'Klaas en de Klaas Vaakmannetjes' (Bobo, 1977).

Jaap Lamberton was a Dutch comic artist and illustrator, working for the Toonder Studio's from 1975 until his death in 1991. With his colleague Frits Godhelp, he drew the final years of the 'Panda' newspaper comic.

Early life
Born in 1946, in Bussum in the province North Holland, Jaap Lamberton spent a large part of his childhood drawing. He stayed in his parental home for the rest of his life. Immediately after high school, Lamberton took a couple of his drawings and, accompanied by his mother, headed for Amsterdam to present his work to Marten Toonder, head of the largest comics production studio in the country and creator of famous newspaper comics like 'Tom Poes' and 'Panda'. Toonder recognized his talent, but advised him to go to the Art Academy first. According to legend, Lamberton enrolled, but only lasted one day. The next day, he returned to the Toonder Studio's and was hired.

Toonder Studio's
Described as a versatile and fast worker, but also a modest man, Jaap Lamberton worked for both the animation and the comic department of the Toonder Studio's. Together with Harrie Geelen, he made designs and concepts for animations and advertising spots. For instance, he participated in the production of the animated feature film 'Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel' ('The Dragon Who Was, Or Wasn't He?', 1983), based on Toonder's signature comic series 'Tom Poes' ('Tom Puss'). 

Cover painting by Jaap Lamberton for the 1986 book collection of the 'Tom Poes' story 'Heer Ollie en een Bommelding'.

Comic department
By 1975, Jaap Lamberton became a staff artist with the studio's comic department, filling the vacancy left by the recently retired Wim Lensen. There, he worked alongside fellow staffers Frits Godhelp and Richard Klokkers in their corner tower art studio of the Nederhorst den Berg castle, doing production work on the studio's remaining newspaper comics. Together with Klokkers, he drew the backgrounds of the final five episodes of the science fiction newspaper comic 'Arman en Ilva', drawn by Gerrit Stapel. Lamberton also made painted cover illustrations for the book collections of Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes' comics, published by De Bezige Bij. During the 1980s, Lamberton and Godhelp reworked the page layouts of old 'Tom Poes' balloon comics for Wereldkroniek magazine for their reprints in Donald Duck weekly. Some pages destroyed in a 1971 fire at the castle had to be completely redrawn. 

Panda by Toonder Studio's
'Panda en QWZL van BL' by Frits Godhelp & Jaap Lamberton (Limburgs Dagblad, 15 June 1990).

When in late 1986 'Panda' writer and artist Piet Wijn had a stroke, Jaap Lamberton and Frits Godhelp took over pencil and art duties for this Toonder newspaper strip. While Lamberton made the rough sketch, Godhelp did the final pencil art, after which Lamberton did the inking. Taking over at the start of the Wijn-plotted episode 'De Diepgravers' (1986-1987), they continued the feature until the early 1990s, working from scripts by Harrie GeelenRuud Straatman and Eiso Toonder. Created by Marten Toonder in 1946, the series about the adventurous panda had become the biggest export product of the Toonder Studio's. Whereas 'Panda' ran in foreign newspapers in the balloon comic format, the Dutch publications had always been traditional text comics, with text captions underneath the images. During Piet Wijn's run on the feature, 'Panda' was turned into a balloon comic altogether, also for the Dutch publications. By the time Lamberton and Godhelp took over, it was the last remaining Toonder newspaper comic, as 'Tom Poes' had been concluded in 1986. Marten Toonder was, however, no longer actively involved in the stories, and the syndication was mostly limited to Dutch regional newspapers, including Nieuwsblad van het Noorden.

'Een Heel Lief Konijn'. Cover illustration. 

Whereas most of the Toonder Studio's comic productions were cancelled during the mid-1970s, Lamberton and his studio colleagues did freelance work for magazines to supplement their income. He, for instance, illustrated picture stories for the toddlers' magazine Bobo, for instance the 1977 serial 'Klaas en de Klaas Vaakmannetjes'. His Toonder colleague Harrie Geelen encouraged him to venture into children's books. Geelen's wife Imme Dros specially wrote one story for Lamberton, leaving enough room for illustrations. In 'Een Heel Lief Konijn' (Querido, 1991), everyone is amazed that Mrs. Klein gradually turns into a rabbit, except mister Klein, who still finds her beautiful. The surreal story was supplemented by Lamberton's scratchy and naïve illustrations.

In 1991 Jaap Lamberton had just finished the illustrations for his book 'Een Heel Lief Konijn', when he died suddenly from a stroke, at the young age of 45. He never saw the release of the book, but in 1994 he was posthumously awarded the Woutertje Pieterse Award for his illustrations. Not long after Jaap Lamberton's death, the 'Panda' strip came to an end. The final episode was drawn once again by its longtime artist, Piet Wijn, marking the end to a decades-long tradition of Marten Toonder newspaper comics in Dutch newspapers.

Jaap Lamberton in 1987
Jaap Lamberton in 1987.

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