Spike and Suzy

Spike and Suzy

Supercbbox| title = Spike and Suzy
comic_color =background:#c0c0c0

caption =
schedule =
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publisher = "De Nieuwe Standaard" "Tintin"
date = 1946–
issues = 234
main_char_team = Spike Suzy Aunt Sidonia Ambrose Jerome
writers = Willy Vandersteen Paul Geerts
artists = Willy Vandersteen Paul Geerts
pencillers =
inkers =
colorists =
creative_team_month =
creative_team_year =
creators = Willy Vandersteen

"Spike and Suzy", the British title for "Suske en Wiske" in Dutch, is a comics series created by the Belgian comics author Willy Vandersteen. The strip is known as Bob et Bobette and Willy and Wanda in U.S. It was first published in "De Nieuwe Standaard" in 1945 and soon became popular. Alhough not in its earlier form, the strip adapted to the Ligne claire style pioneered by Hergé, a change taking place when the strip became serialised in Hergé's comics magazines "Kuifje" and "Tintin", from 1948 to 1959.

The books revolve around the adventures of the eponymous Spike and Suzy, two children, along with their friends and family. The stories combine elements of comedy, fantasy and science fiction, such as talking animals, time travel and ghosts.

The strip still runs daily in "De Standaard", new books are being created, and remain popular among children in the Netherlands and Belgium. As of 2008, 300 books have been published. Many Flemish and Dutch adults consider the older books to be classics of the comic book genre. Actually it may be argued that the series created by Vandersteen himself, prior to about 1972, belong to a somewhat different genre of comics than those made after he handed over the production to his assistants.Fact|date=September 2007

Main characters

The main characters are a group of friends. In the first regular comic, Suzy and her Aunt Sidonia meet the orphan Spike and unrelated Professor Barnabas. In the next comic, they also meet Ambrose. Later, in "De dolle musketiers" (book #18, 1953), Jerom (called Jethro in the UK version), the self-proclaimed "strongest man in the western hemisphere", was introduced.*Suzy: originally Wiske (Flemish diminutive of Louise), also known as Wanda or Bobette, is the young heroine. Slightly younger than Spike, she seems to be an orphan as well. In the out-of-series prequel "Rikki en Wiske" from 1945, she has an older brother Rikki, but he disappears after that story to be replaced by Spike. She lives with her aunt Sidonia (as does Spike after the first story). Strong-headed, curious and slightly foolish, she is a brave girl as well, quite similar to Spike in many aspects. She is dressed in a white skirt with a red stripe, and has a red ribbon in her fair hair.

*Muffin, originally Schalulleke, later renamed to Schanulleke, also known as Molly or Sawdust, is Suzy's doll. A small human (probably female) figure, she is inanimate. She has a major role in a few stories when she gets stolen (album 6, "Prinses Zagemeel"), brought to life, or is turned into a mindless giant. The original name Schalulleke was not acceptable in the Netherlands since "lul" is a Dutch slang word for "penis".

*Aunt Sidonia, originally called tante Sidonie, later renamed to tante Sidonia, and also once known as Agatha, is Suzy's aunt. Long and extremely thin with gigantic feet, a large protruding chin, and fair hair, she is often portrayed as the housewife but very often joins the heroes on their adventures. She is known for her hysterical fits and her crush on Ambrose.

*Professor Barabas, is a long-time friend of Suzy and Aunt Sidonia, first met in "Het Eiland Amoras" ("An Island called Hoboken"). He is the archetypical distracted professor, but contrary to many mad scientists he is entirely benevolent. His main inventions are the Teletime machine (which enables them to travel through time and space), the Gyronef (a helicopter well ahead of its time), the Terranef (a subterranean vehicle), and the Klankentapper, which enables you to talk with plants. Contrary to most other main characters, he does not appear in all comics.

*Ambrose, originally called Lambik and once known as Orville, is a bald man of about fifty (that is, in 1947, when he first appeared. In situation of crisis, he will always fall back onto his "souvenirs of '14-'18" (World War I). He is first encountered in album 3, "The Zincshrinker", as a rather stupid plumber. He is intended as the comic relief of the series, considering himself the main hero but often ruining the plans of the others by his pompous behaviour and his short temper. He is usually the only one of the main characters who gets tempted by evil, like in album 67, "De Poenschepper", but in the end he has a good character and cares about his friends. He lives together with Jethro.

*Jethro, originally known as Jerom and also known as Wilbur, is an extremely strong man, brought from prehistory to the Middle Ages by an alchemist in album 18, "The merry musketeers" as a mindless weapon. He falls in love with Muffin and turns into a caring man instead of a wild beast, and is subsequently taken along by the friends to the present. Initially he is dressed in a loincloth only and speaks in grunts and monosyllables, but soon he becomes a smart, sophisticated man, although he still speaks in a peculiar shorthand. His character is often used as a deus ex machina solution for the troubles his friends and especially Ambrose get in, but he is equally often drugged or away on a trip as to avoid the easy solution for the story.

Other characters

*Krimson. A principal bad guy, Krimson was introduced in "Het rijmende paard" (#48, 1963). Later in the series, after a stint in prison, he's forced to start over as a petty criminal (a lifestyle he temporarily forsakes in "Amoris van Amoras" (book 200, 1984) Growing stronger again, he manages to overthrow the Belgian government ("De Krimson Crisis", book 215, 1988). In "De Kwaaie Kwieten" (book 209, 1987; his first outing since "Amoris van Amoras") he even constructs a top-secret military base capable of fighting extraterrestrials. For reasons unknown he often suffers from mental breakdowns, throwing fits until his butler force feeds him a large quantity of pills. Despite his name there is no connection between him and the colour crimson, other than that both often have sinister connotations.

*Arthur is Ambrose’s younger brother who grew up in the jungle and gained the ability to fly from the juice of a plant. He is more primitive than his brother, but substantially smarter. He dresses in animal skins and wears a beard, though it is unknown if he, unlike Ambrose, has much hair on his head as he always sports a bowler hat. He spends more time in the air and in trees than on the ground, and therefore has acquired some bird characteristics, such as standing on his hands instead of his feet and chirping while speaking. His favorite food is birdseed.

Character evolution

Over the course of the series, characters are added and changed, and stories become more didactic. Ambrose and Jethro change significantly: in the beginning, Ambrose was just an amusing fool, in current stories he is a cynical and sceptical man. In early stories, Jethro was initially portrayed as an ignorant strong man, who evolved into a sophisticated and quiet man in later works. In most stories Muffin is only a doll, but one very special to Suzy, and they are inseparable. In some stories Muffin comes to life and plays an important role.


In the earliest stories, Willy Vandersteen used fictional countries like "Chokowakije" (a fictional Eastern European country) and "Amoras" (a tropical island, "Hoboken" in the English language version). He dropped the use of those after a few stories, although some later stories revisit Amoras.

Most of the current adventures of Spike and Suzy happen in real countries all over the world, with Belgium (their home country) and the Netherlands as main focus for many stories.

While in the early stories large distances were usually traveled using the fictitious "Gyronef", an experimental helicopter devised by professor Barabas, starting from the 1960s all air travel is provided by the non-fictional Dutch national airline KLM, making it an early and prominent example of product placement in European comics. Vandersteen chose KLM over the former Belgian national airline SABENA because of his friendship with Ron Winderink, PR manager at KLM.cite web |url=http://www.gva.be/dossiers/-s/sn/sus.asp |title=Van SABENA tot SN Brussels Airlines |accessdate=2007-02-27 |date=1997-11-04 |publisher=GVA |language=Dutch]

Publication history

Willy Vandersteen created "Suske en Wiske", beginning publication in "De Nieuwe Standaard" on March 30, 1945. To Vandersteen's disappointment the editor had renamed the strip's first chapter "Rikki en Wiske".Cite web|last=Lambiek Comiclopedia|title=Willy Vandersteen|url= http://lambiek.net/artists/v/vandersteen.htm] The following story was titled "De avonturen van Suske en Wiske - Op het eiland Amoras" and no longer featured Rikki.Cite web|last=Koper|first=Frank|publisher=Suske en Wiske op het www| title=Introduction to the history of Spike and Suzy|url=http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/index.html?intro/engintro.html] Ater a few years of publication in several newspapers, Vandersteen was approached by Hergé, intent to improve sales of the Dutch language "Kuifje", who wanted "Suske and Wiske" for his publications rebuilt in the Ligne claire style.Cite web|last=Lambiek Comiclopedia|title=Tintin|url=http://lambiek.net/magazines/tintin.htm] Vandersteen made the adaptation and "Suske en Wiske" first appeared in "Kuifje" and Belgian "Tintin" on September 16, 1948 with the story titled "Het Spaanse spook" and "Le Fantôme Espagnol" in the two languages.Cite web|last=BDoubliées|title=Tintin année 1948|url= http://bdoubliees.com/tintinbelge/annees/1948.htm|language=French] In all 8 stories ran until it ended in April 1959, making up the material collected in The Blue Series.

Vandersteen established Studio Vandersteen in 1952 to manage his expanded activities. To have time for other series such as "De Rode Ridder" ("The Red Knight") and "Tijl Uilenspiegel", he gave Paul Geerts the job of creating new albums of "Suske en Wiske" in 1968. Geerts did this until 2001, when he gave this task to Marc Verhaegen. From 2005 on, a team of writers and cartoonists makes the new series, led by Luc Morjeau. These authors are helped by Studio Vandersteen.


Newspapers and magazines

Before "Suske en Wiske" appeared as albums, they were published in several newspapers and magazines, such as:
*"De Standaard" (1945-...) daily newspaper
*"Tintin" and "Kuifje" magazines (1948-1959) Éditions du Lombard's French and Dutch sister publications
*"TV Ekspres" (1972-2001) weekly TV magazine
*"Suske en Wiske weekblad" (1993-2003) weekly comics magazine

The Red Series and The Blue Series

The books are generally divided into two groups - "The Red Series", and "The Blue series". The Red Series contains the vast majority of the books, and is so called because all of the books in this series have a red colour. There are only a few books in the blue series, and they are so called because of their blue colour. The blue series encompasses all those originally published in "Tintin" and "Kuifje". The Red series is everything published before or after. The following album series exist:
* 1.The Red Series
#.The Flemish non-coloured series (1946-1959): 1-35
#.The Dutch non-coloured series(1953-1959): 1-23
#.The Flemish two-coloured series (1959-1964): 7,19,20,32-50
#.The Dutch two-coloured series (1959-1964): 1,8,10,11,21-50
#.The uniform Flemish-Dutch (two-coloured)series (1964-1966): 51-66
#.The (uniform) four-coloured series (1967-...): 67-... ; the first 66 albums and the blue series have been re-edited in this series.
* 2.The Blue Series (1952-1957)

pecial editions

Other stories or editions have been published, such as:
#.The collector's editions (1958-...)
#.Advertisement editions (1965-...)
#.Various collections (1972-...)
#.Holiday editions (1973-...)
#.Luxury editions (1977-...)
#.Suske en Wiske Classics (1993-1999)

Albums in English

"Main article List of Spike and Suzy books in English"

English translations have been published in three incarnations. The first was in the U.S., under the name of "Willy and Wanda". It was then published in the U.K. in the 1990s named "Bob and Bobette", a copy of the French title. The final print run was in the U.K. by the title "Spike and Suzy".

Other languages

Translations in other languages (including regional dialects) are plentiful but may exist as short-lived series only.

The series is known in the following languages as:
*Afrikaans: Neelsie en Miemsie
*Brabantian: Suske en Wieske
*Chinese (Taiwanese version): Dada & Beibei
*Chinese (mainland version): Bo bu & Bo be te
*Danish: Finn & Fiffi (later: Bob & Bobette)
*Esperanto: Cisko kaj Vinjo
*Finnish: Anu ja Antti
*French: Bob & Bobette
*German: Ulla und Peter (later: Bob und Babette/Suske und Wiske/Frida und Freddie)
*Greek: Bobi & Lou
*Indonesian: Bobby dan Wanda
*Islandic: Siggi og Vigga
*Italian: Bob e Bobette
*Japanese: ススカとウィスカ (Susuka to Wisuka)
*Latin: Lucius et Lucia
*Norwegian: Finn & Fiffi
*Portuguese: Bibi & Baba
*Portuguese (Brazil): Zé & Maria
*Spanish: Bob y Bobette, Bob y Bobet
*Swahili: Bob na Bobette
*Swedish: Finn & Fiffi
*Tamil: Bayankaap & Bayanam
*Tibetan: Baga & Basang

pin-off series

There have been various spin-off comic series from "Spike and Suzy":

*In 1960, "Jerom" began publication. It featured the character Jerom (Jethro) and focused on his adventures as a modern day knight.
*In the 1950s, "Lambik" (Ambrose), ran in the newspaper "De Bond". These were then put into the albums called "De Grappen van Lambik" ("The jokes of Ambrose"). The series was ended in 1962, but in 2004, it resumed with new stories. Seven books in the new series have been released.
*In 2002, "Klein Suske en Wiske" ("Small Spike and Suzy") ran in the magazine "Suske en Wiske weekblad". It charts the adventures of the children when they were very small, along with their pet dog. So far nine albums have been released, containing short sketches.

Other media

The strip has made it onto TV, cinema and stage:

* In 1975, BRT produced a TV series consisting of six stories taking the form of a puppet show narrated by Ambrose. These stories were later converted into comics. Dutch broadcaster TROS was the first to air the series with BRT following suit in 1976. Dust-offs came in 1985 and 1990.

* In 1994, a musical was started by the Royal Youth Theatre of Antwerp. It ran for several years, touring the country.

* In 2004, "Suske en Wiske: De duistere diamant", a "Spike and Suzy" live action film was released in French and Dutch called "The Dark Diamond". The score for the movie was written by Brian Clifton.

(NB: Aunt Sidonia is always played by a male actor - in the movie as well in the musicals. Apparently no actresses could be found with Sidonia's frame)

* A CGI animated film called is in production. It is scheduled to be released in 2008. The film will be the first of a projected 13 films. It will be produced by Skyline Entertaiment.


* [http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/index.html?voorpub/index.html Index of "Suske en Wiske" publications] , [http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/index.html?voorpub/kuifje.html "Suske en Wiske" publications in "Kuifje"] Suske en Wiske op het www nl_icon
* [http://bdoubliees.com/tintinbelge/series1/bobbobette.htm"Bob et Bobette" publications in Belgian "Tintin"] and [http://bdoubliees.com/journaltintin/series1/bobetbobette.htm French "Tintin"] BDoubliées fr_icon;Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.studiovandersteen.be/ Studio Vandersteen official site] nl_icon
* [http://suskeenwiske.ophetwww.net/enghome.html "Spike and Suzy" on the www]

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