Exploring the land of comic books
Belgium is the land of comic books, and nowhere is the ‘ninth art’ better represented than in its capital, the birthplace of ‘Tintin’ creator Georges Remi (better known as Hergé), whose tales of the intrepid reporter has been published in over 70 languages around the world. Tintin and Brussels are inextricably linked.
For comic book fans, the city’s Belgian Comic Strip Center is Mecca. It charts not only the birth of ‘Tintin’, but also the many characters who emerged from the pages of ‘Spirou’, the Franco-Belgian comic that launched the careers of Brussels natives such as Peyo (‘The Smurfs’), Jean Van Hamme (‘XIII’, ‘Largo Winch’) and André Franquin (‘Marsupilami’), as well as Hergé himself.
Elsewhere, the Comic Strip Trail is selfie gold and arguably the best way to explore Brussels (maps available from tourist offices; €5). Throughout the city you’ll find scattered 24 murals depicting everyone from Tintin to the Smurfs, Gaston, Lucky Luke, Blake & Mortimer and more. Alternatively, for the 3D versions, the Museum of Original Figurines (aka MOOF) is an oddly charming opportunity to pose with some life-sized comic book stars.
Tintin fans won’t want to miss the Hergé Museum, about 45 minutes’ drive south of Brussels in Louvain-la-Neuve. It lies at Rue du Labrador 26, the original address of the bequiffed adventurer, and exhibits cover everything from Hergé’s original sketches, writings and correspondences to the science behind his stories. There’s no better way to get to know this most reclusive of artists.
As for collectibles, La Boutique Tintin lies near the Grand Place. Alternatively, head to the Jeu de Balle area, and opposite the flea market where Hergé found inspiration for the opening market chapter of ‘The Secret of the Unicorn’ you’ll discover Jeu de Bulles. Rarities ranging from €200 first-edition copies of ‘Tintin in America’ to €4,500 hand-drawn original frames of ‘Blake and Mortimer’ by Edgar P. Jacobs can all be found here – plus the odd cheap postcard.
Belgian Comic Strip Center Rue des Sables 20, Bruxelles. +32 2 219 1980. €10 entry.
Tourist Office Ville de Bruxelles, Grand-Place, Bruxelles. €5. +32 2 513 8940.
Museum of Original Figurines Rue du Marché aux Herbes 116, Bruxelles. +32 2 207 7992. €10 entry.
Hergé Museum Rue du Labrador 26, Louvain-la-Neuve. €9.50 entry. +32 10 488 421.
La Boutique Tintin Rue de la Colline 13, Bruxelles. +32 2 514 5152.
Jeu de Bulles Place du Jeu de balle 79, Marolles. +32 475 697 538.