For the special anniversary issue accompanying Eppo magazine #40 of 1980, Richard's Studio created an argument in comic format between an hand letter with a typewriter letter.

Richard Pakker is a Dutch comic letterer and production artist, active from the 1960s through the 1990s. With about twenty employees, his "Richard's Studio" provided the lettering for all the major Dutch comic magazines, including Pep, Sjors, Eppo, Donald Duck and Tina.

Early life
Pakker was born in 1931 in Amsterdam. A high school dropout, he prefered drawing over studying and decided to become an illustrator. Shortly after World War II, he found employment at Marten Toonder's studio, where he was introduced to the world of comic production. He spent one year at the studio as apprentice inker, until he was drafted for his military service. Back in civilian life, he spent some time at the Amsterdam Academy of Fine Arts, where the future graphic artist Aat Veldhoen was one of his fellow students. Between August 1954 and February 1955, Pakker joined his journalist friend Koen Aartsma on a motor scooter journey through the Scandinavian countries. The two young men sent their reports to the Friese Koerier newspaper; written by Aartsma with photographs by Pakker.

Second part of the 1980 argument strip.

Comic book lettering
Back home, Richard Pakker got married, settled in Amsterdam's Watergraafsmeer district and earned a living at Swan Features Syndicate, filling the speech balloons of imported comic strips with translated texts. By 1956, he opened his own lettering and advertising studio, which became known as "Richard's Studio" or "Studio Pakker". An important client was the publishing house De Geïllustreerde Pers, which in 1962 launched the comic magazine Pep. The editors decided not to use common typeset letters, but turn to hand lettering instead. As the house letterer, Pakker specialized in what he called "miniature calligraphy", which not only included dialogues in speech balloons, but also expressively drawn onomatopoeia. The texts were written by hand with India ink on a sheet of paper, then cut out and carefully pasted inside the speech balloons on the comic page. Pakker additionally remounted and edited artwork of foreign comic strips to make them suitable for Pep's page format.

Richard's Studio in Amsterdam-Oost.

Richard's Studio
In the upcoming Dutch comic industry, Richard Pakker became an expert in his trade. Besides Pep, he provided lettering for other comic magazines published by the VNU group. For decades, Richard's Studio lettered all the comics in Pep, Sjors, Eppo, Tina, Donald Duck and the other Dutch Disney publications. With assignments piling up, Richard's Studio expanded too. Initially, Pakker worked in collaboration with his wife, Geesje Wortel, but by the mid-1960s he had six employees. One of the first was Meini Gouwenberg, a former letterer for publisher De Spaarnestad, who remained with Richard's Studio for decades to come. Another longtime employee was Rini van Broekhoven (1948-2018). At the top of his production, Richard Pakker had twenty people working for him, among them Klaas Groot, Jaap Vermeij and Peter de Wit. Besides comic lettering, the team provided lay-outs and production art for advertisements, crossword puzzles and knitting patterns for women's magazines.

Hand lettering font designed by Meini Gouweberg for Donald Duck weekly in 1986 vs. digital lettering in 1988.

During the 1980s, Dutch comic magazines struggled with declining circulation figures. Since 1981, Studio Pakker had competition in the field from Peter de Raaf, who also ran a studio specialized in comic book lettering. Pakker realized that lettering by hand became too expensive, and invested in a typesetting machine controlled by a computer. From 1987 on, all the in-house fonts were digitized, allowing the studio to save time and publishers to manufacture the lettering themselves. By making two versions of the same letter with slight variations, the end result still gave the impression of handlettering. The lower case font the studio used for Donald Duck weekly is still in use today. In 1992, Studio Pakker also made the characteristic character headers that open each Disney story, modelled after the headers of the classic American 'Donald Duck' stories by Carl Barks.

Retirement and post-Pakker period
Richard Pakker retired in 1996, leaving his studio to his longtime employees Rini van Broekhoven and Jean Magrijn. By then, Meini Gouwenberg was already working independently as Studio Meini. From the 1980s until his retirement in 2008, Meini notably provided the lettering for Don Lawrence's 'Storm' and the Disney book publications. Rini van Broekhoven ran Studio Pakker until 2002, and then switched to using his own Studio R name. He lettered all the comics for the Disney magazines, Tina and Zo Zit Dat until illness forced him to retire in mid-2018.

To honor his contributions to the Dutch comic industry, Het Stripschap awarded Richard Pakker the 2013 Bulletje & Boonestaak Plate, which was presented to him during that year's Stripdagen comic festival by acclaimed comic book handletterer Frits Jonker. By now in his nineties, Pakker still resides in his old house studio, where he spends his time digitizing old slides and writing rhymes and epigrams.

Pep magazine often introduced its regular co-workers to the readers. In issue #3 of 1967, it was Richard Pakker's turn.

Series and books by Richard Pakker in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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