Comics History

Lambiek at Kerkstraat 119 & Utrechtsedwarsstraat 46-50 (2003-2005)

Detail of Margreet's strip for 'De Jubelende Jubilaris', about the move to Kerkstraat 119 and the Utrechtsedwarsstraat.

Of Mice and Men
For years, the foundations of the old Lambiek building at Kerkstraat 78 were sinking into the ground, and restauration works had to be done. Kees Kousemaker managed to put it off for long time, but in the fall of 2003 there was no escaping it. Since he was the proprietor of the building, Kees would have to pay the expenses for the restauration works from his own pocket. One morning, he called in a meeting with all Lambiek employees and the main question was: shall we continue or call it quits? Luckily the general consent was: continue! Kees managed to sell the building, and rent a temporary shop location, which was previously occupied by an Armenian jeweler. The plus side was that we could stay in the same street: the Kerkstraat, at nr. 119. The downside was that this new building was considerably smaller. On 1 October 2003 we therefore sold a huge part of our stock, but afterwards there still was too much stuff left. To stash it away somewhere a large part was brought to an old vacant office building at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat 46-50, while the actual store reopened on 15 December 2003 at Kerkstraat 119.

Marko Otsen installs the counter of the Kerkstraat 119 store.

Boris Kousemaker was put in charge of the move. He got considerable help from his friend Marko Otsen, who would remain our home carpenter and jack-of-all-trades for many years to come. On 30 December 2003 our iconic "ZIP!"-sign was taken down from Kerkstraat 78, marking the end a glorious period for Lambiek. Although the sign was trimmed down to smaller proportions in January 2004, the store at 119 had no means for hanging it up. Instead, the sign and façade from the Kerkstraat 104 shop were taken out of the mothballs.

Out with the old, in with the new... the ZIP sign is removed from Kerkstraat 78, while the old signs from Kerkstraat 104 by Onno Docters van Leeuwen and Charlie Reuvers are reinstalled at Kerkstraat 119.

Having the general store in one street and an extra storage building in a different street was evidently not a great situation. Especially since the building at Utrechtsedwarsstraat was in decay and therefore a Valhalla for mice. Many of our books and papers had to be plastified or locked away to protect them from Mickey's family members. Throughout this one year we tried to run Lambiek as a normal comics store, but there was not enough room for signing sessions or expos. The Comiclopedia team was installed at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat, as was Klaas Knol when he was taking care of the orders from the online store. While Bas Schuddeboom kept on filling the Comiclopedia, Kees and Margreet de Heer were mostly occupied with two other major projects.

For a short spell, the entire team was installed in the small Kerkstraat store, but this turned out to be a bit too cosy...
From left to right: Margreet de Heer, Bas Schuddeboom, Kees Kousemaker and Klaas Knol.

De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip
The most time-consuming project at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat was compiling a large-format coffee table book about Dutch comics by order of the publishing house Terra/Lannoo. Kees and Margreet originally prepared an encyclopedic overview book of Dutch comics heroes, but this approach didn't work out. They then chose to emphasize on the visual aspect of comics. 'De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip' ("The World of Dutch Comics") eventually featured a thematical overview of 100 years of Dutch comics, divided in topics such as nobility, drugs, smoking, knights, Asian people, sea captains, children, women, celebrity comics, political comics, etc. etc. Kees focused on the older comics, while Margreet mostly picked out recent comics and wrote most of the articles. Kees was in charge of the design and the direction the articles needed to take. It was quite a difficult undertaking and at a certain point the deadline had been extended in order to meet Kees' perfectionistic standards. Margreet illustrated their squabbling in her hilarious and open-hearted speech during the book presentation on 27 June 2005. One funny anecdote dealt with the placement of the authors' names on the book cover. De Heer reasoned her name should come first, since she did most of the writing. Kees on the other hand felt his name ought to be first, since the book fell under his responsibility. In the end Kees agreed that Margreet's name could come first and his second, but then they should only use their last names. Then it would read "De Heer Kousemaker" (which means as much as "Mister Kousemaker" in Dutch).

Times were hard on the Utrechtsedwarsstraat... (yet we also regularly spotted Dutch TV presenter/pastor Jos Brink on his way to his church).

During working hours, Bas and Margreet often listened to Hans van Willigenburg's rather corny radio program 'De Hulplijn', which helped his mostly old-age target group track down certain saucers matching to specific cups, spoons complementing a collection or other trinkets. Although we usually listened to it with a chuckle, the program helped out when Margreet herself appeared on the air requesting information for the book about the radio and comics character 'Ome Keesje' and its creator, Henk Zwart. Duly noted!

The exterior of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat building.

Comics Neighbourhood of Almere
In 2002-2004 a longtime dream of Kees - and perhaps the most unlikely - went into fulfillment. In late 2002 he received confirmation that his plan to name local streets in Almere after famous comics characters and artists, thus creating an actual "Stripheldenbuurt" ("Comics heroes neighbourhood"), would be realized. Kees had first conceived this idea nearly two decades back, in June 1984. Almere was still a young city then, built in the 1970s as part of the reclaiming of the Flevopolders from the Zuiderzee. Since it was a growing city, Kees assumed there might be more willingness to create such a comics heroes neighbourhood. Almere made national headlines in 1984 because a member of the far-right party Centrum Democraten was elected into its council, which outraged many people. Kees therefore defended his "street plans" with the stinger: "Why not do something that will give Almere some positive press for a change?"

Kees' original letter to the street names committee of June 1984.

18 years went by before Kees' plea for "positive press" received a positive reply. Even he had almost forgotten his proposition by then. But in 2002 Almere's urban planner Olaf de Koning wrote him that the council wanted to realize the plan. To Kees' joy it wouldn't be just a few streets, but an entire district! But things needed to go quick. Within a few weeks Kees already had an appointment with the organizers. His suggestions were mostly accepted, with some exceptions. Streets with double entendres weren't allowed, so no unintentionally sexually suggestive names like Wipperoen (a character by Raymond Bär van Hemmersweil and Jan van Reek) or Fokkie Flink (a character by Henk Zwart). Other names were not possible as they showed too much resemblance to other streets, so the Jan Kruisstraat had to become the Jan Kruisweg because of the Kruisstraat in Almere Haven. A street name dedicated to the classic comics magazine Doe Mee was rejected because of the DoeMere shopping centre. For a similar reason, Dutch newspaper comics pioneer Henk Backer was refused his own street. And unfortunately the penitentiary could not be situated on the Wordt Vervolgdweg ("Wordt vervolgd" means "To be continued" but also "will be prosecuted"). Using imagery from comics was also vetoed because the city feared people would try and steal the signs.

Eventually the Stripheldenbuurt received such names as:

  • Aafje Andersstraat (a street named after the character Aafje Anders created by Andries Brandt)
  • Ambtenaar Dorknoperlaan (an avenue named after civil servant Dorknoper from Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes')
  • André Franquinweg (a road named after comics artist André Franquin)
  • Aramstraat (a street named after Piet Wijn's 'Aram')
  • Asterixstraat (a street named after René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix')
  • Bobbieplantsoen (a park named after Snowy from Hergé's 'Tintin')
  • Boonestaakstraat (a street named after A.M. de Jong and George van Raemdonck's 'Bulletje en Boonestaak')
  • Brommy en Tommystraat (a street named after Jan Dirk van Exter's 'Brommy en Tomy')
  • Bulletjestraat (a street named after A.M. de Jong and George van Raemdonck's 'Bulletje en Boonestaak')
  • Burgemeester Dickerdacklaan (an avenue named after Major Dickerdack from Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes')
  • Carl Barksweg (a road named after comics artist Carl Barks)
  • Carol Vogespad (a path named after comics artist Carol Voges)
  • Daan Hoeksemastraat (a street named after comics artist Daan Hoeksema)
  • Dagobertstraat (a street named after Carl Barks' Scrooge McDuck)
  • De Stripmaker (translated: "The Comics Maker")
  • De Striptekenaar (translated "The Comics Artist")
  • Dick Bosstraat (a street named after Alfred Mazure's 'Dick Bos')
  • Donald Ducklaan (an avenue named after Walt Disney's 'Donald Duck')
  • Douwe Dabbertstraat (a street named after Thom Roep and Piet Wijn's 'Douwe Dabbert')
  • Eppostraat (a street named after Uco Egmond's 'Eppo')
  • Eric de Noormanhof (a garden named after H.G. Kresse's 'Eric de Noorman')
  • Eucalyptastraat (a street named after Eucalypta, the witch from Jean Dulieu's 'Paulus de Boskabouter')
  • Familie Doorzonstraat (a street named after Gerrit de Jager's 'Familie Doorzon')
  • Fiep Westendorpstraat (a street named after illustrator Fiep Westendorp)
  • Flipjestraat (a street named after E.M. ten Harmsen van der Beek's 'Flipje')
  • Frans Piëtstraat (a street named after comics artist Frans Piët)
  • Gerrit Th. Rotmanlaan (an avenue named after comics artist Gerrit Th. Rotman)
  • Gilles de Geusstraat (a street named after Hanco Kolk and Peter de Wit's 'Gilles de Geus')
  • Goofystraat (a street named after Walt Disney's Goofy)
  • Gijs Gansstraat (a street named after Carl Barks' Gus Goose)
  • Guus Gelukstraat (a street named after Carl Barks' Gladstone Gander)
  • Hans G. Kresseweg (a road named after comics artist Hans G. Kresse)
  • Hendrik IJzerbrootlaan (an avenue named after Martin Lodewijk's Hendrik IJzerbroot from 'Agent 327')
  • Henk Sprengerweg (a road named after comics artist Henk Sprenger)
  • Idefixstraat (a street named after René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's Dogmatix)
  • Jaap Vegterweg (a road named after comics artist Jaap Vegter)
  • Jantje Joppestraat (a street named after Gerrit Rotman's 'Jantje Joppe')
  • Jan Dirk van Exterlaan (an avenue named after comics artist Jan Dirk van Exter)
  • Jean Dulieuweg (a road named after comics artist Jean Dulieu)
  • Jan Kruisweg (a road named after comics artist Jan Kruis)
  • Jeromstraat (a street named after Willy Vandersteen's character Jerom)
  • Joostlaan (an avenue named after Joost the butler from Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes')
  • Lambikstraat (a street named after Willy Vandersteen's character Lambik)
  • Kapitein Robstraat (a street named after Pieter Kuhn's 'Kapitein Rob')
  • Kapitein Wal Ruslaan (an avenue named after Marten Toonder's character Wal Rus from 'Tom Poes')
  • Katrien Duckstraat (a street named after Walt Disney's Daisy Duck)
  • Ketelbinkiestraat (a street named after Wim Meuldijk's 'Ketelbinkie')
  • Kick Wilstraplantsoen (a park named after Henk Sprenger's 'Kick Wilstra')
  • Koning Hollewijnstraat (a street named after Marten Toonder's 'Koning Hollewijn')
  • Kuifjepad (a path named after Hergé's 'Tintin')
  • Kuifjestraat (a street named after Hergé's 'Tintin')
  • Lucky Lukestraat (a street named after Morris' 'Lucky Luke')
  • Majastraat (a street named after Maya from Lo Hartog van Banda and Jan Steeman's 'Arad en Maya')
  • Marsupilamihof (a garden named after André Franquin's 'Marsupilami')
  • Marten Toonderlaan (an avenue named after comics artist Marten Toonder)
  • Marten Toonderpad (a path named after comics artist Marten Toonder)
  • Matho Tongastraat (a street named after H.G. Kresse's 'Matho Tonga')
  • Mazureplantsoen (a park named after Alfred Mazure's 'Dick Bos')
  • Mickey Mousestraat (a street named after Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse)
  • Obelixstraat (a street named after René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's Obélix)
  • Okkistraat (a street named after the Dutch comics magazine Okki)
  • Olle Kapoenstraat (a street named after Phiny Dick's 'Olle Kapoen')
  • Pa Pinkelmanstraat (a street named after Godfried Bomans and Carol Voges' 'Pa Pinkelman')
  • Paulus de Boskabouterhof (a garden named after Jean Dulieu's 'Paulus de Boskabouter')
  • Peter van Straatenhof (a garden named after cartoonist Peter van Straaten)
  • Piet Pellepad (a path named after the advertising character 'Piet Pelle', creating by Ko Doncker)
  • Pieter Kuhnweg (a road named after comics artist Pieter Kuhn)
  • Pietje Pluisplantsoen (a street named after Gerrit Rotman's 'Pietje Pluis')
  • Phiny Dickgracht (a canal named after comics artist Phiny Dick)
  • Phiny Dickbrug (a bridge named after comics artist Phiny Dick)
  • Piloot Stormstraat (a street named after Henk Sprenger's 'Piloot Storm')
  • Popeyestraat (a street named after E.C. Segar's 'Popeye')
  • Professor Lupardistraat (a street named after the mad scientist Professor Lupardi from Pieter Kuhn's 'Kapitein Rob')
  • Professor Cumulusstraat (a street named after Gerard Wiegel's character Professor Cumulus)
  • Professor Pigracht (a canal named after Bob van den Born's 'Professor Pi')
  • Rataplanstraat (a street named after Morris' 'Rataplan')
  • Rikki Visserstraat (a street named after Jan Dirk van Exter's 'Rikki Visser)
  • Sidoniastraat (a street named after Willy Vandersteen's Tante Sidonia)
  • Sigmundplantsoen (a park named after Peter de Wit's 'Sigmund')
  • Sjimmiestraat (a street named after Frans Piët's 'Sjors en Sjimmie')
  • Sjorsstraat (a street named after Frans Piët's 'Sjors en Sjimmie')
  • Tante Pollewopstraat (a street named after Godfried Bomans and Carol Voges' character Tante Pollewop)
  • Thijs Slofstraat (a street named after Frans Funke Küpper's 'Thijs Slof')
  • Tinastraat (a street named after the Dutch comics magazine Tina)
  • Tom Welsstraat (a street named after Ben Abas' 'Tom Wels')
  • Tijs Wijsstraat (a street named after Willy Smit's 'Tijs Wijs')
  • Tom Poesstraat (a street named after Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes')
  • Van Raemdonckstraat (a street named after artist George Van Raemdonck)
  • Weg van het Beeldverhaal (translated: "the Road of the Comic Strip")
  • Willie Wortelstraat (a street named after Carl Barks' 'Gyro Gearloose')
  • Wim Meuldijklaan (an avenue named after comics artist Wim Meuldijk)
  • Winonahstraat (a street named after Winonah, the wife of Eric de Noorman by H.G. Kresse)
  • Wiskestraat (a street named after Willy Vandersteen's character Wiske)

The first buildings in this new neighbourhood were inaugurated on 19 May 2004 in the presence of Marten Toonder's grandson Aino. The only minor problem was that the Marsupilamihof was misspelled as Marsipulamihof. This Gaston Lagaffe-like goof was corrected in 2008. The Majastraat also has a tiny spelling mistake, since it refers to the comics series 'Arad en Maya' by Lo Hartog van Banda and Jan Steeman (there is no Aradstraat because of the Aramstraat).

For years to come, the Lambiek team and their guests have had fun coming up with new corny names for Almere during parties. It is however unlikely that the Jan Kruispunt ("John Crosspoint"), the Aloys Oosterwijk ("wijk" means "district") or the Bert Bushalte ("Bert Bus Stop") will ever see the light of day...

The narrow store at Kerkstraat 119.

During the final leg of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat tenure, the Lambiek crew got company. Hansje Joustra's distribution company Het Raadsel went bankrupt, which meant he had to relocate the offices of his other enterprise, publishing label Oog & Blik. Luckily, his friend Kees Kousemaker offered him the main room in the Lambiek annex. Former Het Raadsel employee Ron Poland began his own distribution service Strips in Voorraad in one of the other rooms of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat building.

Apart from the two creative outbursts, this was overall a rather uneventful period for Lambiek, but luckily it all just lasted for about a year. On 28 January 2005 Lambiek moved again to a new address, right across the street: Kerkstraat 132. This time with enough room to hold future exhibitions, signing sessions and other events...

Main room of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat annex, where Hansje Joustra would temporarily install his publishing firm Oog & Blik.

Next chapter: Kerkstraat 132 (2005-2010)