Comics History

Lambiek at Kerkstraat 78 (1980-1985)

Sign of the times: a new location
On 29 November 1980, Lambiek moved from number 104 in the Kerkstraat to number 78. The location had previously housed the firm A.S.O., a cleaning service for awnings and shutters. Peter Pontiac made a beautiful drawing of Kees Kousemaker flying away to the new address, which still can be seen on the home page of the Comiclopedia. The new store had two extra floors with rooms upstairs, which Kees rented out to other residents, after he managed to buy the building. This gave him extra income which helped him finance other dream projects. But Kees wasn't a greedy landlord. An elderly lady living above the store only paid 100 guilders (45 euros or 52 dollars) a month for her stay. Kees hosted a "Comics Documentation Center", a room which offered journalists and researchers a chance to delve into Lambiek's collection of reference works and secondary literature.

Job Goedhart's design and the original ZIP sign as it hung in front of Kerkstraat 78.

To be sure that newcomers would spot our new address, Herwolt van Doornen felt an official logo would be a perfect idea. In line with the store's name, it was only natural to pick an image from a 'Suske en Wiske' story by Willy Vandersteen, preferably featuring Lambik, the character after whom the store was named. Van Doornen discovered an intriguing Pop Art-like panel in the story 'Prinses Zagemeel' (1947-1948), where a magic spell ("ZIP!") changes Lambik into a centaur. This abstract image perfectly captured the wonder and excitement of a classic comic book adventure. Job Goedhart designed the logo in the format of a 'Suske and Wiske' comic book. The caption "Itz de foist" ("It's the first") was lifted from George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat'. This specific quote was an idea from underground comix import importer Bill Daley (a man who looked like TV wizard Catweazle, according to Kees) to refer to Lambiek's status as the first European comics store. The logo was then framed inside a sign, painted, lettered and colourized by Onno Docters van Leeuwen, and hung above the store, much like the signs above traditional European pubs. Kees liked the look because it symbolized Lambiek's ancient status and gave his store a classy public image. The original sign remained in use until the next move in 2003. The ZIP logo was also featured prominently on Lambiek's eye-catching plastic bags, which by now have been spotted all over the world, including on the Great Wall of China.

The original Lambiek doll seems rather unaffected by his imprisonment, shortly after its return in 1982.

"Hello dolly, promise you'll never go away..."
Around the same time, a "doll" (as we call it) was made: a standing life-sized wooden cutout of our mascot, Lambik from the 'Suske en Wiske' comic. It was put on the corner of the Kerkstraat, looking out at the Leidsestraat. The doll was intended as a road sign, but over the decades unfortunately became victim of theft, vandalism and long-running legal tug of war. A local police officer, Mr. Putman, felt it was both a road obstruction as well as a form of illegal advertising. Many fines were issued, but Kees refused to remove it. On 20 March 1981 the doll was taken into custody. Kees got it back on 4 May. He had it placed on the terrace of Café De Klos, but on 17 June it was confiscated again. Kousemaker instantly started a campaign to draw attention to this matter. Donald Beekman made an illustration of the doll in jail and asked for its liberation: "Free Lambik". The pamphlet was spread across the city, making it almost a local version of the international "Free Nelson Mandela" campaign later that decade.

The pamphlet by Donald Beekman, and the press release regarding the court hearing, with illustration by Bob van den Born.
The text reads: "Dear Lambiek sympathizer,
We hereby send you the writ of summons for the Dutch State vs. Lambiek, following the confiscation of our Lambiek doll. Besides an exquisite company of lawyers, we also hope to count on your presence at this court hearing. Access is free. After the festive ceremony, while enjoying a cup of coffee, we can reflect upon the brilliant vision of the honorable lord the judge c.q. the judicial error. Of course, this evaluation will be cancelled if immediate imprisonment of the accused follows. Support our case with your presence on the district court on the 2nd of February at the Parnassusweg (bus 26)."

On 1 October 1981, the city council of Amsterdam wrote us that the doll had to be removed because it might obstruct traffic. Kees received support from the Belgische Stichting voor Kunstpromotie ("Belgian Organisation for Promotion of Art") and on 30 January 1982, an official reply letter from the committee of the Kerkstraat gave him permission to put the doll on the corner of the street. The trial dragged on for eight months, from June 1981 until a verdict was reached on 2 February 1982. The judge ruled that Kees could have the doll back and only had to pay a symbolic fine. His Honour also told the policeman that he "might try and catch real criminals for a change." In hindsight, even André Franquin's parking meter-obsessed police officer Longtarin in 'Gaston Lagaffe' looked less cartoonish...

The original Lambiek doll in a less-than-flattering state at an antiques and collectibles market in the Belgian town Bomal (1997, photo: Cees Pfeiffer).

For a while, the doll's sufferings seemed to be over. But only a few months later, a group of troublemakers kickboxed it, as if there was any talent in kicking something which can't strike back. The damaged Lambik had to be restored. In February 1988, one of our employees forgot to take the doll back inside after closing time. The next day, store employees realized it had been stolen. Attentive neighbours later spotted Lambik in the garden of a student home in the Herengracht. After this college prank, the doll was quickly returned. Hey, what are students to do with their spare time otherwise? Study? Later that year, Lambik was removed again, this time by the official city cleaning service. The original doll appeared to be sadly lost forever - until October 1997, that is, when a very observant Lambiek customer, Cees Pfeiffer, noticed the lost original doll in Bomal, in the Belgian Ardennes, where it stood on display at the Sunday market.

The second Lambiek doll on the bicycle.

But by then the wooden Belgian had already been replaced. In December 1988, Job Goedhart made a new doll and mounted him on a bicycle. According to law, bicycles are allowed to stand outside in certain areas, so the doll could avoid further legal trouble. In addition, Goedhart constructed a wooden pile of comic books, which was then attached to the luggage carrier, and hung a Lambiek plastic bag on the handlebars. Yet in September 1992, even this display bothered the city council because the bike the doll sat on wasn't intended for riding. Kees wrote them back that everything was perfectly legal and for a while this seemed to shut them up. But on 15 November 1993, the local cleaning service once again took the doll with them. Things started to feel like a personal vendetta, particularly when Kees received another letter on 7 April 1994, which objected to the inflatable 'Tintin' rocket hanging on the ZIP sign. Three years later, in April 1997, the bike disappeared from the street corner only to be put in front of our store window instead. On 5 December of the same year, Kees received another letter in which it became clear that, after consultation with the Art Foundation, the doll and bike had to be removed. Again, Kees didn't give in, but on 5 April 1999, our mascot was once again taken into custody... From then on, Lambik and his bike found a safer haven, inside by the store entrance.

On 18 September 1997, Kees once again pulled off a funny stunt to ridicule the entire matter. He let Peter Pontiac design a non-official envelope as a first day of issue cover for the official stamps issued by the Dutch postal service PTT which celebrated the Belgian comic strip 'Suske en Wiske'. The envelope depicted two police officers arresting Lambik on his bike. The drawing was in the same drawing style as the commemorative stamp, on which Suske, Wiske, Lambik and Tante Sidonia yell: "What?!" The stunt also protested against the fact that the PTT had never honored any classic Dutch comics series with a stamp. In a newspaper interview from the same year conducted by Frans Kotterer ("Lambiek viert 25 Jaar Vervolging door Koddebeiers") Kees sarcastically summarized his feelings about this entire matter: "They see Lambiek as a criminal, a big fish, hanging around between hard drugs and magic mushrooms. The city really mistreats us, especially regarding the fact that Lambiek is not only a store, but an internationally awarded educational institute, whose archives are frequently visited by comics fans and art historians." Referring to the then upcoming meeting of the European Union in Amsterdam, he said: "If I were a Belgian, I wouldn't be happy about this and just hope that other Belgians are treated better. It seems that there is something wrong with the international diplomacy."

All this brouhaha nearly made us pull out our hairs until there were only six left, just like Lambik. But we must stress that even the "25 years" mentioned on the envelope was an exaggeration. That number just had a "cool" dramatic ring to it!

Kees and Ima van Asbeck in the early 1980s.

Personnel in the 1980s
Luckily Kees didn't have to go through this ordeal all on his own. During the early 1980s, new people were employed in the store, like Ima van Asbeck. Ima was the girlfriend of underground comix importer Bill Daley. She was an actual baroness, making her the only person with blue blood to have worked in Lambiek (not counting Kees after his knighthood in 2006). Graphic designer and typographer Donald Beekman also worked in the store for a while, most notably designing the "Lambiek vrij!" pamphlet. Two sad cases were Michiel Peters and Goof Mensink who both died an early death, each from defenestration. Michiel was a reliable helper, but after a while his work became sloppier. In 1986 Kees found out what the problem was: Michiel was an heroin addict. He fired him on the spot. Goof was our handy carpenter and also a talented painter. In his spare time he graced T-shirts with slightly unofficial comics art. After his death, a T-shirt he used as a paint rag was found in his atelier. It has hung in Lambiek as a tribute ever since...

Goof Mensink and his cherished paint rag T-shirt.

Another newcomer was Simone Koch, nicknamed "Plukkie". She was the girlfriend of Job Goedhart (co-designer of our store logo) at the time. In 1982, Simone created a small comic strip ad for Lambiek, which was published in the fourth issue of Rhaa Lovely, the Dutch version of Fluide Glacial magazine. This was and is her total comics output. Before her, Frits Jonker and Peter Pontiac had also created advertising strips for this magazine. She remained employed with Lambiek until the mid-1990s. Another important person in the history of Lambiek, though never an employee, was a close personal friend of Kees, Hansje Joustra. In 1985 the former punk label owner established the distribution company Het Raadsel and became Lambiek's most important comics distributor. Authors of Hansje's publishing imprint Oog & Blik often presented their books in our store.

Plukkie, Klaas Knol and Hansje Joustra.

Personnel in the 1980s: Klaas Knol
The longest-running employee of Lambiek, other than Kees, was the legendary Klaas Knol (1954-2019). Klaas had been a customer since the late 1970s and struck a friendship with Kees because they both loved collecting. Soon they visited comic-cons and rummage sales together. The fact that they both shared the same alliterative initials probably helped too. Comics geeks often referred to them as "Kees en Klaas" (the Dutch translated title of Alain Saint-Ogan's 'Zig et Puce'). Klaas was actually a waiter at the Keijzer pub. During afternoon breaks he often paid us a short visit, while spilling the beans for the Lambiek newsletter on the latest cartoon gossip he overheard. By 1981, Klaas started helping out in the store.

Klaas with a special handmade box by Peter Pontiac to ship the next order by Mr. Lodders, as a thank you for his help with the stamps (see previous chapter).

Klaas didn't become a full-time salesman until 1985. When he did, he donated most of his personal comics collection to Lambiek to cure himself of his collector's mania. Klaas was a presence in our store from 1985 until 2016. For three decades, he was the second-most recognizable face in the store, after Kees. Many customers liked his relaxed and easy-going attitude. He was always willing to talk about a comic book he enjoyed, with an infectious enthusiasm. Often he convinced customers that they would definately enjoy an unknown title, even better than the comic they intended to buy. Very few unhappy customers reclaimed their money through what Klaas called a "fob off guarantee" ("aansmeergarantie"). Culinary journalist Johannes van Dam usually sat down near the counter to talk to Kees, while Klaas would compile a stash of books for him to buy. Although he worked in a store that sold comics, Klaas never felt he was an actually a comics salesman. Books he utterly disliked were unsellable to him. Lambiek could have earned good cash from Albert Uderzo's alien-invaded 'Astérix' album 'Le ciel lui tombe sur la tête' (2005), but Klaas strongly advised our loyal customers not to buy it to save them from impending disappointment. As a true ambassador of comics, Klaas received the Hal Foster Award in 2010 for his customer-friendly service.

De Reporter (1981-1982)
In 1981 a photocopy machine was installed in Lambiek at the advice of a canvasser who assured Kees that "many customers would want to use it." When it turned out that they didn't, Kees decided to make copies for his own purposes. On 5 June 1981, he created a follow-up to his previous magazine, the Bulletin. This time, it was a newspaper named "De Reporter, Dagblad voor Stripminnend Nederland" ("The Reporter. Daily for Comics Lovin' Netherlands"). Like its predecessor, it was basically an was the forerunner of our current website. It's partially thanks to this paper that we've been able to track down much of our store's history.

Proof of Hal Foster's obvious plagiarism in De Reporter #15 (18 September 1981).

Kees and Job Goedhart were the editors, and Anton Hermus was a regular columnist. Each issue featured artwork photocopied from comics in our store. Sometimes speech balloons were whited out, with new dialogue added to them. Our employees, or more professional cartoonists, doodled cartoons. Though he was always funnier as a writer, sometimes even Kees would scribble out a doodle for publication! Kees offered his personal viewpoint about the latest news from the comics world. In issue #14 (3 September 1981), for instance, he defended Gerrit de Jager and Wim Stevenhagen's 'De Familie Doorzon' from accusations of sexism by the girl group KWJ. One issue later (18 September 1981) the infamous plagiarism affair against Willy Vandersteen was satirized. Dutch writer Rob Møhlmann had revealed that Vandersteen had lifted imagery from Harold Foster's 'Prince Vaillant' in the late 1940s and early 1950s. De Reporter presented "proof" that it was "actually the other way around." The magazine also had an actual newspaper comic. From 13 October 1981 on, a parody of Alfred Mazure's pulp comic 'Dick Bos' appeared under the title 'Wraak!' ("Revenge!"). Its artist was MAT, in reference to Mazure's signature "MAZ". This strip was however drawn by Dick Matena, whom Kees had already forgiven for his embarrassing behavior at the 1978 Stripschap dinner.

De Reporter issues #19 (7 November 1981, with Dick Matena's 'Wraak!') and #22 (24 February 1982, the final issue from the initial run).

Despite claiming to be a "daily", De Reporter initially appeared on a weekly basis, so people who wanted a copy had to visit the store regularly. Outside the store, readers could obtain copies at the Atheneum Nieuwscentrum at the Spui square. Since Kees was no William Randolph Hearst or Joseph Pulitzer with an actual editorial team under his command, De Reporter didn't have many pages. A typical issue was basically one sheet of paper, with articles printed on the front and back side. As the months passed by, its production predictably started to slow down. In the 1990s the project was briefly revived by Martijn Snoodijk, when it was presented on an ad pages in the comics news magazines Stripschrift and Zozolala. By the time our website attracted more visitors, De Reporter became obsolete. Though the title and format were occasionally re-used on our site as well.

Sign drawn by Theo van den Boogaard to announce his signing session.

Exhibitions, book signings and publications (1980-1983)
Lambiek kicked off the decade with some remarkable book signings and exhibitions. It became a tradition for every cartoonist to design their own advertising poster to bring people to these meetings. On 27 December 1980, Theo van den Boogaard, illustrator of the controversial 'Sjef van Oekel' comic strip, presented the latest album in the series, accompanied by actor Dolf Brouwers (on whom the Van Oekel character was based). Whether Brouwers soon "started feeling ill", as the character's popular catchphrase went, has not been recorded. Another "king of running gags" visited our store on 24 January 1981, when Peter de Smet, creator of the unlucky invader 'De Generaal', autographed his work. The same year, Kees also published a mini catalogue featuring early work by legendary artist Hans G. Kresse of 'Eric de Noorman' fame.

Kees with Bob de Moor in 1981.

On 21 February 1981, the Belgian artist Bob de Moor, right hand of Hergé and creator of 'Cori de Scheepsjongen' ("Cori the Cabin Boy"), sailed by to sign his work. Unfortunately - and for no apparent reason - the De Moor signing was the worst visited event in Lambiek history. Since then, every gathering with a limited crowd caused the sigh: "well, at least it wasn't less then De Moor...". After Bob de Moor, the next guest of honor was André Franquin. In April the spiritual father of 'Gaston Lagaffe' presented the first Dutch translation of his one-shot black comedy gag comic 'Idées Noires'. Martin Lodewijk was back on 11 April to sign his latest 'Agent 327' story in our midst. On 11 July, Lambiek welcomed the U.S. underground comix legend Gilbert Shelton ('The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers'). Shelton returned for another book signing in 1990. During the last July week of 1981, Dutch comic artist and animator Siem Praamsma had a signing session. Praamsma drew some obscure comics series of his own during the 1940s, but is better known among general audiences for his contributions to Hanna-Barbera's TV cartoons. Fred, creator of the experimental series 'Philémon', brought surrealism to our store on 12 September 1981, when he held a book signing.

Invitation for the fries exposition.

Between 7 and 30 November 1981 Lambiek hosted its first exhibition built around a theme rather than the work of one particular artist. We pleasured gourmands with an exposition about "Belgian Fries and their role in Belgian comics". Scenes from various comics involving fries were exhibited, with naturally Jan Spier's fries shop from Marc Sleen's 'Nero' as headliner. Belgian cartoonists like Brasser, Nesten, Pirana and Van O. exhibited fry-centric cartoons, while Kamagurkawas asked to come and provide some entertainment. Artworks by Rik De Keyser, Jan Eyskens, Gilis Houben, Paul Ilegems, Marc Payot, Francis Schauwen, Bob Stikkers, Raoul Van den Boom, Bruno Wouters, Francis Schauwen and the Art Factory Turnhout were featured too. Looking at Belgium's two major international export products, makes people hungry, so at the opening, cardboard cones with fries were sold alongside Belgian comics titles.

Guestbook drawings by Elyh and Michel Pichon. Left: "I won't let my Wiske read such pernicious female literature!" Right: "My Kees thinks he's a comic book hero!!! And this is one..."

On 22 May 1982, Dutch feminist comic artist Elly Holzhaus, better known under her pseudonym Elyh, presented her latest comic book 'Gaan we katten?'. The signing session was combined with a performance by Marion Dons and the band The Amsterdam Express, and an interview with the cartoonist by journalist Karel Wiekart. On 3 July of that same year Gerrit de Jager and Wim Stevenhagen, spiritual fathers of 'De Familie Doorzon', appeared in Lambiek to sign their work under the header "Prutswerk Signeert Kousen" ("Prutswerk Signs Stockings", referring to the cartoonists' joint pen name and the first part of Kees' last name). Somewhere that same year (we were unable to clear the specific date) French cartoonist Michel Pichon also passed by for a book signing. Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragonés ('Drawn-Out Dramas/Marginals', 'Groo the Wanderer') also scribbled us a nice rendition on a napkin of Alfred E. Neuman leaving Lambiek with a pile of comics. On 8 May 1983 Berend Vonk visited Lambiek to sign his politically conscious debut comic book 'Pastorale 83'.

Kees the conquistador
In 1983 Kees also brought the talented Spanish comic artists El Hortelano and Ceesepe to a comics event in Eindhoven in the hope of expanding their popularity among Dutch readers. Unfortunately, this mission failed, but the gentlemen still thanked Kees with two paintings, which he regarded among his proudest possessions. Ceesepe would return to the Netherlands in 1987 and 1990, while El Hortelano did the same in 1993, both for exhibitions in Lambiek. Kees seemed to have made quite an impression in Spain, because later he was asked to write about the history of Dutch comics for Josep Toutain's magazine series 'Historia de los Comics' ('History of Comics', Toutain Editor, 1984).

Ceesepe's painting for Lambiek's fifteenth anniversary.

1983: Lambiek's 15th anniversary party
On 8 November 1983, Lambiek celebrated its 15th anniversary. Kees asked André Franquin if he could use an old drawing of his Marsupilami character for a poster to celebrate the event. The comics legend told him that this wasn't necessary: he was more than happy to just create a new illustration. However, when Kees received it in the mail he felt it wasn't quite what he wanted. Almost embarrassed, he travelled all the way to Belgium to ask Franquin in person whether he'd mind if he used the old one instead. To ease the sting of this painful question, Kees made sure to take a bottle of Dutch gin with him to present to the artist. Franquin didn't sigh "M'enfin?" and had no problem with Kees' proposal. He donated the (now useless) second drawing to Kees as well. Peter Pontiac and publisher Piet Vonk created a funny drawing of Kees jumping out of a birthday cake while various comics characters congratulate him. All these characters were drawn by the actual creators themselves. They are (clockwise): Anton Makassar (Joost Swarte), Sjef van Oekel (Theo Van den Boogaard), Professor Pi (Bob van den Born), Pennecamp the toucan (Flip Fermin), an angular character by Ever Meulen, Barelli (Bob de Moor), Agent 327 with Olga Lawina (Martin Lodewijk) and Nero (Marc Sleen).

A shitty idea
The arguably worst idea in our history also took place in 1983. A study had proven that dog droppings were the number one major nuisance for all Amsterdam citizens. Kees felt this could be turned into a media stunt. He asked Onno Docters van Leeuwen to design an ashtray which people could give to dog owners. The thing was shaped in the form of a dog turd with the imprint of a shoe sheel containing the metropolitan city arms. Job Goedhart made some illustrated ads which appeared in 'Hondepoep op de stoep' (Mondria, 1983), a cartoon collection compiled by Kees. Unfortunately many people felt these ashtrays looked hideous. As a result we were stuck with most of the stock for decades...

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

Graphic and literal theft
In early 1984 two other shitty events took place. In January the people who owned the rights to Albert Uderzo's best-selling comics series 'Astérix' asked a local district court to confiscate all 'Asterix' parody comics. Lambiek and three other Amsterdam comics stores were forced to give up their entire bootleg stocks, even though nobody would mistake them for the far superior original series. Four months later, we also learned that our store wasn't as nearly-impossible-to-invade as Astérix' village. On the night of 20 and 21 March 1984, burglars broke in through a hole they created in the toilet wall and stole various valuable comics and artworks, including a watercolor by Marten Toonder and one by Nazario, which saddened Kousemaker the most. The damage was worth 30.000 guilders (about 13.613 euros or 15.701 dollars). The thieves mostly took away Toonder-related illustrations, but failed to realize the value of an original sketch by Edgar P. Jacobs. While they were inside they also took a sweater with the head of comics character 'Nero' by Marc Sleen on it. This was not an official licensed product, but knitted by Kees' wife Evelien. She took the theft as a compliment.

Het Parool reporting about the burglary on 23 March 1984.

Book signings and other events (1983-1985)
A far more welcome visitor was Joost Swarte, the graphic juggler of mathematically correct drawings and inventor of the term "Ligne Claire" ("Clear Line"). Swarte appeared in our store on 5 May 1983, signing his book 'Swarte Hors Série'. On 19 November of that same year, Lambiek published exclusive trading cards which accompanied a series of official stamps designed by Swarte. This would be far from his last visit though - in 1990, 1991 and 2015, he once again had people "line" up for an autograph and special drawing.

Will Eisner signing 'An Opmakh mit Got'.

On 6 November 1984, Lambiek published two special editions of Will Eisner's magnum opus 'Contract with God', translated into Yiddish by Bobbi Zylberman as 'An Opmakh mit Got'. One book appeared in Hebrew lettering, while the other was lettered in the Latin alphabet, a task for Filip Fermin and Peter Pontiac. Unfortunately, the prestigious edition didn't sell much copies, because it aimed at comic fans who could read Hebrew and, as Kees discovered, not many did. Yet to this day, there is one small Jewish store in the U.S. who, from time to time, still orders copies from Lambiek when their own stock is low. But Eisner didn't mind, because felt that the Yiddish edition of 'Contract with God' brought him closer to his own roots and compared it to "having my bones brought back to Israel." He was honored to be present at the book presentation. Yet afterwards Kousemaker had a bone to pick with the Amsterdam city council, who promised to send a representative but left us waiting in vain. The representative in question, Mr. A. Jansen, never informed Lambiek beforehand, nor gave any explanation or reply afterwards, even when Kees tried to phone him. Kees felt it was "scandalous", especially for "an artist like Eisner," and sent Jansen an angry letter. Eisner, happy to be honored by Lambiek's  'Contract with God' publication, if not by the Amsterdam council, returned to our store in 1992.

The invitation of the Deelder/Peters signing was drawn by our house artist Peter Pontiac.

On 13 September 1985, our store was visited by cult orator Jules Deelder and comic artist Rob Peters. They signed copies of their collaborative comics series 'Amber en Akka' and 'Professor Hilarius', while the "night mayor of Rotterdam" - as Deelder is popularly nicknamed - gave a speech in his characteristic oratorical style. The same year, Kees also appeared in Han Peekel's TV series 'Wordt Vervolgd' to talk about how comics were perceived by people during the 1950s.

Comics cameos (part one)
Around this time Kousemaker also had a cameo in two comic strips. The first was a photocomic installment in Nieuwe Revu of the weekly column by Uschi, "the most cheeky girl". 'De Avonturen van Uschi' was later reprinted in issue 181b of Stripschrift (1984). In the episode, Uschi pays a visit to Lambiek and meets Kees, who takes the opportunity to promote both his store and comics as a genre in a lengthy speech balloon, destined to outdo Alfred Mazure's 'Dick Bos' and Edgar P. Jacobs' Blake and Mortimer'. In 1985, Pope John Paul II visited the Benelux, which motivated Belgian artist Luk Moerman to draw a satirical comic book 'De Papevreters - Popebusters' (1985), which lampooned the papal visit. The story has a surprise ending which featured an only slightly resemblant Kees, selling comics in Lambiek. Despite Moerman's sweet tribute, the existence of this comic book remained unnoticed until 2017, when our contributor Kjell Knudde happened to read a copy of it.

Kees appears in 'De Papevreters' by Luk Moerman (left) and 'Kees the Barbarian' by Alfredo Alcala (right).

A caricature Kees was aware of, but sure wished he didn't, was a funny portrayal of him as a half-naked medieval barbarian, drawn by Filipino artist Alfredo Alcala, most famous as the creator of 'Voltar'. It was made in commission of our underground distributor Bill Daley, who asked Kees if he wanted buy it. Kees didn't quite recognize himself in the somewhat well-built warlord and refrained from the purchase. Daley's ex-girlfriend, Ima van Asbeck, donated the work to Boris Kousemaker after Daley's death. Kees Kousemaker once said that he kept his moustache to make it easier for artists to draw him in a recognizable fashion, because "with the moustache you already have half the face." It only goes to prove once again how much Kees Kousemaker liked to help comic artists out. In the next chapter, we will see that he was even willing to go further than a simple moustache to realize this goal...

This drawing by Peter Pontiac appeared on the front of the program book of the 1984 Dutch comics festival. This was unusual since it was basically an ad for Lambiek.

Next chapter: Lambiek at Kerkstraat 78 (1986-1989)