Sunday, July 03, 2011

Saying Hullo to Tintin

A visitor to Brussels may be told to visit the Atomium or the City Place or the numerous cathedrals. But if you are a comic buff, and a fan of Tintin at that, a visit to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (BCSC) is a must. Brussels prides itself as the comic strip capital of the world. And the reason? With more than 700 comic strip authors, it has the maximum authors per square kilometre than anywhere else.

Don't let this very ordinary sounding name - BCSC - fool you. The centre is a true treasure trove of all Belgian comic characters from the 30s, and of course includes so many more comic strips beyond just Tintin. My only regret was that I don't understand French - this meant I had to ignore several comic strips on display. Content with a folder written in English offered in the reception area, I proceeded to the various sections of the centre.

The entrance foyer is framed by the model of the famous rocket that carried Tintin, Haddock, Calculus, Snowy, and Thom(p)sons to the moon.

You then go into a series of displays that depict how a comic strip is made. Boy !!! It takes an army to get the comic out. The scriptwriter comes up with the idea for the strip along with the synopsis and characters. Once the idea has been approved by the publisher and the artist, the artist takes over. He is the director of the entire event and draws the sketches, background and panels. The lettering artist now adds the lettering and speech bubbles while the colouring artist transforms this to colour. The printer now prints these glossies while the marketing and publishing teams roll out the promotion, distribution, syndication & merchandising.

Artist Version
Lettering Artist Version
Colouring Artist Version

Past a few more panel halls, you enter the area dedicated to Tintin. To me, this section was the highlight. A simple grid depicts every Tintin comic from 1930 (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets) till 1976 (Tintin and the Picaros) along with the characters featured in them. I learned that after Tintin and Snowy who have featured in all 23 comics, the next highest starring is not to Captain Haddock (15), but to the Thom(p)sons (18).

The Grid

You are struck by the face of Tintin that is almost expressionless - yet conveys much - and his disguises.

Captain Haddock's expressions on the other hand leave the reader in no doubt of his emotions.

Snowy is the hero in every situation while the 'heroes' of Scotland Yard continue to bumble.

And the centre features a separate area displaying endorsements of our favorite characters over the years.

I concluded with a visit to the shop at the BCSC that also had Asterix memorablia - and an Obelix collectible (with a menhir) was promptly purchased for Priya.

The visit most definitely took me back to my childhood years when Tintin & Asterix occupied much of my reading space. The next time you are in Brussels, do pay a visit to the BCSC. Definitely worth it.

PS: Wife was very happy with the gift. Whew !!!

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