Theme: The Clear Line (ENG)

Theme: “ The Clear Line”

  1. Introduction: George van Raemdonck, the first Flemish cartoon artist  

Willy Van der Steen, Marc Sleen, Bob de Moor ,,, are justly called to be “the fathers of the Flemish cartoon strip” but they were not the first cartoonists. George van Raemdonk already  preceded these pioneers of the Flemish cartoon story in the early twenties, although however through publishing in The Netherlands. His text cartoon “Bulletje en Boonestaak” was one of the first successful Dutch cartoon strips being a cartoon story with text written underneath   the pictures. In the States the speech bubble already made its entry at the end of the 19th century and was thereby a lot quicker integrated. One of the first European cartoon artists  who used the speech bubble in the cartoon strip was Hergé in his “De avonturen van Kuifje” (The adventures of Tintin).

  1. The Clear line (and Hergé)

When Hergé (Remi Georges) started on his first “Kuifje” in 1929 it was in a rather simple style. With a few clear lines he succeeded to suggest innumerable other lines without losing the totality. This style later become known worldwide as “the clear line”. What he put in picture was minimal and stylistic, as much in his figures as his background.  Just attending to the story according to his idea meant telling a clear and evident story, whereby the attention was drawn to the pure black & white drawing in which only the graphical has priority. The “Clear Line”  is hereby the appellation of a certain kind of drawing style. It ‘s a  bit like going back to the original drawings: rough and authentic, clear segment divisions with tight lines or drawings with contour lines. It is a (semi-) realistic drawing style with cartoonlike characters. It is the art of omitting, keeping the essentials whilst excessive details, shadows and shadings are ignored or scarcely drawn. In the “Clear Line” far away or close-up objects are all drawn with more or less the same line thickness. This means that not only relations between characters and objects on the same level can be connected but also background objects can easily be highlighted. That relation in depth is clearly a strong point in the “Clear Line” . When colours are used it will always be a clear and equal colouring without transformation.  Many artists were heavily fascinated by “Kuifje” during their childhood so that they also started drawing with clear and straight lines with the same characteristics as Hergé but in combination with their very personal touch. Such as Pom, alias Jozef Van Hove (1919-2014) who  lived in Boechout for a while.

He was a Belgian draftsman and screenwriter famous for strips like “Piet Pinter” and    “Bert Bibber”.

Pom’s technical education played an important role in many of his stories. He was also very       good  at drawing movements, such as cars that bounced while taking a sharp bend. During       an interview he mentioned that in the early stages he was strongly influenced by the so   called             “Clear Line” of  Hergé. His characters cursed however more modestly: Holy Bimbam!

  1. The other line.

Apart from reading strips in my childhood i was also fascinated by ‘ La Linea’ of Osvaldo Cavandoli. It was mainly the interaction between man and artist in an inconceivable language that i found marvellous.   Every sequence of points (geometrical, physical, imaginary, … ) is called “a line” for example a pipeline or a line of conduct. The Flemish Transport company “DE LIJN” (The Line) guarantees urban and regional public transport in the Flemish County. The name indicates a connection  in Public Transport e.g. bus line/metro line. Also at the railways we are talking about the same connections such as rail lines. But also a rope that unites 2 points, people, … is called “a line” e.g. washing line. When one is talking about an effective process, one is mainly thinking of a production line instead of a product line. And when you want to appear in certain expensive clothing lines you need to have a perfect line or start with “lining” (slimming) to end up with a perfect figure. You can also hold or have somebody or someone dangling on a line. Drawing the final line, pulling at the same line or having a line all looks similar but there are clear differences. In general line it is important to draw in between the lines or walk within straight lines so that you don’t end up at the other end of the vertical line. Sometimes a wrinkle or frown on somebody’s face, hand or skin is also called a line. But let us draw the final line by asking the ultimate question: Is the Telephone line or Blood line also a “Clear Line” ?