It was Tin Tin’s birthday yesterday, 84 years since his first adventure appeared in Le Petit Vingtième (“The Little Twentieth”), the weekly youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (“The Twentieth Century”), on 10 January 1929. 84 years of rising popularity that would have made his father, the born and bred Bruxellois Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983), better known by his pen name Hergé, proud-er.
Now I can’t claim I’m a huge fan but such an event cannot go unnoticed in Brussels! Reading about it flashed me back to our last visit to Tin Tin’s pied-à-terre, the Comic Strip Center where two of Belgium’s finest contributions to the world, comic strips and Art Nouveau come together in a beautiful setting; a semi-industrial building dating back to 1906, designed by Victor Horta for Charles Waucquez, a renowned textile wholesaler, who used it as a department store and storage warehouse; it is known to this day as ”anciens magasins Waucquez” or ”Waucquez warehouse” but after the merchant’s death the building was disused and neglected.
It only survived the brutal destruction of Bruxellisation thanks to architect Jean Delhaye, a student of Horta’s, who in 1975 succeeded in having the building listed as a heritage monument. Over a decade of constructive negotiations, finance agreements and major restoration later, the Belgian Comic Strip Center was born. It’s aim is to promote comic strips and maintain Horta’s beautiful architecture, on both of which it is doing mighty well, by housing permanent and temporary exhibitions.
I mentioned above that it is Tin Tin’s pied-à-terre, because his real home is the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve. Here in Brussels, there are just a few Tin Tin strips and models but there is so much more to lift one’s spirits and turn the gloomier winter grey into sunshine…
… like a temporary exhibition about ”The Spirit” with original strips by his creator and godfather of the term ”graphic novel”, Will Eisner ( 6 March 1917 – 3 January 2005):
Tin Tin and friends ready for intergalactic adventures:
Thomson & Thompson, the hilarious detectives that look like identical twins but are unrelated. The fellow with the pointy moustache is “Thomson, without a ‘P’, as in Venezuela” – Dupont in French. The chap with the droopy moustache is “Thompson, with a ‘P’, as in psychology” or “Philadelphia” – in French he would be Dupond:
Little Nemo in Slumberland and his walking bed, life-size:
Lovely fixtures to touch and excite the imagination; for kids of all ages:
Just in case the pen was not ”mightier than the sword”, the artist had every ammunition ready:
One of my favourite artists in permanent exhibition – Paul Cuvelier:
I do admire a good drawing hand – perhaps because mine tends to follow more ”abstract” routes:
There is also a cosy, laid-back brasserie; very Art Nouveau, very, very Brussels:
A grand entrance, invaded on the day by a filming crew shooting a French commercial. Sileeeeeeence! On tourrrrne! CUT! shouted the assistant every minute or so:
They were filming inside the shop; the bookshelf side was off-limits but we could still have a look on some models:
Will Eisner, from the Spirit to the graphic novel – exhibition open until 02.03.2014
Belgian Comic Strip Centre,
20, rue des Sables
Photography by Konstantinos Implikian
Brussels, 18 December 2013