Jan van Haasteren: “I will continue to make drawings for puzzles as long as I can”

Jan van Haasteren (84) is a phenomenon when it comes to puzzles. The Dutch comics artist has designed more than 100 puzzles for game publisher Jumbo. “When a record is finished, I sometimes keep it to myself so I can watch it.”

Because of the corona virus, people have started puzzling en masse at home. And which jigsaw puzzle is better than a classic by Jan van Haasteren? The cartoonist is currently drawing a new puzzle, but still has a gap in his schedule to call Libelle. “Not much has changed for me. I have been working from home since 1967. I now only make a round in the garden instead of outside”, says Jan. He thinks it’s fantastic that his puzzles are being bought again in abundance. “Yes, that’s great. You make people think about something other than the virus for a while. People have a lot of worries these days, but by puzzling they can focus on something else for a while.”

The story behind the shark fin

Jan’s puzzles are iconic among puzzlers. You can recognize them by the humorous, colorful plates packed with details. “Through drawing cartoons, I ended up in the puzzle industry. I made illustrations for advertising agencies and posters. They were very popular in the 1970s. At one point I offered to make records for Jumbo. We started with 1 and now I have made more than 100. I make 3 puzzles a year,” says Jan. The trademark of the puzzles is the shark fin, there is also a story behind it. “It comes from my comic strip Baron van Tast. I once put that shark fin in it for fun and once I forgot it, the puzzlers told me right away. I also always put a caricature of myself in the comic, hands and other absurd jokes. Things that are nice to see, but can’t actually be done in real life. That’s what makes it fun. Fans will miss it right away if I don’t use it.”