I'm looking way up above me.



 Ed van der Elsken's work was everywhere when I grew up in Amsterdam in the 70s and 80s. His work nicely painted in the stories about the 50s and 60s my parents told me.

His photo's from Paris conjured up a whole world of people trying to enjoy their freedom in the beauty of black and white whereas his later work exploded with color. The lifely feel of his photo's from around the world is unsurpassed.






At home we also had a copy of Johan van der Keuken's Wij zijn 17 (We are 17, 1955). A sweet little book about the post-war generation.



Together with Van der Elsken's photo's of artistic milieu's and B-grade imagery taken from beatnik movies like Bucket of blood, this was in my mind when drawing (ficticious) artist communities from  behind the iron curtain.


Gordon Parks and the photo essay

I was working on a sketch version of De Smokkelaar when we visited Amsterdam in 2017 (we are currently living in Amman, Jordan). I knew Gordon Parks from his Shaft movie so when our son Benno said he wanted to visit the photo museum FOAM in Amsterdam, we didn't hesitate as there was an exhibition of Parks' photo's. I was only vaguely aware of his work as a photographer and was blown away by this show on what Gordon Parks called 'photo essays.' 



Life magazine had been featuring these photo-reportages since the 30s and they show more than a few similarities with what we do when we make a graphic novel. Again perhaps foolishly, I took to the idea to try to tell a small but crucial part of the story using this format. In my book the essay is a case of forgery, of course.


De Smokkelaar's last part is set in California, of which my visual idea was dominated by Hollywood but was enhanced by Gordon Parks' reports.

I'll have to conclude this post in one way or another and this photo of my mother Vera as a child in Prague, early 50s, seems appropriate.




Eye film institute

One from last year. The now famous Eye building in Amsterdam rises!


Hunebed



Foggy goings-on in the Dutch province of Drenthe. For movie magazine Schokkend Nieuws.

Kaboom Animation Festival


Here's an opportunity to see Magic Show (2009) back on the screen again! It will show at Kaboom Animation Festival on 14-11 in a  Cineventura program and on 15-11 in a celebratory program around comic magazine Zone 5300 (the magazine started 25 years ago). 














https://www.kaboomfestival.nl/

Due in october: De Smokkelaar (The Smuggler)

180 pages, full color. It's off to the printer and will be in stores in october 2019.