Brussels loves comic strips so much it has invited its heroes to take possession of its walls and gables. Discover all the details and mysteries here! ….
Go ahead and hunt them down, walk the Brussels streets and raise your eyes! A joyful stroll for enthusiasts and the inquisitive from 7 to 77 years of age. And for those who don't want to miss a thing, the mini-map of the comic strip itinerary is available at the visit.brussels tourist information centres (€1).
Feel like bumping into Belgium's most famous comic strip hero? Then head for rue de l'Etuve, which is home to Manneken Pis. But it's unlikely that Tintin, his dog Snowy and his friend Captain Haddock will have time to chat with you. The ace reporter and the foul-mouthed whisky lover are up to their ears in an adventure again. We even know which adventure. The drawing comes from The Calculus Affair. The eighteenth album in the series sees Professor Calculus abducted, first by Bordurian and then by Syldavian secret agents. He has invented an ultrasonic weapon that both countries would like to misemploy. Tintin and Haddock do their utmost to free their confused friend. Nearly 30 years after Hergé's death, 1 million copies of his albums are still being sold each year. Tintin is published in 77 languages. None other than Steven Spielberg came up with the 2011 all-action animated film "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn". Hergé, the pen name of Brussels cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi (1907-1983), is considered one of the greatest comic strip authors of all time. His debut came in 1929 in "Le Petit Vingtième", the weekly youth supplement of the Catholic magazine "Le Vingtième Siècle". His streamlined drawing style (the famous "ligne claire") is famous and many regard his drawings as art. But his sense of movement, suspense, humour, adventure and great storytelling are equally important reasons why Tintin has never ceased to enthral readers.
Who ? Tintin
Where ? Rue de l'Étuve, 1000 Brussels
Author : Hergé
2. The Passage
Internationally renowned comic book authors François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters like to suggest that the universe they depict in their Obscure Cities cycle really exists. The cities and worlds revealed in illustrious titles like Brüsel, Fever in Urbicand, The Archivist and L'Enfant Penché (The Leaning Child) resemble our own, yet are totally different. Are the dazzling, virtuoso drawings developments of visions of what the future might look like, but drawn in the past? Perspective changes with thinkers such as Jules Verne, Jose Luis Borges, Le Corbusier, Victor Horta and Franz Kafka in mind? Think up some of your own. Through lectures, exhibitions, and a comprehensive guide to the obscure cities and websites (www.urbicande.be), Schuiten and Peeters encourage everyone to cast their own light on The Obscure Cities. This works better if you already visited Brussels. The Palace of the Three Powers in Brüsel is the Palais de Justice building designed by architect Poelaert. The Great Hall of Zarbec very much looks like Schaarbeek railway station. The glasshouse city of Calvani must have come into existence after a visit to the Royal Greenhouses of Laken. On their website, Schuiten and Peeters have contended for years that passages exist. Passageways between the Earth and the so-called Counter-Earth, between Brussels and Brüsel. Is the comic strip mural in rue du Marché au Charbon an example of this kind of passageway? The bell tower in the centre of the fresco looks exactly like that of Notre Dame du Bon Secours just up the road. Intriguingly, not all of the blank brick facade is painted over. And did you immediately notice that the shadow figures are drawn at the bottom?
Who ? The Passage
Where ? Rue du Marché au Charbon 19, 1000 Brussels
Authors : François Schuiten & Benoît Peeters
Publisher : Casterman
3. The Scorpion
Go uphill from the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula to Treurenberg and you will come across Armando Catalano. A real hero, which you can tell from the look of determination as he waits fearlessly for the enemy, a choice of weapons that would meet with the approval of Zorro and D'Artagnan boots that would make Puss in Boots envious. And what about his jaw line, the trendy facial hair and the line of chest hair that draws attention to his thorax? Catalano is a real Casanova. And that's without even seeing the tattoo on his right shoulder. The hot-blooded fighter/pleasure-lover gets his nickname, The Scorpion, from this tattoo. His arch-enemy is Trebaldi, a cardinal who could rival Cardinal Richelieu in Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers in terms of lust for power and depravity. With the help of his dreaded red warrior monks and a beautiful poisoner with gypsy blood, Trebaldi works his way up to the rank of pope. When he is not too busy hanging and burning dissidents, he reverts to hunting the Scorpion. Religious fanaticism is timeless, and was no less at home in the eighteenth century. Story writer Stephane Desberg provides the cloak-and-dagger series with plenty of sword duels in sinister catacombs and other spectacular action scenes. The graceful, lively images are by Enrico Marini. Female characters with lascivious and sensual contours are among the specialties of this drawing talent from Switzerland.
Who ? The Scorpion
Where ? Rue du Treurenberg, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Marini
Story writer : Stephen Desberg
Publisher : Dargaud
4. Spike and Suzy
Anyone who has noticed the musculature of Manneken Pis will not be taken aback by the scene in rue de Laeken. Without stopping peeing, the famous symbol of Brussels holds five of Belgium's best-known comic strip heroes in one hand. Six actually, if we count Muffin, and we certainly ought to. Suzy's rag doll plays a key role in several adventures. Suzy is the girl with the egg-shaped head, in the white dress and with a bow in her hair. A headstrong damsel, Suzy has not stopped adventuring since 1945. She is ably assisted by the brave Spike. The fair-haired beanpole is nervous Aunt Sidonia. Although Ambrose looks quite respectable and straightforward in the mural, in actual fact he is a dunce, who often causes uproar, but is always good for a laugh. Jethro is a gentle muscleman. Spike and Suzy is the undisputed number one among Flemish family comic strips. In Flanders, Kiekeboe by Merho sells better, but thanks to The Netherlands and French-speaking Belgium, Spike and Suzy is still the best-selling comic series in the Benelux. Translations are available in languages including French (Bob et Bobette) Afrikaans (Neelsie & Miemsie), Portuguese (Bibi & Baba) and Latin (Lucius et Lucia). Americans refer to Willy and Wanda, while Spike & Suzy is the British version. The 315th album rolled off the press in November 2011. The series was simply continued after the death of its creator Willy Vandersteen (1913-1990). Vandersteen was known as the Brueghel of the comic strip. Antwerp-born Vandersteen was a gifted artist and a masterful storyteller with lively powers of imagination and a keen sense of lowbrow humour. With that unique combination, he could have conquered the world.
Who ? Spike and Suzy
Where ? Rue de Laeken 111, 1000 Brussels
Author : Willy Vandersteen
Publisher : Standaard
5. Billy the cat
Enjoy the mischievous look and the enthusiasm with which the yellow and black striped cat floats over the cobblestones. The comic strip mural in the unobtrusive rue d'Ophem is a beacon of light and optimism. Billy the Cat appeared in 1981 in Spirou comic strip magazine but really only began his career in 1987. Its strength lies in the cheerful, polished drawings of Liege artist Stéphane Colman and the tone adopted by the American-Brussels writer Stephen Desberg. The series is part of the glorious tradition of the elegant Belgian children's comic strip that secretly delights many adults too. Living in the street is not easy, but luckily Billy not only has enemies but also a motley crew of friends such as the fat Sausage, Jumbo the Pigeon, Mister Hubert and Miss Cha-cha. The fact that the cat is actually a reincarnation of a boy, and the fact that he would like to return to normality, offers quite a range of possibilities. Other comic strips and ambitions prevented Colman and Desberg from taking it further. At the start of this century, the series was taken over by Liège cartoonist Peral. Billy the Cat is the star of an international cartoon film series. Comic strip and TV series take very different views of the origins of the transformation of boy into cat. In the strip cartoon, the brat Billy crosses the street without looking, and is reincarnated as a cat. The TV series makers were concerned that children would throw themselves in front of cars in the hope of turning into a cuddly cat. They opted for a magician turning Billy, a notorious tormenter of cats, into one himself.
Who ? Billy the Cat
Where ? Rue d'Ophem 24, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Colman
Story writer : Desberg
Publisher : Dupuis
What's the reason for the blissful smile on the chubby dog with the white fluffy hair? Is peeing theatrically without getting a fine so much fun? Or is he delighted to be pulling one over on Manneken Pis? Judging by the thunder cloud above his head, Manneken Pis doesn't think much of his temporary replacement. Smarter than Rantanplan, lazier then Dogmatix, happier than Snoopy and less exemplary than Bessy or Snowy, Cubitus is not the nastiest comic strip dog around. Cubitus was born in 1968 in weekly magazine Tintin. We had to wait another year to discover his master: keen on the junk-collecting inventor/ex-sailor/walking disaster Semaphore. Cubitus doesn't usually like having to test out his inventions. Still, he finds it even more terrible to have to sit in the sidecar of the noisy, polluting, disintegrating motorcycle that Semaphore uses to travel around. Cubitus is more keen on good food, a good novel or intellectual conversations with neighbour Sénéchal. Unless he fancies getting into a scrap with the black tomcat instead. The talking dog is the life's work of Walloon artist Luc Dupanloup (1945-2000), better known as Dupa, who gave himself a Hitchcock-style appearance in the series. In the late '80s, Cubitus featured in a Japanese cartoon film series, which only further increased his popularity.
Who ? Cubitus
Where ? Rue de Flandre 109, 1000 Brussels
Author : Dupa
Publisher : Lombard
7. Blake & Mortimer
By Jove! Edgard P. Jacobs (1904-1987) may not have produced a prodigious output of comics, but every one is a classic. The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer: The Yellow "M" is even considered one of the best comic books of all time. In this album, megalomaniac inventor Septimus has the ubiquitous villain Olrik under his control, and gives him seemingly supernatural powers. After every crime, the super-villain leaves behind his calling card: a yellow mark. On the comic strip mural in rue du Houblon, level-headed Captain Francis Blake of MI5 and irascible nuclear physicist Professor Philip Mortimer appear worried. The inseparable, good old-fashioned British duo are no novices, however. In their first adventure, The Secret of the Swordfish, they are called upon to overthrow the victor of a world war. They are not afraid of time travel, mysterious pyramids and mad professors who control the weather either. Leaving aside the unusual use of colour, Jacobs adopts a highly realistic graphical approach. The faithful reproduction of characters, clothing, weapons, buildings and other background elements is more than an aesthetic choice: it is meant to make the many fantastic elements believable. In the universe of Blake and Mortimer, you never know where reality ends and fantasy begins. From the '90s, the series was continued by several renowned writers and artists.
Who ? Blake et Mortimer
Where ? Rue du Houblon 24, 1000 Brussels
Author : Edgar P. Jacobs
Publisher : Lombard, Blake et Mortimer
8. The Angel
Het misverstand is onuitroeibaar. (Misunderstanding is ineradicable). Dieu est-il mort? (Is God dead?) - God: Nietsche is dood. (Nietzche is dead). - Lost illusions are found truths. Dès le début, il n'y avait pas de commencement: (In the beginning, nothing started:) The words underneath the mural seem to be an unsolicited addition by a bilingual graffiti artist. But actually, the existential slogans form an integral part of the mural by Bernard Hislaire. From one project to another, he changes his nom de plume: Hislaire, Yslaire, Bernar Yslaire or Sylaire. The award-winning Brussels cartoonist is unconventional, an innovator who is unafraid to experiment with form and different media. His best-known comic book is Sambre, a historical romantic saga about love and war in which Yslaire focuses on passion, flirting with death between a stunningly beautiful re-eyed woman and a rugged black-eyed man. German Romanticism, Böcklin, Caspar David Friedrich, Hugo and Mallarme are never far away. The angel on the wall belongs to a series in which the author takes a haunting look back at the revolutionary yet often woeful twentieth century: XXe ciel.com. An angel is immortal. You are only immortal if your beloved is not. Could that explain the obvious sadness of the winged presence that descended on rue des Chartreux?
Who ? The Angel
Where ? Rue des Chartreux, 1000 Brussels
Author : Yslaire
Publishers : Humanoïdes Associés, Futuropolis, Glénat
A big nose, a bow-tie and exactly two hairs: the man holding out his hand to the birds in this mural could hardly be described as handsome. Yet he is one of the biggest heroes of Flemish comic strips. Nero is a "newspaper phenomenon". His adventures appeared almost without a break from 1947 to 2002 in the Catholic Flemish newspapers. At first Nero was not the main character but rather Detective Van Zwam, the man in the fresco examining the grass with a magnifying glass. The second album, the detective is in an asylum and meets a man with laurel leaves behind his ears who thinks he is the Roman emperor. Readers found the lunatic more appealing than the detective. The anti-hero with the all too recognizable human flaws took over the leading role. To provide the daily newspapers with a serial, artist Marc Sleen was forced to sustain a relentless pace, and therefore opted for a free, dynamic drawing style and simple backgrounds. Unlike others, he responded to current events in his quick-paced, funny comics. Paul Vanden Boeynants, Guy Verhofstadt, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin Dada, Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein and other famous figures had guest roles. But the funniest characters are pure fabrications by Sleen. On the mural, you will recognise the children Pat and Pet by the Ps on their shirts, Nero's genius son Halyard by his professorial appearance and chip shop owner John Samson by his rippling muscles. In the background we see Piet Fluwijn and Bolleke, a children's comic strip that brought Marc Sleen success in the early '60s. The crazy Tuizentfloot is hiding at the top of the tree. A fascinating creature is Mrs. Pipe, who just for once is not smoking a pipe. Mr. Pipe is a French-speaking Brussels resident who speaks a French bastardization of Flemish. Until 1993 Sleen drew everything alone. The Guinness Book of Records recognises him as the most prolific cartoonist in the world. The Marc Sleen Museum is located in a beautiful building in rue des Sables 31-33, opposite the Comic Strip Museum.
Who ? Nero
Where ? Place Saint-Géry, 1000 Brussels
Author : Marc Sleen
Publisher : Standaard
10. Cori the ship's Boy
In 1949, Bob de Moor (1925-1992) started working for weekly magazine Tintin and became the right-hand man of the perfectionist that was Hergé. They worked together for 35 years: from Destination Moon to Tintin and the Picaros. When he was not working on Tintin, De Moor had the opportunity to work on his own a dream project, Cori the ship's Boy. As you look at the comic strip mural, you may hear a ship's foghorn and become seasick from the swell. Cori is waving to us from the top of the mast, ecstatic with joy. Nothing or nobody could make this boy a landlubber ever again. The dark emotions of the tide and the thundering avalanche of the surf on a sandbank gladden his heart. The guaranteed adventure and the chance of eternal glory make his heart beat faster. The cabin boy sails with the Dutch East India Company that gave The Netherlands their Golden Age. Mutiny, piracy, bellicose Spaniards, natives of the New Guinea coasts who were 'hearing the language of muskets for the first time', treasures that were there for the finding: adventure dripping from every page. The boats are magnificent, the sea battles unforgettable. The six Cori the ship's Boy albums are the work of a technically superior artist who had the famous "ligne claire" in his fingers, and was able to give even the least significant minor character a unique style and character. He researched his work in the most meticulous detail, and gave free rein to his passion for the sea, adventure and majestic sailing ships. Ship ahoy!!
Who ? Cori the ship's Boy
Where ? Rue des Fabriques 21, 1000 Brussels
Author : Bob De Moor
Publisher : Casterman
11. Nick's dreams
You can recognise the artist immediately from his style. But then you will start to doubt. It seems so easy for Hermann to draw a black-haired boy with red pyjamas floating in ecstasy between white clouds, surrounded by a group of animals who are just itching to bring some life into the city. Cynicism is a fixture in his work. Rather than remaining indifferent, Hermann confronts his readers with the terrible things that petty, selfish and power-hungry people do to each other. Above all, he is one of those exceptions who is both an excellent artist and a gifted storyteller. Hermann Huppen broke through with the Bernard Prince adventure comic strip, drew the first albums of Jugurtha and in 1969, began working with writer Greg on Comanche to begin a legendary western series. In 1977, he dumped Bernard Prince for his own series: Jeremiah. The title hero is a loner who tries to be a good person in a post-apocalyptic Far West that brings out the worst in people. One-shots like Sarajevo Tango and Caatinga confirmed his place in the firmament of European comic strips. Plenty of famous strips and characters, but who did this merciless chronicler of human misconduct choose to decorate a blank wall in Brussels? A boy in pyjamas with a fertile imagination and a talent for dreaming. In the early '80s, Hermann drew three albums featuring Nick. Every night, he has fun adventures in the company of an elephant, a chimpanzee, a giraffe, a hippo, a turtle or a whale, but the adventures do not always turn out well. Hermann calls the three strips a tribute to Windsor McKay, the American comic strip pioneer, whose Little Nemo explored the dream world. He is a sensitive soul.
Who ? Nick
Where ? Rue de la Senne - Rue des Fabriques 40, 1000 Brussels
Author : Hermann
Publisher : Dupuis
12. Caroline Baldwin
Place de Ninove is more a major traffic junction than it is a local quarter with a swinging nightlife. An atmospheric eye-catching comic strip mural reveals something different. The drawing will immerse you in a sultry night in some paradise. Perhaps Cuba. The musicians are neither the youngest nor the best-looking, but judging by the passion on the dance floor, they certainly know what the right rhythm can do to a woman. The bricked-up windows and the relief of the wall were a challenge for the artist and the other members of the team. They made the best of the limitations in situ. The entire facade is painted, only on the bricked-up windows you see snapshots of a party that is transporting many people into ecstasy. Note the number of gaping mouths. Take a look at the lady with the short black hair and black dress in the last window who is about to give a kiss. Her name is Caroline Baldwin and she has her own comic strip series. She's a private detective but not the sort that pursues unfaithful spouses. Baldwin is the type that comes up against Burmese rebels, cheating U.S. presidential candidates, secret services and other lowlifes that have no qualms about conducting grotesque medical experiments. The liberated but vulnerable woman still manages to fall for the wrong man. She has a turbulent on-off relationship with undercover FBI agent Gary Scott. Baldwin does not come out of the adventures unscathed. The vulnerable heroine is HIV positive. Artist and writer André Taymans is an advocate of the "ligne claire" and also pays attention to details that set the right mood.
Who ? Caroline Baldwin
Where ? Place de Ninove, 1000 Brussels
Author : André Taymans
Publisher : Casterman
13. Lucky Luke
The ink on the sign has not even had time to dry before the bank has been raided by the notorious Dalton brothers. Little hothead Joe leads the way as usual. Averell, who has just has stolen a ham, is the biggest, hungriest and most gormless of the 4 brothers. Still with jokes: in the mountains beyond the prairie we see the Atomium, Rantanplan, the stupidest dog in the universe, looks at the pot of red paint as if it were a rare steak and hero Lucky Luke is once again faster than his shadow. Combining quick-paced and exciting adventure with hilarious gags was always the speciality of René Goscinny, the genius who also wrote the storylines for Asterix until his death in 1977. But Lucky Luke is primarily the life's work of Maurice De Bevere or Morris (1923-2001). This Kortrijk native felt drawing was more fun than taking over his father's pipe factory, and he started his career at the Brussels film studio CBA. His first Lucky Luke appeared in 1946 in the Spirou Almanac. Morris worked hard on his drawing talent and researched his work thoroughly. His style is very cinematic and reveals a passion for the western. His Lucky Luke albums had sold around 200 million copies by the time the series was taken over after his death by the French artist Achdé and writer Laurent Gerra. TV series, animated films and feature films have kept alive Lucky Luke's popularity alive as a poor, lonesome cowboy, a long way from home.
Who ? Lucky Luke
Where ? Rue de la Buanderie 19, 1000 Brussels
Author : Morris
Publishers : Dupuis, Dargaud
Asterix, Obelix and their colourful fellow villagers are in the process of attacking a Roman camp with much gusto. Dogmatix leads the way. It's a scene familiar to millions of readers. The diminutive but particularly brave Gaul and his rotund friend who has not had any magic potion since his childhood when he fell into the cauldron of druid Getafix need no introduction. Sales of the album have passed the 350 million mark. Their own theme park and three very popular feature films (the fourth is on the way) have ensured that Asterix and Obelix are also familiar names in households that don't have bookshelves full of comic strips. Of course, they don't know what they're missing. Asterix is the comic strip at its best: playful and exciting, but also many-layered, intelligent and full of references to culture and history. A good Asterix can be read over and over again, with the reader discovering new things each time. They are usually very funny. Asterix came into being on 29 October 1959 in Pilote magazine. Gifted artist Albert Uderzo and brilliant writer René Goscinny met in Brussels. Before Asterix, they worked together on the Indian comic strip Hoempa Pa. After Goscinny's death in 1977, Uderzo continued Asterix on his own. He wants the series to live on after his death too. Asterix and Obelix are not finished yet, much to the chagrin of the Roman centurions.
Who ? Asterix
Where ? Rue de la Buanderie 33-35, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Uderzo
Publishers : Dargaud, Albert-René
15. Ric Hochet
A comic strip mural that will appeal to amateur detectives. At first sight, a mysterious wind seems to be carrying away Inspector Bourdon's hat and pipe. That inspires the little dog to perform a circus trick which distracts journalist Rik Hochet and his report on the solidity of Brussels roof guttering almost goes wrong. Obviously, there is more to the case than that. Closer examination of the optical illusion reveals that Nadine is being attacked by a mysterious villain with an ominously large knife. How fortunate that Rik Hochet has over fifty years' experience in saving lives (preferably that of the police inspector's niece) and solving the most perplexing puzzles. He has less affinity with fashion. The detective has been wearing the same polo neck sweater and black and white tweed jacket or raincoat for years. The artist Tibet, the nickname of Gilbert Gascard (1931 - 2010), and writer Paul-André Duchâteau met in the Brussels studio of Walt Disney and have both been honoured with the freedom of the city. Hochet initially helped the readers of the weekly Tintin magazine solve one-page detective mysteries. In 1961, he began on his life's major work. Over the course of 78 albums, the savvy journalist with the Porsche outwitted the biggest charlatans and most dangerous lunatics. Tibet and Duchâteau are the spiritual fathers of the humorous western Chick Bill.
Who ? Ric Hochet
Where ? Rue du Bon Secours 9, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Tibet
Story writer : A.P. Duchâteau
Publisher : Lombard
16. Victor Sackville
And who is that impeccably dressed gentleman on this mural, making an awful discovery in the presence of a charming lady? The name is Sackville, Victor Sackville. In our imagination, he is more British than James Bond. As a spy for His Majesty the King of England, George V, he travels around the world during the First World War. Where he can, he throws spanners in the wheels of the Germans. Without sinking to underhand trickery, of course. One is either a gentleman or one is not. Sackville is not the most famous of comic book heroes but the historical espionage comic strip does have a loyal following. This is because Walloon artist Francis Carin is able to recreate the atmosphere of the time and knows how to carry on the tradition of beautiful "ligne claire" drawing. He goes out of his way to show the scenes in the most minute detail. He is so meticulous that the result is sometimes more like a historical tourist guide than a comic strip. Fans of architectural masterpieces and vintage cars are well served as well. The mural shows the shining cobbles that are so typical of Brussels. The scene comes from the very first album, The Zimmerman Code 1: Death at the opera. Recommended.
Who ? Victor Sackville
Where ? Rue du Marché au Charbon 60, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Francis Carin
Story writer : François Rivière, Gabrielle Borile
Publisher : Lombard
Broussaille was the very first comic strip mural in July 1991. You only have to look at the way they are walking to see that the gingertop and his likeable and intelligent girlfriend Catherine are not going out for a leisurely stroll. This cheerful couple feel like going for a brisk walk around the city. The dreamy, gentle young man would be an ideal city guide. The well-read occupant of rue Godecharle in the heart of the Leopold district knows Brussels inside out and enjoys walking. In his latest "adventure", Un faune sur l'épaule (A faun on your shoulder), Broussaille experiences a profound sense of harmony with things while he is on his roof overlooking the city. He decides to share those intense moments of happiness and oneness with nature by telling people about it. Brussels author Frank Pé does not deny that Broussaille is an alter ego. In fact, it can't be denied. Both city boys are sensitive souls, curious nature lovers down to the fibre of their being and they are gifted dreamers. In their philosophical visions they see fauns, whales flying across the grey city, giant turtles crossing our boulevards. Frank Pé signed his first Broussaille in 1978, in the nature section of Spirou comic magazine. The young man was happy to share his knowledge of nature with the readers. Once he had teamed up with writer Bom, the first album was published in 1984. There have since been four more. Quality comes first for Frank Pé.
Who ? Broussaille
Where ? Plattesteen, 1000 Brussels
Author : Frank Pé
Publisher : Dupuis
18. Olivier Rameau
Just a stone's throw from Manneken Pis is one of the most festive comic strip walls. The fresh, cheerful young man who excitedly takes off his straw hat and holds out his hand with a stately appearance is called Olivier Rameau. The stunning beauty in the short skirt is Colombe Tiredaile. The man in the bowler hat is kindly Mr. Pertinent. The three men in gowns are the Three Ice Lollies who rule Aurora the capital of Rêverose. Money is unknown in this utopian parallel universe. You pay with tears of joy, songs, laughter or a big kiss. Were cartoonist Dany and writer Greg on mind-expanding substances when they invented the fantasy series Olivier Rameau in the crazy year that was 1968? Well, a little flower power can't do any harm in Brussels today. The poetic series flourished in the '70s. In 2005, after a gap of eighteen years, a new album was published at long last. Men who spend too long staring at Colombe Tiredaile have no reason to be ashamed. Dany is very good at drawing voluptuous shapes, round breasts and sensual lips. He also draws the erotic, humorous series Rooie Oortjes.
Who ? Olivier Rameau
Where ? Rue du Chêne 9, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Dany
Story writer : Greg
Publisher : Lombard
19. Le Jeune Albert
The greatest artist that nobody recognises? That could be Yves Chaland (1957-1990). He was aged just 33 when he was killed in a car accident and consequently barely had time to make a breakthrough with the general public. Collectors fight over the modest body of work that he left behind. Renowned artists reference him as their great example. Experts value his work very highly. Chaland was French but drew in a more Belgian style than the Belgians. He set himself up as the heir to the masters of the Ligne Claire. The master stylist did not slavishly imitate the work of Hergé. The nostalgia is palpable but for a gratuitous retro exercise you will have to look elsewhere. Chaland is very playful with tradition and blends the rigorous style of Hergé and Jacobs with the dynamism of Franquin and Jijé. The best of both worlds: the Brussels school and the Marcinelle school. His Atomic style had followers all over Europe. Bob Fish and Freddy Lombard are Chaland's most famous characters. The brilliant mural in rue des Alexiens refers to Jeune Albert. In these albums, Chaland told of the sometimes outrageous, cruel boyish pranks of a kid growing up in post-war Brussels. Mind you, the little rascal does not have much time to get up to mischief, he's reading a detective story from the famous "Série Noire" series. Let's hope he doesn't miss his tram.
Who ? Le Jeune Albert
Where ? Rue des Alexiens 49, 1000 Brussels
Author : Yves Chaland
Publishers : Humanoïdes Associés, Métal Hurlant
20. Blondin et Cirage
A birdcage can't prevent a voracious yellow beast from grabbing the fruit. In box one, the grocer is angry, while in box two, he is a bit more at ease. The two young customers who have to pay the bill don't look too happy about it. Comic strip fans will recognise Blondin and Cirage. Blondin is an earnest Tintin-style hero, who solves problems through reasoning. Cirage is the crazy friend who prefers direct action. The characters enjoyed their first adventures between 1939 and 1942 in Catholic magazine Petits Belges. They were invented by Joseph Gillain (1914 -1980), known as Jijé. The godfather and pioneer of the Belgian comic strip began working in 1939 at the newly launched Spirou magazine. He took over the Spirou series from Frenchman Rob-Vel and introduced Fantasio. He brought Jean Valhardi to life and drew American comic strips when the supply dried up during the Second World War. After the war, Spirou magazine flourished. The magazine's mainstay Jijé brought in one great talent after another: Will, Morris, Eddy Paape and Franquin. In 1950, Jijé started his Jerry Spring western series and, as a devout Catholic, he produced a biography of Baden-Powell and Don Bosco. Ten years later, he took over Tanguy and Laverdure from Albert Uderzo and Redbeard from Victor Hubinon. The gifted artist could handle any genre. He also immediately realised how great Franquin's Marsupilami was, and in 'Blondin and Cirage discover the Flying Saucers', he came up with a variant. The Marsupilami Africanis is tailless, fatter and ... less popular with grocers.
Who ? Blondin et Cirage
Where ? Rue des Capucins 15, 1000 Brussels
Author : Jijé
Publishers : Averbode, Dupuis, Magic Strip
21. Odilon Verjus
Do you recognise the fascinating beautiful lady so gallantly helped down by a sturdily-built missionary? A tip: her most infamous outfit consisted of little more than a banana skirt. Yep, this is the famous Josephine Baker who lit up Paris between the wars with her exhilarating cabaret act. That leopard was a leftover from a show at the Folies Bergère in 1927. The comic strip series really tells the madcap adventures of missionary Odilon Verjus and his frightened disciple Laurent de Boismenu. Josephine Baker only plays a role in three of the seven albums. But you have to admit, she's the star of this comic strip mural a few steps from the Palais de Justice. The fine drawing is by Laurent Verron. The late Jean Roba asked him to continue Billy and Buddy. For the time being, Verron and writer Yann have decided not to put out new episodes of Odilon Verjus. The humorous adventure series has no hesitation in involving historical characters (Edith Piaf, Hitler, Laurel & Hardy, John Wayne,...) and events, something which requires a lot of research. Odilon Verjus is a grumpy grumbler who is not best pleased that the Vatican keeps taking him away from his beloved Papua to lumber him with yet another secret mission. But actually, he is generosity itself. Don't take any notice of the austere white beard and dress code: his knowledge of Papuan curses and coarse songs has led to quite a few red ears. And do not pick a fight with him because he has a past as a street kid, a pimp at Place Pigalle and as a chaplain in the trenches of the First World War. Miss Baker was in good hands.
Who ? Odilon Verjus
Where ? Rue des Capucins 13, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Laurent Verron
Story writer : Yann
Publisher : Lombard
In which year is this perfect example of domestic bliss situated? The tile stove, grandma's love for clothes with flowers and bulbs and the fact that there is a thick sandwich on the kitchen table where you might expect cornflakes suggest the scene is half a century old. Anyone who recognises the cartoon character knows better. The cheerful lad is called Jojo and has a game-boy. This disarming children's comic strip is set in the present day. The seven year-old boy, who is as honest as the day is long, savours life with an infectious appetite and is usually accompanied by his best friend fat Louis, the Tarzan who is testing the strength of the lamp on the mural. As he doesn't have a Mum, Jojo lives with his grandma or Mamy, in a place where the city meets the countryside. The place where Jojo's overworked dad lives is a more built-up and modern environment. The vague date is no coincidence. The artist André Geerts who died young (1955-2010) was not ashamed of a touch of nostalgia or romance. With recognisable scenes of everyday life, he tried to reconstruct a lost paradise. He combined his talent for spotting these small but priceless moments with a drawing style that was both dynamic and fragile, with lots of curves and pastel colours. Jojo was born in 1983 but inexplicably failed to achieve the level of sales it deserved. Hopefully time will put that right.
Who ? Jojo (Petit Jojo)
Where ? Rue Piereman, 1000 Brussels
Author : André Geerts
Publisher : Dupuis
23. The scouts of the Beaver Patrol
Several Belgian comic strip heroes are fine role models, guys who are not afraid of adventure and stand up for noble values like justice, comradeship and helpfulness. Quite a few renowned artists have a scouting past and revealed their talents for the first time in their member magazines. Tintin is marked by Curious Fox, Spike and Suzy by Wily Fox, Natacha by Dynamic Ostrich, Nero by Resolute Heron and The Smurfs are an invention of Humorous Ram. Toucan Benévole (Selfless Toucan) was the keenest in the ideology of the scouts. Selfless Toucan is the totem of Uccle-born Michel (1927-1994). Under the pseudonym Mitacq, this admirer of Hergé's drew the first adventures of a group of scouts in 1953. Colt (the inspired leader), Hawk (the intellectual), Cat (the daredevil), Tapir (the bon vivant) and Fly (the shy youngest member) together form the Beaver Patrol. The first 21 scenarios are by Jean-Michel Charlier, known from the Blueberry and Buck Danny comic book series. The last nine comic strips were dreamt up by Mitacq himself. The strip wall gives a false impression of the Beaver Patrol. Painting blank walls in the heart of Brussels' Marolles district is probably one of those good deeds which scouts are supposed to do every day. But actually Colt, Hawk & Co. rarely have time for that kind of chore. Like Jommeke, Tintin and Spike and Suzy they often get home late for dinner because the heroic deeds urgently needed to be performed somewhere on the other side of the world. And it is not about some painting but humanitarian aid in countries with military dictatorships.
Who ? The scouts of the Beaver Patrol
Where ? Rue Blaes - Rue Piereman, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Mitac
Story writer : Jean-Michel Charlier, Mitacq
Publisher : Dupuis
24. Le Chat (The Cat)
What's that, a suit-wearing cat that is laying bricks to produce a mural of itself on the wall? Le Chat first appeared in Le Soir newspaper on 22 March 1983. The humorous/philosophical cat that addresses readers directly is an invention of Philippe Geluck. Initially, the cartoon had a permanent slot, but later on Le Chat was used more as a disruptive element, turning up in unexpected places in the newspaper. The drawing style is simple, sober and efficient, which focuses attention on what Le Chat has to say. He does not live for applause but chuckles whenever he manages to briefly perplex readers. Something which he primarily achieves by way of absurd or philosophic remarks or jokes about apparently trivial matters, seen from a very different angle. He does not aim for belly laughs, a chuckle will do nicely. The first album that combines the best jokes came out in 1986 and was a great success. Le Chat is also the self-portrait of Geluck. 'But that's particularly the case when he says something intelligent and doesn't appear stupid", he jests. By and large, cartoonists are too shy to compete with the fame of their characters but Geluck is the exception. Innumerable radio and TV programmes in Belgium and France have made him famous. Le Chat can put the fact that in Paris, he was knighted as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres into context in four or five well-chosen words.
Who ? Le Chat
Where ? Boulevard du Midi 87, 1000 Brussels
Author : Philippe Geluck
Publisher : Casterman
25. Quick and Flupke
The animated film Tintin by Steven Spielberg has given a tremendous boost to Tintin's international reputation. But let's not forget that Hergé (1907-1983) had two other sons. In many respects, Quick and Flupke are the opposite of Tintin. They are subversive rather than role models. Their adventures are not set all over the world but in the Marolles, the Brussels quarter where Hergé grew up. The two kids are just one year younger than Tintin. They played their first comic strip pranks in 1930 in Le Petit Vingtième, the children's supplement of Le Siècle Vingtième where Tintin also made his debut. The strips consist of several humorous stories of one or two pages, with or without text. Whether Quick with the red turtleneck sweater and Flupke with his green jacket deliberately create mischief or cause problems whilst playing, they usually end up clashing with authority.
Who ? Quick and Flupke
Where ? Rue Notre-Seigneur 19, 1000 Brussels
Author : Hergé
Publisher : Casterman
26. Passe-moi l'ciel
In the humorous comic strip series "Passe moi l'ciel", story writer Janry (De Kleine Robbe) and artist Stuf make fun of Saint Peter and Lucifer. At the pearly gates, latecomers, lost or disobedient angels cause St. Peter no end of headaches and extra work. So he never gets a rest or a game of billiards. He who must ensure that everything goes according to plan in heaven goes through hell. Can you blame the good man for occasionally getting a tad tiddly, and allowing people into heaven who don't actually deserve it? The fact that St. Peter is familiar with every human failing is also apparent from the mischievous mural in rue des Minimes. The Palais de Justice is just metres away, and served as a source of inspiration for pranksters Janry and Stuf. Lucifer could file complaints there against his famous upstairs neighbour. Not only does that spoil his barbecue, St. Peter is managing a real cannabis plantation and judging from his blissful smile, there is no question about the quality of the weed. The floating lawyer in his gown no longer seems capable of handling advanced legal texts. Not even a simple administrative detention. The long arm of the law is too busy with the shadows of the Rasta man and keeping an eye on a nude beach. Everybody needs to have priorities.
Who ? Passe-moi l'ciel
Where ? Rue des Minimes 91, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Stuf
Story writer : Janry
Publisher : Dupuis
Suzy has an egghead, Tintin a quiff. Titeuf has both. Deriving his name from the egghead, "petit oeuf" was corrupted into Titeuf. But it is thanks to his proud, rebellious straw yellow crest that everyone immediately recognises him wherever he goes. It is not unlikely his behaviour has something to do with that as well. Look at the comic strip mural. Is Titeuf on a school trip to the globes of the Atomium in Brussels and checking in the convex mirror to see if his hair is alright? Or was it an attempt to spy on the girls from the air? With a cheeky show-off, you never know. His jokes, tricks and caprices have tremendous appeal for young readers. With print runs exceeding 1.5 million, Titeuf qualifies as a phenomenon. The comic strip hero has his own animated series, computer games and wallpaper and made it onto the cinema screens in 2011. His spiritual father is a Led Zeppelin fan who disproves the cliché that the Swiss have no humour. Although his real name is Philippe Chappuis when he goes to the bank, he answers to Zep when he is signing comic strips. Titeuf is a humorous comic but doesn't only contain jokes. There is still room for emotion, amazement and tenderness. The guy speaks like a real child and not the way older people think that children speak. His adventures don't take place on distant planets but in the playground, the classroom, at home or on the way to school. His imagination does the rest. He is convinced that his ageing teacher is an extraterrestrial. By seeing the absurd grown-up world through the eyes of Titeuf, you will split your sides laughing.
Who ? Titeuf
Where ? Avenue Bockstael 1, 1020 Laeken
Author : Zep
Publisher : Glénat
Brussels loves Tintin. Rail passengers who get off at the Gare du Midi cannot miss him. At the Place Horta entrance, a fresco measuring eight meters square has been an eye-catcher ever since the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Georges Remi (1907-1983), aka Hergé. The Bruxellois is considered one of the greatest cartoonists of all time. The drawing is an enlargement of the 56th illustration from Tintin in America. Tintin is not travelling on the locomotive to avoid paying his fare. The goody-goody but very brave boy would never do that kind of thing. He is in the middle of chasing after Billy Smiles. This gangster is after Tintin because he refuses to kill the notorious Al Capone. Tintin in America is the third album from the famous series by Hergé and dates from 1932. A long time ago perhaps, but Tintin has never ceased to enthral readers young and old, all over the world. Hergé's unparalleled, timeless graphic style has a lot to do with that. The original drawings attract big money at art auctions these days. But the comic was a phenomenon because of Tintin's lively and exciting adventures in every corner of the globe. The hero with the funny quiff is a relatively colourless and anonymous figure. We never get to know his age, full name and family situation. But this neutrality makes him at home everywhere and enables everyone to identify with him. Friends, enemies and acquaintances like Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and the bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson are even crazier and more colourful.
Who ? Tintin
Where ? Place Horta, 1000 Brussels
Author : Hergé
Publisher : Casterman
Is it not heroic to take the dog for a walk so happily and carefree through the city? The dog is named Timmy; the girl is called Debbie. Well actually, in Bruges she is called Tiny. In Tournai people know her as Martine, in Tirana as Zana, in Madrid as Martita, in Cagliari as Cristina, in Skopje as Mapuka, in Ankara as Aysegül, in Maribor as Marinka and in Malmö as Mimmi. More than 85 million albums have been sold in thirty countries. Debbie is proof that even a squeaky-clean girl can be a real world star. Each album is dedicated to a new hobby or activity for the improbably sweet, helpful and talented child. The series started with a trip to the farm. The sea, the circus, the mountains and the park would follow. In 1964 she went shopping. In 1968 she played mother, in 1975, she learned to swim, she found a cat in 1994, and in 2009, she discovered nature. In everything she does, she is eerily good. Walloon artist Marcel Marlier (1930-2011) was himself a perfectionist. The character of the ideal daughter remained unchanged from her first appearance in 1954. However, her look constantly evolved. Marlier faithfully followed the prevailing fashion trends. The series is particularly popular with girls in primary school. Nobody can criticise the beauty and harmony of the idyllic drawings. Marlier swears by a naive realism with sophisticated lighting, endearing pastel colours and backgrounds that are developed in detail.
Who ? Debbie
Where ? Avenue de la Reine 325, 1020 Laeken
Artist : Marcel Marlier
Story writer : Gilbert Delahaye, Jean-Louis Marlier
Publisher : Casterman
30. Le Roi des Mouches (King of the Flies)
Look at the names above the intact cages: King Kong and the Minotaur will remain locked up in the imaginary zoo in the shadow of the Atomium for some time yet. The enthusiastic boy who loves Batman and flared trousers chose to free the Yeti. The animal looks more like a hairy, oversized gorilla but it is the Yeti. Exhibit one: the bars of the Yeti's cage have been repaired. Exhibit two: Tintin in Tibet. In this world famous and quite emotional album, Tintin cannot believe that his friend Chang (The Blue Lotus) has not survived a plane crash in the Himalayas and starts a search. Chang is indeed still alive: he has been rescued by a lonely female, cuddly teddy bear that is condemned to go through life as the abominable snowman. Compare the physique and character traits of Hergé's yeti with Mezzo's yeti and you will conclude that this is a tribute. Mezzo is the pseudonym of Frenchman Pascal Messenburg. Together with writer Michel Pirus, in the King of the Flies albums he devised a universe far stranger and darker than the mural in rue Stiernet suggests. Hergé may be an influence, but so is the American underground culture. With sardonic pleasure, in a number of stylishly drawn and very depressing short stories they tell of the madness and frustrations of young people who are bored to death in a middle-class environment. The King of the Flies is ideal for fans of David Lynch, Robert Crumb or Charles Burns.
Who ? King of the Flies
Where ? Rue Hubert Stiernet 23, 1020 Laeken
Artist : Mezzo
Story writer : Pirus
Publisher : Drugstore
Blueberry, Lucky Luke, Comanche, Buddy Longway, Jerry Spring...: the list of great western comic books is a long one. The Jauvray family was - quite rightly - not put off by this, and came up with a new western in 2002: Lincoln. Olivier Jouvray invents the scenarios, brother Jerome handles the drawings and Jérome's wife Anne-Claire does the colouring. As you can see on the mural in rue des Palais, things are pretty rough in their comic. Lincoln is the young man with the hat who is ready to box with the giant who is rolling up his sleeves. It is not the first time this grouchy, lonesome cowboy lets his fists do the talking or gets into a fight. Lincoln is a born brawler and a notorious grumbler who is bone-idle. But God is relying on this specimen of the human species to restore some order, superhero-style, at the start of the twentieth century. God has bet Lincoln that one day he will finally find happiness. Just to make sure, he has made the cynical cowboy immortal. If there is a fight, God prefers to remain aloof. On the mural, he is looking on from the first floor, surrounded by angels with harps. Two doors down, his eternal adversary the devil is seen sporting a grin. The original concept was developed in a series of exciting adventures, topped with pithy humour. Lincoln is able to put his mostly pessimistic view of the world into words with sharp wit.
Who ? Lincoln
where ? Rue des Palais, 1020 Laeken
Artist : Jérôme Jourvray
Story writer : Olivier Jouvray
Publisher : Paquet
32. Little Spirou
"He is a cheeky, spontaneous and healthy boy who likes a joke, but has a heart of gold: he is a model, a champion of good humour." This is how proud publisher Jean Dupuis described the hero of the same name as his legendary comic magazine: Spirou. Spirou was first written by French artist Rob-Vel, but was later taken over by others artists, the best known of whom are Jijé (1943-1946) and André Franquin (1946-1968). Today the comic strip is in the hands of Morvan and Munuera. But between 1981 and 1998, Spirou was handled by Tome and Janry. The pair got to know each other when they were just known as Richard Vandevelde and Jean-Philippe Geurts. In 1983, they brought out a special issue with a gag about Spirou's childhood. Little Spirou was born. He is definitely not an incorruptible hero of unimpeachable character, but more of a cheeky rascal with a rather premature, naive interest in sex and an unbridled imagination. Characteristics that do not do him any favours when he is repeatedly the victim of incomprehensible and sometimes weird teachers. The new series was a hit. Drawings are carefully produced, the good humour and the sweet, slightly nostalgic atmosphere can last for another few years. The carousel on the comic strip mural at Bruparck has a few turns to go, much to the delight of Little Spirou's maths teacher. Teacher Miss Claudia Chiffre is the amazon who dads tend to stare at.
Who ? Little Spirou
Where ? Bruparck, 1020 Laeken
Artist : Janry
Story writer : Tome
Publisher : Dupuis
33. Gaston Lagaffe
He thinks it's another day that is just far too beautiful to give to the boss, and so he is leaning on the window sill, playing with his yo-yo. The fact that the yo-yo is bound to hit a random passer-by on the head was written in the stars. You are either Gaston Lagaffe or you're not. This gentle anarchist, the first anti-hero and the most socially critical clown in Franco-Belgian comic strips, made his debut on 28 February 1957 in Spirou magazine. The first issues, he confined himself to mysterious appearances. Being a pest seemed to be his vocation. Allegedly he was the laconic mail sorter and bone-idle errand boy of the Spirou editorial team. His ability to create uproar with crazy experiments, insane inventions (the phone gaffe!) or ingeniously absurd ideas made him very popular with readers. Brussels artist André Franquin (1924 - 1997) loved Gaston, who was invulnerable to serious adult thinking, capable of putting an end to the cruellest rebukes and manifestations of fury with one and a half words: M'enfin (Oh, come on!). Over the years, Franquin increasingly used his non-comformist alter ego to lend expression to his ecological and humanitarian concerns. Like Hergé, Franquin was a great example for future generations. His free, very dynamic drawing style opened the eyes of many. "He's a great artist, and in comparison I am but a poor artist," admitted Hergé.
Who ? Gaston Lagaffe
Where ? Rue de l'Écuyer 15, 1000 Brussels
Author : Franquin
Publishers : Dupuis, Marsu Productions
34. Mister Jean
Do you see that man who doesn't seem bothered that it is a drizzly day, and that the tram has switched all its lights on? Right hand in his trouser pocket, briefcase in his left hand, casually smoking, he saunters past one of our beautiful brasseries serving gueuze and other Brussels specialities. That is Mr. Jean. He sometimes leaves his socks lying around. How do we know? After a handful of comic strips, you know Mr. Jean better than your best friend. This writer from Paris does not go out on grand, enthralling adventures, but leads an utterly routine life. With each album he gets a little older. Fear of the concierge made way for fear of commitment, and then fear of fatherhood. Conflict in his relationship, depression, friends who are unlikely to complain, the endless battle against routine, the daily grind that saps so much energy: his experiences are touchingly familiar. The undertone is alternately light-hearted and slightly depressing or sad. A bit like everyday life itself. The simple but very pleasant and elegant drawing style lights up the routine. The ratio of nonchalance to brightness is just right. It's not that one draws and the other invents scenarios. Authors Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian do everything together. They draw inspiration from their immediate surroundings. In 2008, they won the Grand Prix of the Angoulème comic book festival.
Who ? Mister Jean
Where ? Rue des Bogards 28, 1000 Brussels
Authors : Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian
Publishers : Humanoïdes Associés, Dupuis, Oog&Blik
35. FC De Kampioenen
Dear foreigners, please refrain from laughing: in Flanders, the most popular football club is not Bruges, Anderlecht, FC Barcelona or the national team, but a bunch of amateurs that rarely manage to win a match. The explanation? The worse FC De Kampioenen (in English, The Champions FC) play, the more people laugh. FC De Kampioenen is not a real club, but the name of a hugely popular television series that ran from 1990 to 2011. Even repeats of repeats have families gathering around the TV. Since 1997, FC De Kampioenen have also existed in comic strip form. The humorous series was a big success, right from the first album "Zal 't gaan, ja?" (Enough already). The comic books are drawn by Hec Leemans, a seasoned artist who made his name with the historical comic strip series Bakelandt. On the mural, you will recognise the main characters. The wildly gesticulating man with the yellow jacket and moustache is Balthasar Boma, the boastful chairman/sausage manufacturer/womaniser. Fernand Costermans, far left, calls himself an antiques dealer but in actual fact he is a bit of a swindler. The lady with the short skirt (top centre) is, Carmen: an extrovert gossipmonger often behind the crazy misunderstandings that pervade every episode. Perhaps the funniest of the bunch is the young father with the baby: the hopelessly naive and clumsy Marc Vertongen.
Who ? FC De Kampioenen
Where ? Rue du Canal 27, 1000 Brussels
Author : Hec Leemans
Publisher : Standaard
36. The Cow
In the world of the cartoon, it is rare for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents. One exception is the son of Bob De Moor, Hergé's right-hand man. Johan De Moor started out as a cartoonist. In the early '80s, he moved to Studio Hergé, where he invented new jokes for Quick and Flupke and featured the kids in a well-received series of short cartoons for television. He had been fed a diet of the famous 'ligne claire' since infancy. Both Hergé and Edgar P. Jacobs were visitors at the De Moor home. But by engaging with a Brueghelian tradition, as well as the zany, popular style of Willy Vandersteen and not being afraid of an experimental mix of different techniques, Johan De Moor developed a colourful, unique style of his own. Just look at the two exuberant murals adorning the Sleepwell youth hostel. You do not know what to look at first. The Magritte bowler hats? The Yellow Mark on the sphere of the Atomium? The cow on the skateboard is called Kobe. She is Secret Agent Pi = 3.1416, and was the muse for De Moor and writer Stephen Desberg for a series of exuberant, mischievous, slightly anarchic comics. On the second fresco, Kobe is wondering where that enthusiastic mouse inside Tintin's rocket is travelling to. The giant in the black check suit is part of Brussels folklore. Like the waffles, the stoemp that you find at the chip shop, the averted gaze of the elephant on the roof of a blue car. 'When I read your books it's like a pot of paint being thrown in my face", an artist friend once told Johan De Moor.
Who ? The Cow
Where ? Hôtel Sleep Well, Rue du Damier 23, 1000 Brussels
Author : Johan De Moor
Publishers : Casterman, Lombard
37. Yoko Tsuno
The green spacesuit and fish bowl on her head are not very flattering. You can't tell from the mural, but take it from us (or read the comic) Yoko Tsuno is a good looking young Asian woman. But that's not all she is. Together with air hostess Natasja, Yoko Tsuno was one of the first comic strip women to get her own series in the early '70s. She represents a break with the stereotypical image of women. She is an electrical engineer, a keen space traveller and just as bold, courageous and adventurous as her male colleague comic strip heroes. The young Japanese is a multilingual Buddhist, and with her knowledge of aikido and kendo, she gives many a villain the go-by, whilst effortlessly moving between different cultures. Her adventures alternate between Earth and space. But whether she is travelling back in time to the city of Bruges in the 15th century or braving the dangers of the planet Vinea, she always remains true to itself. Loyalty, friendship and respect for life are the qualities she values above all else. This sensitivity distinguishes her from the clumsier action heroes. Yoko Tsuno is a creation by Roger Leloup for the weekly Spirou magazine. Through his heroine, the Walloon comic strip author arouses interest in modern technology, science and astronomy. He researches his work meticulously and does a lot of work on each drawing. Over a period of forty years, only twenty-five albums have been published.
Who ? Yoko Tsuno
Where ? Rue Terre-Neuve, 1000 Brussels
Author : Roger Leloup
Publisher : Dupuis
For many action heroes, the key question is: what villain should I defeat before he destroys the world? For XIII the question of questions is: Who am I? Am I John Fleming, Jason Mac Lane, Hugh Mitchell, Karl Meredith, Brian Kelly or Reginald Wesson? Like Jason Bourne in the film, XIII is a trained fighting machine whose main characteristic is a failing memory. While searching for his true identity and wondering why so many people seem to be trying to kill him, he stumbles from one adventure into the next. He is suspected of murdering the President of the United States and unwittingly becomes a pivotal figure in various grotesque conspiracies. XIII is surrounded by even more intriguing, interesting characters such as his arch-enemy The Mongoose and archangel Major Jones, one of the female heroines. Action scenes seem to have been lifted straight from the movies. Every time you think the mystery cannot get more complicated, a new intrigue or unexpected twist proves you wrong. Brussels writer Jean Van Hamme (see also Thorgal and Largo Winch) entrusted his characters and exciting plots to William Van Cutsem aka William Vance. This Brussels cartoonist is known for his realistic style and thorough research. Together, they built XIII into a stalwart of the realistic action comic strip. Sales of albums have now passed the 10 million mark.
Who ? XIII
Where ? Rue Philippe de Champagne, 1000 Brussels
Artist : William Vance
Story writer : Jean Van Hamme
Publisher : Dargaud
39. Corto Maltese
The four drawings on Quai des Péniches are eighty metres in length. Someone has to have the longest comic strip mural. No one begrudges Hugo Pratt (1927-1995) that honour. With Corto Maltese, called the master, and born in Venice in 1967, Pratt created a hero the likes of which are rarely seen: brave, anarchic and strong, but also dreamy, romantic, melancholy and mysterious in equal parts. His long white trousers, plain coat, sailor's hat and earring make the unpredictable captain without a ship stand out from afar. The circumstances naturally emphasise his composure. The unfathomable world traveller pops up time and again in places that have an appointment with history. Corto witnessed the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Revolution and the First World War. The world is on fire, civilisations are crumbling but only gorgeous femmes fatales can put this worldly-wise adventurer who is keen to retain his freedom off his stroke. The cosmopolitan is a popular guide in unfamiliar areas and throughout the twentieth century. The images on Quai des Péniches have been taken from the albums Corto Maltese in Africa, Corto Maltese in Siberia, the Golden House of Samarkand and The Celts. The soberly drawn, erudite, charming comic strips by Hugo Pratt are often compared to novels. He was not too bothered about the constraints of the traditional comic strip and was one of the first to be unafraid to deliberately aim his work at an adult audience.
Who ? Corto Maltese
Where ? Quai des Péniches, 1000 Brussels
Auteur : Hugo Pratt
Éditeur : Casterman
A painful but true story: you don't come across many women in the comic strips of the '70s, and certainly no heroines who dared to flaunt their femininity. Comanche and Yoko Tsuno followed fairly quickly but it was Natacha who broke the mould in 1970. We're not supposed to tell you that she's blonde, blessed with voluptuous curves and looks great in uniform. All you need to do is look at the mural. But don't stop at her appearance. The stewardess is not a dumb blonde but an intelligent woman who knows what she wants and is keen to retain her independence. The resolute lady knows how to keep her composure in an emergency and is unafraid to answer back if offended. She can also be quite stubborn and like all true comic strip heroes, she has a highly developed sense of justice. Most of her adventures are somehow related to air travel. The man on the mural sweating as he drags two red suitcases dragging, is Walter. The clumsy jazz lover would like more than her friend, colleague and fellow adventurer, but that is unlikely. Natacha is the character with which Walloon artist Francois Walthéry is closely associated. Walthéry was only seventeen when he became the assistant of Peyo, the creator of The Smurfs. In the late '60s, he took over Peyo's drawing work for Steven Sterk. He doesn't like rush jobs. Over a period of forty years, just over twenty albums have been published. There are both classic adventure comic strips which are in the thriller or science fiction genre. Walthéry worked with a dozen different writers. Fortunately, Natacha has kept her looks after all that time.
Who ? Natacha
Where ? Rue Jean Bollen, 1020 Laeken
Author : François Walthéry
Publishers : Dupuis, Marsu Productions
41. Gil Jourdan
Find the comic hero ..... It's the guy behind the wheel of the yellow car: detective Gil Jourdan. In the passenger's seat we see Libellule (Dragonfly), known for his special sense of humour, in this case recognisable by his yellow hat and cigarette. Libellule is an ex-burglar who assists the sometimes arrogant detective with varying degrees of success. The charming adventures are built around an exciting plot involving action, witty dialogue, a pinch of mystery and humour. Gil Jourdan solved his first case in Spirou magazine in 1956. But actually Maurice Tillieux (1922 -1978) was embroidering a character he had previously drawn for the weekly Héroic albums: the red-haired, bespectacled journalist Felix. At the end of the '60s, Tillieux handed the drawing work over to Gos so he could focus more on coming up with scenarios for Will (Beard and Bald), Roba (The Swarm), Walthéry (Natacha) and Roger Leloup (Yoko Tsuno). He devised one comic strip after another under various pseudonyms. It is no coincidence that the mural is dominated by a rugged sailor. Tillieux was a seaman but the Second World War nipped his naval career in the bud. The joke with the danger sign warning of a straight line is a bit macabre. After having dreamed up and drawn countless car crashes, Tillieux died in a car accident.
Who ? Gil Jourdan
Where ? Rue Thijs Van Ham - Rue Léopold Ier, 1020 Laeken
Author : Maurice Tillieux
Publisher : Dupuis
42. De Kiekeboes
You'll have to look long and hard to find a Fleming who is unable to tell you that the man with the moustache behind the camera is Marcel Kiekeboe. Very long and hard indeed. His wife Charlotte shows off the clothes of the legendary trade fair hostesses of the 1958 World Exhibition which catapulted Brussels into the modern age. Son Konstantinopel wants to be an ace reporter. The babe in the elegant '50s dress who is keeping up a hula hoop is Marcel's daughter. Fanny has already turned many men's heads. Not least when she posed nude on the cover of a Flemish men's magazine. The Kiekeboes are a typical example of a Flemish family comic strip and in terms of sales even manage to give Spike and Suzy a run for their money. Each new album sells a hundred thousand copies. A clear story is always seasoned with a healthy dose of good-natured humour. There is no shortage of puns and parodies. The series debuted on 15 February 1977 in Het Laatste Nieuws daily newspaper. In 2004, Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg took over Kiekeboe. To supply the newspaper with new strips daily, in the same way Willy Vandersteen, Marc Sleen and Jef Nys had done before him, Merho had to work at a hellish pace. Merho, the alias of Robert Merhottein, drew his first Marcel Kiekeboe for his brother, an avid puppet show performer. Even children in the last row had to be able to recognise the puppet easily, hence the big nose, big eyes and huge moustache. The half-bald head fits back perfectly in the tradition of Lambic and Nero.
Who ? De Kiekeboes
Where ? American Theater, Avenue du Gros Tilleul 2, 1020 Laeken
Author : Merho
Publisher : Standaard
43. Stam & Pilou
To admire this comic strip mural, you will have to go to the summer terrace of café La Fleur en Papier Doré. Not that that is a punishment. The figureheads of Brussels surrealism like René Magritte, Louis Scutenaire, Marcel Mariën came here and many other artists and writers followed them. References to the art movements which make La Fleur en Papier Doré a culturally historic café have been incorporated into the drawing. The cartoon characters themselves are from "Les aventures involontaires de Stam & Pilou". The boy who is not as good an acrobat as he thought is Stam. Girl-next-door Pilou is sitting on his head. They love to play together. Grandpa Fons is studying Stam's mother's rear end. It is no coincidence that he is a retired postman and an avid stamp collector. The strip was produced at the request of The Belgian Post Office and appeared in the magazine of a stamp club for young people. When the light and cheerful stories with lots of practical jokes and situation humour proved successful, albums were also published. On the board that Grandpa Fons is holding, the words "Sprekt a mooiertoêl, ARA! appear, which is Brussels dialect for "speak your mother tongue". Ara is an organisation supporting the Brussels dialect. Stam & Pilou is a creation by De Marck and De Wulf, the stage names of the original kids Marc Daniels and Rick Dewulf.
Who ? Stam & Pilou
Where ? La Fleur en Papier Doré, Rue des Alexiens 53/5, 1000 Brussels
Authors : De Marck et De Wulf
Publisher : Van Halewyc
On 8th May 2013 a new fresco was inaugurated on the Avenue Houba de Strooper. The Marsupilami, famous friend of Spirou since 1952, recently joined the Comic strip walk of Brussels. The chosen location is the Avenue Houba de Strooper. Why? The legend tells that Franquin found his inspiration for the Marsupilami’s “Houba, Houba” scream when he walked on this avenue. The realization was given to Farmprod, a group of Belgian and French artists based in Brussels since 20003.
Who ? Marsupilami
Where ? Avenue Houba de Strooper, 1020 Laeken
Story writer : Andre Franquin
Publisher : Marsu Productions
To the delight of both local residents and passers-by Thorgal and his wife Aaricia now watch over Place Anneessens. Thorgal, famous Viking hero and brainchild of Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski, is the latest addition to Brussels’ comic strip trail. It is in fact the 49th cartoon mural of the route initiated in 1996 and dotted throughout Brussels-Capital Region. The cartoon mural depicts Thorgal with his wife Aaricia and overlooks Place Anneessens at the corner of the square and rue de la Caserne. Hidden behind his shell of mighty warrior Thorgal is committed to justice and freedom and very much aspires to a peaceful life with his beloved wife. Born in 1977 from the encounter between Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski, he features in the first comic book resulting from the collaboration between a graphic artist from the “Eastern Bloc” and a writer from the “Free World” within the context of the Cold War. He also shows if need be that art is able to transcend apparently insurmountable barriers. The project was entrusted to Urbana Project, a collective of Brussels artists led by Nicolas Moreel
Who ? Thorgal
Where ? Place Anneessens 2, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Grzegorz Rosinski
Story writer : Jean Van Hamme
Publisher : Le Lombard
46. Boule & Bill
Roba was inspired by his family to create Boule & Bill (known in English as Billy & Buddy), namely his son and his dog. Boule is a typical little boy whose best buddy is Bill, his adorable cocker spaniel. In addition to Boule, Bill has another passion: Caroline, the cute turtle ... In a family world brimming over with kindness and love of life, the mischief and pranks of Boule and Bill have delighted readers of all ages for generations. This mural was ﬁrst inaugurated in 1992 and restored in 2014 after building work.
Who ? Boule & Bill
Where ? Rue du Chevreuil, 1000 Brussels
Artist : Roba
Story writer : Maurice Rosy
Publishers : Dargaud, Dupuis
The Spirou mural ﬁts in perfectly with the Marolles district where second-hand dealers reign supreme. Without ever straying from his striking red groom’s uniform, Spirou is very much an adventurer. Always accompanied by his friend, Fantasio, and Spip, his pet squirrel, Spirou ﬁghts all sorts of villains all around the world. He takes on the terrible evil scientist Zorglub or the dastardly pirate John Héléna, he faces up to the Italian maﬁa and Chinese triads in New York or solves the mystery of a mythical animal in Palombia: the Marsupilami. One of the greatest comic book heroes is still incredibly active 75 years on!Since his creation by Rob-Vel in 1938, Jijé, Franquin, Fournier, Cauvin & Nic, Chaland, Tome & Janry, and many other authors have successively lent their talent to breathe life into Spirou in his comic book and albums. Some appear in this mural ... will you recognise them?
Who ? Spirou
Where ? Rue Notre Dame des Grâces, 1000 Brussels
Authors : Yoann & Velhmann
Publisher : Dupuis
48. Froud et Stouf
Originally created for television, this comedy series with its very Belgian outlook has also appeared in comic-book form. Froud and Stouf are two small blue dogs who philosophise about life. They spring from the imagination of Frédéric Jannin, author of several series including “Germain et nous”, in collaboration with Stefan Liberski, a Brussels-based director and writer. They also worked together on the television series “Les Snuls” (or “The Dummies” in the Brussels dialect) for the television channel “Canal + Belgium”. The mural, created in October 2014, brightens up the blocked windows of a 3-storey building.
Who ? Froud et Stouf
Where ? Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier 32, 1000 Brussels
Authors : Frédéric Jannin et Stefan Liberski
Publishers : Luc Pire, Dupuis
49. Jommeke (Gil & Jo)
The project resulted from a collaboration between the City of Brussels and the VGC. The wall fresco, created by Art Mural, is an original project by Sarina Ahmad, granddaughter of the designer Jef Nys. The Jommeke are Gil and Jo, two children who enjoy all kinds of adventures with Professor Gobelin and his parrot Flip. The fresco is 7 metres high and 5 metres wide. Many neighbourhood features and monuments have been included in the design. Look out for the railway bridge or the new Bokstael Tour et Taxis park.
Who ? Jommeke
Where ? Rue de la Chanterelle 3, 1020 Laeken
Author : Jef Nys
Publisher : Ballon Media
50. Benoit Brisefer
Benoit Brisefer is a little man with a very big heart and herculean strength that he loses if he catches a cold. He lives in a village that is a good place to live and just happens to look like the Marolles district. He is known for his kindness and spontaneity and he never fails to help all and sundry. The fresco illustrates this perfectly: it shows him taking a giant leap to catch an escaping balloon. The fresco, which is 9.5 m high and 1.7 m wide, was created by artists from Urbana.
Who ? Benoit Brisefer
Where ? Rue Haute 119, 1000 Brussels
Author : Peyo
Publisher : Le Lombard
The mad genius Léonard, who is a somewhat zany caricature of Leonardo de Vinci, never misses the chance to devise the most far-fetched inventions, which he has no qualms about trying out on his guinea pig and faithful disciple, who only wants a quiet life. However, there is nothing abracadabra about this fresco. And when he is not painting women with an enigmatic smile, Léonard tends to paint our beautiful Palais de Justice. Like most of the comic strip route's frescoes, neighbourhood landmarks are included. Artists from Urbana created this fresco, which is 5 m high and 5.5 m wide.
Who ? Léonard
Where ? Rue des Capucins 23a, 1000 Brussels
Story writer : Bob De Groot
Artist : Turk
Publisher : Le Lombard
52. Out in the Street (LGBT fresco)
As part of the Pride Festival, Rainbow House, the City of Brussels and Ancienne Belgique collaborated on a unique project.
Thanks to the “Out in the Street” project, a graphic work decorates the façade of Ancienne Belgique on rue de la Chaufferette. It was created by Fotini Tikkou (Greek portrait artist) and Ralf König (a big name in the world of LGBT comic strips).
Thanks to a clear imagery, the project shines a light on how the LGBTQI community question stereotypes and the homophobic reactions to lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people in our society.
Painters? Ralf König & Fotini Tikkou
Where? Rue de la Chaufferette, 1000 Brussels
53. Kinky & Cosy
Who ? Kinky & Cosy
Where ? Rue des Bogards 19, 1000 Brussels
Author : Nix
Publisher : Le Lombard
This mural overlooking the Tour & Taxis park in Laeken, is the fruit of a citizen’s initiative organised by non-profit association Parckfarm which, through its various participative projects, has breathed new life into the neighbourhood. Parchis displays a comedic take on daily life in and around the park. On the mural, you will recognise typical elements of the neighbourhood that make it so convivial: the vegetable patches, the locals playing parchis (a Maroccan game resembling Ludo), the cyclists... and even the pont du Jubilé brigde.
Painter? Peter Willems
Where? Parckfarm, Tour & Taxis, 1020 Brussels
55. In My Area (for Kato)
In My Area (For Kato) is an original creation by artist Lucy McKenzie that has been made into a mural by urban art collective FarmProd. Murals are a favourite medium for this artist who, since she moved to Brussels, has been fascinated by these large comic strip murals, that she sees as public monuments within the capital’s urban landscape. Her mural pays homage to them. Lucy McKenzie uses the typical graphic style of Belgian comic strips, and incorporates illustrations, architectural images and iconic figures. Due to the repetitive nature of her stencilled method, her mural is very different to those on the comic strip trails, which literally illustrate a scene or a particular character. Lucy McKenzie’s mural is the fruit of a collaboration between WIELS and the City of Brussels.
Painter? Lucy McKenzie
Where? 19 Rue des Chartreux, 1000 Brussels
Off the City of Brussels Comic Book Route
The City of Brussels Comic Book Route is the best known and has the most frescoes. However, there are plenty of other comic strip initiatives throughout the Brussels capital region. It is therefore not unusual to come across comic strips in other districts. Here are a few examples.
Located in the municipality of Ixelles/Elsene, “L’Arche/De Ark” by François Schuiten and Alexandre Obolensky is a wall painting illustrating the city of tomorrow, a sustainable and humane city. With this work of art, project initiator Atrium Flagey wanted to embellish the commercial neighbourhood and at the same time increase its general appeal. “The Arch/De Ark” invites us on a journey through the streets and alleys of Ixelles/Elsene. The mural stays true to François Schuiten’s typical style: a gigantic imaginary but at the same time familiar steamship. This monumental piece was ﬁrst drawn and painted on canvas and later, i.e. in 2013, applied on the façade. In 2014, “L’Arche/De Ark” is completed by a soundtrack. Passers-by can scan the nearby QR code and then land on a website which not only provides additional information on how the work was made but also a larger-than-life soundtrack complete with seagulls crying, steamships hooting and passengers talking... All it’s missing is a faint salty breeze...
Who ? L'Arche by François Schuiten
Where? On the corner of rue Maes and chaussée d’Ixelles, 1050 Brussels
Authors : François Schuiten and Alexandre Obolensky
This is the second mural devoted to the comic series “The Cat” in the Brussels-Capital Region, the ﬁrst being on the Boulevard du Midi. It spreads out over a length of nearly 140 meters along the former “Géruzet” ﬁre stations in the municipality of Etterbeek. Twenty or so original drawings were designed by Philippe Geluck for the occasion and the gags can be read in French, Dutch and English. Several themes speciﬁc to the district are addressed, such as Europe and multiculturalism for example. The main objective of this mural is to increase the appeal of the Chasse district and its shops.
Who ? Le Chat
Where ? On the corner of boulevard Général Jacques and chaussée de Wavre, 1040 Brussels
Author : Philippe Geluck
Publisher : Casterman
Where ? Rue Dethy 25, 1060 Saint-Gilles
Artist : Derib
Story writer : Job
Publisher : Le Lombard
Les Femmes en blanc
Where ? Place de la Vècquée - 1200 Brussels
Artist : Philippe Bercovici
Story writer : Raoul Cauvin
Publisher : Dupuis
The Leopard Woman
At 120m², "The Leopard Woman" is one of the largest frescoes in the region. It is taken from a double-page spread in a Spirou comic book entitled "Spirou and the Leopard Woman". This night-time scene shows a leopard woman who flees across the roof tops, pursued by strange creatures. Later she will take refuge at the Moustic Hôtel, in the attic room of colonel Van Praag, an irascible old colonial character. But if you want to know the rest of the adventure you’ll have to buy the book!
Who ? The Leopard Woman
Where ? Rue de la Croix 9, 1050 Ixelles
Scenario : Yann
Design : Schwartz
Publisher : Dupuis
Couleur Café (2013) and La Bambina Magritta (2015)
In 2013, ASBL Art-Mural, the publishing house Sandawe and the review 64_Page launched a European fresco project to be rolled out all over the region. The first fresco on this route is in the Saint-Josse district. It is entitled "Couleur Café" and was designed by the young Brussels designer Judith Vanistendael. A second fresco, designed by the Sardinian artist Vanna Vicci, was inaugurated in October 2015, La Bambina Magritta. It pays homage to the celebrated Brussels artist Magritte, the great ambassador of the surrealist movement. The location of the fresco was not chosen by chance as it faces the Italian permanent representation to the European Union. The idea is that the 28 countries of the Union are all represented.
Who ? Couleur Café / Where ? Place de Saint-Josse, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode / Author : Judith Vanistendael
Who ? Bambina Magritta / Where ? Rue du Marteau 6, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode / Author : Vana Vicci