There was no festive presentation for ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’ – but the launch of the original ‘Filosofie in Beeld’ in March 2010 made more than up for that. It still reverberates – so here are some impressions:
The book presentation was held at my favorite haunt: comics store Lambiek in Amsterdam – the place where I worked for five years and which still feels like home to me. The symbolic “first copy” was given to a representative of Philosophy in the person of “philosophy babe” Stine Jensen who is famous for her wonderful accessible books and TV programs on all kinds of philosophical subjects.
There were four speakers: first, Klaas Knol of Lambiek opened the festivities and handed the book to the publisher, Kees Korenhof of publishing house Meinema. This is extra poignant to remember, since he unexpectedly died last week, 63 years old. He was a gentle, humoristic, professional man. He was the kind of publisher who would approach writers and suggest a book for them to write – instead of waiting behind his desk for manuscripts to come in. He really knew how to get the best out of people, and it is thanks to him that I became a published author – the first comic artist ever to be published at Meinema, which is mainly a publishing house for philosophical and theological texts.
Kees Korenhof reminisced about meeting Yiri and me for the first time in Café Luxembourg, a luxurious establishment in the center of Amsterdam, which I had suggested as a bit of a bold statement: many famous writers meet there with publishers and journalists, so it was a bit pretentious of me – but I think he saw the humor in that. He also shared memories of my grandfather, who had published theological works at Meinema in the eighties, and who he had met then. My grandfather has been dead since 1995, so I found it quite touching that Kees “united the generations” in this way. I often regret not being able to show my grandfather my work and imagine he would have liked it.
Kees Korenhof passed the book to me. I don’t remember what I said exactly, I hope it was brief and something like: I will now pass on this book to Stine Jensen. Oh, I thanked some people, especially Martijn Meijer who had given feedback throughout the project – and Yiri, who was tucked away in the corner and got well-deserved applause when I stressed how I couldn’t have done this without him. Not just for the coloring, but also for the immense moral and physical support he continues to give me.
And THEN I gave the book to Stine Jensen and she said a lot of nice things – not just about the book, but also about how her and me could have been twin sisters in many ways: both from 1972, both into philosophy, both connections with the same cities. She was really warm and generous and made me blush.
And then there was beer, and merry-making.
Last week, I went to Lambiek to check if the english ‘Philosophy’ had arrived yet. What a contrast with 2010!
“Yeah, yeah, your book is in – here it is – now buzz off – we’re working!”
(Just kidding, kind Lambiek guys! Although the fact that they are working hard is no joke: recently, finally, comics store Lambiek opened its online store full of great comics, original artwork and rare and special comic-related stuff. Go take a look! The site is almost as exciting and quirky as the real store!)