Le Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, or as I shall call it, the Cartoon Museum of Brussels, is a place worth visiting if cartoons and comic strips interest you in the slightest. The museum is bigger than I expected, 4 floors I believe, and has an extensive gift shop offering thousands of comic strip collections, many of which I had never seen before.
Of course, most of them are in French, but there are sections that cater to other languages, and heck, many of the books are worth perusing for the artwork alone. Most of the displays, as well, are labeled in French and Dutch, which can cause a little displacement after a few hours, for those of us who read mainly in English.
Still, there are larger than life displays, numerous activities, and rows and rows of artwork to see. Altogether, it is a very nice presentation, covering everything from the artists, their tools, their influences, popularity, etc.
Tintin, of course, prevails over the museum, although I was disappointed that another favorite of mine, Asterix, was resigned to a small statue in the lobby and a tiny little alcove on the top floor. I really wanted to see several examples of original art from Asterix and Obelix, but could not find any. The museum is a big place, as mentioned, and after a while I found myself walking faster to assure that I didn't miss anything particularly interesting.
A majority of the Artists found here ar European, if not specifically Belgian. I recognized some of the artwork here, but knew very few of the names. There were a few examples of American Artists, so I assume the museum is not strictly European in it's representation. If so, there were many great Artists from America, Japan, and others that I would have liked to see present there as well.
One problem with the Eurocentric displays is that so many of the European artists are very, very much influenced by Herge's Tintin, Asterix, and a few others, to the point that so much of the art starts to blend together. I mean, why look at copy after copy of Tintin, when there are Herge originals to enjoy? None of the copies seemed as interesting as the original, but the amount of them shows there must be a high demand for this kind of work in Belgium.
Now, I do not wish to disparage all of the European Artists. As I mentioned, there were several that I recognized, and many that I want to learn more about. American Artists could learn a few things from the European Comics Masters, especially in the areas of Backgrounds.
We all know that backgrounds are not my forte, so I was especially fascinated to see so much artwork where the backgrounds are so rich in detail, and truly set a scene in mood and place. Very inspirational, which is what a trip to a museum should be.