Comics History

The Story of Lambiek

Since its opening in 1968, the Amsterdam comics store Lambiek has played an important role in giving comics public attention and appreciation, not just in the Netherlands, but on an international scale. Historically important as the oldest comics store in the Netherlands and in Europe, it also holds the world-wide record for being the oldest one still functioning as a commercial enterprise. But Lambiek has always been more than just a place to buy comic books. Within less than a decade after its foundation, it became a research center, a mini-museum and a meeting place for all things and people related to comics. Lambiek opened its doors for countless book signings, exhibitions, lectures, media stunts and parties. Some of the honored cartoonists were still unknown at the time while others already famous. Some were only legends in their own countries, but barely known in the Netherlands. Yet all were treated with the same respect, which enhanced their reputations.

Additionally, Kees Kousemaker and his entourage wrote various essays, articles and books about comics. Much of the Netherlands' comics history might otherwise have remained unexplored. But Kousemaker's ambitions went even further. In 1994, Lambiek became one of the first Dutch companies to start its own website. Five years later their online encyclopedia, the Comiclopedia (1999), was launched. It offers a biographical overview of everyone who ever drew and published a comic, regardless of country or time period. As of 2018, the Comiclopedia counts more than 13,700 names, making it the biggest database of cartoonists in the world. Over the course of five decades, Lambiek has received various tributes, awards and other honors. Today, it's not only an institution in the Netherlands, but also in the international comics world.

This is the thrilling story of an ever-evolving store which managed to become, in it's own way, a phenomenon. A tale of famous visitors, law-breaking wooden dolls, people with the initials K.K., a salesman who can't recognize celebrities and the everlasting quest of presenting comics as a serious art form... but most of all, a tribute to all the wonderful people who have helped Lambiek in making 50 years of comics history!

We've divided Lambiek's story in six periods, according to the store's locations at the time, with an additional chapter about the Comiclopedia.

Kerkstraat 104 (1968-1980)
Part 1 (1968-1975): Opening with Willy Vandersteen, Flip Fermin and other co-workers, Strip voor Strip, Professor Pi, the infamous look-a-like contest...
Part 2 (1976-1980): First expositions, Lambiek Bulletin, the Matena brawl, Wordt Vervolgd, De Trouwe Lezer...


Kerkstraat 78 (1980-2003)
Part 1 (1980-1985): Expansion, the ZIP-sign, the Lambiek doll and bike, Klaas Knol, De Reporter, the dog poop ashtray...
Part 2 (1986-1989): Gallery Lambiek, first expositions (RAW, Ceesepe, Pontiac, Liberatore and more), the "Amsterdammertjes" stickers, the Pontiac street plan and store drawing
Part 3 (1990-1995): Expositions of André Franquin, Will Eisner & Robert Crumb, Lambiek's own expo in Angoulême, goes online
Part 4 (1996-2003): Celebrity visitors, Chris Ware, new book publications, Kees' philanthropy, the Peekelman meeting and more comics cameos.


Lambiek.Net (1999-present)
Part 1 (1999-2004): The old blue site, launch of the Comiclopedia, Dutch comics history, Margreet de Heer & Bas Schuddeboom.
Part 2 (2005-present): "Die Hobbyfreunde" Kees & Bas, expansion of the Comiclopedia, new site with webshop, Kjell Knudde.


Kerkstraat 119 & Utrechtsedwarsstraat 46-50 (2003-2005)
Tiny shop, Marko Otsen, Annex at the Utrechtsedwarsstraat, Almere Comics Neighbourhood, De Wereld van de Nederlandse Strip


Kerkstraat 132 (2005-2015)
Part 1 (2005-2010): Return of Gallery Lambiek, Kees' retirement & knighthood, Boris, 24 Hour Comics, Lamelos auctions, 40th anniversary party
Part 2 (2010-2015): Death of Kees Kousemaker and Peter Pontiac, expositions of foreign and local talent, launch of the webshop


Koningsstraat 27 (2015-present)
Leaving the Kerkstraat, new personnel, interesting signing sessions, Kutlul presentations, 50th anniversary projects


"Give me... forty years and you'll be proud of me. I promise!" (Tribute by Peter Pontiac for the 40th anniversary in 2008)

Written by Kjell Knudde, edited by Bas Schuddeboom and Dan Schiff.
Based on research by Knudde & Schudde, with many thanks to Herwolt van Doornen, Margreet de Heer, Klaas Knol, Cyril Koopmeiners, Boris Kousemaker, Vincent Polverino, Abel Schoenmaker, Tijn Snoodijk and, of course, the late Kees Kousemaker!

Most of the presented artwork and photographs come from the inexhaustible Lambiek archives. Who actually took most of these pictures has unfortunately been lost in history. Hans Frederiks has photographed Lambiek on several occasions during the early period, and in later years Job Goedhart, Rob Becker, Michiel Schatborn, Marco Buddingh and Rick Webb have taken many pictures during festivities. If we have failed to acknowledge you, or if you object to usage of these images, please contact Lambiek.