A lot for comic lovers in Brussels this year

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When it comes to Comics, no country celebrates the 9th art like Belgium. This year once again, European capital Brussels is honouring the bande dessinée with a number of key events. Such an array of activities would be impossible to overlook. From the
unmissable comics festival to the book fair, taking in the Smurf Experience, the capital of the 9th art is honouring it more than ever this year.

From its early beginnings in the 19th century, the Belgian bande dessinée or comic strip has garnered truly worldwide fame. Many comic illustrators and scriptwriters from our country, and Brussels artists in particular, have earned recognition far beyond our borders. As the acknowledged capital of the comic, Brussels has continually honoured the 9th art: museums, galleries, markets, festivals and specialist stores dedicated purely to the bande dessinée.

To promote this rich comic heritage, Brussels and Belgian comic artists will be there in force again at the 45th Angoulême International Comic Festival. And, thanks to the support of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Belgian publishers and authors will have the pleasure of unveiling their works to their audience in Angoulême. 2018 is also “Smurf Year” culminating in the organisation of one exceptional event: The Smurf Experience. Aside from the comics festival taking place from 14–16 September, the Belgian capital is offering a series of activities centring on the 9th art right through the year, a taste of which is to follow.

The Smurfs are celebrating their 60th birthday

It all began back in 1958. These tiny blue creatures, fruit of Peyo’s imagination, first appeared in another series by the same author, ” Johan and Pirlouit “, and instantly won the hearts of readers demanding new stories about the Smurfs. In 2018, they will be celebrating their 60th birthday.

This Smurfantastic year will be marked by several events: the 5th iconic Brussels Airlines aircraft will be taking off with a Smurf makeover, a gigantic comic mural will be inaugurated at the heart of the capital and a surprise will be unveiled on the Grand-Place of Brussels. Moreover, the Smurfs share a birthday with another symbol of Brussels, the Atomium which is also celebrating its 60th birthday, with another surprise to mark this double celebration. Lastly, there will be a thrills at the Belgian National Day festivities (21 July) at the 20 km Brussels and at the Vandamme Memorial athletics championship – with the highlight being the holding of a special event: The Smurfs, an immersion experience.

The new Flemish comic strip

The new Flemish comic festival brings together a string of talented authors, who are all developing their own individual style. However, their artistic differences do not stop these hungry young artists from sharing the same ambition: conquering the world (of the comic strip). They include Brecht Evens, Nix, Olivier Schrauwen, Pieter de Poortere, Simon Spruyt and Judith Vanistendael. Translated into several languages, they are renowned for their illustrating and scriptwriting qualities, both in Belgium and internationally.

Dates : until 03/06/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Chinese comic panorama

While the oldest illustrated Chinese book dates from 868, well before Gutenberg invented the printing press, the manhua (Chinese comic strip) really began to take off in the first half of the 20th century, as it did in Belgium. Mr Wang, the first serial comic strip hero, appeared in 1929, the same year as Tintin. And Sanmao, the most famous Chinese comic strip character, was created in 1935, at the same time as ” the Blue Lotus “, Tintin’s adventure in China! Yet the Chinese comic strip also includes the lianhuanhua, which has its origins in a thousand- year tradition of storytelling through images.

Dates : 13/02/2018 > 09/09/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Everybody loves Tintin

The comic strip will be exhibiting at the Brussels Book Fair

At its Imaginary Palace, the Brussels Book Fair will be offering wonderful live drawing sessions featuring the stars of the 9th art such as Enki Bilal, Benoît Sokal or François Boucq. This workshop will offer an opportunity for a total immersion in the world of comic strip artists with multimedia screenings. At the Comix Factory, visitors will also get a chance to enjoy the buzz of a drawing studio and to learn more about the comic strip of tomorrow, somewhere between tradition and the digital world. Don’t miss : the Comics Night on 23 February. This festive evening will be inviting all authors present to take part in an impressive mural that will impress everybody.

Dates : 22 > 25/02/2018

Location : Tour & Taxis

The Smurf Experience

60 years after their creation, 2018 will be “Smurf Year” culminating in an exceptional highlight event: The Smurf Experience. The world conceived by Peyo will come to life through a series of unique experiences, taking place over a full-immersion circuit. An unforgettable family experience will also be highlighting Smurf values: friendship, tolerance, working together, respect for others and nature. The wonderful world of the Smurfs will extend over 1500 m2. Using holograms, enhanced reality or Kinect effects, both children and adults will learn about the customs of this restless and peaceful tribe, even when they are threatened by their sworn enemy, the infamous Gargamel, who will not rest until he has erased this haven of peace from the face of the earth! And the little ones will get a chance to fulfil their dream of experiencing a real Smurf adventure in Smurf skin and at Smurf scale.

Dates : 09/06/2018 > 29/01/2019

Location : Brussels Expo

Catel : Women’s careers in drawing

Catel has become, in just two decades, a big celebrity in the the French-language comic strip scene, through her portraits of famous women. The Strasbourg-born artist started out by illustrating a number of comic books and annuals for children before drawing her first fictionalised biographies. Meeting the author and screenplay writer José-Louis Bocquet would have a formative effect on the trajectory of her work. Together, they would tackle an album dedicated to Edith Piaf. The graphic novels “Kiki de Montparnasse”, “Olympe de Gouges” and “Joséphine Baker” would follow. She will be meeting Benoîte Groult and talking about the life of Rose Valland and also Mylène Demongeot. Somewhere between graphic literature and comic strip, Catel has earned a retrospective at the Comic Strip Museum.

Dates : 19/06/2018 > 25/11/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Magasin Général

Magasin Géneral (General Store) is series drawn and written by Régis Loisel and Jean-Louis Tripp. The two colleagues combined their talents from 2006 to 2014 in creating, in nine instalments (or volumes!), a moving village symphony, which brings 1920s rural Quebec marvellously to life. As funny as it is sweet.

Dates : 25/09/2018 > 10/03/2019

Location : Comic Strip Museum


In the early 80s, the Belgian illustrator Willy Linthout dreamt up a comic strip based on the Belgian comic Urbanus. « Het fritkotmysterie » (or the chip shop mystery) is the first album in a saga that would run for more than 170 episodes. Purposefully loud, with its absurd characters and amazing story lines, it was enormously successful. Welcome to the surrealist universe of Urbanus!

Dates : 11/12/2018 > 26/05/2019

Location : Comic Strip Museum

The Brussels Comics Festival, the 9th fair for the ninth art !

Since its launch in 2010, the Comics Festival has become the essential meeting point for all comics lovers. Young and old, amateurs or specialists, everyone shares a passion for the ninth art and each year they meet at various activities put on for them. Last year, in 2017, the Comics Festival presented the Atomium Comic Strip Prize for the first time. This was Brussels’ way of showing its support for creative endeavour, bringing together existing initiatives by awarding these prizes, the majority of which were presented as cash prizes to enable the winners to finance their work. In total, at least 100,000 euros in prize money was given out to 7 artists.

Given the notable success of this first round, prizes are being awarded again this year with some new features to be announced shortly.

Dates : 14 > 16 /09/2018

Location : Brussels Park


Cars on the stroll!

The comic figure giant balloon parade will be taking over the capital on the weekend of the Comics Festival. The spectacular balloon inflation will begin in the morning. In the afternoon, Spirou, Tintin, Le Chat, Boule, Lucky Luke and their new friends will start their annual game and will be taking over the main streets of Brussels. It will then be the turn of the ancestors of the Tintin Rally to sweep into the capital ending their journey on the Place des Palais.

Date : Comics Festival

Location : Brussels city centre

So, lot to love in these comic characters celebrated in Belgium like nowhere else. Many events to plan in advance. Just be there, if you love comics.

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