De Rode Ridder

De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight) is a Belgian Flemish comic book series set in medieval Europe. It stars the title character Johan, the Red Knight, easily recognizable by his red tunic. It appeared six days a week in the newspaper De Standaard and a few other ones.

Summary of the story

The series are characterized by subseries and stand alone albums (i.e. depicting a story which are not related to any other album as they do not impact the story line or are mentioned in other albums).

The first twelve albums give a general impression of the Johan. He mostly wanders around in medieval Flanders as a lonely noble knight. A common theme in these albums is the investigation of believed-to-be supernatural things and events (1:The Broken Sword, 3:The Bog Ghost, #8:The Golden Sickle,#9:The Dragon of Moerdal, #11:The Silver Eagle, #12:The Horn of Horak). Johan investigates these things and comes to the conclusion that these are merely tricks, used to mislead and frighten people. In a few albums he travels around the world (#4:The Pearl of Bagdad (Iraq), #6:The Weapon of Rihei (Japan), #7: The Fall of Angkor (Cambodia). A common theme of these albums is the fascination of Johan for exotic cultures and his strong opposition to slavery. The chronology of the events in the series do not fit the chronology of real world events.

Evolution of the comic book

Willy Vandersteen (1-43)

The Red Knight was originally conceived by Leopold Vermeiren as the main character in his short stories in 1946. Willy Vandersteen (most famous for his Spike and Suzy series), in cooperation with Leopold Vermeiren and Karel Verschuere, wrote the first comic in 1959. Verschuere was replaced with Frank Sels in 1963. Until Parcifal (album 43), Willy Vandersteen drew and wrote the story.

Karel Biddeloo (44-206)

In 1966 the comic was declining in popularity, and Willy Vandersteen considered ending it. The remaining fans protested, however, and it was decided to continue the comic, written by Karel Biddeloo, who took the comic less in the direction of 'knightly tales' and more in the direction of fantasy and science fiction and more action, much to the displeasure of Vandersteen. Still, the comic remained popular. In 2004, after the 206th album, Biddeloo died, and was replaced with the team of the Dutch writer Martin Lodewijk and the German artist Claus D. Scholtz.

Claus Scholz and Martin Lodewijk (207-235)

From the album De Grot van de Beer (The Cave of the Bear, album 207) onwards, the comic book is made by Claus Scholz (artist) and Martin Lodewijk (scenarist). The style of the series was completely revamped, mainly because the series obtained a more medieval character, and because Scholz has a different drawing style than Biddeloo. Martin Lodewijk wrote stories for De Rode Ridder until 2012, with album 235th being his last.

Claus Scholz and Marc Legendre (236-)

While Martin Lodewijk left in 2012, Marc Legendre replaced Martin Lodewijk in 2013 as a new writer for De Rode Ridder. Marc Legendre made his debut with album 238, The Ordeal.

List of characters

Johan, De Rode Ridder (Johan, the Red Knight)

The Castle of Horst

Johan is the main character of the album, appearing in every single album. Johan's character embodies the chivalric ideal. He is brave to the point of intrepid, virtuous, loyal and an expert swordsman. Most of the albums portray him as a travelling knight, owning nothing except his horse and his equipment. Often he will enter a community under threat by evil. This can be mundane (bandits, barbarian tribes or ruthless noblemen) or magical (evil sorcerers, monstrous races or old curses). Sometimes these present straight out fights, while at other times, Johan has to investigate to find his foe. In the end, Johan and the forces of good are usually triumphant.

His travels have brought him far as well. Egypt, South America, China and even outer space have been the background for Johan's heroics. Chronological accuracy is not much of a concern, Johan having encountered King Arthur from the Dark Ages, as well as having fought in the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302.

While generally acting as a lonely knight, Johan has - on occasions - settled down. For a while, together with Lancelot, he was one of the Knights of the Round Table serving under King Arthur, until the king's death in De laatste droom (one of Vandersteen's final comics in this series). Later on, King Arthur would be 'revived' by Biddeloo. Also, Johan stayed at the Castle of Horst for a while, which served as his 'birthplace' and changed the meaning of "Rode" completely, as Johan turned out to be a member of the family of the Lords of Rode, which gave his name a dual meaning, the Red Knight and the Rode Knight, as in the Knight from Rode.

Bahaal, Prins der Duisternis (Bahaal, Prince of Darkness)

One recurring character is Bahaal, the Prince of Darkness. An evil creature, initially mortal and slain by King Arthur, he returned as a demonic nemesis. Often, Johan's magic-using antagonists are revealed to be working for him. Galaxa, the Faerie of Light is a benevolent creature first seen in De toverspiegel. In this comic, Johan fell in love with her, but because of Bahaal's actions she can no longer stay in the real world for longer than a few moments. Demonia is Bahaal's henchwoman. Beautiful and malicious, she regularly clashes with Johan. Still, some romantic tension has been suggested between the two.


A camp parody of the Red Knight, the Pink Knight, appeared in the Flemish TV comedy series Buiten de zone.

Cartoonist Jeroom drew a parody of "De Rode Ridder" called "Ridder Bauknecht".

External links

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