Statues of comic book characters in Belgium.
In Belgium, comic strips are known as the “ninth art”, after architecture (the first art), sculpture (the second), painting, dance, music, poetry, cinema, and television. (I suppose the Internet one day will be considered the tenth.) And rightly so as Belgians are damned good at creating comics: think of TINTIN, LUCKY LUKE, THE SMURFS, GASTON LAGAFFE, LARGO WINCH, XIII.
During my childhood, Willy Vandersteen’s SUSKE & WISKE (image 2) were monstrously popular. From the 1940s to the 1990s, I reckon it was the most popular comic in Holland and Belgium. I doubt there’s a single Dutch-speaking kid my age who doesn’t know all the characters—everyone had at least a few or their albums, with their distinctive red covers. Its spinoffs were popular too. The series is ongoing, but its heyday was from the 1940s to the mid-1960s, when it approached absolute perfection, with its suspense, humor, stories, characters, and art style. There are several statues of Suske & Wiske in fact, the one pictured here is in Middelkerke.
Natacha (image 1) also was a favorite comic of mine, growing up. I was drawn to female characters; I’ve featured Dutch comic FRANKA before. Comics without females hardly interested me, which is why I never really liked TINTIN as a kid—and yes, I know who Bianca Castafiore is. It was such a boys’ world.