The original comic strip, requesting old comic books and newspaper cuttings for the upcoming comics shop Lambiek. From left to right one may recognize Wammes Waggel (Marten Toonder), Eric de Noorman (H.G. Kresse), Thompson and Thomson (Hergé), Olivier B. Bommel (Marten Toonder), Donald Duck (Walt Disney), Marsupilami (André Franquin), Obélix holding Dogmatix (Albert Uderzo), Snoopy (Charles M. Schulz), Snowy (Hergé), Patty and Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz), a Moomin (Tove Jansson) and Captain Haddock (Hergé). 

Onno Docters van Leeuwen was a Dutch artist and designer, best-known for his artworks related to the tarot and other esotheric subjects. Although not a comics artist, he is an interesting sidenote in comics history because of his designs and artwork for comics shop Lambiek in its early years.

Eric Helge Onno Docters van Leeuwen was born in 1941. He attended the Arnhem Art Academy, where one of his fellow students was Kees Kousemaker. After his studies, Docters van Leeuwen worked as an advertising designer, but he eventually chose a life as an artist instead. He described himself as "a metaphysical-realistic artist", whose main body of work was related to the tarot, magic, alchemy, the I Ching and the Gnosis. He had been fascinated by tarot cards ever since the age of 16. His three-dimensional representation of the Great Arcana card set in ceramics, polychromed with oil paint and gold leaf, was on display in the Amsterdam Kosmos in September 1975. Together with his older brother Rob he spent years studying the Tarot and its mysteries. The results of their research were compiled in their book 'De Tarot In De Herstelde Orde' (1995), which came with a deck of 80 tarot cards illustrated by Onno Docters van Leeuwen. The traditional set of 78 cards was expanded with two previously removed cards representing Truth and Intuition. His second book on the subject was 'De Tarot en de Bijbel' (1998).

When Kousemaker opened Europe's first comic book store on Kerkstraat 104 in Amsterdam, Docters van Leeuwen lended a helping hand. He provided a sequential strip of three frames, starring some of the best-known comics characters of the time. The strip originally requested people to bring in their old comic books and cuttings of classic newspaper comics. The same sequence was used to illustrate the invitation for Lambiek's official opening on 8 November 1968. An extended version of the strip was used as the sign of the first Lambiek location on Kerkstraat 104. When vandalous F.C. Liverpool supporters plastered this original sign in 1977, the Amsterdam artist Charlie Reuvers painted a new one as a replacement.


Same strip, used for the invitation for Lambiek's opening in November 1968. Note that Donald Duck has been replaced by Lambik in the second panel

The artist furthermore designed Lambiek's original stationary and painted Lambiek's current sign with the iconic ZIP-logo. The image was derived from the 'Suske en Wiske' album 'Prinses Zagemeel' by Willy Vandersteen, in which Lambik is transformed into a centaur. Herwolt van Doornen came up with the basic idea of the sign, while Job Goedhart chose the format of a 'Suske & Wiske' comic book. Docters van Leeuwen took care of the lettering and color separation. The sign has graced Lambiek's front since the early 1980s on the shop's locations on Kerkstraat 78, Kerkstraat 132 and Koningsstraat 27. The original worn-out sign was replaced by an identical remake painted by Larie Cook in 2010. In 1971 Docters van Leeuwen also designed the store front of Au Bout Du Monde, Leon Dupont's bookstore at the Amsterdam Singel 361 (later Singel 313), specialized in works about mysticism and occultism.


The Lambiek shops on Kerkstraat 104 and Kerkstraat 78, with Docters van Leeuwen's signs

Another contribution to the history of Lambiek was his design for the infamous "dog shit ashtray", which went into production in 1982. Research had shown that dog droppings on the street were the top irritation among the citizens of Amsterdam. Kousemaker asked his old friend to design an ashtray, which people could give to their dog-owning neighbors. It had the shape of dog poop with the imprint of a shoe heel containing the metropolitan city arms. Advertisements drawn by Job Goedhart appeared in 'Hondepoep op de stoep' (Mondria, 1983), a cartoon collection compiled by Kousemaker. With mass production, the thing turned out so hideous, that the complete stock has merely provided Lambiek's own gallery of ashtrays for decades to come.


Advertisement for Docters van Leeuwen's dogshit ashtray, drawn by Job Goedhart

Onno Docters van Leeuwen was furthermore a conscientious objector, Greenpeace activist and avid participator in protests against the nuclear bomb. He passed away in The Hague in 2010. His younger brother was Arthur Docters van Leeuwen, the former head of the Dutch Homeland Security (BVD).


Lambiek's original stationary, designed by Onno Docters van Leeuwen. On top of the page one recognizes from left to right: Goofy (Walt Disney), Lambik (Willy Vandersteen), Tom Poes (Marten Toonder), The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (Gilbert Shelton), Peewit (Peyo), Flip the Clown (Winsor McCay), Mr. De Mesmaeker (André Franquin). On the left side of the page, from up to below one may spot  the General and the Professor (Peter de Smet), Mickey Mouse (Walt Disney), Olive Oyl (E.C. Segar), Abraham Tuizentfloot (Marc Sleen), Professor Pi (Bob van den Born), Nancy (Ernie Bushmiller), Lucky Luke (Morris), Felix the Cat (Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer), a Moomin (Tove Jansson), Thompson and Thomson (Hergé), Mortimer (Edgar P. Jacobs), Pantoufle (Raymond Macherot), Donald Duck (Walt Disney), Jules-de-chez-Smith-en-face (André Franquin), police inspector Crouton (Maurice Tillieux), Siebe the butler (Daan Jippes), Bucky Bug and Bo (Walt Disney), an unnamed character from Don Martin's comics, the unnamed ladybug from Marcel Gotlib's comics, Nestor (Hergé), Libellule (Maurice Tillieux), Olle Kapoen (Phiny Dick), Achille Talon (Greg), Big Papa Smurf (Peyo), Charlie Brown, Linus and Snoopy (Charles M. Schulz), Dr. Lucius (Willy Lohmann), Ketelbinkie (Wim Meuldijk), Nero (Marc Sleen), Agent 327 (Martin Lodewijk), Fritz the Cat (Robert Crumb), Tekko Taks (Henk Kabos and James Ringrose), Ignatz the mouse (George Herriman) and Gaston Lagaffe (André Franquin).

Onno Docters van Leeuwen in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

Series and books by Onno Docters van Leeuwen in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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