Spike and Suzy

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Spike and Suzy
Suske en Wiske Logo.jpg
Logo for the original Dutch language version
Publication information
Publisher De Nieuwe Standaard
Tintin magazine
Publication date1946–
No. of issues270+
Main character(s)Spike
Suzy
Aunt Sidonia
Ambrose
Jerome
Creative team
Created by Willy Vandersteen
Written by Willy Vandersteen
Paul Geerts
Artist(s) Willy Vandersteen
Paul Geerts

Spike and Suzy (British title), Willy and Wanda (American title) or Luke and Lucy (in a 2009 film and video game) (Dutch: Suske en Wiske, French: Bob et Bobette) is a Belgian comics series created by the comics author Willy Vandersteen.

Contents

It was first published in De Nieuwe Standaard in 1945 and soon became popular. Although not in its earlier form, the strip adapted to the Ligne claire style, pioneered by Hergé. This change took place when the strip became serialised in Hergé's Franco-Belgian comics magazine Tintin from 1948 to 1959.

The books revolve around the adventures of the eponymous Spike and Suzy, two children (pre-adolescent or adolescent depending on the album), along with their friends and family. The stories combine elements of comedy, fantasy, and science fiction, such as talking animals, time travel and ghosts. The strip still runs daily in the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, and new books continue to be published; as of May 2020, 382 albums have been published.

Main characters

Main characters on a mural in Brussels: from top to bottom Suzy holding Muffin, Spike, Aunt Sidonia, Ambrose and Jethro, lifted up by Manneken Pis Comic wall Bot et Bobette 4, Willy Vandersteen. Brussels.jpg
Main characters on a mural in Brussels: from top to bottom Suzy holding Muffin, Spike, Aunt Sidonia, Ambrose and Jethro, lifted up by Manneken Pis

The main characters are a group of friends, living familywise though the only blood-relation is Sidonia being an aunt of Suzy. In the first regular comic, Suzy and her aunt Sidonia meet the orphan Spike and unrelated Professor Barabas. In the next album De Sprietatoom, they also meet Ambrose. Later, in De dolle musketiers (book #18, 1953), Jerom (called Jethro in the UK version), the "strongest man in the western hemisphere", was introduced. [1] Apart from Suzy and Aunt Sidonia, none of them are related, and other family is only introduced occasionally to drive a particular story.

Spike has black hair with a small trademark spike. He started out as a hyperactive and headlong fighter, not unlike many a young male adolescent in the "Seefhoek", the Antwerp neighbourhood where Vandersteen grew up. Only in the first album, Spike would get totally out of control when he heard the battle cry "Seefhoek vooruit!" ("Seefhoek Forward!"), replaced by "Antigoon vooruit" in later reprints. But as soon as his outfit evolved from mere duds towards a more tidy red polo shirt and black trousers, he became a well-behaved and obedient boy. He is smart, brave, idealistic and mostly rational, making him an emotional opposite to Suzy. Where she gets in trouble with Sidonia or Ambrose, he acts as go-between to restore peace.
Louisa Ghijs was Vandersteen's inspiration for the name Wiske. JopieundWiske.jpg
Louisa Ghijs was Vandersteen's inspiration for the name Wiske.
Suzy lives together with him and her aunt Sidonia, and is typically (certainly in the older stories) dressed in a white dress with a red stripe just above the hem, and a red ribbon in her fair hair. In the first stories, she looks like a preschooler of about 6 years old, but soon afterwards she evolves into a young teenager of about 12-13. Vandersteen seems to have modelled her after his oldest daughter Leen, of similar age at the time. [3]
She is strong-headed, impulsive, curious and slightly foolish. Aspects of her character that come naturally with a young teenager who enters puberty, and a great plot device since her repeated stubbornness and inobedience is the source of many an adventure. Since her emotions and human shortcomings often overpower her rationality, she is sensitive to paranormal and mystical happenings that are routinely dismissed by the others. Her relationship with Spike (both are considered orphans) is mostly one between siblings, although at times it looks like there are more feelings under the surface, as she can get quite jealous and querulous when Spike gets female attention. Suzy is also a brave girl, especially when it comes to defending her doll Muffin, for whom she shows unconditional motherly love. Despite her difficult character at times, she appears contrite and righteous. She carries her heart in the right place and won't hesitate to battle injustice.
Suzy ends most of the albums by winking to the reader from within the very last panel.
Sidonia is portrayed as a (1950s) housewife (cooking and cleaning, doing the dishes, complaining when Spike and Suzy don’t show proper respect for her household work). Nevertheless she also often joins the heroes on their adventures, and occasionally shows unexpected qualities as pilot of the Gyronef.
Long and extremely thin with gigantic feet (routinely referred to as “ferries”), with a large protruding chin and fair hair, she’s hardly blessed with physical beauty. As such, her looks are often the target of offensive remarks, in particular by a less than subtle Ambrose. On the other hand, her thinness enables her to pull off tricks like hiding herself in a split second from the bad guys behind nearby streetlights and telephone poles.
Sidonia is also known for her hysterical nervous breakdowns, where she can often no longer utter words while her body ends up as stiff as a wooden plank, and for her (unrequited) crush on Ambrose.
In the beginning, Ambrose was presented as a typical working class member: rough and rather simple and uneducated. Prone to alcoholism and other scourges, he also had a somewhat tragic side. This largely came to an end when Vandersteen started to work for Hergé, who didn't like the folksy component. In particular in the period of The Blue Series, Ambrose suddenly becomes sophisticated, bright and brave, even aristocratic (for example he teaches fencing) and is arguably truly the main character of the story in those albums. Later, the personage gets its definitive outfit (black trousers, white starched shirt and a black bow tie) and settles as a middle class part-time father figure for Spike and Suzy, who lives together with Jethro.
Ambrose is intended as the comic relief of the series. His baldness and pronounced nose inspire ridicule throughout the whole series. Another running gag is that he brings up his World War I military gear (sandbags, barbed wire, helmet, rifle...) when a situation becomes critical. Generally presumptuous, vain and impulsive, he confronts the reader with his own shortcomings. Typically, he considers himself the main hero, and in particular the "brains", since he can't possibly over trump Jethro when it comes to physical power (and as it frequently turns out, not in the intellectual department either!). His friends then usually play along, just to keep him happy. The relationship between Suzy and Ambrose, one even more stubborn than the other, makes for a great generation conflict that spices up many stories. In the end, Ambrose does have a noble nature, as illustrated by the many occasions that he sacrifices himself for the greater good. But it helps a great deal when he is first assured of recognition...
Although he is introduced into the series as an opponent, he quickly turns around as he falls in love with Muffin and becomes a caring man instead of a wild beast. Initially he is dressed in a loincloth only (with an occasional cravat added in an amusing attempt to appear more civilized) and speaks in grunts and monosyllables. His prehistoric background causes him to observe the modern world and customs with the naivete (and often unimpeded insight) of a child. But soon afterwards he becomes a smart, sophisticated man, although he still speaks in a peculiar shorthand. He lives together with Ambrose, and his level-headedness is used to contrast with the latter’s foolishness.
Apart from superhuman strength (used for exploits like squeezing water from rocks in the desert), his special powers include “flashlight eyes” and X-ray vision (at any other time his eyelids remain closed), running faster than sound and stopping bullets with his muscular chest. As such, his character is often used as a deus ex machina solution for the troubles his friends and especially Ambrose get in. But when the scenarists are inspired, he is equally often drugged or away on a trip as to avoid the easy solution for the story.

Other recurring characters

Character evolution

Statue of Willy Vandersteen with Suske, Wiske and Schanulleke in Hasselt (Belgium) Vandersteen.jpg
Statue of Willy Vandersteen with Suske, Wiske and Schanulleke in Hasselt (Belgium)

Over the course of the series, characters are added and changed, and stories become more didactic. Ambrose and Jethro change significantly: in the beginning, Ambrose was just an amusing fool, but in the Blue Series he appears more sophisticated and heroic, evolving towards a cynical and sceptical man in the current stories. In early stories, Jethro was initially portrayed as an ignorant strong man, who evolved into a sophisticated and quiet man in later works. In most stories Muffin is only a doll, but one very special to Suzy, and they are inseparable. In some stories Muffin comes to life and plays an important role.

Settings

In the earliest stories, Willy Vandersteen used fictional countries like "Chokowakije" ("Chocolaslovakia") and "Amoras" (a tropical island, "Hoboken", actually a real town in Belgium, in the English-language version). He dropped the use of those after a few stories, although some later stories revisit Amoras.

Most of the current adventures of Spike and Suzy happen in real countries all over the world, with Belgium (their home country) as main focus for many stories.

While in the early stories large distances were usually traveled using the fictitious Gyronef, an experimental helicopter devised by professor Barabas, starting from the 1960s all air travel is provided by the Dutch national airline KLM, making it an early and prominent example of product placement in European comics. Vandersteen chose KLM over the Belgian national airline SABENA because of his friendship with Ron Winderink, PR manager at KLM. [4]

Publication history

Willy Vandersteen created Suske en Wiske, beginning publication in De Nieuwe Standaard on 30 March 1945. To Vandersteen's disappointment the editor had renamed the strip's first chapter Rikki en Wiske. [5] The following story was titled De avonturen van Suske en Wiske - Op het eiland Amoras and no longer featured Rikki. [6] After a few years of publication in several newspapers, Vandersteen was approached by Hergé, intent to improve sales of the Dutch language Kuifje, who wanted Suske and Wiske for his publications rebuilt in the Ligne claire style. [7] Vandersteen made the adaptation and Suske en Wiske first appeared in Kuifje and Belgian Tintin on 16 September 1948 with the story titled Het Spaanse spook and Le Fantôme Espagnol in the two languages. [6] [8] All 8 stories that were run until it ended in April 1959 made up the material collected in The Blue Series.

Vandersteen established Studio Vandersteen in 1952 to manage his expanded activities. [5] To have time for other series such as De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) and Tijl Uilenspiegel, he gave Paul Geerts the job of creating new albums of Suske en Wiske in 1968. Geerts did this until 2001, when he gave this task to Marc Verhaegen. From 2005 on, a team of writers and cartoonists makes the new series, led by Luc Morjeau. These authors are helped by Studio Vandersteen.

Publications

Newspapers and magazines

Before Suske en Wiske appeared as albums, they were published in several newspapers and magazines, such as:

Red Series and Blue Series

The books are generally divided into two groups - Red Series and Blue series. The Red Series contains the vast majority of the books, and is so called because all of the books in this series have a red coloured cover. There are only a few books in the blue series, and they are so called because of their blue cover. The blue series encompasses all those originally published in Tintin and Kuifje. The Red series is everything published before or after. The following album series exist:

  1. The Flemish non-coloured series (1946–1959): 1-35
  2. The French non-coloured series
  3. The non-coloured series in Dutch for the Netherlands (1953–1959): 1-23
  4. The Flemish two-coloured series (1959–1964): 7,19,20,32-50
  5. The French two-coloured series
  6. The Dutch two-coloured series (1959–1964): 1,8,10,11,21-50
  7. The "uniform" Flemish(-Belgian) - Dutch (two-coloured) series (1964–1966): 51-66 (under flamingantistic influence)
  8. The four-coloured series (1967-...): 67-... ; the first 66 albums and the blue series have been re-edited in this series.

Special editions

Other stories or editions have been published, such as:

  1. The collector's editions (1958-...)
  2. Advertisement editions (1965-...)
  3. Various collections (1972-...)
  4. Holiday editions (1973-...)
  5. Luxury editions (1977-...)
  6. Suske en Wiske Classics (1993–1999)

Albums in English

English translations have been published in three incarnations. The first was in the U.S., under the name of Willy and Wanda. It was then published in the UK in the 1990s named Bob and Bobette, a copy of the Belgian title in French. The final print run was in the UK by the title Spike and Suzy.

Other languages

Logo of Bob and Bobette, the French version of Spike and Suzy Logo-bob-et-bobette.png
Logo of Bob and Bobette, the French version of Spike and Suzy

The comic book series was also published in Belgium in French, under the name Bob et Bobette (Bob and Bobette in English). Translations in other languages (including regional dialects) are plentiful but may exist as short-lived series only.

Books out of the series have been published in the following languages as:

Spin-off series

There have been various spin-off comic series from Spike and Suzy:

Adaptations

Suske en Wiske Children's Museum in Kalmthout. Suske en Wiske Museum in Kalmthout, Belgium.jpg
Suske en Wiske Children's Museum in Kalmthout.

Suske en Wiske has reached such a popularity in the Dutch-speaking world that various media adaptations have been made.

Theatrical adaptations

In 1949 Dutch puppeteer Karel Weyler of the Flemish puppet theater Pats' Poppenspel adapted some Suske en Wiske series as puppet plays. Willy Vandersteen enjoyed these versions and gave him permission to make more. The music was composed by Armand Preud'homme and the dialogues were written by Jef Contrijn, whose wife, Germaine Gijsels also designed the costumes. [9] Vandersteen returned the favor by helping to design the backgrounds and referencing "Pats Poppenspel" in the Suske en Wiske stories "De Mottenvanger" ("The Moth Catcher"), "De Circusbaron" ("The Circus Baron"), "Het Hondenparadijs" ("The Dog Paradise"), "De Wilde Weldoener" ("The Wild Humanitarian") and "De Poppenpakker" ("The Puppet Catcher"). Between 1974 and 1977 Vandersteen also made a comics series about "Pats" until copyright issues forced him to change the title into "Tits".

In 1994 the Royal Youth Theatre of Antwerp made a theatrical musical called "De Stralende Sterren". It ran for several years and was both a success in Flanders as well as the Netherlands. [10]

In July 2002 a new musical premiered, based on the album "De Spokenjagers" ("The Ghost Hunters"), again touring with huge success in Flanders and the Netherlands.

In 2008 the album "De Circusbaron" ("The Circus Baron") was adapted into a theatrical musical, which toured in Belgium and the Netherlands. [11]

TV adaptations

In 1955 the Pats Poppenspel puppet shows were broadcast on Flemish television. This was the first attempt to bring the comics to television. A limited animation series was made the same decade.

Far more successful was the 1975-1976 puppet series. The Belgian TV network BRT produced a TV puppet series consisting of six original stories told by Lambik, all of them broadcast as five-minute episodes, which were each 22 minutes in length. These stories ("De Minilotten van Kokonera", "De Gouden Locomotief", "De Zingende Kaars", "De Windbrekers", "De Regenboogprinses" and "Het Laatste Dwaallicht") were later adapted into comic book albums. The puppets were made by Creatuur in collaboration with André Henderickx. Vandersteen's studio created the backgrounds and props. The series was a tremendous success in the Netherlands and largely responsible for the comics' ultimate breakthrough there. Re-runs were broadcast in 1985 and 1990. [12]

In the early 1990 an animated TV series was made by Atelier5, broadcast on Vtm. Each episode was based on original Suske en Wiske stories, with Han Peekel as narrating voice-over. They were also made available on video. [13]

Film adaptations

In 2004 the album "De Duistere Diamant" ("The Dark Diamond") was adapted to the silver screen by Rudi Van den Bossche as the live-action film De duistere diamant  [ nl ].

A CGI animated film called Luke and Lucy: The Texas Rangers was released in July 2009. Produced by Skyline Entertainment, it was planned to be the first of a series of 13 films.

Video game adaptations

In 2001, Infogrames released Suske en Wiske: De Tijdtemmers for the Game Boy Color. It was only released in Europe.

On 19 July 2009 Nintendo DS a video game was released, based on the 3-D animated movie Luke and Lucy: The Texas Rangers . [14]

Suske and Wiske have their own statue in the Antwerp Zoo in Antwerp. It was sculpted by René Rosseel in 1978. [15] Suske, Wiske, Lambik and Jerom also have statues in Middelkerke, sculpted by Monique Mol in respectively 2002, 2005 and 2013 [16] [17] [18]

In the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels the permanent exhibition brings homage to the pioneers of Belgian comics, among them Willy Vandersteen. In the room dedicated to his work a replica of Professor Barabas' teletijdmachine ("tele time machine") can be seen. [19]

On 15 June 1995 an illustrated wall was dedicated to the series in the Laekenstraat in Brussels, Belgium. [20] [21] Suske and Wiske are also part of an illustrated wall in the Korte Ridderstraat 8 in Antwerp, which was revealed on 13 May 2006. [22] On 24 April 2009 a similar wall was revealed in Kalmthout. [23]

The character Lambik inspired the name of the Dutch comic book store Lambiek in Amsterdam. The misspelling of the name is due to the fact that the early Dutch publications of "Suske en Wiske" called him "Lambiek". The emblem on the store's sign is an image from the Suske en Wiske story "Prinses Zagemeel" ("Princess Sawdust") (1947-1948) and represents Lambik's metamorphosis into a centaur. [24]

Sources

Footnotes
  1. Stienen, Alain. "De dolle musketiers" (in Dutch). Suske en Wiske op het www. Retrieved 27 August 2005.
  2. Peter Van Hooydonck (1994), Biografie Willy Vandersteen. De Bruegel van het beeldverhaal (2e ed.), Antwerpen: Standaard Uitgeverij, pp. 9–10, ISBN   90-02-19500-1
  3. "Leen Vandersteen 'Ik ben het enige echte Wiske'". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 17 December 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  4. "Van SABENA tot SN Brussels Airlines" (in Dutch). GVA. 4 November 1997. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  5. 1 2 Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Willy Vandersteen".
  6. 1 2 Koper, Frank. "Introduction to the history of Spike and Suzy". Suske en Wiske op het www.
  7. Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Tintin".
  8. BDoubliées. "Tintin année 1948" (in French).
  9. DBNL. "Vlaanderen. Jaargang 26 · dbnl". DBNL.
  10. "Suske en Wiske De Musical". suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "Jouw tv-sentiment begint hier... - TelevisieGeheugen". www.televisiegeheugen.nl.
  13. "Suske en Wiske". 27 July 2013.
  14. "Suske en Wiske krijgen spel op Nintendo DS". De Morgen (in Dutch). 26 February 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  15. [ permanent dead link ]
  16. [ permanent dead link ]
  17. [ permanent dead link ]
  18. [ permanent dead link ]
  19. http://www.tento.be/sites/default/files/tijdschrift/pdf/OKV1992/Belgisch%20Centrum%20van%20het%20Beeldverhaal%20Brussel.pdf
  20. "Suske en Wiske-muur in Brussel". suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net.
  21. [ permanent dead link ]
  22. "Muur in Antwerpen versierd met afbeelding van Suske en Wiske". suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net.
  23. jvandermosten. "Suske en Wiske onthullen eigen stripmuur". Gazet van Antwerpen.
  24. "Comicbook Strip books and graphic novels online and physical store - Lambiek Comic Shop". www.lambiek.net.

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