Spike and Suzy
Spike and Suzy, the British title for Suske en Wiske in Dutch, is a comics series created by the author Willy Vandersteen.The strip is known also as Bob et Bobette in French and Willy and Wanda in the US. It was first published in 1945 in the newspaper De Nieuwe Standaard and soon became popular.
The books revolve around the adventures of the eponymous Spike and Suzy, two children, along with their friends and family.
Aunt Sidionia originally called tante Sidonie, later renamed to tante Sidonia, and also once known as Agatha, appears as Suzy's aunt, right from the first album. Sidonia was Vandersteen’s way of providing a caring authority figure for Spike and Suzy without introducing actual parents, who would constrain their adventurous tendencies too much.
Muffin originally Schalulleke, later renamed to Schanulleke (sometimes Schabolleke), also known as Molly or Sawdust, is Suzy's doll. A small human (probably female) figure, she is inanimate.
Professor Barabas is a long-time friend of Suzy and Aunt Sidonia, first met in Het Eiland Amoras (An Island called Hoboken). He starts off as a jungle explorer with topee, but later becomes the archetypical comic’s professor: glasses, a white laboratory coat, often absent-minded because he is thinking deeply about some scientific question. Although he is not a mad scientist and entirely benevolent, his inventions regularly cause trouble when they end up in the wrong hands.
Ambrose, originally called Lambik and once known as Orville, is a bald man (apart from six hairs, three on either side) of about fifty. In the beginning, Ambrose was presented as a typical working class member of the time: rough and rather simple and uneducated.
Jethro, originally known as Jerom or Jerommeke and also known as Wilbur, is an extremely strong man, brought from prehistory by an alchemist in album 18, The merry musketeers, as a mindless weapon. Although he is introduced into the series as an opponent, he quickly turns around as he falls in love with Muffin and becomes a caring man instead of a wild beast. Initially he is dressed in a loincloth only (with an occasional cravat added in an amusing attempt to appear more civilized) and speaks in grunts and monosyllables.
The stories & characters
In early stories, Jethro was initially portrayed as an ignorant strong man, who evolved into a sophisticated and quiet man in later works.
In most stories Muffin is only a doll, but one very special to Suzy, and they are inseparable. In some stories Muffin comes to life and plays an important role.
The stories combine elements of comedy, fantasy and science fiction such as talking animals, time travel and ghosts.
The strip still runs daily in De Standaard, new books are being created, and remain popular among children in Belgium and the Netherlands.
As of 2008, 300 albums have been published. Many Flemish and Dutch adults consider the older books to be classics of the comic book genre.