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Brussels celebrates 75th anniversary of two of its comic book legends

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By Euronews
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A Blake and Mortimer mural in Brussels, Belgium, to celebrate 75 years of the comic book heroes.
A Blake and Mortimer mural in Brussels, Belgium, to celebrate 75 years of the comic book heroes.   -   Copyright  © 2021 Éditions Blake et Mortimer / Studio Jacobs (Dargaud-Lombard s.a)

Brussels is honouring the 75th anniversary of two of its most famous comic book characters.

Blake and Mortimer - part of comic book folklore - were created three-quarters of a century ago by Belgian cartoonist, Edgar P Jacobs.

To celebrate this, the Belgian capital has gone all out.

A mural in the city has been dedicated to the two heroes and starting from Wednesday, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre is devoting a whole exhibition to them.

The focus of this expo is on Blake and Mortimer's very first adventure: the Secret of the Swordfish.

According to Daniel Couvreur, the co-curator of the exhibition, it is with this original tale that the Brussels-born author left his mark on a whole generation and on comic book history.

"This is one of the first times that we allowed children to read with an adult eye. And so, for the young readers who came across a Blake and Mortimer comic book, things were extremely realistic," Couvreur told Euronews.

"And so as a young reader, you were taken for an adult and not as a child, even though you were reading something that was considered for children. In a way, it's also the precursor to graphic novels because it's an epic story with more than 140 pages."

But Jacobs' work didn't end with his death. Blake and Mortimer were given a new lease of life by younger authors and artists, inspired by the Belgian cartoonists' original work.

For Étienne Schréder - one of these next-generation authors - the exhibition brings back fond memories.

"On one hand, it gives me a nostalgic feeling of childhood memories, but on the other hand the feeling is much more serious and a sense of pride to be part of a real comic book legend. The revival of Blake and Mortimer is a successful gamble, so to be part of it certainly makes me feel happy," Schréder told Euronews.

For Schréder, the Blake and Mortimer stories gave both a sense of realism and credibility to comic books andthe themes addressed in this first adventure are still relevant - distributing international aid and a world in desperate need of rebuilding.