Last Friday, Team Kirkendall took off for Amsterdam. After checking into our home from home, the fab art deco Hotel Heemskerk (tucked away just behind The Concertgebouw) we had a quick bite to eat at the organic and proud Beans and Bagels, where I ate the tastiest bagel I have ever eaten.
Number One Son and I made then made a beeline for Lambiek, Europe’s oldest comic shop (since 1968) where we spent a lovely hour and a half drooling over the most comprehensive stock of comics/comix old and new. We looked at their current exhibition of work by the not-so-underground Canadian cartoonist Marc Bell and we signed the visitors book in tribute.
I spent a fortune (as you’d expect) picking up some early Yves Chaland and Martin Lodewijk’s Agent 327 and new work by Dutch cartoonists like Peter DeWit (Sigmund) and my doppleganger Erik Kriek (Gutsman Comics). I also nabbed a couple of books by Belgian cartoonists Marec and Willy Linthout. Linthout’s book really grabbed me as it was beautifully designed, using uncoated stock on the cover with the type in black and white ink. Inside, the sketchy unfinished drawings were broken up with elegant typography for the title and chapter pages. I was told that this book ‘Jaren van de Olifant’ (Years of the Elephant) was nominated for an Eisner award and I was given a translated version to look at. As I read the foreword by Paul Gravett, I realised that the original book was designed to look raw because it deals with the author’s attempts to come to terms with the tragic suicide of his 21-year-old son. His son’s life was unfinished and the unpolished look and un-inked drawings reflected this. I bought both copies – one to read and the original to keep as I was so impressed with the design.
When Number One Son and I finally emerged from Lambiek, blinking in the sunlight, we met up with Mrs K and The Daughter and did a bit more shopping in De Negen Straatjes (the nine streets) before walking up all the way up the Prinzengracht to the Anne Frank Huis. After our sad, sober tour around the house the K kids bought some books from the giftshop and I bought one of the graphic novels the Anne Frank Huis has produced dealing with the holocaust. We then walked a little further up the Prinzengragcht for dinner at The Pancake Bakery, home of the best pankcakes in Amsterdam. And, dear reader, they were.
Join me tomorrow for Part two of the Amsterdam trip – shopping, canal trips, cycling and more food – hooray!