The comic strip is a fully-fledged art form and the Belgian comic book tradition has all the qualities required to compete on the world stage. That is indisputable. Put your album down for a moment and go looking for your favourite characters, by all accounts larger than life, on one of the 60 or so comic strip walls dotted around Brussels.
Since the early 90s, the City of Brussels has been systematically removing the loudmouth advertising brochures forming a blot on the city centre. But what they left behind was dilapidated walls that were in urgent need of restoration. The first fresco, of Broussaille by the Brussels strip cartoonist Frank Pé, appeared on one of these in 1991, on the Rue du Marché au Charbon. A nice initiative, reconciling art and urban restoration with one another. Brussels attaches great importance to the rich and varied Belgian-French comic strip tradition.
As the years went by, all manner of famous characters have earned a prominent place in the city landscape of Brussels, such as Tintin, Nero, Spike and Suzy, FC De Kampioenen, Jommeke, Kiekeboe, Blake & Mortimer, Gaston Lagaffe, Tiny, Billy & Buddy, Lucky Luke, Spirou, Asterix, Quick and Flupke, and the Smurfs. Young drawing talent both from home and abroad, as well as less classical forms such as gag strips and graphic novels, have also made an appearance. Over time, almost 60 comic strip walls have been added to brighten up the city centre and the district of Laeken, and another eight are to follow over the next two years in the borough of Haren.
The residents of Haren will be given a say over the themes. Curious as to which scenes they will suggest along with the authors to put their neighbourhood in the spotlight?