Urbanus 10 jaar live
Cover for LP 'Urbanus Tien Jaar Live', 1984, drawn by Urbanus.

Urbanus is a Flemish comedian and musician who has been a media mainstay since 1973. He is one of the few Flemish entertainers to be equally famous in the Netherlands, making him one of the most recognizable celebrities in the entire Low Countries. His comedy harbours an anarchic and absurd spirit, which is very popular with children too. In some circles, though, he is controversial because his jokes can be vulgar and often ridicule the Church. Since 1982 he stars in his own humoristic comics series, 'Urbanus', drawn by Willy Linthout. Capturing the essence of his persona, 'Urbanus' became a bestseller and the longest-running celebrity comics series in the world created by one and the same team! Urbanus has also scripted various gag comics, such as 'De Geverniste Vernepelingskes' (since 1997) with Jan Bosschaert, and 'Mieleke Melleke Mol' (2003) and 'Plankgas en Plastronneke' (2004), the latter both with Dirk Stallaert. Occasionally he has drawn gag comics himself, sometimes in collaboration with more professional Flemish cartoonists.

Early life
Urbain Joseph Servranckx was born in 1949 in Sint-Gertrudis-Pede. His parents were simple working class people who lived in a typical Flemish village where most people were churchgoers and bar hoppers. An astmatic child, Urbanus spent most of his time playing outside and reading comics magazines like Ons Volkske and 't Kapoentje. He had a particular fondness for Willy Vandersteen, Jef NysMorris and especially Marc Sleen. Since he was a slow reader he preferred one-page gag comics over entire adventure stories. In terms of comedy he looked up to Laurel & Hardy, while admiring Woody Allen and Monty Python as an adult. At age 15 Urbanus quit school and started doing several small-time jobs, among them baker boy and later storage clerk at Phonogram Records. In between he attended evening classes at Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels, to study publicity drawing. The teenager dreamed of becoming a cartoonist, yet realized he lacked both patience and enough skills. In the 1960s and 1970s there wasn't much opportunity for young Flemish comics artists either.

When Urbanus was 19 years old he witnessed his father suddenly passing out from a blood clot. He tried to reanimate him, but couldn't prevent him from dying on the spot. A year later he had another traumatic experience when he hitchhiked all the way to Katmandu, India. During his six-month travel he was seriously shocked by the extreme poverty and famine. After returning to Belgium he was determined to find a steady job, so he would never have to worry about financial problems.


Album cover of 'Urbanus van Anus op de vijver' (Parsifal, 1975).

Comedy career
Inspired by Bob Dylan, Randy Newman and the Dutch-language "kleinkunst" folk music movement Urbanus decided to become a singer-songwriter. In 1973 he and Jan De Wilde established their own band Anus (a name meaning the same in English as in Dutch). The young artist latinized his first name by calling himself "Urbanus", referring to various medieval popes with the same name. Originally he introduced himself as "Urbanus van Anus" ("Urbanus of Anus"), but at the advice of Dutch singing poet Drs. P he dropped this affix. In the early days Urbanus sang melancholic songs about serious topics. To avoid pretension he often told jokes in between. These intermezzos developed into actual comedy routines and eventually his lyrics became more humoristic too. Soon he was basically a comedian/cabaret artist.

Comedy stage shows had been popular in Flanders for decades, but most performers were clean-cut, old-fashioned and bland. Urbanus' comedy had a far more rock 'n' roll attitude, down to his long hair and beard. As part of his stage persona he depicted himself as a naïve but bratty manchild. He wore a Beanie (propellor hat) and big baggy pants with suspenders. Many of his comedy routines and songs are told from a child's perspective or, at least, a somewhat childlike adult. His frame of reference is the rural Flanders of his youth, when the Catholic Church was still a dominant force. Even in the 1970s this concept was already outdated, but he kept using it as an endless source of comedy. Contrary to his predecessors in Flemish comedy Urbanus wasn't decent and wholesome, but took an anti-authoritarian stance. He frequently mocked priests, nuns, God, Jesus, teachers, policemen, tax collectors, corny crooners and human rights organisations. His sketches were surreal, silly, macabre and vulgar. Older generations disliked him, but the youth - particularly children and teenagers - raised him to the status of cult hero. Some of his stage routines became classics, such as 'De Zwaantjes' en 'Hell's Angels'.

TV career
From 1974 on Urbanus also became a popular media star. At first mostly through broadcasts of his stage shows, songs and guest appearances in sitcoms, talk and game shows. By the end of the decade he made comedy TV series too, such as 'Urbanusstrips' (1979), 'Beter 10 crises in de lucht dan 1 in ons land' (1983), 'Meer Moet Dat Niet Zijn' (1992) and 'Genoeg Gelachen, Nu Humor' (1995). They usually alternated prerecorded stage show footage with short TV sketches on location, animated shorts and music videos. Some of these sketches have become classics and are still often repeated on Flemish television, such as 'Wreed Accident' - where Urbanus causes a car crash - and 'Wij Zijn De Mannen Die De Gas Doen Branden' - in which Urbanus and a group of boy scouts drink magical water. Many were remarkably surreal at the time, making him the inventor of alternative comedy in Flanders, a full decade before Kamagurka and Herr Seele popularized the genre with their TV show 'Lava' (1989). Yet Urbanus made more conventional comedy shows too. He was the creator and permanent panel member of the humoristic game show 'Wie Ben Ik?' (1989-1991), where two celebrity teams have to guess who or what they are through a series of odd hints. The format was later sold to the Netherlands with André van Duin and Ron Brandsteder as the team captains. Urbanus also wrote and starred in a more gentle family sitcom 'Urbain' (2005). In October 2016 Urbanus voiced himself in an episode of 'Sociaal Incapabele Michiel', an animated series by Tom Borremans, where Michiel has won Euro Millions.


Album cover for 'Urbanus: in 't echt!' (Philips, 1987).

Musical career
Urbanus released a string of singles, many which became big hits in the Flemish and Dutch charts: 'De Aarde' (1973),'De Wereld Is Om Zeep' (1974), 'Hels Angel' (1977), 'Vaarwel Theo' (1977), 'Bakske Vol Met Stro' (1979), 'Madammen Met Een Bontjas' (1979), 'Quand Les Zosiaux Chantent Dans Le Bois' (1979), 'Hittentit' (1982), 'Kodazuur' (1982), 'Belastingscontroleur' (1982), 'De Scratchin' Zwaantjes' (1984), '1-2-3 Rikke Tikke Tik' (1984), 'Poesje Stoei' (1995) and 'Co2 Prostituee' (2007). While the majority are humoristic, Urbanus is quite capable of writing more melancholic and bittersweet songs too, like 'De Aarde', 'Help Me, Ik Ben Rijk' (1975), 'Als Ik Doodga' (1977), 'Rustige Ouwe Dag' (1982) and 'De Publiciteitsjaren' (1982). They've made him the most popular novelty songwriter of Flanders. The classic record 'Urbanus 10 Jaar Live' (1983) compiles highlights of a decade worth of live performances and sold platina, becoming the bestselling album of his career. Many children who were young in the 1980s owned it, played it grey and performed the routines and songs at the playground and at parties. A collection of Urbanus' songs, 'De Plezantste Liedjes' (1985) is his most popular music compilation.

Urbanus was also a pioneer in music videos. His song 'De Scratchin' Zwaantjes' (1984) is, together with 'Poopeloo' (1980) by the Gantwerp Rappers, one of the earliest Dutch-language hiphop songs long before Def P and the Osdorp Posse established it as a serious genre. The comedy musician occasionally performed with musical bands who were influenced by him, like the Dutch punk band De Heideroosjes (their band name was inspired by a throwaway joke in one of his routines) and the Flemish bands Fixkes and De Fanfaar. In 2007 several Flemish artists recorded a cover album paying homage to Urbanus, with a live show to boot: 'Urbanus Vobiscum'. Many participating musicians never even recorded comedy songs, proving once again how much Urbanus had risen in status over the decades.


Comic by 'Urbanus' poking fun at his own movie 'Hector' (1987), drawn for the series 'Cinema Rapido' in Humo, issue #3671, 11 January 2011.

Film career
Stijn Coninx directed two feature films starring the comedian, namely 'Hector' (1987) and 'Koko Flanel' (1990), which broke all box-office records in Flanders. For nearly two decades they remained the most-attended theatrical film releases until Erik van Looy's film 'Loft' (2008) pulverized the record. 'Hector' won first prize at the International Festival of the Comedy Film in Chamrousse, France, where Urbanus won the "Best Actor" award too. Urbanus made one other movie in 1993, 'De Zevende Hemel', directed by Jean-Paul Lilienfeld. Due to executive meddling he wasn't satisfied with the end result and the picture indeed flopped. Since then Urbanus' film career has been limited to guest cameos, dubs and voiceovers, among them a role as Sjaak in 'De Duistere Diamant' (2004), a film adaptation of Willy Vandersteen's eponymous 'Suske en Wiske' album.


Cover illustration by Urbanus for his controversial Christmas single, 'Bakske Vol Met Stro' (1979). 

Controversy
Despite nearly half a century of success, Urbanus has always been somewhat controversial. Some people consider his work to be low-brow, coarse and infantile. Children usually appreciate him much more than adults. In the 1970s and 1980s Urbanus offended quite some religious people with his blasphemous comedy. His Christmas song 'Bakske Vol Met Stro' (1979) turned Jesus' birth into a farce and led to many angry comments. In some churches priests condemned it during their sermons. Some radio stations refused to play it. The scandal nevertheless made it one of his biggest hits and signature songs. A 1980 TV sketch mocking the Last Supper caused outrage too. In the skit Jesus is unable to break the bread and thus his apostles simply order some Belgian fries instead. Throughout his entire career Urbanus loved mocking religion, but was always the first to put his reputation in perspective. In his opinion there wasn't anything daring about it, since the Church had already lost much of its power by the time he broke through. While he considers himself an atheist he still has a fondness for Roman-Catholic rituals, as silly as they may appear. He married for the Church and had his children baptized. This has surprised quite some people, including the local priest who was somewhat reluctant to conduct the ceremony. But Urbanus kept it straight and scandal remained therefore absent. As of today he is still happily together with his bride and their three children.

Later in his career Urbanus caused controversy by attacking what he calls "modern-day sacred cows", namely humanitarian organisations. He frequently ridiculed them in his comedy, which critics held against him, since he is a millionaire himself. Nevertheless Urbanus has used his talent to support certain causes, such as his hit song 'Madammen Met Een Bontjas' (1980), which protests the fur trade, and in 2018-2019 he made special drawings for Hachiko, an organisation which trains dogs which help people with a handicap. In the 2010s Urbanus polarized some people by openly sympathizing with the Flemish nationalist, separatist and very conservative political party N-VA, going so far to perform at one of their party meetings in 2014. Some media claimed that the once left-wing hero had now become a hero to right-wingers. Urbanus defended himself that his overall opinions really hadn't changed that much over the years. All things considered the artist just wants to be the proverbial bad boy rebelling against any authority or preachiness, whether it be left- or right-wing. It perhaps comes to no surprise that one of his most unusual celebrity fans is Prince Laurent of Belgium, who has frequently rebelled against his upbringing too. On 29 January 2017 Urbanus and the prince were special guests at the Pauwel Feasts, which were named Immaterial Cultural Heritage that day. The fact that Urbanus associates himself with the prince despite the N-VA's anti-royal stance (and vice versa) proves his overall attitude.

Popularity in the Netherlands
In 1975 Urbanus first toured the Netherlands, something no other Flemish comedian ever tried, but he managed to find a whole new receptive audience. His shows - a combination of sketches and songs - were more in line with the Dutch cabaret tradition. Since cabaret is more professionalized and institutionalized there, Urbanus played for much larger audiences. Because Dutch people are predominantly protestant and quite fond of obscene comedy his jokes were less controversial than in his native country. But most of all they liked his funny Flemish accent and saw him as the stereotypical "dumb but loveable little Belgian." Popular in the entire Low Countries now, Urbanus could tour Flanders one year and then perform the same show in the Netherlands the next year. He kept a high media profile in both countries, creating a large export market for his merchandise and becoming one of the most recognizable celebrities. A 2007 poll conducted by the Flemish government among Dutch people revealed that Urbanus is the most famous Belgian in the Netherlands!

Lava comic by Urbanus
Comic about comics collector "Willy Lintworm", caricaturing cartoonist Willy Linthout, published in Lava (1989). The panel depicts a giant who demands 20 million old 'Jommeke' copies, which Lintworm interprets literally, in reference to Jef Nys' comics series 'Jommeke'. 

Urbanus' solo comics career
Urbanus never neglected his love for cartooning. He designed most of his own record covers. For his album 'Drie Sprookjes' (1977) he wrote and illustrated three fairy tales which he added as a bonus booklet. His most elaborate album cover is 'Urbanus 10 Jaar Live' (1984), which features many cartoony drawings, complete with speech balloons. On an irregular basis Urbanus has also drawn a few gag comics which appeared in magazines like Humo and P-Magazine. By lack of characters he usually makes himself the protagonist. 'Urbanus en Jaloezie' (Humo, 6 November 1986) features an argument about the pronunciation of the word "Talbot". In the late 1980s he often collaborated with Humo's home cartoonists Kamagurka and Herr Seele. In Humo issue #2468 (15 October 1987) the trio made a photo comic featuring "behind the scenes footage" of Urbanus' upcoming film 'Hector'. Urbanus was portrayed in colour "since he is the star", while the director (Kamagurka) and cameraman (Seele) are shown in black-and-white. In Humo issue #2490 (26 May 1988) the artists made another photo comic spoofing Marc Sleen's 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' as 'De Lustige Krapuultjes'. In 1989-1990, when Kamagurka and Seele made the absurd comedy show 'Lava', Urbanus was featured as a guest star in the 'Wally in Space' segment and also created a four-page comic strip for one of the comic book albums based on the series. The story in question spoofed cartoonist Willy Linthout as an obsessive comics collector.

De Lastige Krapuultjes by Urbanus
'De Lastige Krapuultjes' (photo comic starring Kamagurka, Herr Seele and Urbanus), published in Humo issue #2490 (26 May 1988).

Four years later Urbanus drew another gag comic for Humo at the occasion of the World Championship Association Football (Humo, 7 June 1990). On 8 October 1996, in the same magazine, Urbanus created a text comic featuring 10 ways "to avoid having to rise in front of a judge". When Humo conducted a double interview between him and Marc Sleen (issue #3647, 27 July 2010) Urbanus made a special cartoon portraying Sleen as him and himself as Bolleke. Thirty years earlier the magazine Story also conducted a double interview between Sleen and Urbanus, for which Urbanus made a four-page gag comic starring him and Sleen's hero Nero. In 1987 Urbanus had an illustrated column in the magazine Uitverkocht where he reviewed new comic albums. In September 1990 an one-panel cartoon by his hand about government taxes appeared in Het Laatste Nieuws. Urbanus furthermore made a special comic strip ridiculing the TV quiz 'De Slimste Mens ter Wereld' (in which he too was a regular jury member). The gag comic appeared in January 2010 in the one-shot magazine Erik, centering around the show's quiz master Erik van Looy. During the summer of 2011 Urbanus made a special crowd drawing for Het Nieuwsblad, where readers have to spot a certain character on a beach.

Comic strip for Humo, by Urbanus
Comic strip drawn by Urbanus for Humo, 6 November 1986.

The 'Urbanus' celebrity comic
In 1982 cartoonist Willy Linthout came up with the idea of making a comic strip about Urbanus. He felt the comedian had potential since both his comedy and stage outfit were cartoony. Urbanus was furthermore very popular with children and famous both in Flanders as well as the Netherlands, making a celebrity comic a very lucrative idea. His hunch turned out be correct: the 'Urbanus' comics were an instant bestseller. At first Linthout wrote and drew everything on his own, but after two albums Urbanus joined in the fun. Contrary to popular thought, Urbanus doesn't write or illustrate the albums. He did design a few characters, but the majority of the cast and stories were created by Linthout. Urbanus mostly comes up with extra gags and plot twists. The gentlemen are fellow spirits. Both love comics and collecting them. They share the same taste in comedy and enjoy breaking taboos. Urbanus in particular was happy that his childhood dream of having his own comics series had finally come true! Together with publisher Jef Meert the duo established their own publishing company Loempia, who distributed the albums until 1996, after which it was sold to Standaard Uitgeverij. Today 'Urbanus' is one of the few Flemish comics series to sell well in the Netherlands. With three and a half decades it's also the longest-running celebrity comics series in the world by one and the same team! Celebrity comics about the comedic duo Laurel & Hardy and Mexican wrestler El Santo may have ran longer, but these were drawn by dozens of different artists, often without each other's knowledge.

Much of the series' success and longevity can be attributed to Linthout's talent as a storyteller and doing Urbanus' style justice. The fact alone that many people still incorrectly assume that he makes the series on his own is a testament to Linthout's achievement. Naturally one can't overlook Urbanus' continuous media fame either. He is still a household name after nearly half a century, which gives the comic strip constant extra promotion. Contrary to many other celebrities with their own comic Urbanus has a gift for self mockery. He doesn't mind being put in embarrassing and painful situations, something other media stars would never tolerate. This provides Linthout with a tremendous amount of creative freedom, which enabled him to create his own little universe beyond being "just a celebrity comic." In fact, some children have discovered the comic strip before they even heard about the real-life comedian!

The 'Urbanus' comics led to a stream of merchandising products, including an animated short, 'Het Lustige Kapoentje' (1995), and animated feature film 'Urbanus de Vuilnisheld' (2019). Linthout and Urbanus kept a clear eye on their overall quality of all these products, making sure they were in line with the tone of the comics.


'De Geverniste Vernepelingskes', artwork by Jan Bosschaert. In this particular gag Flemish TV star Bart Peeters and children's TV host Ilse Van Hoecke are lampooned. At the time this gag comic appeared in print they co-hosted the TV show 'De Nationale I.Q. Test'. 

De Geverniste Vernepelingskes
In 1997 Urbanus visited an exhibition by Jan Bosschaert. Bosschaert had once given Urbanus a celebrity cameo in one of his earliest comics series, 'Pest in 't Paleis' (1983), but otherwise didn't really know one another. They struck a friendship and over the course of several months faxed dirty cartoons to each other's address. This eventually evolved into their comics series 'De Geverniste Vernepelingskes' (1998), which is both a celebrity comic and a parody of the genre. Urbanus and Bosschaert star as the main characters. Most episodes are two-page gag comics and usually start off with Bosschaert painting some Flemish celebrity in the nude until Urbanus interrupts him (in some episodes it's the other way around). He takes him along on some hare-brained mission, job or scheme full of absurd situations. Inevitably they come across some famous Belgian or Dutch celebrities who are mercilessly lampooned and usually stripped naked. Contrary to Urbanus' other comics 'De Geverniste Vernepelingskes' deliberately aims at a more adult audience. The series was prepublished in the men's magazine Ché. One gag comic was specifically made for Rob Vanoudenhoven's one-shot magazine Rob in 1999, which he made as a challenge for his TV show 'De XII Werken van Vanoudenhoven'.

The comedy is usually crass and silly, in short: Urbanus' familiar hallmarks. Yet Bosschaert's drawing talent pulls everything to a classier level. His action scenes are drawn very dynamically, with spot-on caricatures of the portrayed celebrities. Urbanus often helped him obtaining suitable photographs. He praised Bosschaert for portraying all nude bodies in a convincing and still titillating way: "They often look far more sexy than they would in real life." Yet Urbanus' writing is witty as well. Many episodes feature sharp satire of Flemish radio & TV shows, newspapers, public events, politics, the Royal Family, the Catholic Church, the art industry, sports,… and so on. The authors don't spare one another either. Urbanus is portrayed with a huge potbelly and, together with Bosschaert, often end up hurting, embarrassing or exposing themselves in the nude. The comic strip has even targeted some of Urbanus' celebrity friends, including Marc Sleen. In 2012 Bosschaert retired from the series, passing the pencil to Steven Dupré. Yet Ché felt Dupré's drawing style didn't fit the tone of the series, so eventually Urbanus decided to draw everything on his own.

Mieleke Melleke Mol
On 11 November 2003 Urbanus started two new children's comics, both drawn by Dirk Stallaert who'd just illustrated Marc Sleen's 'Nero' for the past decade. Since both Sleen and Urbanus share the same nonsensical style, Stallaert was the perfect man to illustrate Urbanus' crazy scripts. Their first comics series, 'Mieleke Melleke Mol' (2003) aims at a children just learning to read. The title is a reference to the slogan "Milke Melke Mol! Karwitsel Karditsel Kardol" by the Melkbrigade ("Milk Brigade"), a 1960s media campaign to motivate children to drink more milk. The main characters in the comic strip are the boy Mieleke, the girl Melleke and Mol, a cute mole who performs funny background comedy. The children and their pet live with their aunt Tante Tulp who - like her name implies - carries a flower pot on her behind. All gags are written in easy language and feature charming - if somewhat unusual - punchlines.


'Urbanus vertelt...'

Plankgas en Plastronneke
'Plankgas en Plastronneke' is closer to the classic Belgian gag comics Urbanus grew up with. Just like these predecessors all action takes place in a quiet Flemish village where bratty children interact with a meddling police officer. Plankgas is a tall, buck-toothed boy with a red quiff and an artificial leg. Plastronneke is a short, obese, bespactled and asthmatic kid with a large tie ("plastron" is a Flemish corruption of the French word "plastron" for tie). Plastronneke can be understood as a self-caricature of Urbanus, who also suffered from asthma as a child. The children often face off against the mean police officer Winston. Other characters in the series are far more eccentric and the plots can be surreal and full of black comedy. The series was originally published in the Saturday supplement XL of the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, from 19 June 2004 on.

'Plankgas en Plastronneke' and 'Mieleke Melleke Mol' were originally sold as separate titles, but later made available as under the collective series title 'Urbanus Vertelt'. Urbanus promoted both series through a children's show, 'Urbanus Vertelt' (2009), on the TV channel VTM, where he read gags from the comics to young viewers. The show was intercut with music videos promoting the characters.

Studio Vandersteen
Between 2002 and 2004 Urbanus co-wrote the scripts for the first four stories of 'Klein Suske en Wiske' (2002-2015, 2017), a juvenile spin-off of Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske', drawn by Jeff Broeckx and originally written by Marc Legendre. When he left the series Pieter van Oudheusden became the new scriptwriter. The final story was written by Anneke Scholtens, after which Broeckx retired and the series came to an end. In 2017 a new 'Klein Suske en Wiske' tale was written by Peter Van Gucht and drawn by Studio Noodweer (in reality Maarten Gerritsen).

Urbanus en de Pink Penarie Pop
In 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dutch music festival Pinkpop, Urbanus wrote the exclusive comic book 'Urbanus en de Pink Penarie Pop' (2019) in which he visits the festival. Dirk Stallaert illustrated the story. The comic book can be purchased through the Pinkpop website.

Urbanus and Marc Sleen
Marc Sleen and Urbanus (drawing by Urbanus for an interview in Humo #3647, 27 July 2010).

Graphic homages
Urbanus has frequently paid tribute to other artists. On 23 April 1998 Ons Magazine featured an old comic strip from Vandersteen's 'Het Plezante Circus', in which Urbanus replaced one of the characters with himself. He paid homage to Marc Sleen several times, namely in the books 'Marc Sleen 80. De enige echte' (2002) and 'Marc Sleen 90. Liber Amicorum' (2012) to respectively celebrate his 80th and 90th birthday. In 2004 he and Dirk Stallaert recorded a song for Sleen titled 'Ode aan Marc Sleen', which he performed at the occasion of the final 'Nero' album, dressed up as Sleen's character Bolleke. Urbanus performed this song again at Sleen's funeral in 2016.

In 2005 Urbanus made a graphic contribution to the book '60 Jaar Suske en Wiske' to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske'. The cast of 'Urbanus' had a cameo appearance in Merho's 'De Kiekeboes' album 'Bij Fanny op Schoot' (2005), where Fanny Kiekeboe interviews comics characters from different franchises. The same year Urbanus drew a tribute to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "monument" Dirk Stallaert. On April Fool's Day 2008 the Flemish newspaper Het Belang van Limburg brought out a special edition where all the articles and photographs were written and manipulated by Urbanus. Inside the edition was a special photo comic, 'Bleek and Skortrimmer' which spoofed Edgar P. Jacobs' 'Blake and Mortimer' with Urbanus playing Mortimer and fellow comedian Geert Hoste taking the part of Blake.


Comic strip by Urbanus visualizing a scene from the comedy film 'Play It Again, Sam' (1972), starring Woody Allen. Published in Humo #3652, 31 August 2010.

When Jef Nys passed away in 2009, Het Belang van Limburg published a memorial cartoon by Urbanus which depicted him as Jommeke holding a bomb, crying "life has lost its purpose". He also attended Nys' funeral. A year later he drew another graphic tribute to him for the homage book 'Jommekes Bij De Vleet' (2010). The same year Urbanus participated with the 'Cinema Rapido' project in Humo #3652 (31 August 2010) where Flemish and Dutch cartoonists adapted their favorite film in one comic page. He picked out Herb Ross' picture 'Play It Again, Sam', starring Woody Allen. On 28 December 2010, the comedian celebrated Kim Duchateau's comics series 'Esther Verkest' in an issue of P-Magazine. In Humo #3671 (11 January 2011) Urbanus ridiculed his own movie 'Hector' with a comic strip depicting the "outtakes". After the terrorist attacks on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015, Urbanus drew two cartoons in tribute. One featured a terrorist "flunking his exam" at the humor school. The other depicted Urbanus as Charlie Chaplin. In 2017 Urbanus drew a graphic tribute to André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' in the album 'Gefeliciflaterd!' (2017).

Legacy and influence
After a career spanning nearly 50 years, Urbanus still makes media appearances and occasionally tours. It made him a millionaire, enabling him to do what he wants for the rest of his life. Yet he always stressed that he lost a lot of money in the early years because his book keeper and manager double-crossed him. In his home country Urbanus is nowadays regarded as a national treasure. Even though he pointed to Gaston Berghmans (1926-2016) as the real godfather of Flemish TV comedy, many people nevertheless regard him as the founder. It cannot be denied that Urbanus' impact on present-day Dutch-language comedy has been much larger. He influenced nearly five generations and in many different media. In April 2006 a special documentary series, 'In De Ban van Urbanus', was broadcast on TV, where modern-day Flemish stand-up comedians paid tribute to him.

Many cartoonists have given Urbanus cameos in their work over the decades. Guido van Meir and Jan Bosschaert cast him as a 16th-century pope in their satirical comic book album 'Pest in 't Paleis' (1983). In the 'Nero' story 'De Terugkeer van Geeraard de Duivel' (1983) Marc Sleen depicted Urbanus alongside Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Khomeini and Arafat as a sinner in Hell, referencing his frequent ridicule of the Church. When Urbanus saw his cameo he felt he "really made it." He and Sleen became lifelong friends, sharing a bond over their collective expertise regarding bird species. Karel Biddeloo portrayed Urbanus as Urban the jester in no less than three 'De Rode Ridder' stories, namely 'Stille Getuigen' (1986), 'De Heren van Rode' (1989) and 'De Slag Bij Woeringen' (1989). Biddeloo had asked the comedian for permission, but by the third story even Urbanus himself felt the joke started to wear thin. He asked Biddeloo to just kill off the character and his wish was granted. Paul Geerts caricatured Urbanus among other Flemish celebrities in the 'Suske en Wiske' story 'De Krimson-Crisis' (1988). Erik Meynen gave Urbanus a cameo in the first album of his satirical celebrity comic 'Van Rossem' (1991), though portrayed him as the little boy from the 'Urbanus' comics. Last but not least cartoonist Gal designed posters for Urbanus' stage performances in the Netherlands in the 1980s.

The village Galmaarden has an annual award, 'De Bronzen Urbanus', for citizens who did something worthwhile for the town. Usually Urbanus is personally present at the ceremony to give the winner his award. On 8 April 2000 Koenraad Tinel revealed a bronze statue of Urbanus, erected in the comedian's home town Tollembeek. Rather than make a realistic portrait he based the statue on Urbanus' comic book persona. The sculpture portrays Urbanus and his pets Amedee and Nabuko Donosor laughing at people passing by. It was deliberately placed on a square not far from a local school. In 2001 the comic book Urbanus received another statue, this time at the dyke in Middelkerke, as part of the local Comics' Heroes Route. During the election of "The Greatest Belgian" Urbanus ended at nr. 134 in the Flemish edition, outside the general list. On 9 April 2017 the indoor theme park Comics Station near the Central Station in Antwerp opened, featuring attractions based on six Belgian comics series, among them 'Urbanus'. In 2019 it was announced that a comic mural will be created in Antwerp, paying homage to the 'Urbanus' comics series.

Books about Urbanus
For those interested in Urbanus the website www.urbanusfan.be is highly recommended, highlighting every possible aspect of his career. Tom Wouters published the equally insightful book 'Urbanus - Van Amedee tot Zulma' (2019), which contains an interview with Linthout and Urbanus about both 'Urbanus' as well as their other comics series.


Lambiek's Kees Kousemaker, dressed as Sinterklaas), presents Urbanus the 50th album of his celebrity comic, 'De Hete Urbanus', in the Antwerp Hilton Hotel (5 December 1994).

www.urbanusfan.be

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