Editorial drawing by Willy Lohmann for Pep #2 of 1973.  From the top left, counterclockwise: a cleaning lady, Jan de Rooij, Cees de Groot, Frits van der Heide, an artist, Jan van Erp, Maarten Boom (on the poster), Anneke van Wissen, a secretary and, standing, Frans Buissink

Frans Buissink was a Dutch journalist, magazine editor, painter and comics scriptwriter. He played a prominent role in the comics magazines of the VNU publishing division Oberon in the 1970s, and wrote scripts for such series as 'Sjors en Sjimmie' (1970-1975) by Jan Steeman and 'Brammetje Bram' (1970-1972) by Eddy Ryssack. In the next decades he became best-known for his articles about nature subjects, which appeared in magazines such as Granduinen, VOGELS and Landschap Noord-Holland, and in books he made in collaboration with illustrator Marjolein Bastin.

Early life
Born in 1943 in Alkmaar, Buissink was introduced to the art of painting in the atelier of Koos Stikvoort. He attended the Institute for Applied Arts in Amsterdam (the current Rietveld Academy), and began making still lives and portraits, while experimenting with cubism and abstract art. During his military service he served as an interpreter and translator, and he additionally made a Russian comic as a language instruction.


Covers for Sjors #1970-17 and #1972-16, introducing 'Brammetje Bram' and 'Sjors & Sjimmie' with the Slork, respectively

Editor and scriptwriter for Sjors
Back in civilian life, Buissink worked in the town clerk's office of The Hague and then became assistant editor for Sjors, the comics magazine published by De Spaarnestad, in 1965. Together with Peter Middeldorp, he was responsible for magazine's innovations from 1968 onwards. They cancelled most of the corny British humor comics, and replaced them with more glamorous ones like 'Trigan Empire' by Don Lawrence and Mike Butterworth and Franco-Belgian comics from Spirou magazine. Buissink moved up to editor-in-chief by 1969, with Jan Kruis as art director and Martin Lodewijk as advisor. He served as co-creator and scriptwriter for the pirate comic 'Brammetje Bram', drawn from 1970 onwards by Flemish artist Eddy Ryssack for Sjors. Buissink took care of the scripts during the first three years (1970-1973), after which he was succeeded by Jacques Bakker, Piet Hein Broenland and Michel Noirret. As "Buis", he was also responsible for most of the scripts of the title comic 'Sjors en Sjimmie', which was drawn by Jan Steeman at the time. Under their tenure, the comic was characterized by its many science fiction elements, most notably the introduction of the alien creature Slork. The 'Slork' returned in 1979, when Dennie Christian released a song called 'Het Slorklied'. At the occasion, a new comic album called 'De jacht op de Slork' was created by Steeman and Buissink.


Frans Buissink as editor-in-chief of girls' magazine Tina.

Editor-in-chief at Oberon
In the fall of 1971 Buissink was additionally appointed editor-in-chief of De Spaarnestad's other youth magazines, such as Tina (for girls), Bobo (for toddlers) and the popular science magazine Kijk. As De Spaarnestad was already part of the VNU publishing group, Buissink became chief editor of all the corporation's assets for this demography about a year later. This included Disney magazine Donald Duck and comics magazine Pep, both originating from publisher De Geïllustreerde Pers. Oberon was launched as an umbrella division for all these publications. Segmentation was the magic word at the time, and more short-lived magazines saw the light of day, like the pop cultural hippie magazine Loeloe (11 issues in 1971), the additional girls' magazine (Tina) Club (1973-1988) and the more experimental comics magazine Baberiba (1974, one issue). Together with its British partner IPC, VNU bought Kauka Verlag in Munich in 1973 and Buissink was tasked to come up with new publishing ideas for the German market, such as Kobra, a magazine with British comics. Cultural differences and lack of success eventually dissolved the joint venture in 1979.

It must be said that Buissink's function for most of the Oberon titles was mainly on paper. Day-to-day business was generally managed by other editors, like Rudy Jansen-van der Werff for Tina, Paul Dekkers for Donald Duck, Jan van Erp for Baberiba, etc. Buissink had a more active role in the magazines Sjors and Pep during their final years before merging into Eppo magazine in 1975. His editorship of Pep included the return of Willy Lohmann's editorial illustrations, the arrival of new talent like Robert van der Kroft, Uco Egmond and Henk Kuijpers, a new, more hysterical lay-out, a drop in pages, and a black-and-white supplement called Peptoe (1974-1975).

In the period 1975-1979, Buissink also wrote sporadic short stories for the independent comics magazine De Vrije Balloen. These stories were illustrated by artists like Jan Steeman, Jan van Haasteren, Thé Tjong Khing and Gerry Voortman.


His superiors called Frans Buissink to account for the introduction of a tame sperm whale with the hiccups called Hetty Hick in the 'Sjors & Sjimmie' episode 'De pretvispiloten' (1971). It was an obvious poke at Hetty Hagebeuk, then still the editor-in-chief of Pep, who liked a drop.

Nature journalist
In the mid 1970s Buissink shifted from children's and comics magazines to journalism about nature subjects for other VNU titles. He wrote texts about animals and plants to accompany the illustrations of Marjolein Bastin in Libelle, and was co-founder and editor of the nature magazine Grasduinen from 1979 afterwards. He stayed with the publication for about fifteen years, succeeding original editor-in-chief Ton in 't Veld in the mid 1980s. He wrote humorous columns and also continued his collaboration with Bastin in this magazine. The two cooperated on several book publications about nature as well. By 1992, Buissink left the VNU and began working as a freelance writer and editor for other nature-related magazines, such as the WNF's Panda, VOGELS of the Dutch bird protection organization, and Landschap Noord-Holland of the foundation which aims to protect the landscape and nature of the province of North Holland.

Buissink also continued to paint, specializing in landscapes and seascapes. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the Netherlands. Frans Buissink passed away unexpectedly on 28 January 2019 in his hometown Valkkoog, at the age of 75. Shortly before his death, he had written a dossier about his Oberon years for the second volume of the complete collection Eddy Ryssack's 'Brammetje Bram' (Arboris, 2018).

www.fransbuissink.nl

Frans Buissink in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

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