Jommeke turns 65


Generations of children in Flanders have grown up with Jommeke ("Jeremy" in English) and the other regulars in the comic strips with the same name.

This year he will celebrate his 65th birthday, which means it is time for a free exhibition in Wilrijk.

On 30 October 1955, a stork in a knotted nappy dropped a delivery on the editing team at Kerkelijk Leven, the weekly parish magazine. Out of it crept a 5-year old rascal, a boy named Jommeke. For three years he was to appear in a weekly one-page gag strip, designed and illustrated by Jef Nys. Later the stories were compiled in three albums.

In 1958, Jommeke and his creator transferred to the newspaper for the Christian people's movement, Het Volk. On 1 November, De Jacht op een Voetbal (The Hunt for a Football), was published as the first of what has now reached almost 300 successful albums and 65 million copies. Meanwhile, the infant is a clever rascal aged 10 years and 4 months, who enjoys dangerous, imaginative and timeless adventures, usually with the help of his friends, the cheeky parrot Flip and absent-minded professor Jeremias Gobelijn.

Jef Nys was extensively honoured for his career. He died on 20 October 2009, but Jommeke lives on. His brainchild must forever stay clear of alcohol, drugs, sex, weapons and political affiliation. Jommeke continues to appeal to young Flemish readers, with his thatch of hair. Due to its strong Flemish context, the cartoon never really caught on in neighbouring countries. However, it now appears to be a hit in … China.