Comics mural in Belgium.

Comic Book Art in Brussels

Bandes Dessinées in Belgium

Flag of Belgium

Comics, or bandes dessinées or BD or bédé as they are known in French, are extremely popular in Belgium. After all, Belgium is the home of Tintin and the Smurfs.

Here are some pictures I took of the comic book murals scattered around Brussels. The helpful folks at Use-It have a map showing the locations of many of these. They are at Schildknaapsstraat / Rue de l'Ecuyer 24, or on-line at www.use-it.info.

You start seeing comic art before you even get out of the Midi Station where Thalys and the Eurostar arrive. Some classic Tintin panels are reproduced inside the station.

Comic book art in Brussels right out of the graphic novels: Tintin on the locomotive.
Comic book art in Brussels right out of the graphic novels: Tintin on the train.

Just outside the station, beyond an automated bank of rental bicycles, heading toward the large square and then on north toward the old center along Boulevard Lemmonier (or Maurice Lemonnierlaan), you see an large one covering the end of a building about eight stories high. This mural includes characters from many different BD series drawn in differing styles, as well as the yellow and white Eurostar train.

Comic book mural and a bicycle rental point just outside the Brussels Midi train station.
Comic and graphic novel art: Two animated characters are painting the wall.

Some of the art is trompe l'oeil or "trick of the eye" — it appears that comic characters are painting the wall on a rickety ladder, or Tintin and Captain Haddock are descending a fire escape. Or, they look as if someone has dropped something on a passerby's head, or a character is climbing from the rain gutter to an upper-floor window.

Comic and graphic novel art: Tintin and Captain Haddock climb down a fire escape.
Comic and graphic novel art: Bonk on the head!
Comic and graphic novel art: Climbing from the rain gutter to the upper-floor window.
Comic and graphic novel art: Mannikin Pis holds them up.

Some are surreal, some show a scene similar to their surroundings, all of them use the available space creatively.

Comic and graphic novel art: Block Kat Builds Block Kat.
Comic and graphic novel art: Jumping on the ceiling disturbs the people below: a cut-away view of a house.
Comic and graphic novel art: Architectural details.
Comic and graphic novel art: Boy and dog.
Comic and graphic novel art: Busy street with the boy and dog again.
Comic and graphic novel art: The investigator peeks through the fence.
Comic and graphic novel art: The bad monkey.
Comic and graphic novel art: The lady and her leopard.
Comic and graphic novel art: Lady of the lake.
Comic and graphic novel art: Streetcar corner.
Comic and graphic novel art: The streetcar line, tram stop on line 18.
Comic and graphic novel art: An elegant couple steps out for an evening on the town.
Comic and graphic novel art: What's up with these two?
Comic and graphic novel art: Climbing the tree to catch the birds.

Buying Comics in Brussels

There are lots of places to buy comics in Brussels. Bibliopolis has good prices, most every title they carry is marked down. They seem to be a remaindered book outlet.

It's easy to find. One of their locations is at 16 et 30 Boulevard Lemmonier (or Maurice Lemonnierlaan), about two-thirds of the way along the main street from the Midi Station to the Bourse. See their web site for details: www.bibliopolis.be.

However, for the best selection, go to the two BD stores along Boulevard Anspach just south of the Bourse. Brüsel is at #100 and Multi-BD is at #122-124. When I was there and went to both stores, Multi-BD had slightly better prices (1€ off the list price) and possibly a slightly bigger selection.

Both have a vast array of titles. They both seem to carry all of the Belgian titles, many in Flemish in addition to Walloons (French). Plus a number of foreign titles.

Here I have repaired to a classic Brussels cafe to read Hellboy in the original French while sipping a Kwak from its specialized glassware.

Hellboy learns about the deadly frogs: 'Ouh!  Ca alors...  Bizarre.'  'Toutes ces grenouilles dans ma chambre.'  'DES GRENOUILLES?!?  TIRE-TOI DE LA!  TOUT DE SUITE!'

For more on comics, see my page about the Otakon anime/manga conference in Baltimore.


Where next?

Belgian Beers and Brussels Cafes
Art Nouveau Architecture in Brussels
Another destination in Belgium
International travel suggestions