Friday, 18 February 2011

Comic Brussels

This is why we went to Brussels! No, not for murals, but comic strips. But there are murals all over town and they illustrate nicely how you can't have one without the other: comic strips and Belgium go hand in hand. I didn't realize the rich history of comic strip artists here until Mr E started to reel off name after name of famous creators. Oh, yes, I skipped the bit about us being here for a certain man's birthday, a man passionate about comics and with an incredible book collection to prove it. (Which I love, by the way. Wouldn't change him for the world).
So this brings me to the first stop on the comic strip tour: The Belgium Comic Strip Center. Well, makes sense, doesn't it? I'd been here 8 years earlier with my brother and sister, though I remember the building I didn't recall much else. (CC & Boy, see if these pics bring back some memories!).
To begin with, the center's building is lovely. Bright and airy it's a lovely space and you can hear the shrieks of delight of little kids as they enter the space and see Tin Tin's rocket, and other famous characters.
The center shows works from the likes of Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi), creator of Tintin. Other best-known comic strip heroes of Belgium include: Tintin, Spirou, Bob and Bobette, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Blake and Mortimer, Marsupilami, and more.
I think Edgar-Pierre Jacobs is my favourite, and the adventures of Blake and Mortimer. I'm a sucker for space age comics, I just think the 50s version of space and the future is awesome, like the image above.
Anyway, it's a super nice museum.
After getting all excited about comics, the only thing to do is head to the comic book store! And I had a hot tip from a colleague from work so we headed to Boulevard Anspachlaan.
First stop, Brüsel, which is really big, and spacious. They have lots of prints as well. Mr E picked up some comics and I found some rather lovely children's books to add to our respective collections. We're total addicts, we know...
A few doors down is the bookstore Multi Jenesse / MultiBD, but I found the layout scatty and cramped. Much preferred Brüsel.
Here is Gaston, by cartoonist André Franquin, at the top of the stairs leading down to the Belgium Comic Strip Center.
But wait, there's more! So colossal is Hergé and Tintin that they have their very own museum: Museum Hergé. The museum is about 25km from Brussels, and the directions can be found on their website. be warned, the station you need is Louvain-la-Neuve, but the train we caught on Sunday was a super slow local train. So ask about getting a train to Ottigines, and change there for Louvain-la-Neuve, then it's only about 30 mins. The museum was great, in a light and spacious building. Allow a good two hours to get around it all. And get the headsets, they're nice ipods and you'll get a bit more info. Read more in this Time magazine article link here.
After making our way from the third floor back down to the ground floor we were about to pass out from hunger! The restaurant is pretty small, and there was only one poor waiter to service the entire room. He did a pretty sterling job though, and was very friendly throughout. I would have lots the plot I think. We had the duck which was a huge meal, and I could only manage half. Though I made room for some cremé bruleé. Delish!The Belgium Comic Strip Center: Zandstraat / Rue des Sables 20, Brussels. Telephone: +32 2 219 1980. Open daily from 10am to 6pm, but closed: Monday, January 1 and December 25. Enterance: €9 for adults.
Brüsel - comic book store: Boulevard Anspachlaan 100, Brussels. +32 2 502 3552.
Multi Jenesse / MultiBD: Boulevard Anspachlaan 126-128 / 122-124, Brussels. +32 2 513 0186.
Museum Hergé: Rue du Labrador 26, Louvain-la-Neuve, Brussels. Open Tuesday - Sunday, full info and times cna be found on the website. Entrance €9.50 for adults.

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