When you go to Amsterdam as a tourist, you tend to stumble around a lot in a haze, and it as on one of those occasions several years ago that I came upon Lambiek, Europe’s oldest comic book store. They were in the process of moving, but they still sat me down and offered me a cup of coffee as we chatted about comics of our youth and the European market’s tastes compared to the less sophisticated palate of the American market. That’s not to diss my Colonial cousins, it’s just we grew up in a world of diverse comic genres which included The Smurfs, Asterix, Heavy Metal and more. And, Lambiek is a store that very much embraces and celebrates this difference.
It’s moved now, but it’s still running, and still floor-to-ceiling packed with the most interesting of books, graphic novels and comics from Europe and all round the world. It’s a real treasure trove and I was lucky to hunt it down this summer on my return to ‘The Dam’.
This November 8th, Lambiek celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, which is a special occasion to celebrate, too. I mean, 50 years? That’s a huge milestone for any business these days, let alone a little comic book store opened up in the Summer of Love. I only wish I could return again for the celebrations, but I don’t think the family would be too happy of I took a few days to go back to Amsterdam to celebrate a comic shop’s birthday while leaving them in Blighty.
Right now, you can pop over to their (translated) website to check out how a store that opens it’s doors in November 1968, founded Kees Kousemaker came to be and how it evolved into “a research center, a mini museum and a meeting place for all things and people related to comics.”
And, if you do find yourself in Amsterdam, do make an effort to check it out. It’ll be well worth it. Trust me, you’ll be glad you went but sad you can’t take more back with you.
Lambiek can be found on Koningsstraat 27, 1011 ET Amsterdam, Netherlands.