EN / nl
b. 1937, Turnhout, Belgium; lives and works in Borgerhout, Belgium
Suske en Wiske, vol. 226: “De Mysterieuze Mijn” (The Mysterious Mine), 1990
In 1990, public discussions about closing the coal mines in the Kempen region of northern Limburg prompted Paul Geerts to dedicate an issue of the comic book Suske en Wiske to the subject. The mines’ public relations representative, Jean De Schutter, drew his attention to the fact that an 18th-century folk figure called a putheks (pit witch) was said to be responsible for everything that went wrong in the mines, while the patron saint of miners, St. Barbara, got credit for all that went well.
Geerts’s comic takes place in Limburg, where bad luck in the mines is attributed to a pit witch by the name of Leyn Weckx, who was in fact an actual historical personage from the region. Taking creative license with the folktale, Geerts portrays Weckx as a friendly being who metamorphoses into a monster. Her assistants set fire to a farm, and she wants to blow up the mine, but St. Barbara frustrates her plans. Weckx disappears into a well connected to the coal mines after having promised to help miners forever after. ET