9 March 2014

The Comic Strip Walk in Brussels is brilliant

If I had known beforehand that there was a Comic Strip Walk in Brussels then I would have gone there years ago. It became such an important part of my week in Brussels that it warrants

And when I did get to Brussels it took me a while to find out that the walk was there. I discovered the first two pictures, starting with Tintin above, by accident and it was a couple of days before I realised that the yellow speech bubbles with numbers in them on the map marked the drawings and that the blue lines connecting them were suggested walking routes.

Once I had worked out where the pictures were that guided my remaining time in Brussels.

Comics were not all that I did but when exploring a new part of the city I made sure that I saw all the drawings in the area even when it meant taking detours or doubling-back. It also helped me to decide which parts of the city to explore.

For example, I sought these two out on the Saturday when I went to the west of the city centre.

I recognised a few of the characters either from my previous knowledge of comics or from my visit to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre earlier in the week.

Those that I did not know I found out about from the handy guide and map from Tourist Information. This was about the size of a credit card an unfolded to the size of 2 A4 sheets.

There was a separate guide for Tintin which I also got but I had to settle for my third choice language version, German, and the English and French versions had sold out. This guide covered all of the Tintin related displays in Brussels, including the display at Midi that I found on my previous visit, and also had buildings in Brussels that featured in Tintin stories.

Young Albert, the boy in the red coat, played tricks on people in post-war Brussels and I liked the period look of this large piece with its old tram and cinema.

The character here is XIII who I did not know but the author, Jean van Hamme, also wrote Lady S who I did. Here I also liked the way that the street clutter, e.g. the sign on the left and the lamp on the right, were echoed in the picture.

I hope that everybody knows that this is Asterix (at the bottom with the winged helmet) here running with his friends including the large Obelix in the centre.

This was part of a large of a much larger picture but I could not get a satisfactory photo of all of it at once because it was in a school yard (hence the basketball hoop and goalposts) and there was a large fence in the way.

Another character that I knew was Lucky Luke who had been appearing in comics since 1946 and was still going strong.

It was claimed that he could shoot faster than his shadow and I like the way that the picture shows this. I also like the relationships between the four bandits and the wanted poster. Putting the Atomium in the background was another neat idea.

It was very hard to choose which of the comics to include in this summary and, to be honest, I have mostly gone for the ones that I took in landscape as they fit the blog format better. Unfortunately most of them were tall and thin, because that was the shape of the walls that they were drawn on, and so suited portrait more.

I chose these last two pictures because of the way that they work in their location.

The one above shows the characters (Broussaille is on the right) in the place where the picture was drawn so on the wall above the umbrellas you can see a copy of the drawing in the drawing. I liked that.

Broussaille was the first comic strip mural in the series to be drawn and dates from 1991. The pictures have aged well over the last twenty years and while the graffiti that some of them have acquired is to be regretted it is usually away from the main parts of the pictures and, in some cases, even makes them look more natural.

The final choice was a lot of fun and looked so realistic. The hero rescuing the damsel from the distress of the knife-wielding villain is Ric Hochet.

The selection of comics here is just my 9 best-of selection from the 27 that I saw. There are 50 places on the tour so I have a good excuse for going back.

I loved everything about the Comic Strip Walk; any street art is good and it was wonderful to see comics rather than statues for a change, the individual pictures used their unusual spaces imaginatively, the way that they were spread across the city encouraged exploration off the main tourist routes and many of the pictures were in heavily residential areas and so were there for the locals to enjoy more than tourists.

My only regret is that this brilliant idea has not been copied. I would even go to Dundee, home of D. C. Thomson, to see something similar done with characters from Beano and Dandy.

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