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 record for being the oldest one still in function. But Lambiek was always more than 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. Others already famous. Some were mostly legends in their own countries, not in the Netherlands yet. Yet they were all treated with the same amount of respect, which increased their notability.

Founder Kees Kousemaker and his entourage furthermore 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 a comic strip and managed to get an official publication, 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 became a phenomenon in its own way. 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 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.

voor 1850Kerkstraat 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...

 

voor 1850Kerkstraat 78 (1980-2003)
Coming soon!

 

voor 1850The Comiclopedia (1999-present)
Coming soon!

 

voor 1850Kerkstraat 119/Utrechtsedwarsstraat 46 (2003-2005)
Coming soon!

 

voor 1850Kerkstraat 132 (2005-2015)
Coming soon!

 

voor 1850Koningsstraat 27 (2015-present)
Coming soon!

 


"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
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 and Marco Buddingh 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.