Comics History

Lambiek at Koningsstraat 27 (2015-present)

Lambiek at the Koningsstraat, painted by Edwin Hagendoorn (2018).

New at the Nieuwmarkt
And so, after nearly 47 years, Lambiek moved out of the Kerkstraat to the Koningsstraat 27, a shop location near the Nieuwmarkt square which had previously housed vintage design store Feather & Cross (upstairs) and record store Zwart Goud (downstairs). The indexing of rent prizes in the Kerkstraat made it increasingly difficult to meet payments. For a while there was fear that Lambiek would have to close for good, because after all: what would the Kerkstraat be without that familiar ZIP sign hanging there? We received a lot of support from long-time customers to keep Lambiek going. Michiel van de Pol literally and figure-of-speech drew attention to the matter with a nice tribute comic strip which paid homage to all the joy Lambiek had brought him over the decades. Herwolt van Doornen made a promotional drawing for our website and on 26 July 2014, Lambiek was referenced in Floor de Goede's newspaper strip 'Flo' too. We never would have made it without the capable hands and invaluable advice of our home carpenter Marko Otsen. He kept a clear head at all times and found ways to reorganize the store and keep it financially stable. For this we will remain eternally grateful. We must also express our gratitude to the several loyal customers who helped us out during the move. To celebrate Lambiek's newest incarnation Lae Schäfer made a neat bird eye's view illustration of our brand new store.

Our first customer arrived while we were still unpacking, on 30 October 2015.

A major advantage about the new location is that it's in the vicinity of the subway station. Many people pass by and instantly find their way to our store. Buying a comic book to read during a long public transport voyage is of course an excellent way to pass the time. One setback, though, is that our new building is too small to hold full-scale exhibitions anymore. Yet book signings continue to be our proudest tradition (see further in the text). Interestingly enough, some visitors have told us that they actually like the smaller location, since it has a cosier feel. They complimented us for reorganizing the books in a more logical fashion too. In the past Kees alphabetized all books by author, rather than series or title. This method was kept even after his death, but now that we moved Boris Kousemaker took the decision to alphabetize everything according to series and title, like in a normal comics store. The Dutch-language books are now stocked away upstairs and the English- and French-language ones downstairs. Our customers find this a serious improvement and who are we to disagree with customers? Lambiek is also still the place to go for the many small press mini-comics and zines produced by mostly local comic artists, such as Larie Cook, Michiel Budel, Gabriël Kousbroek, Joost Halbertsma, Lae Schäfer and Jeroen Funke. Lae even made a special comic strip to promote this, which was published on on 2 February 2016. This wasn't the first time that the store was depicted in Lae's work. On 29 May 2015 one comic strip already depicted the store and our employee Jurrien de Vries.

The security fencing in front of our back windows were modelled after a page from graphic artist Wasco's art book 'Het Tuitel Complex'. Steel artist Robin Hoed made the design a reality.

Our pile of wooden books is returned by Dani Dumitru to Boris and its creator Arie.

In the chaos of moving from one building to another we'd lost the wooden pile of comic books originally positioned on the bike with the Lambiek doll. We assumed they were either stolen or accidentally thrown away. In a case of sheer coincidence, the wooden books eventually ended up with Dani Dumitru of, a salesman at the Waterlooplein flea market. Not knowing what the strange piece of handcraft was, he asked his wife Tess for help. She had been an editor with girls' comics magazine Tina, and was acquainted with some comics connaisseurs. She posed the question to a former colleague, who was coincidentally... our own Bas Schuddeboom! Bas of course instantly recognized the work and informed Boris. Mr. Dumitru was gracious enough to return the books to Boris and their actual creator, Larie Cook, on 16 September 2016. Thus came an end to yet another leg of the evenful life story of our wooden Lambiek doll...

Charlotte Goede and Boris in 2016.

Lambiek personnel
Boris Kousemaker of course remained at the steering wheel during this period. Unfortunately Klaas Knol retired after more than 30 years of loyal service. Health problems had already forced him to stay home more often, while jack-of-all-trades Marko Otsen fell in for him. By the time he quit he'd already resorted to part-time work. Yet even after retirement Klaas remained involved with Lambiek's daily business, until his health deteriorated. He still ordered new comic book titles for our stock, wrote promotional messages and answered mails. Our beloved Klaas Knol passed away on 12 July 2019.

After Lot and Abel had already left earlier on, Jurrien de Vries also left us temporarily in 2016, but we found a replacement in his brother Sebastiaan. After a couple of months Sebastiaan however decided to take up new studies, after which Jurrien again reinforced our ranks. The ever-lovely Charlotte Goede lived up to her last name, working for the good of Lambiek between February 2016 and April 2017. Also Arie Plas, better known as the graphic artist Larie Cook, became one of our new salespeople in 2016. Since he'd already painted our new ZIP-logo and the new Lambiek doll six years earlier and held a mini-exposition in our midst in 2011, it was inevitable that he would eventually work here. In 2018 customers could notice Bajka and then Noaji and Meander working in the store for a period of time.

Sebastiaan de Vries at work. In the back we see the Wasco fencing.

Bas Schuddeboom kept doing volunteer work for the website from home, but by 2015 he found a loyal collaborator in the Belgian Kjell Knudde. Originally Kjell merely corrected and proofread Comiclopedia articles, but slowly but surely he started revising older articles and writing new ones altogether. All according to a different, more analytical and expanded approach. Kjell and Bas joined forces to make this method the standard, which proved beneficial to make the site an useful alternative to other online comics sources. This "Knuddeboom" collaboration is impeccable on all fronts, even though both gentlemen occasionally spot typos in each other's texts and Bas sometimes has to rewrite certain Flemish phrases into standard Dutch. And Bas could really do without Kjell's knack for incredibly lame puns in their correspondence...

Boris with Dave Cooper.

Book signings and other events (2016-2017)
As we said before the smaller store unfortunately makes the grand-scale exhibitions of the past impossible. But book signings are still a recurring event to this day. On 22 March 2016 we welcomed Canadian cartoonist and painter Dave Cooper ('Dan and Larry in Don't Do That!') in Lambiek for a book signing. Our customers' eyes became as big as his deranged characters when they saw him create doodles for them. On 31 March Schwantz, creator of 'Beestjes', brought out the beast in himself. Sounds of the underground rose on 22 April, when the Sounds of the Underground festival comic book was presented by MC Gijs Borstlab and Canadian artist and Amsterdam resident Maia Matches. Later that evening our store shook on the beats provided by DJ Naaktslak and Hakki Takki.

Derf Backderf.

Sam Peeters, creator of 'In De Schaduw Van Mijn Lul', appeared out of the shadows on 19 May, while Derf Backderf ('My Friend Dahmer') paid us a second visit on 7 June. Peeters would do the same on 12 May 2017 with the presentation of his wonderful pantomime graphic novel 'Iedereen op Claudia'. On 17 November Marco Jeurissen, Jean Gouders, Gady Mirtenbaum, Berend Vonk and Toon Hezemans presented their collective graphic novel 'Grenzeloos', while the Limbo Five gave us some musical atmosphere. On 24 November Frenk Meeuwsen brought our minds to higher levels with his Zen-philosophical graphic novel 'Zen Zonder Meester' while 'Swamp Thing' creator Floris Oudshoorn marked his second official book signing on 8 December 2017.

Lambiek still gathers a crowd. Well, to be honest, Sam Peeters does.

Kutlul (2017-2018)
The most notable presentations during this period revolved around the provocative alternative comics magazine Kutlul, whose charming title is a contamination of the Dutch slang terms for "cunt" and "dick". The first issue, 0, came out in the spring of 2016 but since 14 April 2017 every new issue has received its official and exclusive presentation to the public in Lambiek's headquarters: issue 5 (14 April 2017), issue 6 (29 September 2017), issue 7 (6 April 2018) and issue 8 (10 August 2018). Founders Joost Halbertsma and Dirk Verschure are usually present at these occasions, as are some of the regular graphic contributors, such as Pieter Zandvliet and Maia Matches. Music is rarely far away. On 14 April 2017 the Sounds of the Underground had the performance act Boetiek Underground Spacetower create some musical ambiance. In the eighth issue of Kutlul Joost Halbertsma drew a caricature of Boris Kousemaker.

Boris in Kutlul #8.

Book signings (2018)
12 January 2018 marked the third official visit by Peter van Dongen. He signed copies of his graphic novel 'Familieziek', based on Dutch novelist Adriaan van Dis' eponymous novel. One week later the artist also won the Stripschap Prize for his work. On 23 March U.S. cartoonist Turtel Onli ('NOG') signed his work in our midst, while American writer and photographer and Amsterdam resident since 2009 Chad Bilyeu did the same on 30 March. Bilyeu presented his comic book 'Chad in Amsterdam', though the autobiographical stories themselves were illustrated by other artists.

Chad Bilyeu presented his comic book 'Chad in Amsterdam' in early 2018 and has since then hardly missed any of our Friday drinks!

On 8 June visual artist Nathalie Cincunegui presented her graphic novel debut 'The Journey of Mr. Naut', while on 29 June Jasper Rietman signed his own debut 'Exodus', about the refugee crisis. Aimée de Jongh ('Snippers') marked her third book siging in Lambiek on 27 July. All the way from France came Éric Cartier who, on 31 August, presented his graphic novel 'One Two Three Four Ramones', written by Xavier Bétaucourt and Bruno Cadène, and based on the life and career of the punk band The Ramones. Gabba gabba, hey!

Aimée de Jongh.

Comics Laureate of the Netherlands
In October 2017 our former web mistress Margreet de Heer had been appointed Comic Artist Laureate of the Netherlands. In January 2018 Dutch photo-comics artist Ype Driessen staged a special photo-comic to celebrate this feat, starring himself and Margreet. The location of the funny four-panel photo comic was Lambiek (the "Comics store Laureate of the Netherlands") and also featured Klaas Knol ("Comics salesman Laureate of the Netherlands") and an unidentified man (the "Customer Laureate of the Netherlands"). One of Margreet's main focus points is promoting comics in the Dutch educational system. She teamed up once again with her former Comiclopedia colleague Bas Schuddeboom to compile a graphic novel guide for the reading list of high school students. The duo was joined in their efforts by Dutch language teacher Willard Mans, while several of the books were lended out to the compilers by Lambiek. On 7 November 2018 the guide 'Graphic Novels voor de Leeslijst' was presented in book store Scheltema.

Photo comic by Ype Driessen promoting our brand new Comics Laureate of the Netherlands.

2018: Lambiek's 50th anniversary
In 2018 Lambiek celebrated its 50th anniversary. Reason enough for looking back. Bas Schuddeboom had toyed with the idea to chronicle the glorious history of our groundbreaking store and its founder Kees Kousemaker in a historical book since 2016. In fact, he had the entire Lambiek press and photo archive stashed in his Zaandam home ever since the move from the Kerkstraat. The project, however, never came off the ground, despite the help and advice of StripNieuws editors Cok Jouvenaar and Jos van Waterschoot, as no publisher deemed it profitable. Instead, Bas went on write two magazine articles about our semicentennial. The first one appeared in the October 2018 issue of the local historical magazine Ons Amsterdam, while the second one was written for the November issue of comics information magazine StripNieuws.

The Lambiek correspondence and press clippings archive, organized by year (work in progress).

Kjell Knudde also crawled into his pen to write a huge text about half a century worth of Lambiek's history for publication on our own website. It was a difficult task since nothing quite like it had ever been written. Luckily Bas had by now digitalized the archive and stashed his Dropbox with articles, interviews, press releases, book segments, artworks, audio and video footage. For the first time in five decades all available archive footage was identified and classified by topic. Though, as it soon turned out, this was only the tip of the iceberg. Boris and Bas cleaned out the store archives and unearthed dozens of other interesting ancient artefacts. Almost every day something new was found, scanned and digitalized. Bas also visited Klaas in his Lelystad home in the company of Boris and Abel to write down of the legendary anecdotes related to Kees and the store. An unintentional plus side about this monumental project was that Kjell frequently spotted previously unnoticed mistakes on our very own site, which were instantly corrected. By puzzling all these events in chronological order gaps in people's memories and fragmented anecdotes could be put together into a more complete picture. Kjell brought all info together in one coherent, fluent English text and had it proofread and further edited by Bas afterwards. It took a month to write and Kjell then provided a Dutch translation as well. At Bas' suggestion all chapters were divided in periods according to the store's address at the time. Kjell suggested serializing these periods in weekly chapters all throughout the month October.

From all this information and archive material Bas distilled a more concise text which forms the basis of '50 Jaar Lambiek' (2018), a book self-published by our imprint Les Éditions Lambiek. The main focus of the "Lambook" is however the large collection of rare and exclusive artwork created for our store over the course of five decades. Boris and Bas made a selection with the help of long-time Lambiek acquaintance Herwolt van Doornen. We found Cyril Koopmeiners, designer with the publishing house Scratch, prepared to sacrifice his holiday and provide the lay-out. He managed to do a wonderful job despite the tight deadline, but of course we never doubted his capabilities, knowing his work for the extensive archival dossiers in Windig & De Jong's 'Heinz' collection. It was only fitting that Klaas Knol should write the foreword. Gert Jan Pos helped us photograph some items too large for the scanner, while Fake Booij digitally restored some of the more damaged pieces of art. For our foreign customers, Kjell translated everything in English for a separate insert. The book, which is available in Lambiek and can be ordered through our webshop, offers not only old material, but also brand new written homages and testimonials by Rob Menko, Vincent Polverino, Joost Pollmann and Marcel Reijneveld. Larie Cook drew a beautiful pantomime comic which shows the history of the store as several rooms inside a building. Alex Wesselink had Lambiek take a taxi to our anniversary party where, just like in 2008, a riot has broken out. Gleever spoofed a cover he designed in 1978 for Kees' self-printed magazine Bulletin and redrew it in a more humoristic fashion. Aart Clerkx spoofed Marc Sleen's 'Nero' album 'De Terugkeer van Geeraard de Duivel', while Hansje Joustra parodied the 'Suske en Wiske' story 'De Wilde Weldoener'. Outside of the comics world controversial painter Peter Klashorst also created a special comic strip done in his typical vulgar style. Other artists who made a graphic tribute were Mattt Baay, Paul Bodoni, TV cook Alain Caron, Eddie de Jong, Edwin Hagendoorn, Pieter Hogenbirk, Maarten Janssens, Bas Köhler, Kjell Knudde, Gabriël Kousbroek, Frenk Meeuwsen, Floris Oudshoorn, Martijn F. Overweel, Remco Polman, Gert Jan Pos, José Quintanar, Marcel Ruijters, Lae Schäfer, Pepijn Schermer, Eric Schreurs, Roel Smit, Joost Swarte, Trik, Guido van Driel, Herwolt van Doornen, Erik Varekamp, Willem Verburg, Lukas Verstraete, Berend J. Vonk, Eric Why and Menno Wittebrood.

Surprise picture for Erik Kriek in De Waag (Photo: Marco Buddingh).

On Saturday evening 10 November 2018 we celebrated Lambiek's 50th anniversary in café/restaurant De Waag in Amsterdam. The entrance of the building was temporarily graced by a spare copy of the Lambiek ZIP-sign. Boris Kousemaker thanked everyone involved in the anniversary activities, and especially our loyal customers. He also presented the first copy of the book '50 Years Lambiek'. Margreet de Heer also took the stand, and paid a personal homage to Kees Kousemaker, while thanking Boris for keeping Lambiek very much alive. Most of Lambiek's regular visitors, as well as former and current employees were there, except for Klaas Knol who was at home with the flu. Another notable absentee was Erik Kriek, who couldn't attend because of medical reasons. To salute him, a picture of all partygoers wearing a T-shirt with his signature character 'Gutsman' was taken from the balcony to give him the surprise of a lifetime. The snapshot looked like the final image from Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'. Neither Nicholson or Johnny were "here", but many other familiar faces were present that night. Among them Aart Clerkx, Jeroen Funke, Aleks Deurloo, Margreet de Heer, Hansje Joustra, Cyril Koopmeiners, Maia Matches, Ron Poland, Remco Polman, Marcel Ruijters, Lae Schäfer, Joost Swarte, Theo van den Boogaard, Peter van Dongen, Guido van Driel, Natasja van Loon and many more.

While the party in De Waag was going on, a simultaneous party took place in Lambiek itself under the watchful eye of Jurrien de Vries. When the people from the Waag gradually went to Lambiek the party there became an after party (yes, we are not sure when this odd evolution took place?). In our store DJ Martyn F. Overweel played some rockin' beats, dressed up as German emperor Wilhelm II. We have no idea why the Kaiser was in such a good mood? After all, the next day was 11 November, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, a war he lost!

Even we are amazed that our store managed to last five (!) decades by now. As Oliver MacNamee stated in an article about Lambiek's 50th anniversary on his website Comicon: "50 years? That's a huge milestone for any business these days, left alone a little comic book store opened up in the Summer of Love." Indeed, when we started in 1968 underground comics were the dominant genre. Today it's webcomics. Before Lambiek opened its doors the only comics stores existed in the United States. Today these older stores have all closed down and Lambiek remains the oldest by default! In this half century we defied scepticism, disparagement and underestimation. We survived floods, thefts, vandalism, rivalry from Internet, high rent prizes, changes in address and the death of our founder. And all this wouldn't have been possible without our loyal entourage and customers! Lambiek wishes to thank all its clientele, employees, salespeople, exhibiting and book signing artists, supporters, sympathizers, Facebook followers and contributing writers and artists for five decades worth of fun, excitement and memories! On to the centennial!

Kjell Knudde, 2018.

Overview of the Koningsstraat store by Lae Schäfer.