An alliterative name: From Bas Blommert via Grim Grabbert to Douwe “Tabberd” and finally Douwe Dabbert. From a side character to an established hero from page 13 - Donald Duck #1, 1975, who wouldn't leave for 26 years.
Did you know, that on Ameland there is a grave of DOUWE Roep ... Is that a sheer coincidence, or not?
Princess Pauline was named after the first girl Thom Roep dated. He was then 6 years old.
Most people can be compared to an open book, only reading requires some effort, said the then editor-in-chief of Eppo, Frits van der Heide.
In The Spoiled Princess, Pauline smears shoe polish on a doorknob on page 2. The author came up with this idea thanks to a mischievous little boy he had known in his youth. He made the neighborhood unsafe by smearing dog turds on doorknobs ....
The second Douwe Dabbert story "The Hidden Animal Kingdom" received less positive letters from the editors, because in the story innocent animals are eaten. Nevertheless, the album edition of this story would become the best-selling album in the Douwe Dabbert series.
Drawn by Piet Wijn, Ludu Lafhart looked remarkably like Thom's former Dutch teacher, Mr. Van W., living in The Hague. A man who was certainly not among Thom's favorites, but vice versa the same was true.
In "Gateway to the East" a miraculous coincidence provided an approachable companion. On plate 10, Piet Wijn drew seven little men freed by Douwe, but on plate 12, in which the witch Wredulia locks them in a bottle again, he accidentally drew one bottle too few. Thom and Piet discovered this by accident only a few weeks later, and so on plate 20 one of the little men was able to crawl out of Douwe's knapsack and take on the role of co-player.
Thom added Ludo Knudde as someone "small, puffy, with stringy blond color hair and pig eyes." He had no one actually in mind, but once drawn, the resemblance to a former boy next door was striking.
The name Nama, Douwes' main co-star in "The Sea to the South," takes its name from a population group. The Nama were called Hottentots in the past. Their language was also called Nama. Originally, the Nama inhabited only the Orange River area in the extreme south of Namibia and extreme north of South Africa.
In "The Way to West," the ship Vrouwe Margaretha, with Amsterdam as its home port, is named after his wife.
Better well nicked than bad invented, they sometimes say...... Whether this also applies to the movie Jumanji (1995) starring Robin Williams, among others, remains to be seen. There are a number of scenes in the film that bear some striking similarities to "The messy work of Pief"......
Did you know that "Five unpleasant meetings" was the working title for "On the Trail of Evil Things"?
Did you know, that on page 37 of "The Lady in the Frame" Thom Roep featured the Elven King Oberon as a tribute to Publisher Oberon because he had always been a great employer for both Thom and Piet.
Did you know that "The Gateway to the East" in Donald Duck ran to as many as 55 pages? And that the same issue in Spanish (La puerta de Oriente) was shortened to 48 pages - 8 pages in total - by Editorial Bruguera, for reasons of saving paper?
It is known, that Douwe Dabbert meets various persons again in other editions, but it did not occur to me, that Teun the blacksmith and his family, who appear as extras in "Douwe Dabbert's Christmas Adventure", also played a minor role in the first album "The spoiled princess" .....
The fact that the nipple of Douwes' belt sometimes turns out the wrong way is discussed at length in De Bouterbode #44. It was a blind spot of Piet Wijn's, which he also sees happen sometimes in other work.... It is not a particular period but just a persistent recurring mistake.....
It turns out, that Thom, being left-handed also often wears his belt "the wrong way around", as that buckles easier!!!
One joke that Dickie Dapper experienced at the time was loved by Thom Roep. Dickie asks an elderly female for directions. She doesn't know. When Dickie has already walked a good distance, he is called back, after which the female tells him that she asked her sister and that she doesn't know either..... Thom has always hoped that someone would ask him for directions. Unfortunately, until he once again led Douwe down his lonely path and he was able to make the joke there anyway. See "The Witches of the Day before Yesterday."
In a number of albums, Douwe Dabbert has experienced recurring environmental elements of nature, such as the four directions of the wind (4, 6, 7, 8 and 13), in which the four elements of earth, water, air and fire play a role....... But he has also experienced conditions from cold to heat in four albums (18, 19, 20, 21).
The fortress of Casius Gaius.... Where did that name come from? ..... Thom had a children's book "Caius is a donkey" in his bookshelf. The name seemed ideally suited to the story. Gaius, a variant of "scum" doesn't sound so positive, but his colleagues thought it sounded good. Caius Gaius, however, sounded too rhyme-like to him again, and so it became Casius. Funny thing is, that in 2016, Thom discovered, that real Cassius Gaius did exist.... "Gaius Cassius Longinus was a very popular name in the gens Cassia.
Not only Douwe Dabbert is internationally oriented. Even Thom knows how to thank people in a language from one of Douwe Dabbert's stories (ご清聴ありがとうございました).........
Where do some of the names used in the various Douwe Dabbert albums come from? Here are some references:
From "The deceit of Balthasar" we know Ruben. Named after Thom's boy next door, 11 years old in 1990. This Ruben Houkes would later become a renowned judoka.
The clumsy Simon owed his name to a wonderful older colleague. And inn "The Red Eye" got its name because Thom suffered from an eye infection for weeks while writing.
At the end of "Back to the Secret Animal Kingdom" Torm the bear brags about his wrestling exploits at the Kommersbonten fair .... That there is an annual fair there we know from Suske and Wiske The Tuf Tuf Club.
In the "Masked Chief", Douwe notes that he has never visited the town of Lommenstee .... Named for Joan Lommen, 32 years Thom's conscience and deputy on the Walt Disney editorial staff.
Hasselaarsdijk is named after Frans Hasselaar, editor at Donald Duck.
Field guard Roelofs has the same last name as the then editor of Donald Duck.
Constable Steenstra and farmer Beekman are named after Donald's editorial secretary at the time and Jos Beekman first editor at EPPO, respectively.
In 1997, the Suske and Wiske album "Magnificent Pjotr" came out.... Pjotr is indeed called the leading character in the "Ship of Ice".
Quite in the beginning of "The Closet with a 1.000 Doors" magician Balthasof utters the following sentence: "Whipped cream? What in Jippes' name are we going to get? ...... A sincere and a personal tribute by Thom to Daan Jippes, the famous cartoonist and cartoon employee.
Comic book #22, "Back to the Hidden Animal Kingdom" was by the way pre-published in Donald Duck with the title "Twenty-two years later". A tribute by Thom Roep and Piet Wijn to Alexandre Dumas with his "Twenty Years Later" as the sequel to "The Three Musketeers".
Anyway, the album "Back to the Hidden Animal Kingdom" is full of winks. For example, the main characters from "Alone in the World" play a part and there is a bear who performed at the fair in Bommerskonten as a reference to the village of Bommerskonten and the fair in Suske en Wiske: De Tuf Tuf Club (1952).
The cover of Het Verborgen Dierenrijk was designed by Daan Jippes, the illustrator of Twee voor Thee - The fairy-tale theme and story are somewhat reminiscent of Jommeke 32: In Pimpeltjesland (1967) and even more so of Jommeke 14: Op Heksenjacht (1963) by Disney enthusiast Jef Nys. But Jommeke 92: Het Aards Paradijs (only published in 1979!) about a hidden realm where hostile, talking animals have to live with each other is the most telling comparison to a Flemish cannon - Although Douwe's magic knapsack (still given to him by his grandfather Sebastiaan) easily lends itself to an all-solver in the form of a deus ex machina, the authors wisely use the magic tool to change the course of the story. Solutions must come mostly through Douwes wit, ingenuity and devising stratagems. Fortunately, the magic knapsack never acquires the allure of a Jerommeke (Suske en Wiske) or a Jan Spier or Captain Oliepul (Nero) who promptly invade a story to provide the solution in absolute need. Volume 23: The Amazing Frame Story from 2001 is the last album in the series for now. But a second heart attack gets in the way during the album's creation. After long deliberation, Dick Matena completes the final story. Anyway, princess Pauline from volume 1 plays a leading role in it again, more or less closing the circle.
Douwe Dabbert definitely lives on. Even Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioned Douwe's name in a TV interview (he didn't have a magic knapsack), and several quizzes on television included a question about Douwe. Even The Dodo Museum on the island of Mauritius shows a picture of Douwe with his dodo from album number 7. There are furthermore retail stores, cafes, a restaurant in Indonesia, ships, accessories (tie, tie pin, clip, puzzles, shopping bags, figurines, clock, playing card, bookmark, stamps, .....) and even a street in Almere is named after Douwe...... All in homage to Piet Wijn and Thom Roep.