No other country has produced more comic artists than Belgium. A mighty feat for such a small country. The tradition dates back almost a full century ago, when Tintin was created by Belgian artist Hergé and the Smurfs were created by Belgian artist Peyo.
Taking the country’s love affair with comics one step further is Brussels, where you can find a lengthy set of murals sprawling across the city walls. This project is called the Comic Book Route and began in 1991 with the painting of 10 murals; now, the comic strip walk comprises of more than 60 murals spanning the 19 districts that make up the city of Brussels, from Saint-Gilles to Sablon.
As you can imagine it would require more than a few days in the city to find all the murals but I had a fun time seeking a few out, well, actually, I stumbled upon most of the ones I saw and jotted down their whereabouts to share with you.
Adventures of Tintin
He might be a fictional character but that hasn’t stopped Tintin becoming a national treasure. The adventures of a young Belgian reporter Tintin, and his beloved sidekick and companion Snowy the dog has captured imaginations since 1929 and his popularity continues to this day. This particular escapade is from The Calculus Affair which is set in the tense climate of the Cold War.
Location: 37 Rue de l’Etuve
Known as ‘the man who shoots faster than his shadow’, Lucky Luke is artist Morris’s parody of old American westerns. The comic is composed of several characters such as the Dalton brothers, identical looking outlaws, Lucky Luke’s sarcastic white horse, and Rantanplan, a simple-minded prison guard dog (pictured with Luke at the top of the mural).
Location: 40 Rue de la Buanderie
Found in the gay district of Brussels, this mural was first thought to depict two male lovers, so it caused controversy in 1999 when one was repainted and made to look more like a woman. Though looking at it, it still looks to be a same-sex relationship which is only a good thing!
Located: Rue du Marché au Charbon
Not too far from the Broussaille wall is the Victor Sackville wall. The scene on the wall comes from The Opera of Death, the first comic of the Code Zimmerman series created by Francis Carin. Here, the main character Victor Sackville – a British spy that lands in Brussels – is introduced.
Location: Rue du Marché au Charbon
Laurent Verron’s comic strip of the missionary Odilon Verjus featured real-life characters such as Hitler and John Wayne in its storylines. This mural includes beautiful Josephine Baker, the famous cabaret singer, assisted by Odilon himself. In the comic she’s in love with Odilon… lucky man haha.
Location: 13 Rue des Capucins
Like many Belgian comic book heroes, Ric Hochet is a reporter who gets up to no good scouring the city (and, in the case of this mural, scaling buildings) for the next scoop. As the saying goes, he who dares, wins!
Location: Rue du Bon Secours
Quick and Flupke
From the creator of Tintin, Hergé, Quick and Flupke are two mischievous boys always getting in trouble with the police. This mural is no different, with the petits garçons hiding from an unaware officer.
Location: Corner of Rue Notre Seigneur and Rue Blaes
Le Jeune Albert Wall
This striking mural by Jeune Albert depicts a drawing of Albert, a young teenager living in Brussels during the war. Albert was created by Yves Chaland, a revered French cartoonists who was tragically killed in a car accident when he was only 33-years old and hardly had time to grow his work. As a result, collectors fight over the modest collection of work that he left behind.
Location: 49 Rue des Alexiens
Still want to know more?
Head over to the Comic Strip Centre, a museum that celebrates the great comic strip artists that gave the world Tintin, Smurfs, and Dickie, as well as many other Belgian, American and Japanese comic strips. The museum is located in Victor Horta’s creation, the Waucquez Warehouse. The architecture of the building is just as engaging as the content of the museum itself. One section of the museum is dedicated to showing how the building itself was reclaimed from demolition and restored to its former glory, all this whilst also housing one of the largest comic shops in Europe.
Location: 20 rue des Sables, comicscenter.net
Do you have a favourite comic book mural in Brussels?
Source: The Culture Map