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Comic strips in Belgium : two schools, two approaches, one great art

Comic strips and Belgium : a true love story, nourished by over 70 years of eccentric, fantastic, funny and sometimes touching adventures. It would of course be impossible to retrace an exhaustive overview of the Ninth Art.

For centuries, Belgium was the creative workshop of comic strips across Europe. Nevertheless it is just two heroes that led the nation's comic strip history single-handedly to fame : Tintin and Spirou. Respectively a journalist and a bellboy, these two bold heroes revealed two diametrically opposite styles to the public. Tintin and Spirou, the story of Hergé and Franquin, two fundamentally different but also very Belgian authors. Tintin and Spirou : two weekly magazines, two publishers (Le Lombard and Dupuis) two graphic schools, two sensitivities that led to a more than 30-year long competition. Tintin and Hergé represent the 'Ecole de Bruxelles' (more realist, characterised by the 'ligne claire'), Spirou and Franquin (but also Jigé), the 'Ecole de Marcinelle' (or 'Ecole de Charleroi'). This opposition in style inspired the Belgian comic strip scene between 1939 and 1975. Today, the implicit confrontation between the two schools is less perceptible, differences have given way to similarities, but, unshakable, Belgium perpetuates the tradition of Comic strip history by offering courses dedicated to graphic arts, paving the way to success for the leading young talents of the Belgian comic-strip scene! A guarantee for the future : there will still be many balloons to celebrate Belgium's success! Nicolas Alsteen

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