Everyone has read a comic or two in their life. When I grew up there was not much access to American comics. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Hulk were translated, along with the Avengers, X-Men and Defenders. But before I ever got to read Dutch translations of American comics, I had a big part of the European comic scene at my disposal, in the library and in the bookshops.
The European comic scene is an interesting one. There are all kinds of genres and there are too many titles to list. Most of those titles never reach other countries and that is a shame, because the approach to story telling or humor is totally different. It is also less superhero oriented. Some comics, however, have arrived abroad like Dylan Dog, Alan Ford, Diabolik, Lucky Luke, Asterix, and Clever & Smart, but they will not be the focus of this article. My focus will mostly be on stuff people have probably never heard of. Curious? Here we go.
Before Lethal Weapon made buddy cop movies cool, Les Casseurs already did it in comic form. This Belgian comic originated in 1977 and you could see the creators were heavily influenced by American movies from the 70s. The comic takes place in San Francisco and just breathes America. Al and Brock are two cops, who bug each other a lot, but together they solve various crimes.
Arad en Maya
This Dutch comic is a science fiction comic. Personally, I am really not a big fan of sci-fi, but this comic was just hilarious. Arad is a guy, who looks totally disco and has a weapon called a Beeper. Maya is his girlfriend and together they have adventures on various planets.
Probably the best comic about animals I’ve ever read. Chlorophyl is this cool mouse, unlike Mickey, who has all kinds of adventures in the forest. All kinds of animals appear and it is funny to see these characters and their interactions with each other. This Belgian comic originated in 1954. Yes, 1954.
Another sci-fi comic that was just wonderful. The Scrameustache is a hybrid animal created in a laboratory, but it can talk and is pretty smart. The Scrameustache flies a kick ass UFO and has a robot dog as a guardian. He has a special helmet with which he can turn objects and people into salt statues. He is the protector of an earthling kid called Khena and has various allies fighting evil people and aliens. One of those allies are the Galaxiens, the funniest motherfuckers in comics. This Belgian comic originated in 1973.
This Dutch comic is probably one of the dryest humoristic comics I’ve ever read. It’s about a football (soccer) team called FC Knudde. FC Knudde means FC Bunglers. You can’t help but laugh about how dry the humor is, how lame the team is, and how ugly drawn it is. And that makes it a charming comic. This comic originated in 1978.
Sjors en Sjimmie
The original dutch Sjors & Sjimmie comic was pretty racist.
Today I found out they even made a movie about it. I shit you not.
Yes, Holland has a few things they can’t be proud of. I feel deeply ashamed knowing there is even a Sjors en Sjimmie movie.
Instead, let’s focus on the non-racist incarnation created by Robert Van Der Kroft.
It started out very funny and then it grow into a very satirical comic. It followed the newest trends and took the piss out of it. Sjors and Sjimmie are two boys. It is not clear if Sjimmie was adopted, but he is black. Together they live with the Colonel and Sally. The Colonel is this grumpy man and it’s unknown if he is the father of Sjors, Sjimmie, or both. There is also Sally. I don’t know who Sally is. Is she Sjors and Sjimmie’s sister? She definitely isn’t the Colonel’s girlfriend. I never found out. Bottom line is that this is a funny comic and often it’s just one page gags.
This Dutch comic only got one issue and that is a shame. It was pretty funny. It was about a guy, Tinus Trotyl, who is crazy about fireworks and explosives. The short stories always dealt with blowing something up or shooting the shit out of something.
This Belgian comic is one of the funniest comics I know. It originated in 1963 and as a kid I devoured these comics. Genial Olivier is this genius kid who makes all these inventions to make school life easier. He also makes inventions to help people out, but as with all kinds of inventions, sometimes they don’t work as expected. The supporting cast in this comic is wonderful. The bully in the comic is one of the funniest characters ever, but so are many others, like Olivier’s girlfriend, Olivier’s best buddy, and Olivier’s teacher. What makes this comic extra interesting is that some things existing today were fantasy in Genial Olivier. The creator Jacques Devos, RIP, sure was a visionary.
Suske en Wiske
This legendary Belgian comic is known in various countries. In South Africa it’s known as Neelsie & Miemsie, in Germany as Ulla & Peter, in Finland as Anu ja Antti, in Italy as Bob e Bobette, in Portugal as Bibi & Baba, in the US as Willy & Wanda, and in the UK as Bob & Bobette. And that’s only a few countries. Suske and Wiske are a boy and girl who have all kinds of adventures in the past, present, and future thanks to a time traveling machine. Assisting them on their adventures are their aunt Sidonia, strong-man Jerom, and fool Lambik. When I read this comic as a kid it was my favorite comic, but when I re-read it years later I was amazed with how satirical the comics were.
This Dutch comic originated in 1977. The story is about a mafia boss who becomes the owner of an Italian football (soccer) team. The team is just a bunch of losers, but the mafia boss uses mafia tactics to have his team win matches. The Italian spirit is captured wonderfully in this comic and you feel just as if you are in Italy.
This Dutch comic originated in 1979. It’s about a rich playboy millionaire who goes on spy adventures. Assisting him is the chain-smoking woman known as Countess, who is badass and saves his ass on more than a few occasions.
Les Krostons is a Belgian comic about three creatures who want to dominate the world. They found out it is not easy to become masters of the world, but they are convinced sooner or later they will be the rulers. Persistent little critters is what they are. There is a Krostons movie in the making, but the question is will it ever be finished? Another question will be if they can capture the spirit of the comic.
I don’t like fantasy very much, but this comic I can read again and again. It’s timeless. Harry Potter has got nothing on Douwe Dabbert. Douwe Dabbert, in my opinion, is the best Dutch comic ever released. It originated in 1977. The concept is simple. Douwe Dabbert is a traveler and has a magic knapsack that often helps him in dire need. He wanders around in this wonderful world meeting talking animals, witches, charlatans, thieves, etc.
You might have heard of Jean Van Hamme. He is not related to Jean-Claude Van Damme. He is the creator of XIII, Thorgal, and Largo Winch, but in my opinion Arlequin was his best work. Arlequin, not related to Harley Quinn, is a master of disguise, who helps out people in need. You never know his real identity, but he is there when you least expect it. This Belgian comic originated in 1979 and screams movie adaptation.