A Calendar of Tales

Widely beloved author Neil Gaiman has started the project A Calendar of Tales, in which he invites the world to make art with him. Using the tweets of thousands of people as an inspiration, he has written twelve tales, one for each month, and is now inviting artists to illustrate them.

I love this.

Even though I’m busy enough preparing the translation of ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ (to be published in September) and the second print of ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’ (Yay! A second print!) AND the usual assignments and commissions, I’m making time to get into this project, reading and illustrating one tale a day.


It doesn’t pay anything – and though it may generate some exposure of my work, it’s highly unlikely it will make a big splash amidst the thousands of artworks that are being uploaded.

I’m doing this because it’s FUN – with all capital letters – the kind of fun that working aith others in a studio or 24 Hour Comics Day brings me. It’s the pleasure of working without restrictions, combined with the energy generated by a whole bunch of people doing the same thing, riding the same creative wave. Yes, I know I sound like a hippie, but I can really feel this almost tangible energy that surrounds a project like this. It’s crisp, it’s fresh, it’s positive. It’s thousands of people making stuff that did not exist before. It’s miraculous.

I wish the world could be more like this: simply Creative, without worrying about payments or copyrights. I’m so happy with people like Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer, who are showing the world the power of connectivity and what it can do for art.

Anyway, here are my illustrations so far:

Even though the tales are only about two pages long, Gaiman manages to conjure up such a wealth of imagery. It’s in my comic artist’s blood to try to get as much of the story into my drawing: the soldiers, the forest, the beach, the couple with the champagne, and of course the Unspeakable Things that lurk behind the seconds… You can read the story here.


The February Tale became a tryptich. It’s about an old lady who lost a pendant on a beach – but she doesn’t actually feature directly in the story. So I wanted to draw her, and her reaction to what’s happening, something that’s only speculated about.

I surprised myself with this one. Even though I can often picture in my head what kind of drawing I want, it always turns out different. That’s partly, I think, because I never had any formal education in drawing. I have not tried different styles as much as I would have liked to. In the past years, working on my books, I have stuck closely to my “simple” drawing style. After such a long time of full time drawing, I find that I actually have built some skill, a certain routine, a confidence that I can make a drawing work on a page. And now I can apply that confidence to these drawings in a whole new way and style, and here’s actually a realistic-looking Old Woman, that I didn’t know I could draw until now!


The March Tale is about pirates and a Southern porch and when I read it, I immediately saw silhouettes, because that reflects the nostalgia as well as the frilliness of the story. But I’ve never really done silhouettes, so again this was a nice experiment, and again I surprised myself! And lo and behold, it also turned out to be a tryptich:


It’s my intention to illustrate all of the twelve stories in the coming week. It gives a nice new impulse to my work rhythm. It’s like pushing myself into new territories – full of discoveries and unexpected vistas.

If you want to get in on this project, you can! You should! Artwork can be submitted until March 11. You can read all about it when you click this link.

Join in!

As Neil Gaiman says: “Sure, the world is full of artists, but none of them is YOU. Don’t withhold the world your unique view on things.”




Translating Digits of Pi

In September, my next book ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ will be published by NBM. Right now, I’m in the middle of translating this 192-pager from Dutch into English (using my own new font, yay!).

As always, translating poses interesting challenges – not only does the translation have to be accurate, it also has to fit into the space available. Fortunately, Dutch is a much “longer” language than English. The English wording usually comes out much shorter, which makes it easy on me. Except for a word like “circumference”, which is much longer than the Dutch “omtrek” – I’m coming across it in the chapter about Pi.

‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ – page on Pi


Pi is interesting for many reasons – this number has a lot of mystic and artistic connotations. And did you know that the search for ever more digits of Pi spurred the evolution of the computer?

In the original book I showcased an old Dutch rhyme that helped people memorize the digits of Pi:


Wie u eens π heeft verzonnen in aloude tijden

was nooit begonnen inderdaad spoedig geëindigd

als hij had ingezien welk gezeur de cijfers bien”


If you substitute each word for the number of letters it has, you get the correct values for the first 23 digits of pi.

I was really happy with this find, but dreaded translating it – until a quick Google-search taught me that the same kind of mnemonic for Pi has been done in English even more than in Dutch! Here is the page where I found it: Pi Wordplay.

So it was actually rather easy then to put in a good translation. And these are 31 digits, so the English actually teaches you more than the Dutch!



The New Year already brought exciting new plans, prospects and projects – including the intended publication of my next book at NBM in September: ‘Science: a Discovery in Science’. This calls for a new wave of Promotion when the time comes, and this time we’ll include some YouTube videos about the book. I could just video myself, but this seems a great opportunity to make an animation.

I’ve been wanting to learn animation but never got the time and besides, it’s my brother’s expertise. I have two brothers and we equally divided the Visual Media: Paul does documentary, Maarten does animation and I do comics. We never really ventured onto each others territory, but now I’m planning to. And who knows, maybe my brothers will start making graphic novels now.

I’m way at the beginning of this project, and this is the first thing I drew:


Now I just need to get it moving.

About ten years ago, I did a little bit of animation when I learned how to make animated GIFs – now an almost obsolete format but I hope it still runs on this blog. This is what I made:

It was for a site called animationbattle.com, and the characters getting their ass kicked were made by other animators – I even think two of them were made by my brothers. I don’t remember who “won” the animationbattle, but I definitely plan on making my comeback now!

History of the Earth

My Dutch book ‘Wetenschappen in Beeld’ gets a second print run! It has only been in stores for a few weeks, so I’m very happy!

Especially for the english-speaking followers of my blog, I have translated a few pages of the book to showcase here. In time, it will probably be published in English with the title ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’.

Here’s a page from the chapter about Isaac Newton. It seems he was a rather grumpy man, which made it great fun to make a comic about him.


The book also has a few spreads about subjects such as the Middle Ages, Electricity, Quantum and Genetics. Two of those, Genetics and the History of the Earth, have been made into huge posters which are sent to schools as promotional material:


Here’s the full History of the Earth in English, click twice on the picture to enlarge: