Pa Pinkelman

Real Name: Theo Pinkelman (Short form, his full name is unknown, "Theo" is probably short for "Theodorus" (used in Tibet), his middle initial may be "N." as seen in a Chinese paper, or he might be Th. A. P. Pinkelman, the way he introduced himself to the United Nations Organization.)

Identity/Class: Magic user.

Occupation: "Completely Nothing" (Vol. I-Strip 96) Starts as wizard-wonder doctor, becomes a public figure doing things like rowing from the Sahara to New York, after that king of the moon, radium seeker, lecturer, politician, representative to the United Nations Organization for the Benelux, UN-top official, shah of Persia and ends up with his own private country. On the other hand, Pa Pinkelman knows he is a comic character, and does not worry about paying bills.

Affiliations: Tante Pollewop, his wife, Kareltje Flens and Flop. United Nations

Enemies: Flens Sr., the three servants, the Dalai Lama, an Arabian sultan, a Chinese kidnapper, the shah of Persia

Known Relatives: Jan Knetterteen (cousin, looks exactly like him), unnamed father and grandfather (both deceased), Tante Pollewop (wife)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Mobile - he has lived in Amsterdam, Castricum, Haarlem, and Wijk-bij-Duurstede.

First Appearance: Volkskrant (1945)

Powers/Abilities: Pa Pinkelman is a wizard, the only known living human with superhuman powers in his world (not counting his identical cousin). Nevertheless, because it is a slightly absurd comic, the characters can all do superhuman things, like replicating Pa Pinkelman's feats if they have his bowler hat, surviving being frozen in the Arctic, and similar cartoon feats.

He is a wizard because he inherited the powers of his grandfather, who was a world-famous celebrity in the business, by his father, who was a great wizard, and as watered down wizard he's actually just a little wizard. That is, he is dependent on many factors to reach his full power, if his mystical powers have reached their top he is omnipotent (or close enough), if they reach bottom he is just a normal human being.

His power levels depend on:

  1. The day of the week, Monday is bottom day and Friday top day.

  2. Phase of the Moon, New Moon bottom and Full Moon top.

  3. Time of Day, morning bottom, evening (or midnight) top.

  4. The direction of the wind, Wind from the East bottom and from the West top.

  5. The presence of his bowler hat.

The interaction of the different factors makes his power level rather unpredictable...The strongest opponent Pa Pinkelman defeated was the Red Army. He can make things fly, knows how he can make wishes come true, can even create educated human beings, he can walk straight up to a wall, can change human beings in animals and back, he can shrink living beings and things. He has been repeatedly described as immortal. He has some less superhuman remarkable abilities, he can create very good philosophical lectures and literature, he is a talented keeper (football) and he was the first man on the moon (not counting the 4 million people living there already).

History: (The Adventures of Pa Pinkelman: 165 daily strips) Carolus "Kareltje" Flens was a well-mannered, but spoiled, very rich boy possessed of extra-ordinary athletic abilities. He lived with three servants and a little black boy Flaubert "Flop" who did everything for him. When he fell and hurt his little finger, the three servants called on wonder doctor Pa Pinkelman for treatment. Pinkelman lived in a little house of reed, just outside the city (Amsterdam). He flies on a carpet to Kareltje's home, then waited for nightfall with a beer and a cigar before walking to the 2nd floor window. Pinkelman changed the servants into a bat, a pigeon and an owl (something he reveals took a couple of years of practice) and flew with Kareltje and Flop, whose company was requested by Kareltje, on Kareltje's bed to Bussum, where Pa pinkelman's wife Tante Pollewop lived. With Pollewop they fly away, followed by the three servants.

Over the Zuyder Zee (which did not exist anymore when the comic was written), Pinkelman changed the servants back to human in mid-flight, but it seemed that by doing so, he broke the spell on the bed too, and they landed on the island Urk (again putting the time before the war), where the Pinkelmannians are imprisoned for not having a driving license. They escaped, stole a rowing boat, which they have drawn by herrings to reach the island Schokland. The servants reached that island too, so the heroes swam to Kampen, where Tante Pollewop was celebrated as the first to swim from Schokland to Kampen.

In a coach they travelled to Karspel-Aan-Zee, where the police force tried to confiscate Pinkelman's bowler hat. The law also arrested the servants; to celebrate this the whole bunch went to the carnival, where Pinkelman decided to blow up a balloon which then transported the four to the North Pole. There Pinkelman changed his bowler hat into a little house for shelter, and they made contact with the natives. The three servants succeeded in catching the Pinkelmannians, but they escaped, and using the bowler hat as a boat, sailed to Africa. After a series of adventures they were trying to fly over the Sahara on some ostriches, when the owner of the ostriches pointed out that ostriches cannot fly, causing them to drop into the desert. Among the sand, they encountered three camel riding "Indians", who had the habit of scalping everybody they meet; however after Pa Pinkelman explained that they should be riding horses in America, they departed leaving the group unharmed.

The Pinkelmannians rode further on the "dromeldaries" looking for the bowler hat lost in the fall, until they found a large billboard advertising a found hat. Nearby was a sleeping man who looked exactly like Pa Pinkelman; it was his cousin Pa Knetterteen. Knetterteen gave Pinkelman his hat, then left the Sahara (and the story) on tram line 5. Reaching the sea, the group found a rowing boat and rowed to New York City. They were invited to the White House, where Flop being black caused a real shock (satire on US-racism); later, while attending a party the group were captured by the servants, but were freed by a friendly shop owner. The four began discussing the recently invented atomic bomb, but enquiring about the device in a shop accidentally gave the New Yorkers the impression Pa Pinkelman was carrying one, and the city that never sleeps became a deserted city. In a deserted house Pa Pinkelman read his own adventures, and the group decided to rebel against the writer, but the writer outwitted them. They gave up the rebellion and went to the atomic bomb factory, where they learned that the current atomic bombs were powerful enough to blow up the Netherlands and that the advanced R-and-D-project was aimed at the making of an Australia-killer, while the newest project was aimed at a bomb that would destroy everything, but it wasn't certain whether the projects would succeed. The group leave in a supersonic atomic airplane, eventually stopping above Tartaria, where they met Potdorisky (a Stalin-parody). After explaining to him all they knew about the atomic bomb they got an expert to explain the atomic plane to them, but as nobody paid attention, they pressed the wrong button and went to the moon. They claimed the moon for the Netherlands, changed the bowler hat into a little house, and were therefore fined by a mooncop telling them that they were the first people on the moon, not counting the 4 million natives. They were invited for a welcome party, where the king of the moon showed up. He fell in love with Tante Pollewop and put Pinkelman in a dungeon. An escape plan resulted in Pa Pinkelman becoming the king of the moon. After receiving some insights into the politics of the Moon (quite similar to the Netherlands of his time) he returned to Bussum by jumping off the Moon. They visited the artist of the strip, then returned the boys to their home in Amsterdam. Pinkelman and Pollewop visited the writer in Haarlem (for a final confrontation between the writer and his immortal creation), before returning to Pa Pinkelman's house.

(The Adventures of Tante Pollewop: 100 daily strips) After the boys were left in Bussum, bureaucracy forced Pinkelman and Pollewop out of their house and separated them, splitting them up and putting them into homes. After 5 months Pollewop escaped and went looking for Pinkelman. After a long search, she found him in Hummelo, but before she could contact him, he was flown away in his bowler hat. Resuming the search, she located him in the prison of Lyon, France, where he had been put after his arrest with the assistance of the three servants. Pollewop was imprisoned too, and the two boys, who had left for Lyon after receiving a letter from her, get jobs as part of the personnel in the prison. The prison director fell in love with Pollewop, which she used to gain access to Pa Pinkelman’s bowler hat, then changed the director into a bicycle. They cycle away, returning to the Netherlands, where a flat tyre leaves them facing the bureaucracy again. The servants managed to get Pinkelman committed to an asylum, but he escaped and reunited with Pollewop. The four friends met up, and Pa Pinkelman performed some difficult magic granting three wishes. The first is food, the second a magic coach, in which they go to Siberia where the men try to earn money as radium prospectors for an hour. Arriving in Tibet, Pinkelman insults the Dalai Lama, is sentenced to death, but uses the third wish to escape and to change the Dalai Lama into a llama and the executioner in a cookie. They escape as far as the Great Wall of China, where Pinkelman gave lectures no-one could understand, and Pollewop was kidnapped by a man pretending to be the Chinese Emperor. The real Emperor aided Pinkelman searching for his wife. The kidnapper had meanwhile forced his many female captives to start a circus, but the Commissioner of Police of Peking arrested the miscreants. Pollewop and Pinkelman gathered Kareltje from a boarding school in Hong Kong and Flop from a Chinese potato farmer. The group swam to Japan, where they were picked up by a Japanese yacht, had a conversation with the Japanese emperor, joined the Japanese Association for the Prevention of Alcohol Abuse, and escaped in a balloon. This took them to Java where the balloon exploded just after landing. To avoid the local warfare they went to Surabaja Zoo where they bought an old whale that can't dive anymore. They try to travel on the whale's back, but after five days the whale died and the four remained on the dead whale until it was harpooned by the Willem Barendsz, a Dutch whaler (after Pinkelman’s wish to get a connection with the home country). The fourth whale caught turns out to contain the three servants, who were thrown back into the sea, swallowed by another whale, then spat out. Back in the Netherlands, the servants were forbidden by the courts from being servants for the next fifteen years. The courts also ruled that Flens be stripped of his paternal authority, and Pinkelman became Kareltje’s guardian, though he allows him to stay with his parents. After a huge dinner party, Pa Pinkelman and Pollewop declared their independence and left for the great wide world.

(Pa Pinkelman in Politics: 63 daily strips) Pinkelman decided to get into politics (which he hates), as he was getting too fat. First he joined the socialist party, than he was promoted away to the United Natons, where he was to represent the Benelux. The boys travelled as castaways along with them. Tante Pollewop represents "Goyland" (a parody on Israel?). Pinkelman was asked to replace Russia in the Security council and visited Arabia. In Arabia they were captured by a sultan and escaped with an old giraffe. The bowler hat was duplicated now by an error of the artist. The servants were captured by the sultan instead, but were released to get the Pinkelmannians. The giraffe was exhausted, so they fled in a baker’s cart, accompanied by the Dutch minister of Foreign affairs. Pinkelman whistled for a taxi and the four went with the minister to Turkey and beyond in four helicopters

In Nederweert Pinkelman destroyed and repaired the church tower. He went to The Hague where he was fired and started his own political party. To promote it he bought a balloon which of course went out of control. This started a balloon craze, leading to the death of the three servants. Pa Pinkelman left his bowler hat on their grave and his rain coat with Kareltje, then Pinkelman retired

(The Immortal Pa Pinkelman:72 strips) Pinkelman was forced out of retirement when the board of the home decided that the women had to go to another home. Pollewop had not aged, and Pinkelman became a lot younger when he retrieved his bowler hat. Pinkelman flew to the other home to retrieve Pollewop, then they flew from Haarlem to Amsterdam where they freed Kareltje and Flop (neither of whom had aged either). Planning to go to Belgium, the group actually travelled to Sweden via Denmark. The decided the Swedes were not nice, so the group departed in a zeppelin created by Pinkelman. By reading their own comic, Flop discovered that the board was formed by the three servants. The servants bought another zeppelin and went hunting for Pinkelman. Hit by a whirlwind over Italy, the Pinkelmans landed in Milan. Pa Pinkelman became the goalkeeper in a Netherlands-Italy football match, but fled the match to avoid the three servants. They headed to Persia in a rocket, where they started an oasis. The servants pretended to deliver a message from President Mossadeq, which led to a meeting with Mossadeq and the shah of Persia in Teheran. The shah fell in love with Pollewop, sparking a duel and ending with Pinkelman becoming the new shah. Wanting to have his share of the Marshall plan Pinkelman travelled to the U.S.A. with three battle ships. Winston Churchill came on board for talks, but while he was there, the three servants attacked with their own battleships. The Pinkelmannians and Churchill escaped on a torpedo, only to be swallowed by a whale, inside of which they stayed for several weeks. When the exited the animal, they found themselves in the Zoological Museum of Moscow. There sudden arrival caused an uproar, and soon they met Stalin. While Churchill returned home, the three servants infiltrated the Soviet system. Thanks to their machinations, Pinkelman and Pollewop were thrown in prison, but escaped in a carnival procession with lots of Muscovites dressed up as Pinkelman and Pollewop. They bought a new bowler hat, retrieved Flop and Kareltje, and repulsed an attack by a company of the Red Army (led by the servants) by shrinking them to the size of toy soldiers.

The servants wen to Flens’ home in Amsterdam, where they met Pinkelman and Pollewop visiting to return Flop and Kareltje back home. Pinkelman and Pollewop took the little servants with them, and kept them in a canary cage in their new home in Haarlem, there they lived in peace. When the servants suddenly vanished, the Haarlem police force and two famous detectives, one from London, on from New York, began searching for them. The servants had been liberated by Professor Romme, in order to keep the story going. The Great Detective caught Romme, and now Pinkelman became a threat to Romme’s position as KVP-leader. Romme used his influence to try and send Pinkelman to a deserted island in the Pacific, but the Kingdom had run out of deserted islands in the Pacific, so the deserted island Rottum was chosen instead. Sent there, Pinkelman organised the labor of the local ghosts to make them productive, and declared the island a small, independent country, organizing a dinner party with people like Stalin, Churchill, Romme, Kareltje, Flop etc. The party devolved into a huge fight, causing Ike Eisenhower to visit Rottum two years after the party. When Eisenhower left Pinkelman looked around and realized that Europe had changed in a big sandbox, in which one was allowed to play, but not to fight, and that his adventures belonged to the past.

Comments: In May 1945 J.M.Lücker became chief-editor of the Volkskrant. He got the writer Godfried Bomans as chief arts editor. Bomans was not really the best chief arts editor one could imagine, so Lücker decided to make Bomans the writer of the newspaper’s own comic, drawn by Carol Voges, an artist already working for the newspaper.

Pinkelman and Pollewop were sketched by Carol Voges, who based the figures, without realizing it then, on his own parents. Bomans started with the name "Pa Knekelbuik" for the male character, but Lücker thought that name too macabre. A second name "Pa Knetterteen" was not approved either (but used for a cousin), at the very last moment the name was changed to Pa Pinkelman.

After their appearance in the newspaper the text comic was published in booklets. The first adventures seem to have been more popular for a long time, probably because the later adventures were more related to the news in the real world. This involvement seems to have started with the arrival in New York, but it grew stronger and more political. Those references are hard to see nowadays, even if one has made a study of the post-war period. Another development, not unrelated to this, was that the text part of the daily strip increased over time. With a conservative estimate one can say that the amount of text coming with a single strip of pictures tripled from the start to the final end of the series.

As the series grew popular a lot of merchandise with the Pinkelmannians has been made. The text has also been published in books without the strips of pictures. There have been two Pa Pinkelman TV-series. The first was made by the NCRV in black and white in 1964, the second in colour was made by the KRO about ten years later.

Profile by Theodoor Westerhof.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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