Comic book author. Illustrator. Looks up to Virginia Woolf and Annie Proulx.
Judith Vanistendael graduated in art studies in Ghent and comic book writing in Brussels. As early as 1995 she provided the illustrations for Geert Van Istendael’s Vlaamse Sprookjes (Flemish Fairy Tales). Her true debut, however, came in 2007, with the graphic novel De maagd en de neger, Papa en Sofie [The maiden and the negro, Papa and Sofie] in which the main character Sofie begins a relationship with a political refugee from Togo. In 2009 a sequel came out, Leentje en Sofie, in which Sofie looks back a few years later on her relationship with Abou. Since 2010 Vanistendael has also illustrated the successful children’s series based on the colourful figures Rosie en Moussa by Michael De Cock, which has been adapted for four books, several theatre productions and a film. Toen David zijn stem verloor [When David Lost his Voice] (2012), about a man with terminal cancer and the way those around him deal with it, has been an enormous success. Vanistendael combines serious, profound themes with a playful style, so that the story does not come across as overwhelmingly depressing. Soft watercolours permeate the comic, evolving with the main character’s quest, and strong contrasts reflect the changes of mood. Vanistendael’s work has been translated into more than five languages.