We are a family that absolutely love comic books, and so you would think we would be aware that Brussels is a huge comic book capital. In fact Belgium claims to have the most comic book artists in the world by square mile (or Km). This sounds a bit unlikely, until you start to list the well known comics created here; Asterix and Obelix, Tin Tin, and the Smurfs being the main exports. As I have mentioned in my wafflings about Brussels, the celebration of this art really is gloriously unavoidable. Brussels is littered with wonderful comic art murals, each marked with a little map that shows the position of the next, forming a free to delight in comic book trail. The other jewel in the Brussels comic book crown is definitely the Belgian Comic Strip Centre.
The first first delightful thing about the museum is the staggering architecture, with high Art Nouveau juxtaposing with its colourful cartoon contents. There is a quote in the building something akin to ‘If you arrive a comic book fan you will leave an Art Nouveau fan and vise versa’, and they are absolutely right. As a lover of both, everything about the museum delighted me.
The heartbreakingly beautiful architectural touches of the Belgian Comic Strip Centre
The exhibition itself consisted of three main parts, a fascinating look into the history of the comic strip, an insight into the many comic genres, and a section devoted to noteworthy Belgian comic artists.
We learned that the delightful ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ were some of the first acknowledged strips. This delightful sculpture brought Nemo’s wandering bed to life in a really high quality way.
I confess to becoming a new fan of Boerke, a Pieter De Poortere character we hadn’t strayed across before. This hapless chap is hugely accessible, capturing the hero’s chuckle inducing incidents in a snappy, almost entirely text free way. The fatalistic humour amused both child and adult alike in our family, and I will certainly be on the lookout for some comic books to sit and enjoy at length at home.
We all have a favorite Belgian comic strip. I was a huge Asterix and Obelix fan as a child, and so pretty excited to see more about the detail and history of how they came to be. The Smurf section caused great excitement for Mr and Ms Bombshell, and we had particular fun being silly with the giant mushroom house!
Finally we unleashed ourselves a little too eagerly into the fantastic shop! There were a huge range of comic books from all over the world, and we all managed to find some fun, affordable touristy trinkets as a memento from our visit. I have some slight regrets at not pausing for a drink in the delightful looking cafe, but Brussels contained far too many delights to enjoy everything in our first short visit!
As massive comic fans, we hugely enjoyed the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. The history is enlightening, and it serves as a very fine reminder that the art of comics stretches so much further and wider than the obvious Marvel and DC franchises. I am happy to confess I had no idea Belguim had taken such a huge part in forming the modern comic strip, and they are right to be proud and celebrate this heritage. It is a delight to see the museum, and in fact the city as a whole, understand that this is a real and worthy art form enjoyed by many, and there really are genres and characters to delight all. A fantastic example of how inclusive and beautiful a museum can be.
Belgian Comic Strip Centre overview:
- Location: The heart of beautiful Brussels
- Best for: Delightful articecture. There were things for smaller kids, but this is ideal for teens and us fully grown kids
- Language: Everything is in English but be polite and use a little French
- Pricing: Only 10 Euros for adults and 8 for kids when we went, you can go in and out all day on a ticket too
Overall: A real little bargain, and a wonderfully happy place to hang out. This is how museums should be.