This year’s Comic Strip Festival in Brussels will celebrate the 60th anniversary of famous Belgian comic character Gaston Lagaffe, organisers have announced.
The gag-a-day comic strip was created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist André Franquin in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou.
Taking place on 1-3rd September 2017, Brussels eighth Comic Strip Festival moves to the Palais des Beaux-Arts / BOZAR this year, the city’s Centre for Fine Arts.
The Festival has changed a lot since it was created in 2010 by visit.brussels. Launched in the wake of a themed year devoted to the so-called “Ninth Art” in the Belgian capital, the Comic Strip Festival now welcomes nearly 100,000 visitors and more than 250 comic strip authors every year.
Boasting an international pavilion that hosts 15 delegations, a parade of giant balloons representing a host of cartoon heroes, and a rally of classic cars straight off the pages of the greatest comics, the Comic Strip Festival has established itself as a key date on the Brussels calendar.
André Franquin’s anti-hero Gaston Lagaffe has been entertaining generation after generation – and yet he hasn’t aged a bit!
First appearing in 1957, Gaston is a serial blunderer and a great believer in putting in minimal effort. A keen handyman, he has also created many inventions which always seem to go wrong, to the dismay of his employer.
André Franquin, who died in 1997, is considered the grandmaster of the so-called “School of Marcinelle”, the group of artists that worked for the magazine Spirou during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s and Gaston LaGaffe is one of his most popular creations. André was able to tackle serious issues such as pollution or the economic crisis with humour and sensitivity, and the work has achieved lasting popularity.
Collections of the strip have been translated in close to 25 different languages and dialects, making Gaston a global character, and the character will again appear in English later this year as “Gomer Goof”, published by Cinebook, who also publish Lucky Luke, Valerian and many other European albums.
Over on his blog, Lew Stringer notes the name change has caused some controversy already but there’s a precedent because Fantagraphics used Gomer Goof when they translated some Gaston Lagaffe strips in the 1990s, so Cinebook are sticking with that.
Celebrating 60 years of this absent-minded oddball, Gaston will be the mascot for this year’s Brussels Comic Strip Festival. He will be honoured through various activities: a giant Gaston balloon unveiled during the Balloon Parade, several conferences and an exhibition.
It’s an unmissable event for comic book lovers.
• For more information and regular updates on the Brussels Comic Strip Festival visit: www.fetedelabd.brussels
• Find out more about Gaston LaGaffe: www.gastonlagaffe.com
• More about André Franquin: www.franquin.com
• Gomer Goof Volume 1: Mind the Goof! will be published in July. Pre-order it now via Amazon.co.uk
• Visit the Cinebook website for details of all their European albums, on sale in all good bookshops across the UK and North America: www.cinebook.co.uk