I think I wrote something way back and stated, with authority, that I will start reading Dutch comics.
That never happened.
But I tried. Really I did but they’re just so hard to find. I even had people, real Dutch people mind you, refer me to some titles only to find out later that they’re actually Belgian. In fact, the comic scene here reminds me a lot of where the Dutch beer market was ten years ago. Dutch beers existed, but they were dominated by their Belgian counterparts. And it’s the same with comics.
It seems a lot of what drives the Dutch comic book market is pure nostalgia. Donald Duck and Suske and Wiske dominate the stores. And by dominate I mean they’re the only comic books there. Because when you do find other titles they seem to be drawn and written for kids. But what about the adults? Surely there are Dutch comics for adults?
And there are and I’m slowly finding them.
One such series is Storm, which admittedly is cheating a bit. I stumbled upon Storm after Rebellion released Volume One of the Trigan Empire by Don Lawerence. After listening to a podcast about the launch, lo and behold Lawrence had quite the following in the Netherlands.
Storm was a Don Lawrence and Martin Lodewijk production. So that’s why I call it cheating as it’s not entirely a Dutch production. Nevertheless the Dutch did gobble them up and you have a good number of books in the series. Plus they’re gorgeous to look at. Don Lawrence truly was a master. I’m currently on issue 5 of de kronieken van de diepe wereld. But finally, some success!
Storm encouraged me to look even further and then I followed the thread that was Marin Lodewijk and found January Jones. JJ has that typical Tin Tin look that you recognize from Belgian comics but I still said why not. Just from glancing through it there does seem to be some interesting themes so I don’t think I will be too disappointed.
Then after a bit of further research I found Franka, which also looks to be promising and again in that same childish style. But it’s been deemed a Dutch classic and it’s enough to encourage me to pick up a few copies, which I still have yet to do.
The biggest disappointment about this journey so far is that no one has been of any real help. People have either put me on a different path or they didn’t care all together. Which means Dutch readers do not mind the translated stuff. Which of course isn’t a bad thing.
Even if it’s Belgian-French I’ll still take it and read it in Dutch, because surely the translation can’t be that far off since the other dominant language in Belgium is Flemish. Which if you learned Dutch you can read it because Dutch and Flemish are the same language. Yes, I’m aware that if I were saying this to a Belgian person that would be enough to deserve a punch in the face. But in all seriousness…
Flemish and Dutch are the same thing. They truly are.
But I digress. I did find some gems in the form of XIII and Largo Winch. The sequential art is pretty great and it does have that sort of European flair. The writing does make you cock an eyebrow from time to time as Jean van Hamme does take some leaps and bounds in some of his plots. But it’s strong enough to keep me going.
But really this is about Dutch comics.
I don’t know do they really exist? Are there truly Dutch comics? The Netherlands is just so tied into the international economy that a lot of what is considered Dutch has been overtaken by something else. So perhaps we can speak more of European comics?
So regardless of what I said way back when, I’m serious now. I will be posting some Dutch comics here on this site and we’ll finally move away from our English productions, be it American or British. This is ExpatNerd after all, and it’s time to be a bit more international. Let’s get out of that expat bubble we’re so used to, roll up our sleeves and go talk to some of the locals.
I’m sure I’m going to find some gems because they’re out there. Let’s just hope they’re beyond what Donald Duck can give us.