Today’s journey from 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes starts in Leiden. For a team activity during the Leidens Ontzet I was looking for unique places and objects. Research brought me in the St John of Gouda. There was a huge stained glass window depicting the Relief of Leiden. Why it was there and not in Leiden I will tell you later. For now picture yourself in the St John and think of a comic book.
Gouda cartoon of the Relief of Leiden
Autumn is a great time to visit the Netherlands. Some rain and wind, but quite some good sunny spells as well. There’s always a moment to enjoy an outdoor activity and hike or bike to explore the Dutch countryside. In case the weather isn’t what you hoped for, head towards Gouda and Zwolle. The St John in Gouda is a 15th/ 16th century gothic church of 123 metres long. Coloured light comes in from all 72 stained glass windows. These windows tell the life story of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and show historical events, such as the Relief of Leiden- Leidens Ontzet- .
Guiness Record for longest cartoon
The glass panes in the St John church of Gouda read like a comic book. Some windows even have small text boxes, the precursor of the speech bubble. The original designs of all coloured glass windows have survived war and destruction. Now, the interesting part is that these designs are also called cartoons. In 2013 the verger of the St John set a new Guinness Book of Records. The 72 stained glass windows measure 2,1 kilometer, making it the ‘ longest cartoon of the world’. By the way, if you get a chance to visit the church, see if you can get a guided tour with the verger. He is a great storyteller and has a good sense of humour.
From 16th century Gouda cartoons to moder Zwolle stained glass
A 100 kilometres from Gouda, in the city of Zwolle, lives a young man who is a stained glass maker. Now, I mostly think of stained glass as something of the past. I associate it with Middle Ages and churches. So it surprised me to read about this young Dutch guy making a living of stained glass windows. However, Arjan Boeve, aka the Stained Glass Geek, is not your average glass maker. His subjects are not biblical or historical figures, but superheroes from today’s games and comics. Just as an example, Arjan collected all 721 Pokemón. In stained glass that is.
Now to be completely honest I’m not a big fan of the biblical figure scenes, but I’m not too crazy about Pokemón and comic heroes either. I do love Arjan’s company logos and his stained glass window version of the 1420 city map of Zwolle is simply marvelous. Arjan & his colleague Marien Heiboer are running a crowdfunding campaign to create a bigger working space which can host workshops and courses.
How about you? Do you like this art? What & where is your favourite stained glass window?
And a short video of the stained glass Zwolle city map…
And this is how we travelled from 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes.