Tintin, Captain Haddock, Thomson and Thompson (with and without the P) and the wonderful characters that have enthralled readers over decades now find a permanent place in the Comic Strip Museum in Brussels, Belgium.

He is an intrepid Belgian reporter with a fox terrier as a faithful friend, a bumbling blustering Captain Haddock as a sidekick, and a mound of adventure packed in his petite frame. He sets foot on moon much before Neil Armstrong did; he ambles his way through Tibet; buys a gallard ship; digs hard to find the Red Rackham's treasure; lands in the perilous sea one day and in burning desert sand the next… And if you are a Tintinologist (aka Tintinophile), you know all about this young Belgian investigative reporter. His name: Tintin, the most popular comic character of the 20th century who first appeared in the Belgian newspaper Le XXXe Siecle on January 10, 1929. Exactly 82 years later, Tintin will walk out of the confines of a flat comic strip and occupy a much larger stage and a three-dimensional persona: on December 21, “The Adventures of Tintin”, a 3D, Steven Spielberg film will hit the cinemas in which Jamie Bell will lend voice to Tintin and Andy Serkis to Captain Haddock.

Tintin has been translated into 80 languages and sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, but there is no better place to get up close with the paper hero than his birthplace: in Brussels (Belgium), where artist Georges Herme (Herge) created Tintin with a few deft strokes of his sharp pencil.

In the heart of Brussels sits the Comic Strip Museum, the final destination of all comic strip enthusiasts. Housed in a 105-year old building designed by the renowned architect Victor Horta, the Museum is home not only to Tintin, but to several other comic heroes: the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Spirou, Bob & Bobette, Blake & Mortimer and Marsipulami. Is it any surprise then that the Comic Strip Museum is often touted as the Shrine of Ninth Art?

On December 21, Tintin will step out in theatrical 3D aplomb with Snowy on 70 mm, perhaps this is the time you stepped into the heart of the Comic Strip Centre in Belgium and into the mind of artist Herge who created Tintin, the intrepid reporter without a surname but a name that translates into ‘sweet' in Polynesian.

Fact file:

Address: Belgian Comics Strip Center, Rue des Sables 20, 1000, Brussels.

Timing: 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays).

Do not miss the Marc Sleen Museum next door.

Website: www.comicscenter.net

Kingdom of comics

Walk into a once-upon-a-time Waucquez warehouse and you'd be overwhelmed by what the Belgians call the Kingdom of Comics. There are 40,000 titles (books and theoretical works) in 20 languages, original drawings, wooden cut-outs, life-size stuffed comic characters standing in corners and comic art spread over 4,200 sq. metres.

It is Tintin, however, who lords over the Museum that opened its doors to the public in 1989. By the entrance stands the bust of Tintin in buff stone and on the wall a black and white photograph of his creator Herge. A red-white striped rocket marks the beginning of the Museum, a red vintage car under the atrium and an actor dressed as a menacing pirate complete the comic art setting.

Sprawled across floors, the Museum houses permanent and temporary exhibitions in its proclaimed effort “to promote comic art in every possible way”. The permanent exhibition includes a section on The Birth of the Comic Strip; The Saint Roch Room, which houses original documents like sketches, colourings, manuscripts and pencil drawings by artists; The Museum of Imagination showcases the genius of comic artists like Herge, Roba, Jijé, Jacobs, Vandersteen, Franquin, Peyo and Morris; and The Gallery that presents contemporary comic art and artists.