The history of comics is made by a few great cartoonist, but also (and maybe even more so) by countless realtively unknown artists, plodding away in the shadows, making the artform into what it is. Dutch cartoonist Bert Bus was one of them. For half a century he drew successful comics in a wide variety of genres for all kinds of magazines, but remained largely anonymous for the public at large that read his work.
Bus started making comics after World War II, when Canadian soldiers gave him his first comic books. First he worked as an office help in publishing house Spaarnestad, but starting from 1953, he created his first comic for the weekly magazine Sjors. Olaf Noord was largely influenced on Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and proved a big hit. Bus would continue to create science fiction comics for Sjors, and later Eppo, such as Cliff Rendall, Stef Ardoba and Russ Bender. Each of them were typical genre fodder, but still was intelligent and creative enough to captivate the minds of generations of readers.
His most popular comic, however, was not one of his own creation. Archie, De Man Van Staal (Archie, The Man Of Steel) was a continuation of E. George Cowan’s Robot Archie, that originally ran in Lion Magazine until its demise in 1974 (although still fondly remembered in its native UK, with Moore et al making him a major character in Albion). As the comic was very popular on the continent, Bus was asked to continue the series. From 1971 onwards, he would create ten more books, which were quite successful in the Netherlands and in France. In 2004 his last one, Archie in the Ice Age, was published.
In addition to his work for Sjors, Bus made the Nancy Drew and Jola comics for Dutch girls’ comics magazine Tina, and also worked as an illustrator for a number of magazines until 2014. In 2010 he was honoured as Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. Bert Bus died on 28th of August, at the age of 86.
(Based on reporting in De Volkskrant)