Introduction to Dolf de Kraai

The main villain of the television series Alfred J. Kwak is the crow Dolf de Kraai. Dolf is not really a common villain, like a vicious pirate or mean stepmother, that you often see in children television series. Since the television series starts when Alfred and Dolf are young, it shows more of the background of each character and their upbringing. In Dolf’s case it shows the origin of his actions as an adult later in the series, when he became the dictator of his country through his own founded political party called the National Crows Party.

Dolf is introduced in the series in episode 4. He is a classmate of Alfred, but they are no friends. In contrary, Dolf teases Alfred because he is a duck and has a mole as a father. A family situation that Dolf finds weird. However, his feelings towards this family situation might be more based out of jealousy since Alfred does get a stable upbringing from his loving father Henk de Mol, while Dolf on the other hand has a father who is an alcoholic and his mother died when he was very young.

 

Dolf’s father is a crow, but his mother a blackbird. Therefore Dolf is born with a yellow beak. Ashamed of his yellow beak, he colors it black every morning with shoe polish, to look completely black. Below are the sketches of Dolf’s father and mother by Harald Siepermann and the corresponding model sheets by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher.

 

Because of the unstable childhood, Dolf is always active in criminal activities. This becomes most evident when he starts his own political party called the National Crows Party, and becomes the dictator of Great Waterland. The different characteristics of Alfred J. Kwak and Dolf de Kraai play very well against each other and they often cross paths throughout the entire television series.

Below are some of Harald Siepermann’s sketches of a young Dolf de Kraai and the model sheet by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher.

AJK merchandise 3

Here are a series of illustrations by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher of Alfred J. Kwak. These space theme designs were part of the extensive collection of merchandise that was produced based on the successful Alfred J. Kwak television series. The inking of these illustrations were done by Hans Bacher based on the sketches of Harald Siepermann.

Making of the second Alfred J. Kwak comic book

Vissen in Troebel Water © Harlekijn/Van Veen, Siepermann, Bacher

Throughout 1987 Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher worked on the development of the second comic book about the adventures of Alfred J. Kwak, called Vissen in Troebel Water [Fish and Chips]. Harald Siepermann designed the characters and wrote the comic book, based on a theater play called Onder Water [Under Water] by Herman van Veen, and Hans Bacher did the inking and color design.

In this adventure Alfred J. Kwak is concerned about the situation of the herring, who are threatened by the new modern fishing ship of Kapitein Stoppel, which will immensely reduce the herring population.

The images below show the process of the making of the comic book, with as example pages number 6 and 7 of the comic, based on what is in the Harald Siepermann Archive. In these pages Alfred J. Kwak and Henk de Mol are on the beach relaxing after their adventure in the first comic book. The sun makes way for the rain. In the distance they see a new ship being launched into the water and they decide to have a closer look.

Siepermann drew the page layout with in each panel a rough sketch of the drawing. On a new paper he drew for each panel a more detailed sketch.

 

Once the sketches were completed Hans Bacher did the inking of the entire page and provided it with color. Next to the (rough) sketch Siepermann often wrote the corresponding text of the characters. Once the text was clear and finalized, Siepermann wrote it in a script. The comic book publisher would added the text later in the text balloon of the finished color page.

The Wana Family

Today is the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, leader of the activities against the Apartheid regime that dominated South Africa for decades. The topic Apartheid also plays a part in Harald Siepermann’s television series Alfred J. Kwak.

In the series Alfred J. Kwak befriends the Wana family, four black ducks who escaped their homeland, where there is the Apartheid regime that is run by white geese. Father Kwa and mother Blanche fight against this regime and therefor the police wants to arrest them. Alfred arrange a permit for the Wana family so they can stay in his country, Great Waterland. Now the children Winnie and Tom are safe in Great Waterland, Kwa and Blanche decide to go back to their country to continue their activities against the Apartheid. Alfred accompanies Kwa and Blanche in their home journey and spent several days there. In these days Alfred learns about the discrimination and the oppression of the white geese against the black ducks.

 

The story arc runs over the three episodes, from episodes 27 to 29. When the episodes premièred in 1989 there was still the Apartheid regime in South Africa and Nelson Mandela was still in prison.

Below are several character designs by Harald Siepermann from these episodes…

 

…and the model sheets by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher.

Alfred J. Kwak World Cup 2010

With the World Cup Soccer 2018 reaching its end, here are two designs by Harald Siepermann of Alfred J. Kwak that he made during the World Cup Soccer 2010 in South Africa.

The first design is a parody based on the official logo of that tournament and the second is Alfred who accidentally kick the ball on the top of the Heinrich-Hertz-Turm, a Radio telecommunication tower in Hamburg, Harald Siepermann’s hometown.

Harald first made a blue pencil sketch that he finished with ink. Then he scanned the illustration and added the colors in Photoshop.

AJK merchandise 2

The summer has started. Here are a series of holiday/Hawaii themed illustrations for the Alfred J. Kwak merchandise. The ink of these illustrations was done by Hans Bacher, based on sketches by Harald Siepermann.

 

Alfred J. Kwak (AJK) mechandise

Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher had worked on the entire production design of the television series Alfred J. Kwak – characters, backgrounds, props, logo’s, etc. Once the series premiered in 1989, it became an immense success and a merchandise phenomenon, especially in the Netherlands and Germany. It generated tons of requests for exclusive merchandise designs. A work load that landed on the shoulders of Siepermann and Bacher.

Here are some German merchandise designs. These ink illustrations are made by Hans Bacher based on sketches by Harald Siepermann.

Alfred J. Kwak second comic book 30st anniversary

This month it’s been 30 years since the second comic book about the duck Alfred J. Kwak was released, called Vissen in Troebel Water [Fish and Chips]. In this adventure a school of herring are worried about the new fishers ship of Kapitein Stoppel that is about to leave the coast. This ship is very modern and able to capture a large amount of herring from the sea, which will immensely reduce the herring population. Alfred is concerned about the problems of the herring and wants to help them.

The comic book was designed by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher, and based on a theater play called Onder Water [Under Water] by Herman van Veen.

Harald Siepermann designed all the characters. Henk de Mol returns again in this new adventure as Alfred’s friend. “When Herman handed me Onder Water, another play he had written about herrings, to rework it as Kwak’s 2nd adventure, Vissen in Troebel Water, I brought him back as Kwak’s permanent partner,” said Harald Siepermann. “I always found the size-difference of the two very rewarding visually.” It wasn’t until the television series that Henk de Mol became Alfred’s foster parent.

In addition to Henk de Mol, this comic book features many new characters that eventually would play a prominent role in the television series. There is the seaman Kapitein Stoppel and his wife Lisa, the capitalists mayor K. Rokodil and Professor Hannibal Nijlpaard, and the spy Lispel de Kwal.

In addition to the wide range of characters, the comic book also looks good for the colors and scenery, done by the great Hans Bacher.

The comic book was later be adapted for the television series in episode 14 Vissen in Troebel Water [Let’s Find The Sawfish] and 15 De Ontploffing [Alfred’s Perilous Voyage].

Alfred J. Kwak character guide

The first comic book about Alfred J. Kwak, that was published on February 18, 1987, became a success and a favorite among children. Not only was the comic book noticed by children, also television producer Dennis Livson saw that the comic book had enough charm and potential to create a cartoon television series of 52 episodes based on the character Alfred J. Kwak.

In March 1988 Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher started with the designs of the characters, based on stories by Dutch artists Herman van Veen. All the character designs were combined in a book called Character- and Color-Design for Alfred J. Kwak, which ultimately contained more than 250 unique characters. When the designs were completed in August 1988, the Japanese production team in Tokyo, where the actual animation was done, could start with the production of the series. The book served as an instruction guide for the Japanese team about the structure, colors, and costume design for each character. In addition, Harald Siepermann also went to Tokyo for several weeks to teach how the characters should be drawn and to explain the ideas behind certain stories.

Below are several character designs from episode 34 De Schat van Toet Kat Kammon [The Riddle of the Pyramid] and episode 35 De Slang [The Labyrinth] by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher.

Alfred J. Kwak in Hollywood

On February 18, 1987, the first comic book about the adventures of the duck Alfred J. Kwak was released. The creative trio Harald Siepermann, Hans Bacher and Herman van Veen already discussed ideas for the second issue. However, this had to be put on hold since Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher were asked to work in London on character design of the weasels for the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. After their work on the weasels they were asked to come to Los Angeles to work on the storyboard of the “Escape from Toontown”-sequence. For several weeks Siepermann and Bacher worked in the Amblin studio designing the storyboard.

Between Harald’s work on the storyboard he often drew sketches of his creation Alfred J. Kwak in various shapes and poses. Here are some of the sketches he made while working in Los Angeles on Who Frames Roger Rabbit.