EUROPEAN COMICS: Franco-Belgian comics

And here we are with Comc book-Tuesday! 🙂


Get a load of Europe

They’re not as famous as  japanese nor american comics, but European comic books need to be recognised!

The origins of European comics date back to 18th century caricatures and illustrated picture books such as Wilhelm Busch‘ “Max and Moritz”. The early 19th century Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer is regarded by many as the “father of the modern comic” and his publication Histoire de M. Vieux Bois is sometimes called the first “comic book”. (for more information ckick here!)

Franco-Belgian comicsSpanish comics, and Italian comics are historically amongst the dominant scenes of European comics. But, in the “European comic book world”, we mustn’t exclude the U. K., Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands,  Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Hungry, Albania etcetera etcetera… You get it! Every country’s comic book is important 😉

Even thuogh they’re so many, they all have some main characteristics: they present themselves as “comic albums”.

General info

The typical album is printed in large format, generally with high quality paper and colouring, roughly A4-sized, approx. 21×30 centimetres (8.4×11.6 in), has around 40-60 pages, but examples with more than 100 pages are common. While sometimes referred to as graphic novels, this term is rarely used in Europe, and is not always applicable as albums often consist of separate short stories, placing them somewhere halfway between a comic book and a graphic novel. The European comic genres vary from the humorous adventure vein, such as “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Asterix”, especially in its earliest forms, to more adult subjects like “Tex Willer” and “Diabolik”. As for they’re so many we’ll concentrate only on some of them!


Franco-Belgian comics

Franco-Belgian comics are comics that are created in Belgium and France. These countries have a long tradition in comics and comic books, where they are known as BDs, an abbreviation of bande dessinée (literally drawn strip) in French andstripverhalen (literally strip stories) in Dutch. The Flemish Belgian comic books (originally written in Dutch) are influenced by francophone comics, yet have a distinctly different style. Many other European comics, especially Italian comics, are strongly influenced by Franco-Belgian comics.


Before World War II, comics were almost exclusively published as tabloid size newspapers (Tabloid format measures 432 x 279 mm or 17 x 11 inches). Now, they were sized about half that, which is incredibly more handy. The comics are almost always colored all the way through, and, when compared to American comics, rather large (roughly A4 standard).

Comics are also often published as collected albums, with about 40-50 pages, after the run is finished in the magazine. Lately, most comics are published exclusively as albums and do not appear in the magazines at all.


There are two distinct styles within the school:

  1. The Realistic:
    As mentioned, late Tintin is a classic example of the realistic style. The comics are often laborously detailed, making the pictures interesting to look at for times on end. Another trait is the often “slow” drawings, with little to no speed-lines, and strokes that are almost completely even. It is also known as the Belgian clean line style. This was exhibited in magazines like Vaillant, Tintin, and Métal Hurlant.
  2. The Comic-Dynamic:
    This is the almost Barksian line of Franquin and Uderzo. Pilote is almost exclusively comic-dynamic, and so is Spirou and l’Écho des Savannes. These comics have very agitated drawings, often using lines of varying thickness to accent the drawings.

The newer comics don’t really fall into the old styles, and have evolved into something completely different. 



And keep in mind that…

If there is information about some of the abovementioned styles of European comic books you would like to know more about, write a comment! 😉


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