When I planned for Brussels, definitely on my list was the comic strip museum:Belgian comic strip centre(BCSC). Who won’t be interested to find out the origin of Tintin and captain Haddock and the village of smurfs ? Of course it was my first stop, in Brussels.
The location can be little tricky , but this big statue over here will guide you. It is not far from the Grand place, the exact address being: Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brussels. The centre is open everyday from 10 to 6. If you are booking Hop-off Hop-on, they will drop you near the centre. But it is not a good idea to book that bus in brussels, as the frequency is very less, and Hop off -hop on stop their service at 6 pm which is very early and you can see more after 6 pm. The entry included in Brussels card. Individual entry costs 10 euro for adults.
At the beginning of 20th Century, famous American publishers like Pulitzer and Hearst exchanged the artists and journalists from each other and few master piece was created like : The Yellow kid or Little memo in slumberland. The dawn of modern comics started from that time. The sketching, inking, colouring have been the cornerstone of every modern comics and animation.
The art of pencil drawing is the prime basic of any successful comic strip. The artist draws the main characters as soon as he receives the scenario , also he or she concentrates on sketching the background and location. In doing so sometimes they take pictures which later helps them to create more authentic pictures.
The art of inking is unique specially when the comic strip is black and white. Both brush or quill pen are used to perform the shadows, lights and contrasts. The colouring has added an extra dimension as the art progressed. Originally the blue print method was carried out, where mainly water colors are used, then came the direct colouring which required vigilant and skilful work of the artists to create the desired strips.
Once digital art came in the market, artist stared using computer to finish their work. Sophisticated softwares help them to give a dimension which was never thought to be achieved.The art of cover is the poster of a comic strip album, which along with holding the content, also serves the commercial purpose of originality and legibility so that it can stand out in thousand of work.Once the work is created by the artists and /or the script writer, it is handed over to a suitable publisher for printing and marketing.
With time the comic strip gave birth to many genres. The heroic fantasy originally started with going back to the tales of medieval period magic and sorcery. The science fiction embraced the galaxies, extra terrestrial beings, time warps , histories and futuristic scenarios.The graphic novels were made by classic adventure series, sometimes over hundred folios long.
First, the ides of comic strip was targeted to children but soon due to it’s popularity, it was written for all ages and all kind of people. It gave rise to the semi-realistic genre among Belgian publishers in late 20th century. Animal comic stripes came from the ideas from Aesop’s fables , they evoked human condition through anthropomorphic animals, which was a great success. La famille Fenouillard created by Christophe started a new genre called “family strip”. The press comics came into production, with expressing the current political affairs in terms of comics.
The educational comic strips used as a dynamic medium to deliver knowledge to a great number of readers. The comic strip was defined as a series of images forming a narrative in which the scenario is incorporated into the images , impregnated with the imagination and talent of the authors.
The first floor of the museum contains the history of comic strip and its progression. Then the upper hall has smurf house and The Hergé area,articulated around the façade of Marlinspike Hall, It shows the creative journey made by Hergé. Here also the paintings of Bob de moor are kept as a permanent collection of BCSC, which served as the layout for the interior of the museum.
The building of BCSC, the Magasins Waucquez designed by Victor Horta, was an abandoned building in 70’s. Ten years later, the place received a funding allocation thanks to Guy Dessicay, friend of Hergé and architect Jean Breydel. Later a nonprofit organisation was set up and the dilapidated building was bought by Belgian Buildings agency to establish the comic strip centre. Later Pierre Van Assche oversaw the renovation, with deliberate use of contemporary elements like luminous wall lamps, footbridges etc to match Horta’s work.
The upper hall houses the journey of 3D animated pictures which has gained increased popularity. The use of colours and different mediums has created a new horizon in the world of comic strip and animation.
It has been an amazing experience to visit the Belgian Comic Strip Centre ( almost as good as the chocolate museum to me), but if you are not interested in animation and comic strip , it may not be the place you want to visit in a short stay. But it would be a must if you are travelling with kids.
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