Tom Puss

Tom Poes

Oliver B. Bumble (left) and Tom Puss (right)
Author(s) Marten Toonder
Current status / schedule Discontinued
Launch date March 16, 1941
End date January 20, 1986.
Syndicate(s) Oberon, Panda, Big Balloon
Genre(s) Action, adventure, satire

Tom Puss (Tom Poes in Dutch) is a Dutch comic strip, created by Marten Toonder. Together with Hans G. Kresse's Eric de Noorman and Pieter Kuhn's Kapitein Rob it is regarded as the Big Three of Dutch comics.

"Tom Poes" was a funny animal comic, published in text comics format. The main protagonists are Tom Poes, a white anthropomorphic cat, and his best friend, lord Oliver B. Bumble (Olivier B. Bommel in Dutch). Because of Bommel's popularity among readers the series is sometimes referred to as the Bommelsaga as well. Toonder received many awards and honorary distinctions for both his illustrations and literary output. In the Netherlands Tom Poes is regarded as literature.


In 1931 Marten Toonder was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he met Jim Davis, a former assistant of Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, creators of Felix the Cat, who taught him some lessons in drawing comics.[1]

On March 16, 1941 the first Tom Poes comic, "Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde" ("The Secret of the Blue Earth") was published in the newspaper De Telegraaf, replacing the Mickey Mouse comic in 1941. Tom Poes himself was already created in July 1939.[2]

The name of the character is a pun on the Dutch pastry "tompouce" and was thought up by Toonder's wife, Phiny Dick. On December 18 of that same year the series was published in the two-weekly Czech magazine Punta.[3] After the war the stories were published in NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant, Ons Vrij Nederland, Revue and Donald Duck. In daily newspapers Tom Poes was published as a text comic, like most Dutch comics at the time. In the weekly magazines it was published in balloon format.

Tom Poes features many anthropomorphic characters who are satirical representations of animal stereotypes, though some human characters like gnomes and wizards exist too. The series is set in a fantasy world of an undetermined age. Some elements are modern, like cars and television sets, others are more reminiscent of older centuries.

Tom Poes was originally a children's comic, but as the stories progressed they aimed at a more adult audience by introducing satirical elements and eccentric use of language. Several of Toonder's words and expressions became neologisms in the Dutch language. In 1954 Toonder became member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde ("Society of Dutch literature") and by the time the story De Bovenbazen (The Upper Bosses) was published he was regarded as a creator of genuine quality literature.[4] Tom Poes is still the only comic strip in the Netherlands to have gained such a reputation among the intelligentsia.

The success of the series spread to many merchandising products, including a comics magazine. Toonder founded his own studio and collected several talented artists to draw Tom Poes, while he still wrote the stories. Among these were Lo Hartog van Banda, Piet Wijn and Dick Matena.[5] The series was also translated and published in Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland and Sweden.[5]

Main characters

Supportive characters

Dutch names.

Film adaptation

In 1983 an animated film based on the comics was released: The Dragon That Wasn't (Or Was He?).[5]

Radio adaptation

From 2007 to 2010 "Tom Poes" was adapted into a series of audio plays broadcast on the Dutch radio channels NPO Radio 6, NPO Radio 6 and NPO Radio 1.[6]

On July 12, 2002 a six-meter public monument was built in Rotterdam, honoring several characters from the franchise.[5] It was designed by D.J. Chantelle, Pepijn van den Nieuwendijk, Hans van Bentem and Luuk Bode.[7]


  1. Marten Toonder Autobiografie, ISBN 90 234 3803 5, uitg. De Bezige Bij, 1998, hoofdstuk XIII.
  2. Heer Bommel - Volledige Werken - De dagbladpublicaties Band 1, pagina 189
  3. Volledige Werken , band 1, pagina 199.
  4. Frank van der Lecq. "Marten Toonder - De bovenbazen - Hebzucht is van alle tijden -".
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Marten Toonder". 1 January 1970.
  6. "NTR - Bommel".
  7. "Rotterdam - Ode aan Marten Toonder".
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