Although the comic strip Dick Bos, a pipe-smoking detective with expert skills in Jiu-Jitsu, was never widely known or famous outside his country of origin, The Netherlands, I believe he deserves an article in this community. For two reasons.
Firstly, it does not happen very often that the life of a comic artist outshines the adventures of his hero. In the case of Alfred Mazure (1914-1974) and his creation one is constantly drawn between comic and real life biography. Secondly, Mazure’s style of drawing as well as 1940s clothes, features and accessories are highly inspirational. (Film director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Robocop, Total Recall) calls Dick Bos one of his main inspirations and many scenes in Basic Instinct are a direct translation of the comic; not the scene though...).
Dick Bos was first published in a weekly Dutch paper, De Prins, from 20 July 1940 to 1 February 1941. Success was not enormous.
Mazure wanted to publish more often than weekly and had the idea of pocket-sized books. However, selling was still slow and books piled up in his storage. He decided to give them away to school kids. This became his break-through. Interest in both the character and the new format increased and circulation reached over 100,000 copies consequently (had it not been war, success would surely have been even bigger). 73 books were published.
His contract with publishers “Ten Hagen” proved to be less of a success story for Mazure. He later very much regretted signing the tough conditions that left him with little rights and income.
The popularity of Dick Bos became soon an issue with the German occupiers who saw danger in the “Englishness” of the strip’s hero. Publication was consequently forbidden in 1942. This after Alfred Mazure had been approached by representatives from publishing house “Ullstein” from Berlin. He was offered to transform Dick Bos into a German spy character, a starting circulation of 1 million copies and a fee to be set by himself.
Mazure refused the offer - and continued working in the underground, writing novels, drawing strips, and even producing a series of short films. His judo trainer, Maurice van Nieuwenhuizen, starred in these films. He moved to England after the war and worked as illustrator, writer and comic artist. In the 1960s, he picked the Dick Bos thread up again and published 40 further stories.