Comics History

Lambiek at Kerkstraat 78 (1990-1995)

Gallery Lambiek. In the front Joost Swarte's infamous "carrot table". 

The years 1990-2003 were a period of huge changes for the shop. Lambiek's gallery now enjoyed a prestigious reputation worldwide. Big international names in the comics world came to visit, and often made exclusive artwork for the store and Kees Kousemaker. For many of the exhibitions, Lambiek produced unique silkscreen prints and posters, which were offered for sale in the store. In 1993, Gallery Lambiek was the subject of exhibitions presented at the prestigious comics festivals of Angoulême and Blois! During this period, we received many awards and frequently, international celebrities were seen wandering the aisles of the store (except by some of our famously unobservant co-workers).

The goals of the gallery continued to evolve. Originally, Kees predominantly wanted to exhibit paintings and sculptures by artists related to the comics medium. Despite the invitations he sent for his exhibition openings, the "serious" art critics seldom showed up. To some snobs, artwork exhibited in a comic book store could never be "art", simply because of their attitude towards the comics medium. Kees took the hint and Gallery Lambiek began exhibiting actual comics artwork as well: original pages, covers and sketches. Although the focus remained on alternative comics, many mainstream-oriented artists were welcomed to exhibit.

The 1990s also rang in the arrival of the Internet - a medium which took up much (reading) time of people and created a new rivalry for comics stores: the online comics store. But Kees, like always, thought in long-term plans, and saw advantages in the Internet. Lambiek was one of the first Dutch companies with its own website, and it was used as a way to reach, inform and entertain people.

Anne, Jaike and Kees' son David.

Personnel in the 1990s
The early 1990s saw several new faces in the store, one of which was Anne de Jong. Hans Jongens, nicknamed "Bonkie", became part of the team, alongside Tako Seelemann. Both specialized in framing artwork and installing the upcoming expositions, and stayed with us throughout the decade. Jongens was previously the owner of the Dick Bosch comics shop in the Dutch festival city Den Bosch. Tako moved to South Africa in 2002. Jaike Bijleveld worked for us from 1992 until May 1994. Kees' son Boris also began working in the store on an on-again basis. We couldn't forget the helping hands of Karen (last name lost in the mists of history), Yuri Bode, Rob "DJ Spacecake" Bolweg, Fulco Roeters-Smit and Martijn Snoodijk either. Martijn wasn't actually a store salesman, but instead worked "behind the scenes" as a helping hand for Kees' side projects, like the second run of De Reporter.

Martijn Snoodijk, Rob Bolweg and an unknown person, standing behind Klaas Knol.

Death of Willy Vandersteen
While the new decade started off marvellously, a deep sadness came with the death of Dutch comics legend Willy Vandersteen on 28 August 1990. Vandersteen was important to our store from Day One:  Willy's impressive presence on the store's opening day, back in 1968, and his granting Kees permission to use his popular character Lambik as a macot, helped immensely in making Gallery Lambiek the legend it is today. In a newspaper article in De Volkskrant on 15 September, Kees Kousemaker theatrically claimed that Vandersteen was far superior to Hergé. Vandersteen's death had an unpleasant final chapter. Only a few months after the funeral, Kees received a letter from Wavery Productions, who claimed that Lambiek had no right to name themselves after a comic character from Vandersteen's popular comics series 'Suske and Wiske': Lambik! Kees was quick to point out to Wavery Productions that Vandersteen had been asked for permission by letter after the comics legend attended the opening of the store on November 8, 1968. Kees later commented on this event: "After sending a rather arrogantly formulated answer, I've never heard anything from this dubious organisation again."

Kees meets Heinz and Bonga in a 1991 Heinz strip by Windig & De Jong. Heinz: "Look Bonga, this is Lambiek, the very-very best comics store in the Netherlands and that man there is the salesman... Psst, he wants you to read that book to him and if I were you, I'd do that..."

Comics cameos (part two)
In 1991 Kees had two cameos in Dutch comic strips. The first one was in a 'Heinz' gag by Windig & De Jong, in which the grumpy cat introduces the caveman Bonga to the "very-very best comics shop of the Netherlands" and its salesman. Kees' second cameo was in the tenth installment of Peter Pontiac's serial 'Een Hollands Drama' for De Volkskrant, published on Saturday 7 September. Pontiac portrayed Kees as a critic who was quite frank in his opinions, but also one who could help the searching artist in the right direction.

Don Lawrence (on the right) during the opening of his 1990 exposition.

Exhibitions and signing sessions (1990-1993)
Between 16 February and 10 March 1990, a storm raged in Lambiek. Fortunately, this storm was an exhibition showing artwork from the bestselling space opera co-created by British comic artist Don Lawrence for the Dutch market: 'Storm' (1976-present). Many fans crowded the gallery to see close up all the details of Lawrence's time-consuming images. Two months later, from 6 April to May 1990, Joost Swarte held an expo in our midst, during which he sold his artwork to those who were interested in his "clear line" technique. Besides drawings, the exhibition also showed one of Swarte's infamous "carrot tables". Two other former guests held a book signing on 8 June 1990: underground comix legends Gilbert Shelton and Peter Pontiac. Among the famous people who crowded to see the creator of 'The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' were poet Simon Vinkenoog and Jooste Swarte, who created a very long cartoon for the event, depicting his character Jopo de Pojo driving a Rolls-Royce with a very long nose. His message underneath the drawing read: "Dear Gilbert, just a short message to say hello." In November 1990, High Times magazine ran 'The Adventures of Mavrides & Shelton in Amsterdam'. In one scene, Paul Mavrides and Shelton pass by our store late at night, disappointed that it's "not open yet."

The Adventures of Shelton and Mavrides in Amsterdam.

Pascal Doury and Bruno Richard, creators of the series 'L'Age d'Or de Dora Diamant', were in our gallery from 16 June until 15 August. Doury returned for a second offical visit in 1999. The colourful work of Lorenzo Mattotti ('Feux') lit up our walls between 31 August and 30 September 1990, and the Italian virtuoso returned in 2003. On 8 November 1990, Dutch artist Peter van Dongen presented and signed his debut graphic novel 'Muizentheater' in our store. The work later won the Stripschapprijs for Best Comic Book (1991) and Van Dongen came back for new book signings in 2013 and 2018. Ceesepe returned on 23 November, 1990, for his second exhibition and third visit to the Netherlands in six years. Scheduled to only run until 20 January 1991, the Ceesepe exhibition was so successful, its run was extended for an extra week.

Part of the 1990 Doury expo, and the invitation to the 1991 Franquin expo.

Between 1 March and 15 April 1991, Gallery Lambiek exhibited the clever gags of cartoonist Bob van den Born were to the public. Lambiek had already saved 'Professor Pi' from oblivion by publishing three volumes of the series during the 1970s. But Van den Born's fans clearly hadn't forgotten him, as proved by the throngs of fans who attended the 'Professor Pi" exposition. Franco-Belgian grandmaster André Franquin, who'd already done favors for Lambiek by making special illustrations, phoned Kees to ask permission to mount another exhibition in our gallery. A decade earlier, Franquin held a book signing in our store, but now the 'Marsupilami' creator wanted a location to exhibit and sell drawings to raise money for UNICEF. As many people who met Franquin will confirm, the comic artist was always scribbling, while making a phone call or while eating at restaurants. To Franquin, these abstract sketches were just throwaway items, but Kees collected them all. He photographed them and blew them up to bigger formats. The exhibition with these personal artworks ran between 19 April and 19 June and drew a huge crowd, among them many famous Dutch comic artists,several bringing presents, who wanted to meet this legend. In the end, twenty thousand guilders (nine thousand euro or ten thousand dollars, adjusted for inflation) was raised to donate to poor children in Uganda. On 18 May 1991, Ted Benoit ('Ray Banana') signed his latest album in our store. Joost Swarte turned up for another book signing too on 14 December.

In the front, from left to right: André Franquin, Kees Kousemaker, Gerrit de Jager and Fred Julsing at the opening of the 1991 Franquin expo.

In 1992, Kees was creative advisor to a university project of the Noordelijke Hogeschool in Leeuwarden. The students wanted to make an exposition about 'Technology in comics' which was designed and hosted by Balloon Express, the local comics store. The exhibition ran between 8 January and February 1992. Back at Lambiek, an exhibition was held honouring Pierre Clément, creator of the pantomime comic 'Les Souris'. He displayed his collection of colourful exotic paintings, silk screens, mosaics and tiles, which he dubbed 'Tralalajahal" for happy visitors to the gallery between 24 April and 10 June. On 9 May, the Belgian duo Laurent Letzer and Luc Cromheecke signed the second volume of their funny comic 'Tom Carbon'. Cromheecke came back to Lambiek for two other store events, five years apart (2006 and 2011).

Will Eisner and Kees Kousemaker in 1992.

On 13 June 1992, the groundbreaking comic artist Will Eisner ('The Spirit', 'Contract with God') paid a second visit to Lambiek to exhibit drawings from his personal archives. Four months later, on 13 November, the work of Jano ('Kebra', 'Keubla') was featured in our gallery. The year finished off with an exhibition about Henk Kuijpers, creator of 'Franka', between 18 December 1992 and 15 February 1993. To advertise his expo, Kuijpers made a beautiful illustration of his heroine Frank's visiting our store. Also in 1992, we received a personal letter from underground artist Skip Williamson ('Snappy Sammy Smoot') requesting the publication of his sketchbook 'Naked Hostility' in the Netherlands.

Henk Kuijper's Franka visits Lambiek in 1992.

Silvio Cadelo, creator of 'La Saga d'Alandor' and 'Envie de Chien', was on display in the gallery from 19 February until 16 April 1993. On 27 March 1993 René Hausman, famous for his fable-like comics like 'Laiyna', signed his latest comic book 'Vaïva' in Lambiek. Outside our store we also supported an exhibition called 'De Strip Uitgekleed' ("Comics Undressed") at the Economy and Information school of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Between 15 July and 14 August, illustrator and painter John Prop displayed his artworks in our gallery, while El Hortelano, known for 'Europa Requiem?!', did the same on 3 September of that year.

Kees making a typically animated speech for El Hortelano, September 1993.

The nastiest event of the year took place on 7 August when 900 guilders (408 euros or 470 dollars), were stolen from the cash register in broad daylight. In a less upsetting crime, René Windig and Eddie de Jong stole our hearts on 29 October 1993 with their first exhibition in our gallery, 'The Stupid World of Heinz'. In the following decades, the "cosy and fun" duo behind 'Heinz' returned to our store for many expos, book signings or simple visits to just hang out and have a beer.

La Nouvelle République and The Comics Journal reporting on Lambiek's 25th anniversary (The Comics Journal missed ten years, but hey, who's counting?).

Lambiek's Tour de France
Between 27 January and 31 January 1993, Lambiek itself was subject of an exhibition! The initiative came from Patrick Gaumer, a French journalist and organizer of expositions with a specialization in comics. 'Lambiek: Un quart de siècle en 100 souvenirs' ("Lambiek: A Quarter of a Century in 100 Memories") was held in the Centre National de la Bande Dessinée et de l'Image during the annual Comics Festival of Angoulême, France. The exhibition consisted of three parts. 'Voyage à travers la Librairie Lambiek' ("Journey through the Lambiek Bookstore") offered a replica of the store. 'Un quart de siècle' exhibited books, drawings and posters made by and/or for Lambiek, while 'Le Musée idéal de Kousemaker' ("Kousemaker's Ideal Museum") presented Kees' personal selection of artwork by Dutch and international artists, including Marten Toonder, Hans Kresse, Frans Piët, Bob van den Born, Windig & De Jong, Peter Pontiac, Theo van den Boogaard, Martin Lodewijk, Joost Swarte, Ceesepe, Robert Crumb, Mark Beyer, Art Spiegelman, Pascal Doury, Raymond Macherot, André Franquin, Maurice Tillieux, Willy Vandersteen and Kamagurka.

Felicitations by Malik and Paul Deliège with their characters 'Cupidon' and 'Bobo', drawn on the occasion of the Blois expo in 1994. The 'Bobo' image was printed as an ad for Lambiek in the fourth issue of the Dutch comics magazine Razzafrazz (1994).

The expo was such a success that, from 30 November on, it continued during the annual Comics Festival of Blois, as part of a larger exhibition about the Dutch comics industry. That year, an article in the French newspaper Le Monde described Lambiek as "the famous book store who had done much for the reputation of Crumb, Liberatore and Eisner." During these honorable events, various comic artists congratulated us with graphical homages, including Paul Deliège ('Bobo'), Malik ('Cupidon'), Fred ('Philémon') and Jacques Géron. Between 3 and 13 June 1994, part of the expo was reprised on Dutch soil at the Haarlem comics festival under the title 'Le Salon de Lambiek, 130 ans Déjeuner sur L'Herbe' ("The Lambiek Salon: 130 Years of Luncheons on the Grass". The title and the poster were in hommage to the 1863 scandalous painting 'The Luncheon on the Grass' by Édouard Manet.

Le Salon de Lambiek poster, by René Windig (1994).

To accompany the Angoulême exposition, a celebrative booklet/catalogue called 'Lambiek's Almanac 1968-1993' was compiled with support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and promotional funding by the Chamber of Commerce and Factories in Amsterdam. Written by Martijn Snoodijk and Martijn Daalder, it provided an overview of Lambiek's history over a quarter of a century, in Dutch, with translations in English (by Jenny Spits) as well as French (by Patrick Gaumer). Its cover was designed by Hanco Kolk, and Joost Swarte wrote the foreword.

Back and front cover of the 1993 Lambiek Almanac by Hanco Kolk.

1993: Lambiek: 25th anniversary party
Of course our 25th anniversary was also celebrated in our own store. On 7 November 1993 the 'Heinz' exhibition was secretly removed at night and replaced by an expo celebrating Lambiek's anniversary to surprise Kees the next morning. All kinds of memorabilia, gifts and illustrations by numerous cartoonists and old employees were put on display. Among them work by Bob van den Born, Peter van Straaten, André Franquin, Pierre Rooth, Jac Drewes, Fulco, Eeklo van Schie, Jaren Zandvliet, Martijn Snoodijk, Martijn Daalder, De Blancoos, Annelies Klein, Freek Fenijn, Adriaan Martens, Klaas Knol and his son Ruben, Peter van Dongen, El Hortelano, P.O.S.S.E. & John Prop, Hanco Kolk, Luc Cromheecke & Laurent Letzer, Loes van Alphen, J.M. de Winter, Jano, Herman Geuze, Jan Spakman, B.L. Haring, Rob Becker, Hans Jongens, comics distribution centre Het Raadsel, Eric Cartier, Herwolt van Doornen, Peter Pontiac, Har Brok, Job Goedhart, Hans Stovelaar, Uco Egmond, Joost & Godelinde Pollman, Jacques Buys, Peter de Smet, Job Beekman, Rob Bolweg and Dan Schiff (who made an acrostic comic strip set in Lambiek with large initial letters that spelled out "LAMBIEK"). A remarkable piece of art was the set of shoes designed by Joost Swarte, which had raised toe caps like in the Vandersteen comics.

Kees is interviewed during Lambiek's 25th anniversary party, 8 November 1993.

Many prominent guests were present at the party on 8 November: Windig and De Jong, Theo Van den Boogaard, Wasco, Typex, Willy Lohmann, Willem Vleeschouwer, Aart Clerkx and comics collector Hans Matla. Erik Spaans wrote a special poem for the occasion. Silvio Cadelo, Herr Seele, Gilbert Shelton, Pic, Elyh, Pierre Clement, Mariscal and Ever Meulen also sent written and illustrated congratulations by mail and fax.

New header for De Reporter by Martijn Snoodijk, 1994.

Return of the Reporter
The surprise exposition also marked the return of our newsletter, De Reporter. Matt Schifferstein's publishing house Sherpa printed a one-off edition on 30 November 1993, chronicling the events earlier that month. In 29 March 1994, the "daily" title returned on a semi-monthly base under supervision of Kees and Martijn Snoodijk. Martijn drew a new header for each edition and took care of the lay-outs. The installments were now published as spot advertisements in the comics news magazines Stripschrift and Zozolala. Martijn remembers he and Kees had fun toying around with the numbering to confuse collectors.

Lambiek advertisement by Jelle Venema from Incognito #1, 1993.

Custom-made advertisements
Around this period, Lambiek also started to contribute custom-made advertisements to several comics publications, a tradition which lasted throughout the decade. To the Comics Annuals ("Stripjaarboek") of the publishing house Sherpa, Kees submitted true masterpieces by Willem Vleeschouwer, Peter Pontiac, René Windig and Anton Kannemeyer. Robin Schouten published drawn advertisements by Jelle Venema, Chris Berg, Floris Oudshoorn, Marcel de Jong, Reinier Kahle, Koen Hottentot, Kim Duchateau, Michiel de Jong and Frank Lauwers in his indie comics magazine Incognito.

Bruno Gazzotti signing books of 'Soda' on 23 April 1994.

Exhibitions and book signings (1994)
Ever Meulen was the subject of the next exhibition, held between 11 February and March 1994. The creator of 'Balthazar de Groene Steenvreter' and many famous magazine and album covers had always strode the line between comics and art, so it was only natural that his work looked great in our gallery. RAW cartoonist Mark Beyer ('Tony Target', 'Death and Amy & Jordan at Beach Lake') exhibited in Lambiek on 1 April, and that was no joke! His expo was seen by gallery-goers until 31 May. Our salesman Klaas Knol remembered that he and the otherwise rather subdued Beyer had fun watching 'Wallace and Gromit' cartoons on television. Sadly, when the artist later returned to his hometown in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he found out that he had been victim of burglary. Italian artists stood in the spotlight next. On 23 April 1994, Bruno Gazzotti signed books of his signature work 'Soda' in our store, while Matteo Guarnicca mezmerized spectators in our gallery between 7 June and 24 July.

Invitation for the 1994 Mark Beyer exposition (the drawing was also sold as a silkscreen) and the signed Carl Barks comic book.

Kees was a busy bee during this period. During the Stripdagen Haarlem comics festival in May 1994, he organized the NZH Stripprijs, a comics award for Best Comic Book. When legendary 'Donald Duck' comic artist Carl Barks visited Amsterdam on 14 July during his European promotional tour, Kees went to meet him at the Hotel L'Europe. They had a little chat and the "Good Duck Artist" gave him a personally signed page of the classic Donald Duck story 'In Ancient Persia'. A visit to Lambiek could unfortunately not be organized since the 94-year old veteran had a very tight schedule. Later in the year, Kees was happy to see the arrival of an old fairground attraction, remodelled to look like Windig and De Jong's cartoon cat 'Heinz', which was placed in front of the store in September of that year. It remained a tourist attraction for many years to come. We also received a nice graphic tribute to Kees by cartoonist Al Davison, best known for 'The Spiral Cage'.

Between 27 July and 17 September, Lambiek was involved with the exhibition 'De Barbier in de Strips' ("Barbers in Comics") which was installed in the Figaro Pasquale barber shop in the Begijnensteeg 10 in Amsterdam. It showed imagery related to hairdressers in comics. Between August and September 1994, our own gallery displayed its social consciousness with an expo about cartoonists from former Yugoslavia and their reflection on the ongoing war in their country. 'Signed By War' brought together artwork from Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian comic artists like Zoran Janjetov, Slobodan Kovacevic, Danilo Milosev (aka Wostok), Dejan Nenadov, Zeljko Pahek, Darko Perovic, Leonid Pilipovic (aka Leo fon Pinkerstein), Sasa Rakezic (aka Aleksandar Zograf), Milos Radosavljevic, Zoran Smiljanic, Danijel Zezelj and Kresimir Zimonic, but also foreign sympathizers like Edmond Baudoin, Enki Bilal, Peter Kuper, Lorenzo Mattotti, Lian Ong, Peter Pontiac, Marcel Ruijters and Edmond Spierts. The exhibition was an initiative of Momi Stosic, aka Moki. All artwork appeared in the book 'Signed by War' and the expo itself also toured elsewhere in the Netherlands. All money generated by the exhibition was used to support the comics industry in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia.

Max signing in Gallery Lambiek, November, 1994.

Between 30 September and 19 November 1994, Spanish underground cartoonist Max, who is best known for 'Bardín', was the guest of honour in our gallery. On 1 October, our store on Kerkstraat 78 had the honor of presenting the first issue of Rotterdam's alternative comics magazine Zone 5300 to the press. The same month, Kees was asked to be a jury member in a creativity contest, 'Fabriceer een Fabelachtige Flater' ("Fabricate A Fabulous Blunder") in Eindhoven. Contestants were asked to create a mad invention comparable to the ones Gaston Lagaffe always comes up with in André Franquin's eponymous gag comic. Whether anything exploded or led to horrendous cacophonous instruments, we don't know. But Kees did write Franquin to inform him about his contest. The comic artist was quite thrilled with the whole idea. In November, Lambiek organized a mini exhibition about pulp comics from the 1950s, with a special focus on the "Lilliput" titles published by the German Lehning Verlag ('Akim', 'Tibor', 'Sheriff Teddy').

Crumb and his band Les Primitifs du Futur performing in Lambiek, 24 November 1994.

That late fall, another legendary cartoonist visited the store for a prestigious exhibition. None other than underground comix legend Robert Crumb was scheduled to exhibit his work on 25 November. However, the evening before he and his folk band Les Primitifs du Futur performed in the Joseph Lam club, after which they kept on truckin' to Lambiek for an after party. Since the spiritual father of 'Fritz the Cat' and 'Mr. Natural' was here anyway, Kees decided to launch the expo one day early. The next day Crumb returned to Lambiek for the official opening of his exhibition, 'R. Crumb's Record Collection', which put a spotlight on his illustrated album covers. This time, the music was provided by a Russian accordeon player. Since Amsterdam always had a strong underground comix scene, mostly thanks to Lambiek's exclusive imported titles from the U.S., many people turned up. Just like with Franquin in 1991 there were quite a few fellow cartoonists, but also one celebrity visitor from a different medium: Dutch film director Louis van Gasteren. Van Gasteren was dressed in a hat and scarf which reminded Kees of the Tintin character Lazlo Carreidas, something he joked about afterwards in an issue of De Reporter. The exhibition attracted a lot of media attention, particularly in the foreign press, but was also significant for another reason... the launch of Lambiek's own website!

Issue 32 of De Reporter, detailing about the celebrity visits of Robert Crumb and "Laszlo Carreidas". The headline reads "Sudden appearance of Tintin billionnaire surprises artist R. Crumb. Exclusive photograph proves: Carreidas lives!"

In 1994, local entrepeneurs Wendy G.A. van Dijk and Elizabeth Mattijsen began building and hosting websites through their agency xxLINK Internet Services. They proposed Kees to launch a website for Lambiek. At the time Internet had only been made public for two years and most people at the time didn't own a computer, nor had Internet access. But Kousemaker realized that his store had to move along with the times. Liz and Wendy helped get the site on the Internet. It was presented on 25 November 1994, while Crumb held his expo. Back then, Lambiek was one of the first Dutch companies to have its own site. Even the store didn't have Internet access back then! xxLINK used to print our e-mails and send them to us by regular mail.

xxLINK's Wendy G.A. van Dijk shows our brand new website to Stripschap founder P. Hans Frankfurther during the Crumb expo, November 1994.

During the first five years, the website was mostly used to report news events regarding the store. When more people went online, our website meant the end of our newspaper De Reporter. In one of the final issues of the printed version from 25 July 1995, it was revealed that Lambiek's site already had a lot of traffic during those first moments: "(...) the most interested readers of the site are American schools and universities". On 1 August 2003, the old 'Reporter' title was reused again on our site to present all news in a similar virtual newspaper format. And old habits never change, because De Reporter still appeared on irregular basis. By 2011, the title was once again abandoned (but no one would be surprised if the title was resurrected sometime soon).

"Sinterkees" presents Urbanus his 50th album on 5 December 1994.

Expos, book signings and other events (1994-1995)
On 5 December 1994 Flemish comedian Urbanus celebrated the 50th album of his 'Urbanus' comic strip (drawn by Willy Linthout) in the Antwerp Hilton Hotel. The first printed copy of 'De Hete Urbanus' was handed to him by Dutch-Flemish holiday character Sinterklaas ("Saint Nicholas") and his sidekick Pete, though some have claimed it was actually our Kees and his son Boris in a disguise. We do recall that Kees and Boris travelled to Belgium that night with a bag of gifts, red miter, tabard and golden staff, but ah... that must have been coincidence, right? Besides, wouldn't it have made more sense to send (Sinter) Klaas Knol? Nevertheless IF Kees was the Saint Nicholas that night, he must have taken his act quite seriously and travelled all the way back to his headquarters in Spain. Because the next comic artist to exhibit his work in the store was Spanish too: Max Cabanes, most famous for 'Dans les Villages', 'Contes Fripons' and 'Colin Maillard'. His exhibition was launched on 10 February 1995.

Invitation for the Liberation expo.

On 28 April 1995, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kousemaker and his staff organized a special exhibition about comics made during the 1940s. The expo 'De Bevrijding der Nederlanden in Beeldromanvorm' ('The Liberation of the Netherlands in Picture Novel Format') was hosted by archivarian Eric Somers. After this event, Hanco Kolk ('Gilles de Geus', 'Meccano') pushed his swift pencil forward on 15 June to present his graphic novel 'Casanova' and other minimalistic line drawings in our gallery. Between July and 10 September,) Lambiek organized an expo in the Sonsbeek art villa in Arnhem about comic artists who are inspired by "high" art or make such works themselves.

Invitations for the Hanco Kolk and Charles Burns expositions, 1995.

On 26 July, during the San Diego Comic-Con, Lambiek was awarded the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Klaas Knol travelled all the way to the U.S. to pick up this prestigious international prize. Around the same time, between 26 July and 13 August 1995, the hit musical 'Suske en Wiske: De Stralende Sterren' of the Antwerp Koninklijk Jeugd Theater ("Royal Juvenile Theater") went on tour in Amsterdam. Based on Willy Vandersteen's eponymous comic strip 'Suske en Wiske', it wasn't all that surprising that the actors paid a visit to Lambiek too. For the first time the "real" Lambik (played by Ronald van Rillaer) could actually walk in the store that was named after him. He took the chance to take the same pose as our infamous doll. This time the local police couldn't do anything about it...

Important visitors in 1995: Tante Sidonia (played by male actor Aimé Anthoni), Suske (David Verbeeck), Wiske (Hilde Vanhulle), Lambik (Ronald Van Rillaer) and Jerom (Dirk Bosschaert)!

Shortly after Halloween (3 November 1995) our store remained in a horror atmosphere thanks to the frightening artwork of Charles Burns. His exhibition 'Burns in Hell' ran for two months. The same year, Lambiek also paid attention to two real-life horrors: racism and discrimination. We set up a huge exhibition making a stance against it. Among the participating artists were Ted Benoît, Peter Pontiac, Maaike Hartjes, Robert van der Kroft, Floris Oudshoorn, Berend J. Vonk, Peter de Wit and Marnix Rueb. African-American-Dutch singer Donald Jones, famous for the song 'Ik Zou Je In Een Doosje Willen Stoppen', also visited the expo.

1995 was also the year that Lambiek finally got mentioned in a novel. No, not a graphic one, an actual novel with all words and no pictures!  And the book was not Dutch, mind you, but the work of French author Laurent Fétis: 'Innocent X' (Gallimard, 1995), a hard-boiled detective story which takes place in Amsterdam. In the story, the characters visit Lambiek, and Kees Kousemaker and Klaas Knol are specifically mentioned! Interestingly enough, Fétis would write a novel titled: 'Le tacot d'Elsa Lambiek' (2008), thirteen years later. In this case, Elsa Lambiek is his main protagonist. 

Donald Jones looking at the anti-discrimination exposition, 1995.

Next chapter: Lambiek at Kerkstraat 78 (1996-2003)