If there is one thing that is prominent in Brussels, it has to be the comic strip. From the comic strip street art to the Comic Strip Center, you’re sure to find a style that you love.
Prior to our visit, I didn’t realise that Brussels and Belgium as a whole is a leader in comic strips. The museum features many classics that you will probably know of two, like Tin Tin and Asterix to name just two. Of course there are many more that you will discover too.
The Comic Strip Center
The Comic Strip Museum building itself is a stunning rescued and restored art deco warehouse. It features decorative glass, curved walls and beautifully designed pillar tops. Even the most down to earth feature is lovingly made. I really enjoyed how the museum made a feature out of the building and the restoration too, in a small exhibition with photos showing the progress.
The entrance is just the start. You will see the building and the beautiful floral additions more clearly when you adventure through the other floors and exhibition spaces. Even on the day we were there in torrential rain, there was still a bright ambiance about the place.
Starting the adventure
You begin by exploring the history of the comic strip and how it has been used for centuries to portray messages to those who could not read. I have never really considered the origin and learning this makes a lot of sense. They also share that it is a great way of creating a memorable message when used in education too.
From there you discover the hilarious (if a little dark) Boerke in a room displaying comic strips and a TV showing his cartoon. You will probably spend a bit of time in here as there are so many to enjoy.
The work behind the drawings
Having done art from high school all the way to degree level, I’m aware of the amount of background work that goes into a single piece, but was surprised by the additional work that goes into a comic strip. Storylines, initial plans and illustrations, tweaks and then it gets to the final designs, transfers and colouring. Pre-digtal age, it was all done by hand, so I imagine the new technologies came as a relief for the artists!
There are plenty of artists on display in this area and you learn about the processes of transfer on video. There is a lot to see int his section but to make sure that we had time to see the other displays we had to speed through at times.
As you can see down the view of the gallery, those art deco designs are present throughout. I find it amazing how a warehouse would have such detail!
The next layer
Every turn you take inside the museum reveals just how vast it is. We emerged from the starting exhibition to discover more floors and hidden areas to explore from the atrium.
It was at this point that we realised that we were going to run out of time and would have to be a little swifter and more selective of the sections we were going to look through. Looking for some more contemporary styles we were drawn into the work of GIPI and his darker, more painterly style of illustration.
Unfortunately aware of our ticking time we had to move on swiftly, but still enjoyed each section in turn. I think we saw every part of the museum. Be it for a shorter time than we would have liked, but the museum is miles bigger than we imagined.
Downstairs you get to see the more well-known characters such as Tin Tin and the Smurfs. I suddenly realised while looking through these exhibitions, that comics are probably the best way for me to start increasing my ability to read in Dutch. Note to self, hunt out old Dutch Tin Tin albums.
Pouring rain and closing time
The sound in the museum became a steady clatter of the rain on the glass roof and the time was getting closer to closing. A swift wander around once more to catch anything we missed and just enough time for a blimp in the shop. The staff started ushering us towards the exit. Optimistic, we tried to get a drink in the bar, but unfortunately that shuts at the same time as the museum.
Waterproofing up and grabbing a snack we headed into the rain.
Visiting the Brussels Comic Strip Center
Because of the prevalence of the comic strip in Brussels, I would definitely recommend you take a visit to the Brussels Comic Strip Center. You will need plenty of time to look around as there is a great deal to see and the museum is deceptively large. Oh yes, and it is included on the Brussels Card, so you won’t have to pay any additional entry.
Are you a fan of comic strips? Would you like to visit the Brussels Comic Strip Center?
Let me know in the comments below