Caroline Westberg is a student at the University of South Carolina and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.
Since arriving in Brussels in early January, I have become particularly fond of wandering this charming city’s winding streets and discovering the diversity of art on display for the casual passerby. What makes Brussels street art unique, however, is the dominating presence of comic book murals! Brussels has more comic book artists per square kilometre than any other country in the world, and the “comic strip culture” is deeply rooted in the history of the city. Although there are many other magnificent works of art lining the streets in Brussels, I have stumbled upon a few that I have had the opportunity to capture in my time here so far. I have decided to include a mixture of comics and other cultural art pieces, each with their own story.
1. “Manneken Peace”
This modern satirical painting of the renowned “Manneken Pis,” a 61 cm tall sculpture of a little boy peeing, sits in an alleyway adjacent to the original sculpture. The miniscule sculpture has become a popular symbol in Brussels, and holds numerous historical legends and can often be found wearing different outfits throughout the year. If you pay particularly close attention while roaming the streets of Brussels, you can find ironic jabs at this sculpture in various street art mediums.
This comic fresco was the first in Brussels, depicting a young couple exploring the city. The characters are from a comic series called Brousaille, created by Belgian comic book artist Frank Pé.
3. Victor Sackville
Located on Rue du Marché au Charbon, this fresco displays the street as it looked in the First World War. The hero in the mural is Victor Sackville from Francis Carin’s ‘Death at the Opera’. Sackville is a secret agent new to Brussels on a mission from King George V. The belfry of the Church of Bon Secours in Brussels is visible on the right.
4. Ric Hochet
The comic strip “Ric Hochet” was created by artist Tibet, alias of Gilbert Gascard, a French artist who drew for the comics magazine Tintin. This particular mural blends in with the surrounding buildings and Cobblestone Street and depicts Ric Hochet, an athletic journalist investigator, hanging from a gutter and rescuing a damsel in distress.
5. Nero Wall
This mural was created by a Flemish comic book artist, Marc Sleen. The main character is pulled from his series “The Adventures of Nibbs”. Nibbs is the Flemish word for Nero, the most famous character created by Sleen, seen in this mural feeding the birds. Nero is an enthusiastic creature who deems himself as the Roman emperor. Sleen regularly incorporates significant sights of Brussels in his comics, including the Court House, Sablon, and the STIB public transportation system.
Cubitus is an adorable anthropomorphic dog drawn by cartoonist Dupa that gets into a series of misadventures while seeking bones to gnaw. In this particular mural, he has ironically switched places with the infamous Manneken Pis.
7. L’Ange De Engel
This pristine angel is tucked neatly away on Rue des Chartreux, a unique street filled with antique stores and thrift shops. It was painted by Yslaire, the Belgian cartoonist-drawer of other series such as “Sambre” and “Bidouille et Violette”.
8. Oliver Rameau
This mural was created by the cartoonist Dany, or Daniel Henrotin. It depicts Oliver Rameau, a character in Dany’s 1968 series that was published in the Tintin magazine. Olivier Rameau is holding his hand out to Colombe Tiredaile in a dream-like world where payment is with joy, songs, and laughter rather than money.
This fairly new mural was drawn by Yoann, a comic artist, and executed by Urbana, a graffiti artist. The mural is located in the Marolles district of Brussels on Rue Notre-Dame De Gráces. The scene depicts Spirou, a character from the Franco-Belgian comic series “Spirou et Fantasio”. The comic series is about two journalists who encounter wild adventures.
10. Quick & Flupke
Another famous mural located in the Marolles district, this illustration is of Quick & Flupke, two mischievous boys from the series “Quick and Flupke” created by the reknowned comic cartoonist Hergé. Hergé also created the more widely known series, “The Adventures of Tintin”.
Want to read more about Brussels? Check out “4 Places to Visit While in Brussels, Belgium”