De Rode Ridder, by Karel Biddeloo

Karel Biddeloo, who sometimes used the pseudonym Bik, was born in Wuustwezel, Belgium in 1943. He studied arts in Antwerp and after his military service, he got a job as an advertising painter for the Grand Bazar department stores. In 1967 he became an artist with the Vandersteen Studios, where he collaborated on series such as 'Biggles', 'Safari', 'Karl May', and 'De Rode Ridder' ('The Red Knight'). He eventually gained total creative control of 'De Rode Ridder' in 1969, and elevated it from a common knight adventure story to a series filled with "sword and sorcery" and sci-fi influences.

De Rode Ridder by Karel Biddeloo
De Rode Ridder - De Drie Huurlingen (1969)

Karel Biddeloo was also a regular guest in the so-called Flemish cowboy villages like Arizona Ranch (Halle-Zoersel) and El Paso (Wuustwezel), where typical western situations were reenacted. Biddeloo operated under the name Johnny Rebel. In the 1980s he participated in medieval reenactments with the Pynnock Knights in Horst, and he was even "knighted" as Karel de Mountabour. 

Karel Biddeloo as Johnny Rebel
Karel Biddeloo as Johnny Rebel (from Brabant Strip Magazine 191)

Biddeloo also drew inspiration from his alter egos for installments in the 'Rode Ridder' series. From his correspondence with bondage artist Eric Stanton resulted a couple of mail-order comic booklets with erotic and pornographic content, which he signed Joreb.

De Rode Ridder by Karel Biddeloo
De Rode Ridder - De vete (1976)

Bik, who was influenced by Kirby, Conan, and horror comics, was the third to receive the Belgian comics prize Bronzen Adhemar in 1979. Karel Biddeloo died of cancer in Gooreind in June 2004. His final 'Rode Ridder' story was published posthumously, and the series was continued by Claus D. Scholz and Martin Lodewijk, who have honored Biddeloo with special appearances of Karel de Mountabour and the town of Wuustwezel in their stories. Belgian comics expert  Danny De Laet published a book with his memories of Karel Biddeloo/Johnny Rebel in 2012, called 'Johnny en ik. Herinneringen aan Karel Biddeloo'. 

De Rode Ridder by Karel Biddeloo
De Rode Ridder - De vluchtelingen (1978)

Series and books by Karel Biddeloo in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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