My new book Scherven is now announced in the beautiful designed catalogue of de Bezige Bij and Oog & Blik for spring next year! Together with new books of Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb and Joost Swarte it is planned to appear in may. A good moment, because may 2010 means 65 years of freedom for Holland after the Second Worldwar. And at the 4th, 5th and 6h of june there are the famous Stripdagen in Haarlem. I'm really looking forward to it!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Currently I'm still working hard on Splinters (the Dutch title is Scherven). I am coloring the last set of pages, put in the text at those pages, create the titlepage etc.... In other words, still a lot to do. I hope to finish the book around the end of january. The planning is it will appear in may 2010.
In the meanwhile I like to show you the cover as it is now (It might slightly change in the next weeks). On the illustration you see Victor biking away from his village. In the background a formation of bombers, on its way to bring destruction. It is an image taken from one of the last scenes of the book and is made in a graphic style that refers to the propaganda posters that appeared during wartime. Also the use colors on the cover refers to that period as does the typography. Not only in the book but also on the cover I try to catch the atmosphere of the war as good as I can.
Lately I have finished the reworking of the stories that are going to appear in Souvenirs Perdus (I showed you some in my last post). Now I can show you the provisory cover of the book. The design is made by the graphic designer of La Pasteque. He has created a clean, strong lay-out in which Muis, showing his biceps, plays the mainrole.The used colors are crisp and clean, just as they are inside the book. The typography is clear and contemporary.
The plan still is to bring out the book in the second half of next year. I will keep you informed (also about the definitive cover)!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Currently I'm working on the last part of Splinters (Dutch title will be 'Scherven'), but I'm also reworking the pages for the French translation of 'Verzamelde Herinneringen', Souvenirs Perdus, which will appear next year at La Pasteque.
The adjustments I make have to do with the coloring. I wasn't 100% happy with the print-result of the Dutch edition. I found the colors a bit too heavy and saturated, so I'm making them a bit lighter and brighter.
I will also change the textballoons -no black outlines but with a shadow underneath- and remove the outlines of the images. It gives the pages a 'blonder' and more accessible look. Here I show some different pages.
The reason there is no text in it is that La Pasteque will do a new lettering. I hope I can show you the definitive cover of Souvenirs Perdus soon!
I had the honour to deliver the image for the cover of the last issue of the Belgian Stripelmagazine (# 12). In the last issue you can also find the interview that was already published on the Stripelmagazine website. Stripelmagazine will continue on the internet as a digital magazine. Every week there will be a new issue with interesting articles and interviews. Take look at their site!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Emmanuel Guibert already made a lot of different books. Not long ago I read Alan's War. A book about American G.I. Alan Cope's memories of the Second Worldwar, written and drawn by Guibert. A very moving story of a soldier who was transported to France to fight against the enemy. The images are done in subtle grey-tones which give the story even more dimensions.
I really recommend this book. Language can not be the problem, Alan's War is available in French, English and Dutch.
Dutch comic promotor Gert Jan Pos is working hard to spread comics from the Lowlands. A couple of weeks ago he was in the Big Apple to give a presentation called 'Understanding Dutch comics' at the famous Parsons, the new school for design. And look who was also there: Muis travelled together with Gert Jan to open the presentation!
Jacques Martin is especially known from his Alex and Le Franc stories. But a while ago, in a shop in Paris, I found a carnet with drawings about the Second Worldwar made by him. I was really impressed by the realistic style and the dramatic atmosphere of the images. All where made in soft grey pencil. Carnets de Guerre is edited by Casterman.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
It becomes clear to me when I will finish the first book of Splinters. The plan now is that it wil be published spring 2010 (may/june). That's why I have done some work on the cover. But also Oog & Blik / de Bezige Bij needs a first impression of the cover for their 2010 catalogue.
I've done some sketches, but as I see it now it will be the drawing in the middle. It shows Victor in a hurry on his bike. (Where is he going?) It refers to a scene in the book. I hope to show the definitive version within some weeks.
I have also worked on the cover of the french translation of 'Verzamelde herinneringen': 'Souvenirs Perdus'. I hope to show it to you soon.
I'm back from holiday in France, the country of 'la bande dessinée". Two weeks in Brittanny and a couple of days in Paris.
We had a good time with nice, sometimes really hot weather. I had enough time to make sketches of the last pages -some 55- of Splinters. Including the background quire it brings the book to some 250 pages. And this is only the first book...
Sunday, July 12, 2009
A while ago I showed some black and white artwork of pages I'm currently doing for Splinters.
Now I am in a cycle of coloring some 40 pages. I do my coloring digitally on my Mac. First in Illustrator and after that I transport the basically colored pages to Photoshop and change them into sepia.
After that I use a filter to give them a more authentic atmosphere. Here are some examples of the part of the book I'm doing right now. When I've finished this cycle I have to draw 60 more pages, and then Book One of Splinters is ready to publish! Hopefully somewhere next year.
Peter van Dongen is one of my favourite Dutch artists. He's especially known for his two Rampokan books and a lot of illustration-work. But he made his debut in 1990 with Muizentheater, a story about two boys: Daan and Henkie. The two brothers grew up in Amsterdam in the thirties, a period of worldwide crisis. Their father is an alcoholic and their mother earns some extra's with her body. Not an ideal situation for two young boys in their childhood. The younger Daan joins the upcoming Nazi's, the other one, Henk, becomes a cool and hard one. The end of the story is not a happy one.
The artwork is in a very crispy black and white and you can feel the influence of Hergé. Want to find out? Read Muizentheater and don't miss the two Rampokan books!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
In the new edition of the online version of Stripelmagazine there's an interview about the translation of 'Verzamelde Herinneringen' in French and about my new book Splinters.
If you want to read it go to Stripelmagazine. The interview will also appear in the paper version of the magazine later this year.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I am very happy and proud to announce that the collection of my first 3 books, Verzamelde Herinneringen, will be translated in French by La Pasteque. La Pasteque is an independant Canadian Publisher from Québec. Québec is the French speaking part of Canada and La Pasteque publish f.i. the books of Michel Rabagliati and Pascal Blanchet in Québec, France and Belgium in the French language.
The title of my book will be Souvenirs Perdus (sounds beautiful...) and will come out next year.
I will do some redesign and make a new cover for this edition. If you want to read the French announcement, please go to the La Pasteque site: www.lapasteque.com
I will keep you informed!
Last week I got an email from Erik de Graaf... From myself? No.
I think everybody recognizes it, one day you discover that there is somebody with the same name as you have. My name is not so special in Holland, but it's really a coincidence if there lives somebody somewhere who isn't only named the same, but also is born in the same village.
So that email came from another Erik de Graaf, born in the same village as me, but now living somewhere else. He was confrontated with me when he read a review about my books in a newspaper, some years ago and he bought my books.
Now he's doing a series about namesakes on his own weblog and he has written a very kind piece about me. If you want to read it go to his blog: erikdegraaf.blogspot.com
Since the 1st of May Holland has a real intendant for comics. Circumstances for Dutch artists are quite difficult nowadays: a small country, dropping book sales and not much possibilities to pre-publish. Comic artists Jean-Marc van Tol and Hanco Kolk have taken several initiatives to draw attention to these problems. One of the results is that the government has appointed a Comic Intendant.
His name is Gert Jan Pos. He's a journalist and translator who will try to improve the circumstances for Dutch Comics and Comic artists in the next years. He talks about some of his plans for the comicg years in the VPRO-gids of this week.
The interview is accompanied by an illustration of Peter van Dongen. And who do we recognize
in the gallery on the wall?
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I was asked to participate in an exposition called Rabbit Art. The expo was organised by a 'rabbit-lover', called Kim Kamperman. She invited all kind of different artists to make a piece of work about rabbits.
Last friday the expo started and there were shown all kind of different and beautiful creations. The visitors could buy the artworks and the revenues are going to an animal home that cares a lot about rabbits. My creation was one with a little bit of humor in it: I wanted to show the artistic little balls rabbits produce that look very similar to pieces of liquorice.
My work was sold 5 minutes after the expo started...
If you want to visit the exposition and support the rabbits: Gallery Lilys, Weimarstraat 58, Den Haag.
My uncle Cor was one of the soldiers who stayed at my grandparents house when the war broke out (He's also playing a role in Splinters). He became my uncle when he married my fathers sister (I wasn't born yet). I loved him very much because he was always joking and also stimulated me to use my drawing-talent. As a matter of fact he could draw quite good himself and learned me, for instance, how to draw a good motorcycle.
You can find an example of one of his practical jokes in the story Spierballen in my first book Verbleekte Herinneringen.
The picture in this post shows my uncle (on the right) while he's building sheds before the war, together with his fellow-soldiers. If you take a look at the picture you see young men (some look almost like movie-stars...) looking curious, self confident and gentle into the camera, not knowing what's going to happen to them.
I got this picture from somebody who has written a book about the history of the small village where my grandparents lived at that time.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
When I had my exposition at Lilys, André (Lily's brother) has been a great help for me. Especially with arranging my work at the Gallery and by fixing the 3-d objects. Because I am very grateful for that, I have drawn a portrait for him as a little boy. In a way that shows that he was already a drawing-talent in his younger years.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I have written before that mostly I do the different stages of the drawing of Splinters in groups of pages. After that I have done the sketching part of some 40 pages, I start putting the linework in black. For this story I don't use ink, but black conté-pencil. This gives the line-art a more rough and irregular look, that fits more to the character of Splinters than a slick, smooth line.
It is a very detailed kind of work, especially for the small parts of an image. Because the pencils I use are very soft, I have to do a lot of sharpening. I think the store where I buy my art-supplies is quite happy with me... I use a lot of those conté-pencils.
The paper that I use is not smooth, in fact it's watercolour-paper with a nice structure, to give the line-work even more character.
As I've written before, I have always been interested in stories about the Second Worldwar. In my comics-collection I have quite a few books about that period. And always when I visit a comics-store and see a book about the war, I take a look. I thought it would be nice if I share some of the titles I have with you.
I bought Kriegspiel by Arno and Bocquet at the end of the eighties in Paris. It's not really a comic, but more an illustrated story. I was especially impressed by Arno's beautiful drawings. I think they catch the atmosphere of the war in a very strong and emotional way.
The book tells some witness-stories from the Warsaw-ghetto, but also about after-war gangs in Eastern-Europe.
Not only Arno's artwork is fantastic, but also the graphic design of the book fits very well to the war-period. The book was published first in 1988 by Alpen Publishers and reprinted in 1992 by La Sirene. I think you can only find it on Ebay nowadays.
Monday, March 9, 2009
As I wrote before, sometimes I feel like doing some illustration-work after drawing page after page. Most of the time these drawings are connected to Splinters, the story I'm currently working on. Making an illustration gives the nice feeling of creating something that I can finish quite soon.
I visualize situations that could happen in the story in the future or that are just connected to the Second Worldwar, like the 'spying-scene' above.
It's also an opportunity to explore different techniques. I have done some water color ones and I've made some with colored pencil. In the future I like to try some other techniques like f.i. charcoal and scraper board.
I do most of my illustrations when I'm on holiday or some days off. It gives me the rest to try something else and often I get inspired by the landscape I'm in.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
After my exposition and making a New Yearscard for Klare Lijn International, I am focusing completely on Splinters, my new story, again. I work in parts at the story normally. That means that I do sketches, line-drawings and color-work of 30 to 40 pages together. In that way I can keep the overview and it gives me some variation. Currently I am working from page 139 to page 177 (and that's still not the end of Book 1).
After Esther and Victor have found each other back at the cemetery, Victor is telling her what has happened to him during the first weeks of the war. After the capitulation all soldiers, including Victor, had to go back to their camp. After a few days everybody who could prove they had a job, could go to their hometown.
At the end of may 1940 Victor, together with his mate Chris, are on their way home by bicycle. Along the way they are stopped by some German soldiers, who are watching over a crashed German plane. The situation then gets quite tensed...
I show you some of the sketched pages.
In the United States sales of Graphic Novels have reached almost 30% of the total sales in regular bookstores. In Europe editors of literature see the interesting potential of this segment.
Oog & Blik is a small Dutch Graphic Novel editor with a beautiful list of authors. The Bezige Bij is a big Dutch editor of literature. They've decided to coöperate in editing graphic novels. In that way Oog & Blik (and its authors) have a fantastic entry to the regular bookstores and a new public.
This year the two editors have planned to produce some 30 books. On the list are famous authors like Chris Ware, Charles Burns and Dupuy & Berberian but also talented artists like Judith Vanistendael.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I was born in 1961 and didn't experience the Second Worldwar myself. But in Splinters I want to reflect the atmosphere of that period as good as possible. I have seen a lot of images and movies about the war, but what I found very characteristic from that period are the propaganda posters, from both the Allies and the Germans.
They look very heroïc and strong. I especially like the contrast between light and dark and the use of color. It gives strong shadows on faces, clothes and objects. And that results in very clear, almost graphical images.
I try to translate that style into my drawings and catch that recognizable atmosphere. And by using strong shadows, greyish colors, sepia and clear imagery, I hope to give my story its 'own' Second Worldwar feeling.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The unsurpassed Klare Lijn website asked me to make a New Yearscard bringing their best wishes for 2009. Being very honored by this request I made an illustration in which I tried to reflect the atmosphere of these days. But I also attempted to bring in a spark of hope for the future. And for the detail-lovers: some numbers can be discovered. The cards were signed and numbered.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I have told you before that an important part of Splinters is based upon real history. I could use parts of the diary of my uncle Gijs. Gijs was one of the soldiers that stayed in the village where my grandparents and my mother lived. He and his mates tried to fight the Germans during the 1940 may-days.
My mother, Lena, was born on the 1st of may, 1931. So she was just 9 years old when the war broke out. She was my grandparents only child. The soldiers liked my mother very much, especially because of her white hair.
My mother has died in 2001 and I didn't speak a lot with her about the war-years. She was just a child then and didn't remember very much of it. A couple of weeks ago my father gave me her 'Stamkaart' and a picture on which you see here dressed as a soldier. He had found them while cleaning some cupboards. I think it's a lovely picture, but I can't say if she tries to give a dangerous look or is just shy.
In my new story Splinters I sometimes use 'full-page' illustrations. I like to focus on the emotion, action or person that is important at that moment in the story. I decided to bring in some variation in the lay-out of the pages by using one drawing to fill a complete page with. It also shows the reader that something important is happening, or that, for instance, a new day is starting or that they're going back in time.
It's not something new. Of course other artists did it already in the past, like Craigh Thompson in Blankets. I think it can work very strongly and can bring a lot of drama if you do it in the right way and and at the right moments.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
As a designer I know the power of a typeface to communicate something and give a word or sentence a strong or emotional character. For the title of my new book Scherven (Splinters in English) I've tried a lot different typefaces already. Trying to give the word the character that fits best to the story. I show you some of the more interesting ones I made.
I made the one on the top quite a while ago. I thought it would be nice when the letters where made out of splinters. When I saw it back a few months later I found it very obvious: you see waht you read and there is no emotion in it.
I think in the second one there is more atmosphere, it's raw, distorted and shows in a way the things that happen in the story.
The third one is my favourite at this moment (it can still change in the future...). It's sharp, a bit mean and you almost feel some pain in it. I think when you see this on the cover of a book, it gives an impression of what kind of story you can expect.