A Museum to the Ninth Art

I have no idea what the first eight are (I mean, weren’t there nine muses to begin with?), but the ninth is the comic strip, and the Belgians take their comics seriously and celebrate them at the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
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And if you’re saying, “Who doesn’t?”, then this is the museum for you!

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And what is a comic? Here's their definition.

I love the unending variety, detail, and emotion you can accomplish with pen-and-ink, though many of the original working pages on display show how many drafts and mock-ups goes into every single page (it was a good reminder for the drafts needed in proper writing). Pencil, pen over pencil, pen on tracing paper, final draft ready for inking. And how do they ink everything so perfectly? Right up to the line, no spots of pooled ink, no blurs. I’d like to study how it’s done.

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A sample of a recent page-in-progress.

Most of the strips were in French, but that made my favorite part of comics — the onomatopaeas — even more fun!

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There is, of course, great celebration of Hergé and Tintin, but they are only a small part of the exhibits here. The regular exhibits focus mainly on Belgian and French artists, but special exhibits also highlight contemporaries from around the world.

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Tintin's official bust

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A cautionary sign on the marble staircase.

I was introduced to Posey Simmonds of Great Britain, who besides being an illustrator for The Guardian for almost twenty years has illustrated children’s books in various styles and done two graphic novels of Thomas Hardy in contemporary settings. She is talented, witty, and accomplishes a lot.

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For my writing friends.

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Original darling title page by Posey Simmonds.

The artists I was most impressed with were ones who demonstrated a great range of styles and cared a lot about accuracy and detail.

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The gun on this next is for accuracy, not (necessarily) self-defense.

The store was fun, but thankfully eberything was in French, so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything. But I’ll definitely be hanging out with my friend Anita next Free Comic Book Day!

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