The Spirit of Will Eisner @ The Belgian Comic Strip Center, Brussels

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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.

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Memories of Christmas

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.

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The Waucquez warehouse in 1920

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):

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Tin Tin and friends ready for intergalactic adventures:

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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:

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Little Nemo in Slumberland and his walking bed, life-size:

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A gentleman guarding the staircase:
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Lovely fixtures to touch and excite the imagination; for kids of all ages:

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Just in case the pen was not ”mightier than the sword”, the artist had every ammunition ready:

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One of my favourite artists in permanent exhibition – Paul Cuvelier:

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I do admire a good drawing hand – perhaps because mine tends to follow more ”abstract” routes:

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There is also a cosy, laid-back brasserie; very Art Nouveau, very, very Brussels:

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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:

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They were filming inside the shop; the bookshelf side was off-limits but we could still have a look on some models:

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Will Eisner, from the Spirit to the graphic novel – exhibition open until 02.03.2014

Belgian Comic Strip Centre,
20, rue des Sables
Brussels

Photography by Konstantinos Implikian

Brussels, 18 December 2013

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19 thoughts on “The Spirit of Will Eisner @ The Belgian Comic Strip Center, Brussels

  1. Pingback: The Cauchie House @ Brussels « Lia in Brussels

  2. Lia, this is fabulous – beautifully written and photographed! As a huge fan of Art Nouveau I’m so glad that Delhaye managed to save the building. Then turning it into the Belgian Comic Strip Center was a stroke of genius. I learned so much. Thanks! ~Terri

    • Thank you so much Terri! It’s such a beautiful, cheerful place – nothing special on the outside, as it was purpose built as a warehouse but Horta couldn’t miss the opportunity to dress it up with some of his splendid trademark touches on the inside! Lovingly restored, no wonder it’s one of the most popular attractions in Brussels!

    • Yep! I did my fair share of Tin Tin reading too… And who could have thought I’d be living in his hometown a few years later? About his hairstyle: I think Spielberg may have something to do with the trend though!

    • Thank you so much! I really do like a good drawing hand; combined with a vivid imagination, there are some incredible stories out there… although I don’t have to go farther than our bookselves at home… bursting with them!

  3. Such a lovely report! For one of my favorite past times. I just grew up reading Tin Tin and my amazement was great to see the policemen not being Ντυπόν & Ντιπόν… Thank you for this one as well!

    • You are welcome! 🙂 I always have a lovely time in the Comic Strip Center; laid back, cool, cheerful, gorgeous! And these guys, Dupond & Dupont like to blend in every country/region, don’t they? They even change their name to fit the language!

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