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23 April 2018 / leggypeggy

Welcome to Brussels—the capital city of the comic strip

Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup

1. Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup

We visit Belgium regularly—it’s part of our family’s culture. Eighteen years ago, our daughter, Petra, spent 12 months as an exchange student in the Ardennes (in the south of the country). That same year we welcomed Jean-Mi from Brussels, the first student we ever hosted (the 30th student is with us now).

Jean-Mi has returned to Australia several times and we like to reciprocate. It’s great to visit him and his partner, Sali, as well as their children. Two visits ago, Poor John even taught Samuel how to walk with his hands behind his back.

Asterix by René Goscinny

2. Asterix written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo

 

Young Albert by Yves Chaland

3. Young Albert by Yves Chaland

Every time we’ve been in Brussels, we’ve meant to visit some of the city’s wonderful comic strip heritage. In fact, Brussels often describes itself as the Capital City of the Comic Strip. Several museums, galleries, markets, festivals and specialist stores are dedicated to comic strips. And then there are the murals showcasing the characters and creators of famous comics.

It all started back in 1991, when the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (I’ll take you there in another post) collaborated with city authorities to begin a project in which blank walls within the city would be adorned with giant murals of comic book characters.

The goal was to showcase Belgium’s deep history with comic strips, including their famous Adventures of Tintin and Lucky Luke, and also feature work by other important international cartoonists.

Broussaille by Frank Pé

4. Broussaille by Frank Pé, the first mural painted in 1991

Broussaille was the first comic book wall to be painted. Based on an original project by Belgian comic book artist Frank Pé, the mural covers 35 square metres (380 square feet).The Belgian association «Art Mural» executed the painting, which was inaugurated in July 1991.

In the beginning, there was no plan for a walking tour. That came about because Brussels is fairly flat and easy to walk, and people loved the murals and wanted to see as many as possible.

I’d known about the comic art since our first visit to see Jean-Mi in late 2000. The walls of his Metro station at Stockel are decorated with life-size scenes from the Adventures of Tintin—and they aren’t even part of the street art.

Today more than 50 comic murals grace the walls and gables of the city centre, the regions of Sablon-Marolles and Laeken-Heysel, and beyond. There are some statues of comic characters too.

The Adventures of Tintin, Stockel Metro station

The Adventures of Tintin in the Stockel Metro station

 

So on our most recent visit to Brussels, Poor John and I popped into the tourist office and bought a comic strip map (1 euro) and set out to visit as many murals as we could on foot (plus we raced around to Stockel to get some pics of Tintin in the Metro station). On this trip, we saw 15 murals in all. I haven’t shared photos of all of them because some pics were fuzzy and two murals were spoiled by graffiti. 😦

By the way, I’ve read that «Art Mural» paints two to three new works per year, so I look forward to exploring more murals on our next visit.

Tintin by Hergé

5. Tintin by Hergé

Lucky Luke by Morris

6. Lucky Luke by Morris

Below are captions for the photographs that are numbered. This blog template plays havoc with long captions and I really wanted to include the artists’ names and other detail.

Do you have a favourite comic strip character—from here or elsewhere?

1. Yoko Tsuno was one of the first comic strip women to have her own series in the early 1970s. The Japanese electrical engineer was as bold and brave as her male counterparts, and her adventures took place on Earth and in space. She was created by Belgian Roger Leloup for the weekly Spirou magazine.

2. Asterix, Obelix and their colourful villagers are among the worlds best known comic characters. Here, led by Dogmatix, they are attacking a Roman camp. Its a scene familiar to readers in more than 70 countries. René Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator) created these memorable characters, which first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote in 1959.

Monsieur Jean by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian

7. Monsieur Jean by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian

3. Young Albert told about the sometimes cruel, boyish pranks of a kid (in red) in post-war Brussels. He was created by Frenchman Yves Chaland, who was barely 33 when he was killed in a traffic accident. There is hot competition for the small body of work he left behind, and famous cartoonists refer to him as their great role model.

4. Broussaille by Frank Pé was the first mural to be painted. Pé, a Belgian, started to create comics and illustrations for Spirou magazine, specialising in articles about animals. The fictional presenter of his stories, an adolescent named Broussaille, is often described as Pé’s alter ego. The two young men here (I’m not sure which one is Broussaille) are city folk and nature lovers.

Victor Sackville by Francis Carin

8. Victor Sackville by Francis Carin

5. Tintin is probably the most famous Belgian comic hero. Hergé, the pen name of author Georges Prosper Remi, wrote 24 volumes about the adventures of Tintin and his dog, Snowy. The works have been published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies, and have been adapted for radio, television, theatre, and film. This mural depicts a scene from The calculus affair.

6. Lucky Luke and his intelligent horse, Jolly Jumper, galloped on to the scene in 1946. Created by Morris, a Belgian, some of the work was later drawn and written by others. Lucky Luke is a tribute to the mythic Old West and an affectionate parody (he shoots faster than his shadow). It was a challenge to photograph this mural—too much shadow.

Olivier Rameau by artist Dany and writer Greg

9. Olivier Rameau by artist Dany and writer Greg

7. Monsieur Jean is dogged by conflict in his relationships, depression and an endless battle against routine and the daily grind. His adventures are touchingly recognisable, and the tone is alternately light-hearted and melancholy. He is drawn and written by two Frenchmen, Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian.

8. Victor Sackville, by Belgian artist Francis Carin, travels the world as a spy for His Majesty the King of England during the First World War. When he can, the impeccably dressed gentleman does anything he can to disrupt the enemys plans. The people sitting at tables near the bottom of the mural give you an idea of just how big it is.

9. Olivier Rameau, the young and handsome hero, holds out his hand to the charming Colombe Tiredaile. In their parallel world, you don’t pay with money, but with joy, songs. laughter or a big kiss. Two Belgians, cartoonist Dany and writer Greg, produced this poetic fantasy series in the crazy days of the late 1960s.

10. Kinky et Cosy, the quirky twin sisters created by Belgian writer and cartoonist Nix, are always wreaking havoc on Brussels. Considered the most dangerous twin girls in the universe, these enfants terribles’ are shown here waving a homemade peace flag tied to an old broom and laying waste to their bedroom. If you have kids, the scene below may look familiar.

Kinky and Cosy by Nix

10. Kinky and Cosy by Nix

 

109 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Anna / Apr 23 2018 9:59 pm

    I just love Brussels and everything Belgian really! One of my fave countries!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. paolsoren / Apr 23 2018 10:13 pm

    What magnificent murals. I am so delighted to see Asterix get a spot. I had all the Asterix books in my classroom for kids to read if they finished their set work early.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 23 2018 10:23 pm

      We’re big fans of Asterix. Have you ever seen the film, The Twelve Tasks of Asterix? It’s hilarious.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gilda Baxter / Apr 23 2018 10:13 pm

    Wow very impressive murals. I am yet to visit Brussels….would love to see these. Thank you for sharing😄

    Liked by 1 person

  4. a mindful traveler / Apr 23 2018 10:25 pm

    These are just awesome. I want to go to Brussels just to see these murals!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trE / Apr 23 2018 10:27 pm

    All of the pictures are great and thanks for the history lesson too. I loved The Adventures of Tintin growing up. I clearly did not know that Brussels is THIS big on comics.

    And 30th student?! Wow, you guys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 23 2018 10:39 pm

      Brussels is a wonderful city and has a long comic history. As for students, we’ve had so many nationalities. It’s been lots of fun. Some have spent a year with us, some only two months.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Monica Graff / Apr 23 2018 10:59 pm

    I’ve never been to Brussels. I hope to see these comics in person sometime. I love the idea of comics as public art!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robert Parker / Apr 23 2018 11:09 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun. I think I’ve read every Tintin story, to be precise, every one, and thought Spielberg did a good job with his movie version, hope he makes another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:37 am

      We have a lot of the Tintin books, but not all of them. Another film would be most welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. derrickjknight / Apr 23 2018 11:13 pm

    Great fun well photographed

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:38 am

      Thanks so much. We were lucky to have the sun on our side for most of the pics.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. theunassuminghiker / Apr 23 2018 11:20 pm

    I didn’t know that about Brussels. My husband is from Germany and he grew up with the Asterix comics. I found them fascinating. We will have to check them out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Almost Iowa / Apr 24 2018 12:21 am

    What a delightful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Apr 24 2018 12:32 am

    This was quite nostalgic. When we lived in Germany my son’s favourites were Asterix, Tin Tin and Lucky Luke. I had almost forgotten about Lucky Luke until you mentioned him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:56 am

      Happy to spark memories. I won’t tell Lucky Luke that you almost forgot about him. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. kvivekhyd / Apr 24 2018 12:50 am

    Asterix and Obelix are the best. Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ and Kazuo Koike-Goseki Kojima’s ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:41 am

      I love Asterix too. I don’t know ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’. Thanks for the tip. Checking it out now.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. pvcann / Apr 24 2018 1:17 am

    Some fave cartoons here, but what a great story, a real progression of relationships and connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. lulu / Apr 24 2018 2:14 am

    I did not know of the Brussels connection to comic strips so I found your post quite interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:44 am

      I don’t think the comic strip art on buildings is very well known outside Belgium, but as soon as you start walking around Brussels, you see the evidence. The important thing is to get the map, so you can find the murals easily.

      Like

  15. thegreyeye / Apr 24 2018 2:40 am

    First museum I visited in Brussels is the comic strip museum. It is really amazing and now part of the city’s culture

    Liked by 1 person

  16. beetleypete / Apr 24 2018 3:59 am

    Loving those murals, Peggy. I have been to Belgium (and Brussels) a few times. I must say I prefer the Flemish ‘vibe’ in Ghent, Antwerp, and Bruges.
    But their beer is the best in the world, undoubtedly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Apr 24 2018 4:42 am

    I follow another blog by a man who lives in Belgium but haven’t seen this amazing part of Brussels yet. What a wonderful legacy for its citizens – a city that exuberantly wears its culture on its buildings. Thank you for including all the backstory about the comics and the artists. Monsieur Jean reminds me of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:52 am

      You should suggest the comic strip art to that other blogger. I think this art is such a refreshing approach on the part of a city. And to think it started almost 30 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. tref / Apr 24 2018 5:50 am

    Beautiful photos. (Re-posted on @trefology)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Dorothy / Apr 24 2018 6:32 am

    Great way of celebrating art and humour and livening up some boring plain walls as well. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 6:54 am

      The comic art certainly adds colour and vibrancy to the city. I was also impressed by how the chosen scene fits so well on the wall it covers.

      Like

  20. Curt Mekemson / Apr 24 2018 10:26 am

    I’ve only been to Brussels once, Peggy, and that was many years ago, before the comic murals were up. Great post. I love murals and these are truly unique. I had no idea about Brussel’s connection with comics. Thanks for the tour. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 1:23 pm

      You are most welcome Curt. I only learned about Belgium’s long history with comics because of our daughter, Petra, and our many Belgian exchange students.

      Like

  21. gerard oosterman / Apr 24 2018 1:50 pm

    Brussels is great on murals, comics and terrific food. Some say, it is the ‘best food’ capital of the world. I did not see any comics but did peruse plates of mussels that were on offer outside the many restaurants for the passers by to sample.
    Just after the war, doctors were worried about my level of nourishment and I was sent tot the south of Belgium with a family who took on hungry kids. I was one of them and my fondness for mussels never left me.
    Thanks for the trip around the murals, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 11:51 pm

      You are most welcome Gerard. I especially liked your comments about food. I have a cookbook called ‘Everybody eats well in Belgium’. It’s true.

      Like

  22. Emma Cownie / Apr 24 2018 6:01 pm

    Wow. These are utterly brilliant. I had no idea that these were all over Brussels.

    Like

  23. efge63 / Apr 24 2018 8:18 pm

    Good morning !!! I feel flattered that every day i saw you read my posts… Thank you!!

    Wonderful post !! Thank you for sharing it!!

    A Brief History of Comics in two parts for you and your followers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sartenada / Apr 24 2018 8:35 pm

    They are great. I have nearly all the same in my archives. Thank You. Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 11:57 pm

      So glad you know these artists and their works.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sartenada / Apr 25 2018 2:58 pm

        I do love them. I have one on my About me page

        If I remember correct I did not see it among Your photos. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 25 2018 9:11 pm

        You’re right. I didn’t include that in my photos. Sadly it is one of the murals that has too much graffiti. Glad you got your pic when you did.

        Like

  25. Vicki / Apr 24 2018 8:52 pm

    Wow. Those cartoons are amazing. What a wonderful creative initiative highlighting these great cartoonists.

    I don’t remember seeing them, but then realised they weren’t there in 1976 when I was in Brussels. I suspect our bus drove straight through Brussels anyway as I don’t remember the streets even.

    Thanks for sharing these marvellous artworks, Peggy. I, for one, would love to see more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2018 11:59 pm

      You are most welcome, Vicki. Obviously we didn’t see them in 1976, but I’m surprised we didn’t meet one another back then. Heck, maybe we did? I was there then.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vicki / Apr 25 2018 10:39 am

        We probably did pass tracks back in the 70s. I was the tall skinny blond who liked a drink (or two). I wasn’t anorexic, but in my twenties I actually looked like a young Princess Diana when she was going through her anorexia stage and had a thin face.

        Seriously. Of course I don’t look like her now I’m 64 and not trim/taunt & terrific 😀

        Quick story for you and other travellers……an old friend was travelling down the Rhine on a sightseeing boat (can’t remember the fine details) when she heard an argument erupt from a couple of passengers behind her about black(?) swans in Australia. She turned around to correct them when she came face-to-face with a girl she went to school with and hadn’t seen since high school. It’s a small world 🙂

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Apr 25 2018 11:40 am

        I love stories like this. The world is getting smaller by the day. Six degrees of separation is real!

        Like

  26. Popping Wheelies / Apr 25 2018 12:31 am

    We especially like Tintin by Hergé. All are fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas / Apr 25 2018 3:05 am

    What great art work brightening up the city. So much better than horrible graffiti x

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 25 2018 6:48 pm

      We were so glad we had time to do at least part of the walking tour.

      Like

  28. chattykerry / Apr 25 2018 5:49 am

    Oh, that brought back so many lovely memories of an anniversary trip to Brussels. I remember the museum but I can’t recall so many murals – perhaps they are newer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 25 2018 6:52 pm

      The murals started in 1991, and I think only a few are added each year. These days it’s hard to miss at least a couple of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. theorangutanlibrarian / Apr 25 2018 11:32 am

    These are amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thisonething / Apr 25 2018 6:42 pm

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. BoomingOn / Apr 25 2018 9:22 pm

    What a great idea that map.. Sounds like you got your value for you euro.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 25 2018 10:04 pm

      It was a huge bargain and amazing value. I still have it. Happy to pass it on.

      Like

  32. Julie Manley / Apr 26 2018 12:27 pm

    They are amazing and quite beautiful! Regarding blogs, nothing like this one, you might like
    https://stevemccurry.blog/2018/04/25/grit-the-courage-to-continue/

    Liked by 1 person

  33. thedarknetizen / Apr 26 2018 10:15 pm

    Asterix and Tintin remain my favorites!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  34. lexklein / Apr 27 2018 4:19 pm

    I’m not a comic strip reader for whatever reason, but these are so cool, especially on the walls of what I have always found to be a fairly “serious” city. I love the bright colors and action against the smooth old stone of the buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Forestwood / Apr 27 2018 10:09 pm

    What a great attraction! And you! 30 exchange students! Well done. I can only claim 5 to have been under my roof.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2018 10:11 pm

      Hosting students (all on a volunteer basis) has been a roller coaster. We’ve had the best of the best and the opposite.

      Like

      • Forestwood / Apr 28 2018 3:05 pm

        Yes. They do vary. Sometimes they put host families through the wringer particularly these days with the internet. But on the whole our volunteer experiences have been wonderful. Visited many of them in their own country.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 28 2018 10:34 pm

        We’ve hosted 30 since 2000 and only a few have been, um, difficult. About one-third have been with us for 12 months, another third for six to eight months and the rest for shorter times. We’ve also visited many in their own country.

        Like

  36. Aquileana / Apr 28 2018 3:26 am

    This is absolutely stunning… and I love Tintin… My brother had many books when we were kids and we both read them… Really good stuff for children!…
    You should submit these murals to Resa (with whom I wrote my last post). I don´t know, I thought that maybe you´d like the idea. You think it over! 🙂 . I send you the link: https://graffitiluxandmurals.com/g-lines/ Love & best wishes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 28 2018 2:10 pm

      I love Tintin too. Thanks for the tip about Resa. It’s a great idea. I’ll be travelling the next couple of months, so will get organised when I get home.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Phil Huston / Apr 28 2018 7:30 am

    Can you imagine if they’d done this in San Francisoc in the 60’s? Given Crum or Seuss or Schultz or any of them city blocks? Maybe this should be something every cartoonist gets to do in their home town! My only impression of Brussels was the airport in the late 90’s. It was oldschool strident Euro functionality. Tuetonic. Spartan. Frozen fog! I’d never heard of such a thing and we feared being stranded there. But comic book art? I cut my teeth on comic books. What a gas. Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 28 2018 2:12 pm

      You are most welcome. I’ll be in San Francisco next week and will try to imagine Crum, Seuss and Schultz emblazoned on the buildings. Valparaiso has done a good job with street art. I need to post about that.

      Like

  38. GP Cox / May 1 2018 4:05 am

    So, this is who we owe a lifetime of laughs to!!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. J.D. Riso / May 2 2018 9:59 am

    Brussels is such a fun city to wander around. I got photos of some of those same murals. Tintin is porbably my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 2 2018 12:22 pm

      Tintin and Asterix are my favourites, although I love the Frenchness of Monsieur Jean.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. annie petite chatte / May 3 2018 8:09 am

    Great post

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 3 2018 11:34 am

      Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • annie petite chatte / May 3 2018 11:38 am

        You are very welcome, tanks to you for such an explicit description of the art of the most important movement in comics in Europe
        But be careful, it was a war between tintin (tintin magazine) and Astérix (pilote magazine) and carefully, Astérix is French, not Belgian

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 3 2018 9:54 pm

        Ah yes, but the comic murals in Brussels depict French and Belgian artists.

        Like

  41. Jolandi Steven / May 3 2018 6:21 pm

    Oh how delightful to go on a comic strip ‘hunt’! I love street art, and these murals are fantastic. I should definitely make a mental note of this, and find my way to Brussels one day, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 3 2018 9:46 pm

      Oh yes, and once you’re in Portugal, Brussels won’t be all that far away.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Green Global Trek / May 6 2018 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the walk down memory lane. Not of Brussels as much as hours spent reading Tintin and Asterix and Lucky Luke as a child growing up in France! My love of travel is no doubt directly impacted by Tintin’s globe trotting adventures which inspired me , much like every other French boy.

    We both loved seeing these incredible photos of magnificent murals and look forward to visiting them ourselves one day as Brussels after all is not that far from France where we go quite often. Never knew about these murals, so thanks so much for this wonderful introduction!!

    Ben

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 6 2018 6:14 pm

      You are most welcome, Ben. Those three comics were popular in our household too. Glad to show you a temptation you didn’t know about.

      Like

  43. adventuredawgs / May 11 2018 11:44 am

    I cannot get over how clean and crisp those murals are. They’re absolutely pristine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 1:31 pm

      Great point. I wonder how often they are touched up. A couple had graffiti down low, but most were as pristine as you see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • adventuredawgs / May 12 2018 12:13 am

        There’s always at least one idiot that has to throw a tag on a piece of art. Jerks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 1:55 am

        It’s so senseless.

        Like

  44. tony / May 12 2018 9:54 pm

    Wow! Beats Benalla.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. grangebanks / May 14 2018 9:07 pm

    Great art!

    Liked by 1 person

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