It has been announced that the comic artist Jean De Mesmaeker, who used the pen-name Jidéhem, died on the 30 April 2017, aged 81.
His contributions to Belgian comics included the detective series "Ginger", "Starter" which was about cars and transport and "Sophie" about a little girl who uses inventions created by her inventor father to fight crooks and other troublemakers. These comics appeared in the weekly "Spirou" which was the main competitor to the weekly comic "Tintin".
The series "Sophie" was named after his daughter. First appearing in 1965, it is notable as an early series featuring a female heroine as the titular star in a comic which was aimed mainly at boys. Previously, Belgian comics like "Tintin" and "Spirou" had had to stick to male stars due to hostility from the French censor.
As well as drawing detailed scenes with fast-paced action, Jidéhem specialised in cars and for many years provided wonderfully detailed illustrations for a column on cars and other vehicles in the magazine "Spirou".
Jidéhem is also known as the assistant of André Franquin, one of the leading Belgian comics artists of the post-war years. He was the background artist of many of the "Spirou & Fantasio" books published in the 1950s and 60s, some of which are published in English by Cinebook
He also worked on Franquin's "Gaston Lagaffe" which will be published soon by Cinebook
. His most notable contribution to that series was his name! A major character is "Mr. De Mesmaeker", a hot-tempered businessman who has to sign some important contracts with the managers' of Gaston's office, but Gaston's antics always result in the contracts being destroyed in one way or another and Mr. De Mesmaeker storming off in a rage!
Yet another contributor to the Golden Age of Belgian comics passes on.