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.
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].
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.
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.
Today marks the 31st anniversary of the first comic book about the adventures of the duck Alfred J. Kwak. The first time Harald Siepermann officially drew Alfred J. Kwak was for the poster design of the German stage play in 1985 by Herman van Veen. At that time Alfred J. Kwak looked more like Donald Duck. In the next few years Harald Siepermann kept developing the character before he got his iconic look with his yellow fur and red scarf that appeared in the first comic book.
Harald Siepermann designed the comic book together with Hans Bacher, his friend and teacher from the Folkwang University. The story was based on the theater play by Dutch entertainer Herman van Veen, who invented the character Alfred J. Kwak. Siepermann designed the characters and drew them in numerous poses. Bacher placed Harald’s designs in a comic book layout, did the inking, and created the colors and backgrounds.
The launch party for the comic book was held on February 18, 1987, at the Artis zoo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.