During many of our childhoods we were all familiar with characters such as The Smurfs and Tintin, and seeing these today brings most of us right back to the years when they meant more to us than just drawings on a piece of paper. In recent years, both Tintin and The Smurfs have come alive on the big screen, but there really is nothing like seeing them in their original formats. Brussels in Belgium is the best place in the world for just that, considering that it was in Belgium that these characters were created.
Belgians love their Comics, so much so, it feels like they are speaking of them as a proud parent. In fact, many comic artists throughout history have moved to Brussels to create their work, due to the thriving industry. The country even has three colleges specializing in comics.
There are a number of different things you can do in Brussels if you want to see the comic book side to the city, and the best place to start is at The Belgian Comic Strip Center, a museum dedicated to all things pen and ink in Brussels. The Center first opened back in 1989 and its popularity continues to rise each year; it is now one of Brussels’ most loved museums. If Art nouveau is also something you’re interested in, the Comic Strip Center is based in a very historically significant building for this kind of architecture. Even if comics aren’t really your thing, taking a peek inside this building is enough to make a trip there well worth it.
Permanent exhibitions at the Center include The Invention of the Comic Strip, which will take you right back to the very basics of comic artistry, and The Art of the Comic Strip, which explores the art in all its forms. Exhibitions about the local artists and Belgian comic pioneers are also on display, so that you can really soak up the history of what the comic meant to Belgium and how it shaped its place in the art world. From the classics that we all know and love, to obscure comics like you’ve never seen before, the Belgian Comic Strip Center has it all.
If you feel like exploring the comic side of Brussels even further, there is a guided Comic Strip Walk you can take through the city, which will lead you to all the comic strip spots and point of interest. Throughout Brussels you’ll find comic book street art in the little nooks and crannies, and this walk will lead you right to the best in the city. We strongly recommend this tour, because not only do you get to see the art work, but the guide will give you a detailed look behind what each one represents. On the walk you also get to see (and learn) more about the city’s very interesting history.
This tour will also take you to the Moof, which stands for Museum of Original Figurines, a museum which showcases 3,500 comic strip figurines, another perfect spot for any comic book lover in Brussels.
As well as show you the comic strip drawings and figurines in Brussels, the tour will also point out different places where many of Belgium’s comic strips have been set. This includes Brussels’ famous Grand Place, which has been immortalized in several Belgian comic strips.
The comic book side to Brussels offers a fun and unique element of the city that you can’t find in many other places in the world. It’s a signature part of the city and country’s history, and one that should not be missed if you find yourself in Brussels. Take a day to go back to your childhood; you won’t be disappointed!
Visit www.visitbrussels.be for more information and tickets.
What was your favorite comic book growing up?