Comics History

Lambiek at Kerkstraat 132 (2005-2010)

Lambiek in the mid 2000s
As we've written before: in 2003-2004 Lambiek was half the store it used to be. One half of our stock was located in the Utrechtsedwarsstraat, while our main store in the Kerkstraat at nr. 119 was too small to organize notable events. This setback changed for the better in December 2004, when Lambiek reopened at another address in the Kerkstraat, namely number 132. The building itself was originally a coach house, and was for many years occupied by the printing company Anderson. However, we celebrated our official opening day on 28 January 2005 since it still took several weeks before our entire stock was finally moved back from the rodents-invested shack in the Utrechtsedwarsestraat to the new address. The move also reinstated Gallery Lambiek in its full glory. Marko Otsen built a new exposition room from scratch in the large space adjoining the store. This new gallery would mostly focus on the work of alternative Dutch and Flemish comics artists, but also on other comics-related events. On many of these occasions, Michael Minneboo was present with his camera to interview artists and capture an overall impression.


Replacement of the old, worn-out ZIP sign on 30 December 2006. Klaas is lending a hand.

Both the façade painting by Charlie Reuvers from our Kerkstraat 114 shop and the trimmed down original "ZIP" sign from Kerkstraat 78 were attached to the new store front. A downside was that this sign no longer had the name Lambiek on it, and just featured the logo, causing some new visitors to assume that our store was named ZIP. Well, at least they didn't confuse it with a sex shop anymore... A new, digitally printed, ZIP sign was installed on 30 December 2006. But alas... already a half year later thieves stole it in the middle of the night, so the old sign was back in business. In February 2010 Larie Cook made a freshly painted new copy of the "ZIP" sign for us, adding our website link on it while he was ahead. At the same time the wooden Lambiek doll was replaced with a brand new copy. Jeroen Funke furthermore created a special cargo bicycle for our store in May 2009.


Klaas Knol, Bas van der Zee and Kees Kousemaker.

Bas van der Zee (2005-2006)
In this era of replacements we saw several employees come and go. Kees Kousemaker planned to retire as Lambiek's storeowner and Bas van der Zee was to become his replacement. Bas had first visited our store in 1997 as part of the group of students who made the publication of Henk van den Ham's encyclopedia 'Bommel Concordantie' (1997) about Marten Toonder's 'Tom Poes' possible. He later returned as a student intern, and then as a shop employee in 2001. Afterwards he worked for book import company Van Ditmar for a while, until he was asked by Kees to become his successor. His tenure began in late 2004 with painting and installing the new store location, helped by several of his friends. Aided by Klaas Knol, he managed Lambiek during the first years at Kerkstraat 132, while Kees gradually resigned. Bas did a fine job, but by 2007 creative differences ended his cooperation with Kees, and he returned to the publishing world. He passed the torch to Kees' son, Boris Kousemaker, who remains Lambiek's store owner to this very day.


Street life.

Boris Kousemaker (2007-present)
Boris Kousemaker shares his father's love for comics, though not in the same excessive way. He considers Jim Woodring, Dave Cooper and Jano among his favorite comics artists. Contrary to his dad Boris is far more rock 'n' roll in his appearance, though still a social type. In many ways he may even be more of a "people" person. While his father didn't like to have too many children around in the store out of fear that they might damage something, Boris welcomes them with open arms. He particularly likes it when he notices them rediscovering classic comics series and enjoying them. Boris is also the instigator behind the weekly "Vrijdagborrels" ("Friday drinks"). In the past Kees had organized social gatherings with free drinks in his store, but on an irregular, non-official basis. From 1 January 2004 on, when smoking inside public buildings was prohibited, smokers went outside for their habit. Boris and Klaas Knol did the same during their breaks, which encouraged socializing with other passersby. One of the people Boris met this way was Marcel Reijneveld, owner of Café Krom, who used to take his teckle out for a walk. Since Boris is fond of dogs he always took this opportunity to have a chat with him until Marcel became a regular customer too. Even when Marcel wasn't planning a visit his attention-hungry dog still pulled him towards Lambiek... Maybe his pet is fond of 'Snoopy'? Around closing time, the socializing in front of and also inside Lambiek was enjoyed over a drink. After a while drinks on Friday afternoon became a weekly tradition, and the festivities regularly continue way after closing hours. The "Vrijdagborrels" are in a way our version of the banquets at the end of every 'Astérix' story or the waffle feasts which close off most 'Nero' albums. It's a great way to promote customer relations and get all people associated with the store together in one spot.


Friday drinks in 2010.

Employees
Now that Kees had more time on his hands he could freely work on many different projects, particularly the Comiclopedia. Together with his trusty typists Margreet de Heer and Bas Schuddeboom he rummaged through piles of books, scanned images from them and dictated and proofread new articles. Yet halfway 2005 Margreet left us after six years of loyal service. Our red-headed web editor wanted to concentrate on her own comics career. Her last project with Kees was 'De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip', a cut-and-paste book about Dutch comics history which was mostly put together during our time at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat. It was presented in the new Lambiek on 27 June 2005. She would return one final time in 2010 when she helped Bas finish articles-in-progress which Kees left behind after his death, as well as expanding Kees Kousemaker's own biographical article. Since she left Lambiek Margreet De Heer went on to publish various educational graphic novels about philosophy, religion, history and other topics in her 'Discoveries in Comics' series. Bas Schuddeboom technically had no reason to stay either. By 2005 he was already secure as a web editor for the Dutch Disney magazines. But he liked the Comiclopedia so much that he decided to keep working for it in his spare time. Kees and Bas would meet every Friday in the store's office space to add their new texts and images to the site. Our busy scanner Vincent Polverino and computer wizard Rick Webb kept on board too. Vincent also helped out in the gallery, scanned our photo archive and became our loyal supplier of cheese sticks at the Friday drinks.


Abel.

Between 2007 and 2015 we had two great helps in the store: Abel Schoenmaker and Lot Rossmark. We figured if there was room for a "Kousemaker" then a "Schoenmaker" would be perfect match. Abel is an avid collector himself, with a great knowledge of especially Franco-Belgian comics. A well organized person, he was well suited for making the orders from our distributors. One time he noticed chocolate letters for each employee in the office, a gift from one of our customers during the annual Sinterklaas festivities. An L for Lot, an A for Abel, an M for Marko, a B for Boris, and a K for Klaas. But he couldn't figure out for whom the I and the E should be? The realization that the letters actually spelled LAMBIEK led to a historical discovery: Lambiek only hires employees whose first name begins with one of the letters in the store name!


Lot, seemingly unharmed by the 24 Hour Comics event.

We could enjoy Lot's sparkling personality until 2014, when she further pursued her career as a film editor. Lot was especially a great help during our 24 Hour Comics events, during which she was seemingly inexhaustible in entertaining and supporting the slogging artists. Last but not least Klaas Knol went into his third and fourth decade as Lambiek employee. His easy-going attitude, trustworthy opinions and general knowledge were always appreciated by customers, but on 23 January 2010 he actually received the Hal Foster Award for it, from the hands of cartoonist Peter de Wit.

During this decade-and-one-year Lambiek finally had enough space again to continue its grand-scale exhibitions and other events. Two of the most mediatized events were our co-organisation of the 24 Hour Comic Days and the odd, but sensational happenings of the comics collective Lamelos...


Jean-Marc van Tol's 'Moord in Lambiek', featuring Kees and Bas van der Zee.

24 Hour Comics Days (2005-2014)
Lambiek has regularly been the Dutch homebase of the annual 24 Hour Comic Day event. Organized since 1990 by Scott McCloud, amateurs and professionals are brought together in one location where they are motivated to think up, write and draw an entire comic book of 24 pages in 24 hours time. While the event already knew a long tradition, it expanded to a global scale from 2004 onwards. On 23 April 2005 Lambiek hosted the first Dutch edition, and would do so for many years. In the following years, the event was organized simultaneously in Groningen, Zwolle, Utrecht and other Dutch cities for artists outside of Amsterdam. During the first Amsterdam edition Jean-Marc van Tol came up with a heavy meta story, 'Moord in Lambiek', in which his characters Fokke and Sukke turn up for 24 Hour Comic Day in our store. However, the two pantless birds discover that Kees Kousemaker has been murdered. Together with an inspector and his assistant who parody the 'Baantjer' detective novels by Appie Baantjer they try to solve the case, though eventually everything turns out to be a huge misunderstanding...


24 Hour Comics in Gallery Lambiek in 2007.

Lambiek would co-organize other editions on 7 October 2006, 23 October 2007 (with a special book published by our store about this event), 18 October 2008, 19 October 2009, 2 October 2010 and 5 October 2013 (exceptionally held at the Lev Agency for Visualisers at the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 206) and 4 October 2014. The proceedings were published on our website, on the artists' own blogs and later also on Facebook. Most of the insomniac artists over the years were Dutch, though at the 2014 edition we welcomed German artist Leo Kopperkamm all the way from Berlin.


Part of Maia Matches' 2008 24 Hour Comic.

Over the years Tommy A, Mattt Baay, Suzan Bongers, Stephan Brusche, Larie Cook, Floor de Goede, Margreet de Heer, Aimée de Jongh, David de Rooij, Johan de Rooij, Marissa Delbressine, Aleks Deurloo, Jeroen Funke, Albo Helm, Maurice Hof, Gerrie Hondius, Maarten Janssens, Jordy Knoop, Bas Köhler, Menno Kooistra, Hallie Lama, Maia Machèn, Rutger Ockhorst, Remco Polman, Emma Ringelberg, Sandra Kleine Staarman, Boris and Sam Peeters, Jeroen Funke, Pepijn Schermer, Yannick Schueler, Rob van Barneveld, Robert van Raffe, Martijn van Santen, Viktor Venema, Mingus Vogel and Wasco were regular 24 Hours participants. They all bravely combatted the Sandman until the wee small hours of the morning. To keep the contributors awake gallons of coffee were poured into cups while local horeca, like Soup & Zo, kept food available. Some artists only managed to complete eight pages in 24 hours time. Hallie Lama on the other hand usually finished his 24 pages within eight hours!

Lamelos (2006-2014)
Less exhausting, but equally entertaining were the happenings organized by the Dutch artists' collective Lamelos, consisting of Aleks Deurloo, Jeroen Funke, Boris Peeters and Sam Peeters. Between 19 May and 23 June 2006 they held their first expo in our store, titled 'Lamelos in de Olie'. The group had a peculiar, but popular way of attracting audiences to their book signings and exhibitions. The opening of the 2006 expo had the artists dressed up as tennis players. Other events were turned into auctions, even though they couldn't exactly be compared to Sotheby's or Christie's.


Lamelos commemorated their auctions in their contribution to the 40 years Lambiek book in 2008.

Our gallery would be piled up with a tremendous amount of junk, varying from worn-out 1980s toys to second-hand umbrellas and worthless pieces of kitsch. Every time an item was sold the earnings were used to buy new beer for the gathered crowd. Any piece of junk that failed to find a bidder was instantly destroyed on the gallery floor. Needless to say, Lamelos' auctions were always memorable events, except maybe for the poor guy who had to clean up the gallery the next day. They would be hosted in our store on multiple occasions, namely 29 July 2006, 10 August 2007, 25 July 2008, 25 September 2009, 30 September 2011 and 29 August 2014.

Expos, book signings and other events (2005-2006)
Auctions were also important in the spring of 2005 during the Houten comics festival, where our Kees and Ineke Horst, owners of comics store Sjors in Dordrecht, were interviewed by a camera crew of the antique television show 'Tussen Kunst en Kitsch' (the Dutch version of 'Antiques Roadshow'). They were asked to estimate the value of certain comic books, drawings and merchandising brought in by collectors. Between 22 April and 31 May 2005 our gallery ran an exposition about the French underground magazine Ferraille Illustré, co-organized by the French Cultural Institute Maison Descartes. It displayed works by such distinguished artists as Grégory Mardon, Blutch, Nix and Pieter de Poortere. Unfortunately Ferraille published its final issue one year later. Still in print to this day is graphic novelist Maaike Hartjes, best known for her comics diary 'Maaike's Dagboek'. On 30 May 2005 she could add another page to her diaries when she held a book signing of her latest collection of Viva comics in Lambiek. Comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries gave a funny speech that night. Another well known Dutch autobiographical cartoonist, Floor de Goede ('Do You Know Flo?') signed in our midst on 10 June.


René Windig and Hansje Joustra were present at our Maaike Hartjes expo (2005).

Old acquaintances paid us another visit later that year when Stefan van Dinther ('Eiland') held his second exhibition in Lambiek from 15 July until 31 August, this time of his art book 'CHRZ'. We also welcomed Hartjes back on 2 October, though this time for a full-blown exhibition of her work. She'd return again in 2009. On 9 October 2005 our store got a lot of press attention when we decided to sell our rare and expensive collection of Sunday pages from George Herriman's classic comic strip 'Krazy Kat'. Any comics collector would declare us nuts for selling off such paper treasures! Had some mouse thrown a brick against Kees' head? Yet "Krazy Kees" just wanted to create more room inside the store for the "li'l' anjils" we call our visitors. Autobiographical graphical novelists seemed to be in vogue that year, since Erik de Graaf ('Verzamelde Herinneringen') was the subject of our next expo on 12 November. For the occasion a special booklet, 'Ingelijste Herinneringen', was relased in a limited and signed edition.


Sale expo of our Krazy Kat Sundays.

Stripstrijd, Strips in Veelvoud and Sprookjes in Strookjes
Another memory to be framed took place from 11 February 2006 on, when the Dutch newspaper Het Parool organized a contest for comics artists named "Stripstrijd". For two weeks two comic strips by different creators were published in Het Parool. The jury consisted of Hans Buying (Comic House), Maaike Hartjes, Mara Joustra (Oog & Blik), Hans Hoekstra (Het Parool) and Kees Kousemaker. Twelve professional artists were selected: Pieter Hogenbirk, Wasco, Floris Oudshoorn, Coen de Moor, Boris Peeters, Roger Klaassen, Patrick Ruiz de Fez, Coen Braber, Floor de Goede, Ruben Steeman, Michiel van de Pol and Aimée de Jongh. Readers could vote which comic strip would be dropped the day after and which one would continue to the next round? The winner would be allowed to publish his comic strip in Het Parool, guided by Comic House and be published in album format by Oog & Blik. The eventual winner was Michiel van de Pol with 'Cartoondiarree', but Floris Oudshoorn's 'Swamp Thing' won enough audience sympathy to be allowed to stay too. Kees was officially invited to another event on 4 March, where he opened the exposition 'Strips in Veelvoud - De (druk) geschiedenis van het Beeldverhaal' in the Drukkerij Museum in Etten-Leur. It covered the printed history of comics with special attention to lay-out, lettering and colouring.


Floris Oudshoorn's Swamp Thing is on his way to Lambiek (2008).

Kees was also invited to speech during the launch of Margreet de Heer's 'Sprookjes in Strookjes', a collective project about representation of fairy tales in comics. The booklet was presented on 2 June 2006 in Café Cicero. He told a fairy tale-like story about a young female comics artist who went to work for an "old, stingy wizard" in a "palace full with beautiful paintings more valuable than gold" and "the most beautiful books more valuable than diamonds". After creating a "comics encyclopedia", "writing a Dutch comics history", "listing street names for a comics heroes neighbourhood in Almere" and "scanning a book called De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip" the young girl - who was now a woman - decided to become a comics artist after all. The wizard then claimed: "That's not a bad idea, because if you have persistance, talent and aren't afraid of some lesser times: what holds you from a happy life as your own boss?" Kees concluded his story with the words: "And then the young lady who drew such skillful and amusing comics discovered that the wizard was just a comics storeowner. Because wizards don't exist... but fairy tales luckily do." Any resemblance with actual people seems to have been purely coincidental...


Sir Kees (Photo: Arco van Os).

Kees' knighthood
The same spring our wizard Kees received the biggest honour in his entire career: a knighthood! In the early 1980s we had an actual baroness working in the store: Ima van Asbeck. Eight years later Kees once named Dupuis sales representative Joop Distel "knight in the order of the golden vacuum cleaner." But never in his wildest chivalrous fantasies had Kees imagined that he too would once be elevated into nobility. Yet the comics appreciation society Het Stripschap, de Vrienden van het Gymnasium and various graphic artists, among them Dick Bruna (of 'Miffy' universal fame) felt Kees could be a strong consideration for this prestigious title. Jos van Waterschoot was the driving force behind the initiative. Various beneficial contributions by Kees to his country's international prestige were listed. As Europe's first comics store owner he managed to make Lambiek a center for comics fans worldwide. His books and essays were important works of research about the medium. The Comiclopedia in particular is the biggest and most consulted comics encyclopedia on the planet. Furthermore his private collection was praised as an important contribution to the comics heritage of the Netherlands and frequently asked for loan by various museums over the entire world. Last but not least he played an important part in the realisation of the Comics' Neighbourhood of Almere. In short, as a potential knight Kees was certainly no Don Quixote. Everyone was confident that his achievements were significant enough to grant him a knighthood.


Drawings by Peter Pontiac and Joost Swarte.

The Royal Palace agreed and on 28 April 2006 both Kees and 'Astérix' creator Albert Uderzo were officially invited to be ordained as "Ridders in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau" ('Knights in the Order of Oranje-Nassau'). Coincidentally both men were on vacation then, so the ceremony had to be postponed to a later date. On 11 May the ceremony took place in Kees' hometown Bussum, where mayor Milo Schoenmaker (unrelated to our store aid Abel Schoenmaker) knighted him. Unfortunately our personal photos of the event were out of focus, but to make up for it Peter Pontiac drew a charming cartoon of Kousemaker being hugged by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix. An album amicorum was made for Kees with contributions by Joost Swarte, Typex, Jan Kruis, Hanco Kolk, Theo van den Boogaard, Gilbert Shelton, Roel SmitChris Ware, Guido van Driel and Peter van Dongen.

Kees could now call himself a colleague of Hal Foster's Prince Valiant, Ambrós' Capitán Trueno, Willy Vandersteen's De Rode Ridder, Raymond Macherot's Le Chevalier Blanc and Peyo's Johan (from Peewit). His knighthood didn't lead to more round table meetings in our store, though...


Christ's entry in Amsterdam, 2006 A.D. On the right the authors Clerkx, Bindervoet and Henkes.

Expos, book signings and other events (2006-2008)
Of course the Lambiek team kept inviting cartoonists to Kees' castle. Between 24 February and April 2006 Belgian comics artist Luc Cromheecke returned for his second exhibition, this time revolving around his newspaper strip 'Taco Zip'. In 2011 we would see him again. Beween 21 April and 15 May 2006 Dutch underground artist Aart Clerkx exhibited his paintings in our gallery under the title 'Hoe Oud Is Dora?'. As legendary as Mr. Clerkx is in Dutch comics history even he couldn't match the fame and admiration of the man who passed through our street on 9 June 2006. That day we saw a bearded man in a white robe riding a donkey. Those who expected the Second Coming unfortunately had to be disappointed: it was just a promotional stunt for the epic poem 'De Intocht van Christus in Amsterdam' ('Christ's Entry in Amsterdam'), written by Erik Bindervoet & Robbert-Jan Henkes and illustrated by Aart Clerkx. Clerkx paid us another visit in 2012. Between 28 July and 19 August we welcomed the artist's artist Wasco ('Apenootjes') in our gallery who would hold another exhibition in 2010. Now that we're on the subject: the "cosy and fun" gentlemen Windig & De Jong returned for another exhibition in our midst - the fourth already - between 24 August until 1 October 2006. The final big event that year occured on 19 November when Thé Tjong-Khing and publisher Sherpa presented the first two volumes of the complete 'Arman en Ilva' collection to the press.


Preparing the Bloeddorst presentation.

On 30 January 2007 we presented the third issue of the small press magazine De Lijn in our store. The same month Belgian comics artist Eva Cardon held the expo 'Ephameron - The Diaries' in our gallery. On 16 March Menno Kooistra presented the first issue of his horror anthology 'Bloeddorst' to Dutch film director and horror specialist Jan Doense. The anthology featured haunting short stories by thirty Dutch and Belgian comics artists. Most artists were present at the event, eager to make special drawings for the visitors. Never before had there been so many artists signing at the same time in our gallery! Much of the artwork could be admired on our walls during the following months. A famous cartoonist from Belgium, Judith Vanistendael ('Dance By The Light of the Moon'), travelled down to Lambiek on 1 April - again, no joke - to exhibit her illustrations until May. Kees Kousemaker pleased another lady on 29 September when he fulfilled a request by Henk Albers' daughter Manon. He held a speech during the Stripdagen in Houten to promote her biography about her late father: 'Henk Albers - Een Leven'.


After the flood. "Well, all in a day's work for Comic Book Salesman," as Abel used to say (referring to Monty Python's 'Bicycle Repair Man').

On 12 January 2008 Jeroen Steehouwer ('Katja', 'WOK') sat down to sign his graphic novel 'WOK' in our store. A few days later, on 17 January, rain and various leaks forced us to throw away much of our underground comix stock, which now could be retitled "under water comics". We tried not to nag about it, especially since our next exhibition was literally called 'Wat Zeur Je Nou?' ("What Are You Complaining About?"). Organized by Zone 5300 between 1 February and 1 March 2008 it made a stance against racism and discrimination. It was our second expo built around this theme since 1995. Fifteen comics artists and cartoonists made a contribution: Jean-Marc van Tol, Maaike Hartjes, Peter de Wit, Jos Collignon, Farhad Foroutanian, Kim Duchateau, Sandra de Haan, Berend Vonk, Barbara Stok, Jan Vriends, Farida Laan, Djanko, Kito and Floor de Goede. Comedian Rachid Larouz had a stand-up opening act. Afterwards the expo travelled the rest of the country, while our gallery dove into the past between 25 April and 30 May. The medieval-looking illustrations of Marcel Ruijters' graphic novel 'Inferno' were on display for two months. Ruijters seemed to like the future too, since he paid us another official visit in 2010. On 31 May 2008 Brazilian cartoonist Bira Dantas and his wife held a book signing in Lambiek. Dantas made a jolly illustrated advertisement to promote his visit. The fun continued when he not only delighted guests with his gift for caricaturing, but also played some harmonica for us.

2008: Lambiek's 40th anniversary
On 26 March 2008 Lambiek was referenced in an episode of Floris Oudshoorn's 'Swamp Thing'. It was the first in a veritable tidal wave of homages to our store later that year. Because on 8 November we celebrated our 40th anniversary. A special homage book was compiled as a surprise for Kees. '40 Jaar Lambiek' was designed and edited by Joost Swarte with many written and illustrated contributions by prominent comics artists, writers and other regulars. All tributes were memorable, but we like to highlight some of them. Willem Vleeschouwer, aka Wévé, spoofed Wesley Morse's 'Bazooka Joe' featuring our mascot Lambik. The Fabulous Furry Gilbert Shelton parodied a painting of Jan Steen to let his characters celebrate the 40(0)th anniversary.


The 40th anniversary book with cover illustration by Herwolt van Doornen, and Erik Kriek's 'Two-Fisted Sales', which was also used as the invitation for the party.

Erik Kriek mimicked the cover of a typical EC Comics horror comic book with Kees, Klaas Knol and Boris Kousemaker as ghoulish shop owners instead of the Witch, the Vault-Keeper and the Cryptkeeper. Guido van Driel planned to make a parody of an old Lenin propaganda poster, but as he explained in his illustrated explanation the plan never went beyond some preliminary sketches. Jan Kruis drew Kees amidst Jan, Jans en de Kinderen, while Peter van Straaten depicted him in the middle of a personal orgy. The book furthermore featured graphic homages by Herwolt van Doornen, Marcel Ruijters, Typex, Aart Clerkx, Paul Bodoni, Theo van den Boogaard, Lamelos, Eric Schreurs, Gerrit de Jager, Peter van Dongen, Windig & De Jong, Peter de Wit, Luc Cromheecke, Adrian Tomine, Pierre Clément, Hanco Kolk, Maaike Hartjes, Martin Lodewijk, Peter Pontiac, François Avril, Jean-Marc van Tol, Bob van den Born and Aloys Oosterwijk. Written homages rolled from the pens of Gert-Jan Pos, Chris Ware, Johannes van Dam, Jos van Waterschoot, Simon Vinkenoog, Patrick Gaumer, Joost Pollmann, Loes van Alphen and Martijn Daalder.


Front and back of 'De Jubelende Jubilaris', drawn by Yiri T. Kohl. The people in the classic 'Suske en Wiske' tower on the left are (upwards) Kees Kousemaker, Klaas Knol, Margreet de Heer, Bas Schuddeboom and Boris Kousemaker.

If that weren't enough Margreet de Heer presented yet another stylistic parody comic book, 'De Jubelende Jubilaris' (2008); a pastiche of Willy Vandersteen's 'Suske en Wiske' book covers. The cover illustration was by Yiri T. Kohl. Inside were homages by Thijs Bouman ('Ergens diep in Amsterdam...'), Wouter Goudswaard ('Lambiek 40 Jaar'), De Heer herself ('Vijf van de Veertig... Mijn Jaren Bij Lambiek'), Edith Kuyvenhoven ('Lambik... en appeltaart'), Thomas Legebeke ('Stripwinkel Lambiek'), Rutger Ockhorst ('Mijn eerste keer Lambiek'), Aloys Oosterwijk ('Kees, we zijn jong') and Joshua Peeters ('Kroegtijger'). The online comics portal Stripster also celebrated the event with special tributes by Johnny Bekaert and Wim Bruynooghe, Jean Deras, John Erkelens, Evert Geradts, Waldo van Gheluwe, Fred de Heij, Joshua Peeters, Eric Snelleman, Jean-Marc van Tol, Willem Verburg and Wasco.


Blurry picture of Kees' wonderful speech during our 40th anniversary party in the Hans Brinker Hotel.

The 40th anniversary was celebrated in both Lambiek and the lobby of the Hans Brinker Hotel next door. For the first (and unfortunately final) time we actually filmed Kees' speech. Previous celebrations happened way before cell phone video cameras existed and are therefore lost forever. After a marvellous fun night many people instantly went home for a good night's rest. Yet some restless souls wanted to return to Lambiek to continue the fun. Unfortunately they made way too much noise. One person yelled for "revolution", apparently confusing the 40th anniversary of Lambiek with the 40th anniversary of the May '68 student revolts... The confusion wasn't all that strange, because just like back then the police turned up! When a drunk provoked an officer he was instantly fined. The other policemen told everybody to just return to their homes now. It was a scene right out of a comic book...


Gallery Lambiek in 2009 with the Paul Bodoni exposition.

Expos, book signings and other events (2008-2010)
We closed 2008 with an expo about Joost Veerkamp, best known for his newspaper comic 'Week in, Week uit' and many parodies of 'Tintin' album covers. Veerkamp's exhibition ran from 29 November 2008 until 10 January 2009, after which he passed Ottocar's scepter to underground artist and husband of Margreet de Heer, Yiri T. Kohl ('Bijlmer Boys'). Our Bijlmer man held a book signing on 6 February, while the roguish artwork of Paul Bodoni was on display from 13 February until the end of March with the expo 'De Getergde Mens' ('The Provoked Human'). Floris Oudshoorn didn't feel provoked at all, since the creator of 'Swamp Thing' signed his comics in Lambiek on 21 March. As the times were a-changin' Gradimir Smudja arrived in our store on 28 May to autograph copies of the collective tribute book 'Bob Dylan Revisited'. When this event, "my friend, blew away in the wind" graphic chameleon Daan Jippes could already be found behind a desk, pen and paper in hand, on 6 June. He signed copies of his second 'Havank' album for our customers. Speaking of the number two, Maaike Hartjes brought a second artist, Ben Westervoorde, along with her to hold a duo book signing. Maaike presented her comics travelogue 'Donker', while Ben autographed copies of his 'Siglo XXV'.


Announcement for Hallie Lama's book presentation in 2009.

On 28 August 2009 high speed cartoonist Hallie Lama visited our store to scribble away signatures in his cartoon collection 'Walhallie'. On 13 November Oog & Blik's first volume of the complete and colored collection of Windig & De Jong's 'Heinz' was presented in our gallery. The presentation was kicked off by an entertaining speech by Erik Bindervoet and Robbert-Jan Henkes, the literary duo best-known for translating the writings of James Joyce and Beatles songs into Dutch. The evening ended musically with the oldies record collection of "Hennie de Brandweerman" ("Hennie the Fireman"). The next two installments of the 'Heinz' collection were presented with an almost identical program on 23 November 2011 and 16 November 2012.


Windig & De Jong preparing their pre-signed copies of Heinz volume H.

In 2009 Lambiek gained attention through different media too. Erik Kriek, Piet Bakker, Teus de Kruijf, Natasja van Loon and our Boris were part of the commission of the Stripschapprijs 2009, led by Ger Apeldoorn. They awarded the prize to Barbara Stok that year. Boris found himself in the center of attention on 14 July 2009, when the Italian travel magazine Kiss From The World visited our store and brought a camera crew. They made a video where Boris gives a 15 minute overview of all the exciting comic books and memorabilia Lambiek has to offer. This tourist video seems to have reached the right audience, because that same year our store was featured in the American comic book series 'Air: Letters from Lost Countries' by Turkish comics artist M.K. Perker and writer G. Willow Wilson.


The second issue of the DC/Vertigo mini-series 'Air: Letters from Lost Countries' takes us to a Lambiek division still unknown to us...

Between 29 January and 5 February 2010 cartoon.blog.nl and Lambiek organized the Week of the Interactive Cartoon. The initiative came from comics artist Robert Schuit, better known as Bandirah, who was inspired by the Cartoon Caption Contest by The New Yorker. In this cross-media exhibition the work of ten cartoonists, namely Bandirah, Kapreles, Argibald, Kito, Danibal, Michiel van de Pol, Roland Conté, Hallie Lama, De Rustende Jager and Humordenar was presented to the public, both on this blog as well as in our store. Ten cartoons were drawn and participants were asked to fill in suitable dialogue and text. On 5 February the winners were announced in our store.


Boris with Marc Bell in 2010.

On 5 March 2010 Wasco ('Apenootjes') returned in our midst for his second exhibition in four years, this time titled 'Uitgeknipte Vormen, Tweedehands Daglicht' ('Cut-out Shapes, Second-hand Daylight'). It would be on display until the end of the month. Margreet de Heer autographed her latest comic book 'Filosofie in Beeld' on 12 March 2010 . She didn't have to philosophize whether she would return? Four months later she was already back and would do the same in 2011 and 2012. On 2 April 2010 Canadian alternative comics artist Marc Bell ('Shrimpy and Paul') held an exhibition called 'Modurn Mithoes', while he also signed his latest book 'Hot Potatoe'.


Kees as Marc Sleen's Nero (note the laurel leaves behind his ears!) in 2009 (Photo: Dirk Vermeirre).

Death of Kees Kousemaker
While all these events bridged us into a new decade, Kees was less and less involved with the store. He spent most of his time at home with his wife and working on the site. Only on Fridays he passed by for a weekly visit. As a big name in the comics world he was still invited to big events, such as the opening of the Marc Sleen Museum in Brussels on 28 June 2009. To honour the veteran artist Marc Sleen and his signature character Nero, Kees had himself photographed by Dirk Vermeirre posing with a few leaves behind his ears, to mimick Nero's own laurel leaves behind his ears. Unfortunately the same year Kees was diagnosed with cancer. Already a diabetic patient for many years, Kees' health slowly but surely started deteriorating. After he was hospitalized in early 2010 Jean-Marc van Tol bought a big drawing book and had several artists and friends scribble "get well soon" wishes and doodles on the blank pages during the Kampen comics festival. Yet on 27 April 2010 comics' most ardent spokesman, researcher and supporter passed away at home, surrounded by his family. He was 68 years old, coincidentally the same final numbers of Lambiek's foundation year. And in an equally symbolic fashion, Onno Docters van Leeuwen, designer of Lambiek's first façade sign, also left this mortal coil only half a year later, on 8 December 2010.

It was the end of an era, but the start of a new one too, as one can read in our next chapter...


The drawing made by Peter Pontiac for our move to Kerkstraat 78 in 1980 was ammended and used for Kees' funeral card.

Next chapter: Kerkstraat 132 (2010-2015)