Dutch Language Blog

Fokke and Sukke: who, what, when? Posted by on May 12, 2010 in Dutch Language

Fokke and Sukke, the two slightly chicken-like figures, entertain the readers of one of our most famous news papers, the NRC Handelsblad, loyal with their dry humor, day in, day out. They are two big icons in the Dutch culture, and often use political jokes as their theme.

The two figures are created by John Reid (1968), Jean-Marc van Tol (1967) and Bastiaan Geleijnse (1967). At the end of the eighties the three men studied together and found each other.

They got along well and decided to do a project together: a comic strip. The story “Heibel in Hong Kong” (trouble in Hong Kong) was created and the first one of the two, Sukke, was born. His name is derived from the word ‘sukken’, used by college students as a way to describe a person who drives you crazy. Reid, Van Tol and Geleijnse thought it was not a good idea to name the person “sukken”, because comics were meant for kids and that word would not be appropriate.

Propria Cures, a student paper from Amsterdam, called the three guys to ask if they could draw a Christmas cartoon. Fokke was designed and Reid, Van Tol and Geleijnse created a Christmas cartoon, with a duck and a canary as the main characters. The editorial staff of Propria Cures was not that enthusiastic. They claimed the comic wasn’t realistic, because, well…birds can’t talk. The determined threesome didn’t give up and kept on sending in comics. From 1994 they appeared regularly in the student paper.

More and more people became interested in Fokke and Sukke. First mainly by the student papers and magazines, who often still use the strip duo in their papers. In 1997 the first bundle was created by the publisher De Harmonie. Among others, Fokke and Sukke appeared in the VPRO-gids and VARA TV Magazine, two important Dutch tv guides.

You can still find the characters on the back page of the NRC Handelsblad and on the inside page of NRC Next. Go grab a newspaper and give yourself a good excuse to read comics for the greater good: learning Dutch.


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