Erik Deneyer was the owner of the only Dutch-language comic shop in Brussels for 27 years. Last Friday, the Dutch comic world lost a true warrior and Brussels lost its only Dutch comic store as Deneyer, after suffering from cancer for years, passed away.
For almost 30 years, Deneyer ran a comic book shop in the centre of Brussels. At first he ran 't B-gevaar in Rue de la Fourche, and in recent years he moved to Rue des Bouchers and founded Expo 59. Deneyer also published comics under the Enigma label, such as Excalibur, Usagi Yojimbo, Kane, L for Lloyd and Harry's Magazine, among others.
With Deneyer's death, the only Dutch-language comic specialist shop in Brussels is disappearing. He guarded the line against all the French-speaking comics, according to Tine Anthoni of the Comic Museum. "In his tiny comic book shop, he could always give the right advice and ended up finding the perfect comic for his customers at the bottom of a pile of comics. It was definitely the place to be for the Dutch-language comic lover. Comics came alive there."
According to Anthoni and many others, Deneyer was a comics enthusiast beyond compare. Many had described him as having a vast knowledge of comics but also being very critical and having high expectations which he stood by firmly when unmet, a difficult characteristic to uphold in the small world of comics.
On social media, expressions of support for Deneyer are raining down. "He was the only Fleming who defended and promoted the Dutch-language world of comics so fiercely," said Catharina Kochuyt, of the Marc Sleen Museum.
"Erik had the biggest comic book heart in the world. He was a huge comics connoisseur. He sometimes laughed at me when I dared to call myself a comics expert, because his knowledge reached a lot further," eulogised Kurt Morissens, comics expert and manager of Het Beeldend Verhaal.
A heart for authors and visitors alike
According to Morissens, Deneyer was not only a comic book salesman, but also a reviewer and all-around expert on comics. He was the oil between the gears of the French- and Dutch-language comic book authors in Brussels.
Deneyer also made a point to give young comic book authors a spotlight in front of the general public. "At signing sessions, he put the well-known authors at the back of the queue and the young authors - like myself - at the front," said author Stephan Louwes. "That opened a lot of doors for me to other places."
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Louwes also remembers Deneyer as "the man who made the best jokes at the most impossible moments and as a creative chaotic person. If I walked into his shop as a customer, I was immediately put to work and had to sign a hundred prints, for example. He always had creative and crazy ideas. Erik will be remembered by many people."
Erik Deneyer leaves behind a wife and child. A farewell to Deneyer will be held on 5 December at 13:00 at the Siesegem crematorium in Aalst.