The Comic City – Brussels

Brussels is the capital city of Belgium. It has grown from a fortress town founded in 10th century to a metropolis of over 1.8 million inhabitants which makes it the largest in Belgium.


After the Second World War, the city became the centre of international politics as it is home to the European Commission and to the Council of ministers of the European Union (EU) as well as the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the other hand, this is a city with two official languages, namely Dutch and French. However, during the 19th and 20th century, the city has become increasingly French-speaking. As a result, the majority of its inhabitants today are native French speakers.


Brussels is not only famous for its political status, but for its unique comic strip route which makes the seemingly boring city more lively and intriguing. Therefore, Brussels is also called the Comic City.


For many years Brussels has been the capital city of comics which has come up with a vast amount of comic creativity. From the worldwide well-known icons such as Herge’s Tintin and Peyo’s Smurfs to today’s unprecedented amount of modern comic characters, according to legendary comic writer and organizer of the annual Comics Fest Alain de Kuyssche, one thing remains the same: “Every one of them gets their start in Brussels.”


The comic culture stemmed from the World War II when people who were suffering the war turned to escapism for help and thus the magic comic strip became their ideal choice. Even after the war, the early readers started to create their own characters and when it came to 1960s, there was a big demand for comics.


The reason why a small country like Belgium could achieve such a profound influence on the international comics may result from the development of television cartoons. At that time, it was hard to find a TV which was not showing a Smurfs cartoon.


After the golden age of comic culture in Brussels, today it is experiencing its renaissance which is why the Comic Fest starts.


The unique comic strip route established at first by the Belgian Comic Strip Centre is made up of thirty murals located on buildings and walls scattered across the city. Each mural is depicting a Belgian comic character within a unique Brussels’ scene.


The route began with the statue of Manneken Pis which is a naked boy who has become a famous icon. To date, this little boy has gotten more than 600 pieces of clothes which are presented by political heads from different nations who come to visit the King of Belgium.


Besides the mural displaying, there are museums and festivals for its comic culture in Brussels.


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