Stripschapprijs for Peter Van Dongen
Dutch clear line cartoonist Peter Van Dongen has been announced as the winner of the 2018 edition of the Stripschapprijs, the most prestigous comics award in the Netherlands. Van Dongen (born 1966) became something of a household name in 2017 with the comic adaptation of the novel Familieziek by Dutch writer Adriaan van Dis, the story of an Indonesian family trying to find a new life in the Netherlands in the 1950s.
The theme of this book, the aftermath of the Dutch colonial past in Indochina, was also very prominent in Van Dongen’s most famous book, Rampokan. This story is set in the 1940s, when Indonesian nationalists declare their republic independent, and Dutch volunteers are called in to reinstate the colonialist order. The book, which was also translated into English, touched a nerve with its Dutch audience, which typically sees itself as liberal but still has to deal with its own exploitative, Imperialist past.
In addition to his books, Van Dongen was also lauded for his illustrations in magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands and Belgium, and in particular the writers’ portraits he created for the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. As with his comics, these were executed in a meticulously detailed clear line style, of which Van Dongen has proven himself to be the ultimate master.
Clear line originator Hergé’s attempts to maximalise the readability of his art often resulted in static images, an effect that people like Joost Swarte even enhanced. Van Dongen’s art, on the other hand, is alive and filled with passion. His characters are real people, who act in a real, realistic and extremely well documented world.
Van Dongen’s way of working also results in an oeuvre that focuses on quality, not quantity. His sixth and latest book, planned for later this year, will be the 26th episode in the celebrated series Blake Et Mortimer, originally created by that other slow artist, Edgar P. Jacobs.