Cynthia Rose on Belgian Comics
Their tale is as unlikely as it is significant. Few of these artists had dreamed of working in anything like cartooning. Whether it was a life at sea, fine art or detective fiction, their first ambitions were a reaction to the Belgium where they grew up. Society there was mostly sober, parochial and largely Catholic. But then came the World War II, Occupation and Liberation – the first utterly traumatizing, the latter establishing a Euro-dependence on its “liberator.”
From films to comics, cars to clothes, all of Europe felt the pull of post-War US style. But, within a decade, these artists managed to fuse it with a European and Francophone experience. Certainly the best of them – Hergé, Franquin, Morris, and Macherot – drew like geniuses. But it was really thanks to insight, intuition and sheer insouciance that they transformed modest genre stories into something all their own. They gave the European comic an architecture much of which remains with it today.