Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation


13/09/2019 - 28/11/2019

Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation :: © visit.brussels Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation Spirou and Brussels under the Occupation

This exhibition draws a parallel between the series L’Espoir malgré tout and the historical documents testifying the acts of resistance carried out by Spirou magazine and its editor Jean Doisy.

In the first pages of L'Espoir malgré tout, Spirou saw the situation in Belgium and Brussels in May 1940. In 18 days, the Belgian army was pushed by German troops who soon crossed the country to invade France. Spirou and Fantasio were first, like all Belgians, on the roads of exodus, fleeing the arrival of the enemy, blocked for a while by the French border in a general panic.

The armistice was signed by King Leopold III. Belgians are called upon to return home. The occupation begins. What to do about it? Collaborate? Wait for better days? Resist? But you still have to have the means to do so. How do you do it when you're 16 and full of energy and ideals?

The reader follows our hero step by step through the brutal reality of the war, between fascist opportunists and a largely resigned population that is witnessing the rise of repression, the raids against Jews, the abuses of the occupier... Emile Bravo describes the daily life of a humiliated, wounded, disoriented Brussels...

The author, Émile Bravo, does not seek to make Spirou a patriotic hero: "He is a child, he must build himself," he says. But he can see on the other hand how adults organize themselves, what are the driving forces behind resistance to injustice. Perfectly documented, Bravo describes the living conditions of his characters and in particular this couple of German Jewish artists living in precarious conditions, hidden from the occupier. The Bravo’s Spirou imagines what is happening in the minds of the Brussels children of 1940, called upon to grow up in difficult circumstances, for them and their parents.

L'Espoir malgré tout is the first volume in a series of four that questions the notion of heroism, commitment, humanity, solidarity and justice. No wonder Spirou is the UN mascot on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

It was in Brussels that Jean Doisy, creator of Valhardi, who was then the chief editor of the Journal de Spirou, lived at that time. Communist and resistant, apparently without the knowledge of his bosses, he was one of those who commissioned the sociologist Victor Martin to "visit" Auschwitz, the destination of Jews deported from Belgium. Is it indeed a place of "relocation" or rather, as he discovered without the executioners' knowledge, a killing centre? His report, transmitted to the Resistance, will speed up the rescue of thousands of Belgian childrens.

As the Dupuis company refused to accept a German director into its board, the publication of the Journal de Spirou stopped on September 2, 1943. Editions Dupuis then multiplied its initiatives to make their characters survive through ephemeral publications, almanacs but also a travelling puppet theatre that concealed a network of resistance fighters. Jean Doisy was awarded the War Cross with palm for his role with the staff of the Front d'Indépendance at the Liberation.

This exhibition brings together not only some of Emile Bravo's most beautiful plates featuring Brussels, but also rare documents -publications and posters- that tell this story.

It’s worth noting that the second volume of L’Espoir malgré tout will appear, published by Dupuis, for the Comic Strip Festival.

A co-production the Comic Strip Festival (visit.brussels), Brussels Parliament, Dupuis and experience.brussels.

Are you planning a group visit? Please fill in our form at https://www.flexmail.eu/f-719359c3285c48c3 (booking required only for groups of more than 14 people and school groups)

Practical information