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Friday, July 19, 2024


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Comics Museums Around The World

4 min read
From San Francisco to London to Belgium, and Kyoto, go to where it all began. See how your favourite characters were born and discover the process of how it all came together

There are all kinds of museums around the world for all manner of interests. For those who love comics and cartoons, and are fascinated by the art and history of your favourite comics, there are places dedicated to these pursuits in which you can visit and immerse yourself

Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, USA

What started out as a gathering of comics lovers sharing their personal collection has grown and morphed into a permanent home for their collections, not least of which is from the estate of Charles M Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Located at the famous tourist spot of Fisherman’s Wharf, the museum hosts a rotating array of famous artists, such as Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame, and holds exhibitions three to four times annually. It has some 5,000 volumes of works in its permanent collection, ranging from graphic novels and books to VHS and DVDs, which you can reference only if you put in a prior reservation. There’s so much to see and do here — kids can even take part in designing and writing their own cartoons.

The Cartoon Museum, London, UKFor those who grew up on Beano and followed the exploits of Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, there’s a museum that exhibits these famous British comic strips and more. The museum has everything you’d want to know about British comics and cartoons, past and present. Located near Oxford Circus, the museum sports a colourful and fun-filled vibe that takes its design cues from cartoons. Expect exaggerated elements, not unlike Alice in Wonderland, that draw the visitor into its wonderful realm. Visitors get to see and learn more about the beginnings of British comics; also displayed are rare comic strips and prints from the 1800s. The extensive collection includes favourites such as Roy of the Rovers (for football fans) and Dandy. With a revolving exhibition area and interactive workshops that appeal across age groups, it is a great space even for those not into comics.
Kyoto International Manga Museum (KIMM), Kyoto, Japan

Japanese-style comics, or manga, as it is widely known, is a staple for many Asians growing up. Who can forget the adventures of Astro Boy, One Piece, or Dragonball? The KIMM, located in the Kyoto city centre, has three floors of wall-to-wall shelves packed with all types of manga: 300,000 or more! The central area has an impressive permanent exhibition that documents the history of the art form. There are also numerous reading spots dotted all round, and you can easily spend hours on end browsing the massive collection here. A children’s library, located on the first floor, has some 3,000 picture books that parents can read together with their young ones. Occasionally there are special readings, also known as kamishibai, from scrolls of age-old manga — great if you understand Japanese. You can also see works of international manga artists up close, and explore many other manga-related events that often involve foreign artists. Do look out for them and plan your visits to coincide with them.

Musée Hergé, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

If you are a Tintin fan, then this is a must-visit. The museum is dedicated to the most famous cartoonist and the creator of The Adventures of Tintin, Hergé. Housed in a contemporary building 30km from Brussels, visitors will learn about the life and works of Hergé. From his early forays in advertisement posters and comics to the subsequent creation of Tintin, you will be fascinated by how forward-thinking Hergé was; his artistic abilities even wowed famous artists such as Andy Warhol. An interactive handheld guide complements the experience in each exhibition room. You get to learn interesting quips and stories behind other popular characters in the Tintin comics, such as Thomson and Thompson (tell them apart by the trim of their moustache!), Professor Calculus (explore his laboratory!) and Captain Haddock (hear his repertoire of curses!). The museum shop offers limited-edition pieces that you won’t find anywhere else!