One of the most creative ways to explore Brussels is by taking the Comic Book Route. This is a project that has started in 1991 with the intention to embellish empty walls in the city while paying tribute to famous Belgian comic artists. The route itself features over 50 mural paintings from iconic greats to lesser-known characters.
Here follows the top 10 according to me:
1. Brousaille Wall
The Broussaille Wall was the first comic strip mural to be painted in July 1991. The wall illustrates a cheerful couple, Broussaille and his girlfriend, going for a brisk walk around the city. Based on a comic series created by Frank Pé, the series was first published in 1978.
2. Victor Sackville Wall
Not too far from the Broussaille Wall is the Victor Sackville Wall. The scene on the wall comes from The Opera of Death, the first comic of the Code Zimmerman series created by Francis Carin. Here, the main character Victor Sackville – a British spy that lands in Brussels – is introduced. Interesting fact alert: the street scene represents the Rue du Marché Au Charbon as it looked during WWI.
3. Lucky Luke
Known as ‘the man who shoots faster than his shadow’, Lucky Luke is artist Morris’s parody of old American westerns. The comic is composed of several characters such as the Dalton brothers, identical looking outlaws, Lucky Luke’s sarcastic white horse, and Rantanplan, a simple-minded prison guard dog.
4. Jojo Wall
Situated in the Marolles district, the Jojo Wall illustrates the small but priceless moment in the life of a 7-year-old boy. Jojo is a comic strip created in 1983 by André Geerts. The strip is about the small-scale, real life but humorous adventures of a cheerful boy who lives with his grandma in a place where the city meets the countryside. A drawing style of the author was dynamic and fragile, with lots of curves and pastel colors.
5. Ric Hochet Wall
The Ric Hochet Wall was designed in 1994 by G. Oreopoulos and D. Vandegeerde. This comic strip mural represents the famous hero Ric Hochet, illustrated by Tibet and Duchâteau. The adventures of this savvy reporter started in magazine Tintin on March 30, 1955. Over the course of 78 albums, he outplayed the most dangerous lunatics and the biggest charlatans.
6. Le Jeune Albert Wall
The brilliant mural by Jeune Albert is a drawing of Yves Chaland, one of the greatest French cartoonists that nobody recognizes. He was killed in a car accident when he was 33 and hardly had time to make a breakthrough. Renowned artists reference him as a great example, and collectors fight over the modest collection of work that he left behind. Here, Chaland’s comic about outrageous, cruel boyish pranks of a kid growing up in post-war Brussels is replicated.
7. Blondin and Cirage Wall
Next stop is the Blondin and Cirage Wall, which is a drawing from comic strip series created by godfather and pioneer of the Belgian comic strip Joseph Gillain, who was also known as Jijé. The series features two young boys, Blondin who solves problems through reasoning and his crazy friend, Cirage, who prefers direct action. They savored their first adventures between 1939 and 1942 in Catholic magazine Petits Belges.
8. Odilon Verjus Wall
A few strides away you’ll find the Laurent Verron drawing, the beautiful lady so gallantly helped by a sturdily built missionary and his frightened novice. This is the famous cabaret singer and dancer, Josephine Baker. You can tell that she’s the star of this mural, yet she only plays a role in three of the seven comics.
9. Olivier Rameau’s Wall
Just a few strides from Manneken Pis is one of the most festive comic strip murals. The Olivier Rameau Wall attracts a lot of attention. The fantasy series was invented in 1968 by cartoonist Dany and writer Greg. In this comic series, Olivier, Mr. Relevant and stunning beauty Dove Tiredaile join in on fun adventures in a world full of fantasy and dreams.
10. Adventures of Tintin
He might be a fictional character but that hasn’t stopped Tintin becoming a national treasure. The adventures of a young Belgian reporter Tintin, and his beloved sidekick and companion Snowy the dog has captured imaginations since 1929 and his popularity continues to this day. This particular escapade is from The Calculus Affair which is set in the tense climate of the Cold War.