It fell to the land of Tintin to create the world's first museum dedicated to the ninth art—comic strips. While comics have often struggled for artistic recognition in English-speaking countries, they have been taken seriously in Belgium for decades. In the Belgian Comic Strip Center, they are wedded to another strongly Belgian art form: Art Nouveau. Based in an elegant 1903 Victor Horta–designed building, the museum is long on the history of the genre, if a little short on kid-friendly interaction. Tintin, the cowlicked adventurer created in 1929 by the late, great Brussels native Georges Remi (better known as Hergé), became a hit cartoon character worldwide after making his debut in the long-running Belgian comic Spirou. But it's not all about Tintin; other Spirou artists, including Peyo (The Smurfs), Morris (Lucky Luke), Andre Franquin (Marsupilami and Gaston), Jean Van Hamme, and William Vance (XIII) are also celebrated. The collection includes more than 400 original
plates and 25,000 cartoon works; those not exhibited can be viewed in the archive. There have also been some excellent temporary exhibitions, featuring work from the likes of iconic U.S. cartoonist Will Eisner. A library and a lovely Art Nouveau brasserie are added incentives, but best of all is the excellent bookshop, which sells a comprehensive collection of graphic novels and comic books, albeit largely in French or Dutch. If you enjoy such things, keep an eye out for the comic-strip murals that dot the city; walking maps showing the location of each one can be found at the tourist information office. There is also a museum dedicated solely to the works of Tintin's creator, which is around 30 minutes's drive from the city in Louvain-La-Neuve (trains from Brussels Midi take about an hour) and is called the Hergé Museum. It is located on rue du Labrador 26 (which is also the fearless reporter's original address in the comic books) and is a must if you're a fan, as it's packed with original sketches, documents, and items that inspired his beloved creations.