Five years after a special government commission was founded to promote comic book publishing in the country, Belgium, considered “the home of the comic book,” is starting to regain some of the industry status it lost to France, US, and Japan over the last 30 years. One publisher, Grandpapier.org, is using the Internet and streaming technology to take the form to the next level: They are in the process of developing a digital standard that will allow its titles to transfer to e-readers and other mobile devices, essentially creating a comic book equivalent to the e-book.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Starting in the 1920s, Belgium led the world in comic book art and innovation, with creations ranging from the speech bubble to beloved characters like Tintin and the Smurfs. By the 1980s, its market share was whittled down considerably by the edgier work coming out of other countries, and many of its publishing houses were bought by multinational companies. The director of the government’s Comic Book Commission says that its goal is to “[help] the comic strip emerge from the category of subculture or subgenre…A comic book author is a literary author in his own right.”