No doubt one of the most enjoyable aspects of Hergé’s great Tintin series of bandes desinées is the brilliant ligne claire style in which they are drawn; the most talented living exponent of which is surely Peter van Dongen. This Dutch striptekenaar (“comic-strip draughtsman”) first came to the attention of the comic world in his mid-twenties with Muizentheater (1990), a tale of two working-class Amsterdammers growing up during the Great Depression. As van Dongen despises clichés, it is one of the few books about Amsterdam that doesn’t feature a single canal. It was nearly ten years before van Dongen produced his second comic work, Rampokan, depicting the Dutch East Indies during their final years before independence. (On Rampokan, van Dongen collaborated with fellow ligne-clairist Joost Swarte, whose work is often seen in The New Yorker).
Van Dongen works as a commercial illustrator, and he often provides illustrations for NRC Boeken, the book review of the NRC Handelsblad. A celebration of the tenth anniversary of NRC Boeken was held at the Felix Meritis and is commemorated in the drawing above.
Van Dongen designed the covers for musician Ernst Jansz’s album and autobiographical book, both titled Molenbeekstraat.
The illustrator also produced this homage to Hergé for Boek magazine. “Le Petit Centième” parodies Le Petit Vingtième, the children’s section of the Belgian Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle in which Tintin made his first appearance.
In 2004, the Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland did a story on the best bookshops in the Netherlands, with van Dongen providing this accompanying illustration. As The Ephemerist notes, “Tintinophiles no doubt recognize the policeman”.