The Hard-(L)earned Lessons of…Tracing the Comic Strip Trail in Brussels


Billy the Cat created by Stéphane Colman and Stephen Desberg.
Oppemstraat / Rue d’Ophem 24

 Belgium possesses a rich and lively tradition of comic strips, and some of the world’s most iconic – Tintin (Hergé), TheSmurfs (Peyo) and Lucky Luke (Morris) – are the creations of Belgian cartoonists. So when I found myself in the country’s capital for the first time this past weekend, I decided to trace the comic strip trail.

It’s a chilly Sunday morning when I set out, even though the schizophrenic weather I’ve been subjected to ever since I arrived on Friday looks to have settled on showing itself from its best side. With the sun in my eyes and the wind in my sails, I determinedly set off for Place de L’Albertine, the starting point for this particular version of the Comic Strip Trail.  Armed with a good map, some flat shoes and a bottle of water, I am as ready for the adventure as I used to be for the Easter egg hunt in my younger years.

The City of Brussels, in close collaboration with the Center for Comic Strips, started commissioning the country’s  famous cartoonists to make comic strip murals in 1993.  Now very popular with tourists, the tour includes 31 walls in the city’s central  area and four walls in Laeken.

I followed the condensed version, but as there are at least 35 in the entire city, there are several ways trace this trail. The one I followed was limited to the city center and took me about two hours to complete, mostly because I am a tad directionally challenged. I was however, very glad to have uncovered these. Enjoy!

Le Scorpion / De Schorpioen after Enrico Marini and Desberg.
Treurenberg 19

Suske & Wiske / Bob & Bobette / Willy & Wanda / Spike & Suzy by Willy Vandersteen.

Lakensestraat / Rue de Laeken

Cubitus as Manneken Pis, after Dupa.
Vlaamsesteenweg / rue de Flandre

L’Ange, Yslaire, Rue des Chartreux/ Kartuizersstraat

Victor Sackville after Francis Carin.

Kolenmarkt / Rue Marché aux Charbons

Broussaille / Ragebol by Frank Pé.
Kolenmarkt / Rue du Marché au Charbon 41

Roze Bottel / Olivier Rameau by Dany.
Eikstraat / Rue du Chêne

Installation near the Belgian Comic Strip Center where those who would rather see all their comic strips in one place can go.

Belgian Comics Strip Center
Rue des Sables 20
1000 Brussels
Tel.: + 32 (0)2 219 19 80
Fax: + 32 (0)2 219 23 76
visit@comicscenter.net

Lessons for the wise

  •  Wear your most comfortable, broken in shoes. Walking for hours on end on cobblestone through winding streets can do a number on the back.
  • Give yourself ample time for short food and water breaks if you do the longer versions of the comic strip trail. Spotting Tintin and his compadres is no fun if you are hungry and dehydrated.
  • Arm yourself with a good map and copy your trails on it before setting out to avoid frustration. Visit Brussels Sized for Discovery maps, which I used, even has symbols depicting which streets you will likely see a comic strip mural on.
  • The weather in Brussels can be a tad unpredictable in the spring months, as I learnt painfully. Carry an umbrella even when it looks like the blue skies and sunshine couldn’t possibly give way to grimmer weather. My self-guided tour started out in the sun, was interrupted by some innocent drizzling before actual hailstones came down. By the time I had spotted the last mural, the sun was shining brightly as if nothing had happened.

All photos by Cynthia Wamwayi

Trackbacks

  1. […] Brussels, Belgium. In Tin Tin’s home country I indulged the child in me by tracing the Comic Strip Trail – cartoon murals hidden on various walls and facades throughout the city. I can’t begin […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: