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 foundation of the old Lambiek building at Kerkstraat 78 was sinking into the ground, and restoration work had to be done. Kees Kousemaker managed to put these costly repairs off for long time, but in the fall of 2003 there was no escaping it. Since he was the owner of the building, Kees would have to pay the expenses for the restoration work from his own pocket. One morning, he called in a meeting with all Lambiek employees to ask: 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 previously occupied by an Armenian jeweler. The plus side was that we could stay in the same street: Kerkstraat 119. The downside was that this new building was considerably smaller. On 1 October 2003, we sold a huge part of our stock, but afterwards, there still was a lot of comics and graphic novels left over. A large part of this unsold stock was brought to an old vacant office building at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat 46-50, where it was safely stashed away. After modifying the new building at Kerkstraat 119, Lambiek reopened for business on 15 December 2003.

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 remained our house 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. The sign and façade from Lambiek's Kerkstraat 104 shop were taken out of the mothballs and displayed.

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 on one street and an extra storage building on a different street was not a great situation, especially since the Utrechtsedwarsstraat building was in decay and a Valhalla for mice. Many of our books and papers had to be wrapped in plastic or locked away to protect them from Mickey's family. Throughout this one year, we tried to run Lambiek as a normal comics store, but there was not enough room for signing sessions or expositions. 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 with new biographies, 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 coffee table book about Dutch comics for the publishing house Terra/Lannoo. Kees and Margreet originally prepared to do an encyclopedic overview book of Dutch comics heroes, but this approach didn't work out. They then chose to emphasize the visual aspect of comics. 'De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip' ("The World of Dutch Comics") eventually featured a thematic overview of 100 years of Dutch comics, divided in topics such as nobility, drugs, smoking, knights, Asian people, sea captains, children, women, celebrity and political comics. Kees focused on the older comics, while Margreet mostly picked out recent ones. De Heer ended up writing most of the articles for this book. Kees was in charge of the design and the direction the articles needed to take. It was a difficult undertaking and at a certain point, the deadline had to be extended in order to meet Kees' perfectionist standards. Margreet illustrated their squabbling in her hilarious and open-hearted speech during the book presentation on 27 June 2005. One of her funny anecdotes 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 only if they used their last names only. Margreet agreed, and all were amused when the book arrived with "De Heer Kousemaker" (which translates to "Mister Kousemaker" in Dutch) in large letters on the cover!

Times were hard that winter in the Utrechtsedwarsstraat (yet we regularly spotted Dutch TV presenter/pastor Jos Brink walking by on his way to do church).

During working hours, Bas and Margreet often listened to Hans van Willigenburg's corny radio program 'De Hulplijn' ('The Helpline'), which assisted its aging demographic in tracking down matching saucers and cups, collectible spoons sets and other kitschy knickknacks. Although we usually listened to it for a laugh, the program actually was a helpline for Margreet, when they put her on the air, letting her ask the elderly audience for information about the radio and comics character 'Ome Keesje' and its creator, Henk Zwart, for inclusion in the upcoming book.

The exterior of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat building in 2004.

Comic Heroes Neighborhood of Almere
In 2002-2004 a longtime dream of Kees - and perhaps the most unlikely - was fulfilled. In late 2002, he received confirmation that his plan to name local streets in Almere after famous comic characters and artists, creating an actual "Stripheldenbuurt" ("Comic Heroes Neighborhood"), would be implemented. Kees first conceived this idea in June 1984, almost two decades earlier. Almere was still a young city then, built in the 1970s in the Flevopolders, as part of the land reclaimed from the sea. Since it was a growing city, Kees assumed there might be more willingness to create a comic heroes neighborhood in one of the newly created residential zones. Almere made national headlines in 1984 because a member of the far-right party (Centrum Democraten) was elected into its council, which outraged some citizens. Kees defended his "street plans" with the simple inquiry: "Why not do something that will give Almere some positive press for a change?"

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

18 years went by before Kees' plea for "positive press" received a favorable reply, and he had almost forgotten his proposition, when suddenly in 2002, Olaf de Koning, Almere's urban planner, wrote him that the council wanted to go ahead with the plan. To Kees' joy, the project wouldn't cover just a few streets, but an entire district! However, the council demanded names for the streets as quicly as possible. Within a few weeks, Kees had a meeting with the organizers. With only a few exceptions, the committee agreed to most of Kees' suggestions. There was a ban on double entendres, so no streets had unintentionally sexually suggestive names. Ruled out immediately were Wipperoen (translation: "Shaggaroon"), a character by Raymond Bär van Hemmersweil and Jan van Reek, or Fokkie Flink ("Feisty Fuk"), a character by Henk Zwart. Other street names were rejected because they too closely resembled names of other existing streets. So, due to the existence of the Kruisstraat in Almere Haven, Jan Kruisstraat had to become Jan Kruisweg. A street name dedicated to the classic comic magazine Doe Mee was rejected because the name could be confused with the DoeMere Shopping Center. And another similarly named road prevented Dutch newspaper comics pioneer Henk Backer from getting a street named after himself. 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 by the organizers, because the city feared people would try and steal the signs.

Eventually the Stripheldenbuurt approved these street names:

  • 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 comic artist André Franquin)
  • Aramstraat (a street named after Piet Wijn's 'Aram van de Eilanden')
  • 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 Tommy')
  • Bulletjestraat (a street named after A.M. de Jong and George van Raemdonck's 'Bulletje en Boonestaak')
  • Burgemeester Dickerdacklaan (an avenue named after Mayor Dickerdack, from Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes')
  • Carl Barksweg (a road named after comic artist Carl Barks)
  • Carol Vogespad (a path named after comic artist Carol Voges)
  • Daan Hoeksemastraat (a street named after comic artist Daan Hoeksema)
  • Dagobertstraat (a street named after Carl Barks' Scrooge McDuck)
  • De Stripmaker (translated: "The Comic Maker")
  • De Striptekenaar (translated "The Comic 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 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 comic artist Frans Piët)
  • Gerrit Th. Rotmanlaan (an avenue named after comic 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 comic artist Hans G. Kresse)
  • Hendrik IJzerbrootlaan (an avenue named after Martin Lodewijk's Hendrik IJzerbroot, from 'Agent 327')
  • Henk Sprengerweg (a road named after comic artist Henk Sprenger)
  • Idefixstraat (a street named after Obelix's dog from René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's 'Asterix & Obelix')
  • Jaap Vegterweg (a road named after comic artist Jaap Vegter)
  • Jantje Joppestraat (a street named after Gerrit Rotman's 'Jantje Joppe')
  • Jan Dirk van Exterlaan (an avenue named after comic artist Jan Dirk van Exter)
  • Jean Dulieuweg (a road named after comic artist Jean Dulieu)
  • Jan Kruisweg (a road named after comic 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 captain Wal Rus, from Marten Toonder's '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 comic artist Marten Toonder)
  • Marten Toonderpad (a path named after comic artist Marten Toonder)
  • Matho Tongastraat (a street named after H.G. Kresse's 'Matho Tonga')
  • Mazureplantsoen (a park named after comic artist Alfred Mazure)
  • 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 comic 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', created by Ko Doncker)
  • Pieter Kuhnweg (a road named after comic artist Pieter Kuhn)
  • Pietje Pluisplantsoen (a street named after Gerrit Rotman's 'Pietje Pluis')
  • Phiny Dickgracht (a canal named after comic artist Phiny Dick)
  • Phiny Dickbrug (a bridge named after comic 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 comic 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 comic 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 neighborhood were inaugurated on 19 May 2004, in the presence of Marten Toonder's grandson Aino. The only minor problem was that the Marsupilamihof switched a "u" and an "i" and was misspelled as Marsipulamihof. This Gaston Lagaffe-like goof was corrected in 2008. The Majastraat also has a tiny spelling mistake. It refers to Maya from the comic series 'Arad en Maya' by Lo Hartog van Banda and Jan Steeman, but substituted a "j" for the "y". There is no street for the comic's other hero, Arad, because the name would become too similar to the Aramstraat, named after Piet Wijn's character.

For years to come, the Lambiek team and their guests have had fun during parties coming up with new corny names for Almere streets. 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 in 2004.

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 imprint 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.

Aside from the two creative outbursts, the coffee-table book and the street names project, this was overall a rather uneventful period for Lambiek. 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 new space had enough room to hold exhibitions, signing sessions and other events...

Main room of the Utrechtsedwarsstraat annex in 2004, where Hansje Joustra temporarily installed his publishing firm Oog & Blik.

Next chapter: Kerkstraat 132 (2005-2010)