'Prosper' (1975).

Ploeg (AKA "Eddy Ploeg") was a Belgian cartoonist, whose editorial gag cartoons and illustrations appeared in a variety of Flemish magazines and newspapers. As a house cartoonist and production artist for the publishing house Lombard, he was notable as the creator of the pantomime gag comic 'Prosper' (1966, 1971-1978) in Tintin magazine, and 'Picazzo' (1976) in Ons Volkske.

Early life and cartooning career
Born in 1935 in the Antwerp district Borgerhout, Edouardus "Eddy" Ploegaerts studied at the Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels. In 1959, he participated in the annual cartooning competition "Salon van de Vlaamse Humor" (Salon of Flemish Comedy) in Antwerp, marking his debut as a cartoonist. He also took part in the 1961 and 1963 editions, and won the Public Award during the 1965 Cartoonale in Heist. Among his inspirations were the pantomime movie humorists Jacques Tati and Charlie Chaplin and comics like Guy Bara's 'Max l'Explorateur' and Morris' 'Lucky Luke', as well as animated cartoons and British humorists.

Print and television work
His first claims to fame led to publications in various Flemish newspapers and magazines, including Humo, De Linie, De Post, Ons Volk, 't Pallieterke, De Standaard and Zondagmorgen. In the latter magazine, Ploeg shared a page with an old schoolmate, journalist and opinion maker Johan Anthierens, who wrote the column 'Piet Piek' (1962-1965). Ploeg in turn made gags strips and cartoons with the character 'Leeuwerikje'.

For the Flemish public TV channel B.R.T. (nowadays V.R.T.), Ploeg designed the "Even Geduld" ("One Moment Please") title cards that appeared whenever a broadcast had technical difficulties. Another cartoonist who made this type of title cards for the same TV channel was Buth. He additionally designed advertisements for the Arthur Pierre moving company and Tuc crackers. Ploegaerts signed his work with the first syllable of his name, "Ploeg". This is incidentally also the Dutch word for both "plough" and "team".


TUC advertisement by Ploeg, published in Kuifje #31, 1966.

Tintin magazine
In 1963, Ploeg joined the publishing house Lombard, home of Tintin magazine and the Belvision animation studio. At Belvision, he worked under supervision of Ray Goossens on productions like the animated feature film 'Pinocchio in Outer Space' (1965). For many years, Ploegaerts worked in the publisher's art studio, doing lay-outs and illustrations for Tintin's editorial pages, like 'Tintin Teen-Agers' (1963-1964). He additionally contributed to Lombard's advertising agency Publiart, headed by Guy Dessicy, making advertising cartoons for, most notably, TUC crackers. Publiart also released Ploeg's first gag cartoon book, 'Crazy Movers' (1967). The cartoonist had the honor to illustrate the cover of Tintin's 1000th issue (16 November 1965).

Between 1969 and 1974, Ploeg's funny single-panel cartoons were a regular presence in both Tintin and its Dutch-language edition Kuifje. In late 1970 (issues #45 through 51), Ploeg and scriptwriter Hubuc made the rare fifteen-page comic serial 'Egide et le Lithophage', about a night watchman who finds his museum and its beautiful artefacts harrassed by an extraterrestrial stone-devouring creature. Both Egide and the "Lithophage" returned seven years later for a new short story, 'Le Retour du Lithophage', this time written by Adréniz. For Ons Volkske, a low-budget comic magazine made in a joint production between Lombard and newspaper De Standaard, Ploeg drew the comic strip 'Picazzo' (1976).


'Egidius en de Stenenslikker' (Kuifje #45, 12 November 1970).

Prosper
By 1974, most of Ploeg's other strips and cartoons in Tintin made place for his pantomime gag strip 'Prosper'. The character Prosper originated from the short serial 'Prosper Le Pirate', that Ploeg made in collaboration with scriptwriter Michel Greg for Tintin issues #49 of 1966 through #2 of 1967. Five years later, Ploeg picked up this character again and began using him in pantomime gag strips. Prosper is a bald-headed, big-nosed man with a Chaplin moustache and bowler hat. The first episode saw print in issue #12 of 1971 (1 August) and new gags appeared sporadically from then on. It wasn't until late 1973 until 'Prosper' enjoyed a steady, almost weekly publication, lasting up until 1978. Despite its longevity, Lombard never compiled the strips in book format. Only in 2006, a limited edition compilation of 'Prosper' cartoons was released on the occasion of that year's Mercator Comics Fair in Kruibeke, Belgium.

Prosper by Ploeg
Two 'Prosper' cartoons from 1977 and 1978.

Recognition
Eddy Ploeg was named "Best Humorist of the Year 1966" during the 'Lach je Krom' Exhibit of Humorists in Brussels. Another praised contestant in the exhibit was Vicq, also a Tintin cartoonist. In issue #6 of 1966, the magazine dedicated an article to celebrate its two contributors.

Final years and death
After 1978, Ploeg's contributions to Tintin diminished. Over the years, the magazine only occasionally ran a new cartoon. His most notable later-day contributions were tribute drawings to the comic artists Hergé and Bob de Moor, after their respective deaths in 1983 and 1992. Eddy Ploegaerts passed away in 2021 in his Mortsel home, at age 85.


Ploeg, during the 'Lach je Krom' Exhibition of Humorists in Brussels (Tintin #6, 1966).

Series and books by Ploeg in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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