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magazine

spring 2013

SPIROU AT 75 THE YEAR OF THE BELLBOY

Redu: The final frontier for spage-age start-ups Go West Invest: Supporting film in Wallonia

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ROB VEL, DUPUIS, 2013

CONTENTS

Editor Sarah Crew Deputy editor Sally Tipper Reporters Leo Cendrowicz, PM Doutreligne Andy Furniere, Alan Hope, Mark Latham Saffina Rana, Georgio Valentino Art director Paul Van Dooren Managing director Hans De Loore AWEX/WBI and Ackroyd Publications Philippe Suinen – AWEX/WBI Marie-Catherine Duchêne AWEX, Place Sainctelette 2 1080 Brussels, Belgium Tel: 00.32(0)2.421.85.76 Fax: 00.32(0)2.421.83.93 email: mc.duchene@awex.be

Editorial The 75th birthday of Spirou is testimony to the illustrious history of comic strips in Wallonia. Jean Dupuis, the patriarch of the burgeoning family business in the Hainaut mining village of Marcinelles, was 62 when he first published his new comic for children in 1938. Local legend has it that there was an earlier publication in 1889: Li Spirou, written entirely in Liège Walloon dialect. The name may not have been original, but what was important was that Dupuis created a character in his own image and that of his company; mischievous, yes, but with a big heart. These were the qualities Dupuis Publishing adhered to, from its beginnings in the family kitchen in 1896 through the turmoil of German occupation during World War Two to the competitive pressure of today’s publishing world. The Spirou phenomenon also launched the careers of an exclusive club of French-speaking writers and artists, their names forever forged in the annals of the country’s prestigious comic history. While to outsiders Belgium is synonymous with Hergé’s Tintin, within the country Spirou has proved his unbounded popularity; a working-class hero of the provinces.  WWW.SPIROU.COM

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04 BIG PICTURE Spirou and company

06 NEWS

Headlines from the region

08 BUSINESS

Go West for audiovisual tax shelter

10 INNOVATION

OncoDNA – treating cancer quickly

12 INVESTMENT

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Space mecca Galaxia

14 SPIROU AT 75

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2013 is a year-long celebration of Belgium’s favourite comic character

22 HOME AND ABROAD

Comic-strip artists Philippe Bercovici and Zidrou

24 TOURISM

Folklore walks win Unesco statue

26 GASTRONOMY

Michelin accolade for Liège restaurant

28 PANORAMA

28

Fabrizio Borrini’s urban art

30 AGENDA

MARC PRÉVOT

Spring culture preview

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WORK

THE BIG PICTURE

Happy birthday Spirou

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t was 75 years ago that Belgian publisher Jean Dupuis and French artist Robert Velter (known better as Rob-Vel) introduced one of the most enduring comic strip creations of all time, a brave young bellboy named Spirou. The name itself – regional slang designating a squirrel or a mischievous youngster – suggests Spirou’s Walloon roots. Indeed, Dupuis, Rob-Vel and

Spirou put the industrial town of Marcinelle, near Charleroi, on the comic map. An entire school grew around the creative team behind the Spirou books, which, besides enduring for three-quarters of a century, have spawned dozens of spin-offs, including some that are now household names in their own right: the Smurfs, Lucky Luke and Marsupilami.

The 52-page weekly Journal de Spirou is still going strong with a circulation of 90,000 copies, making it the biggest children’s magazine in Belgium and the second-biggest in France. The Spirou media empire also includes albums, animated cartoons and tons of branded merchandise. Belgium’s favourite bellboy is also set to enter the brave new world of digital media (see page 20). wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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WORK

NEWS

Walloon Region buys military zone of Liège Airport The Walloon Region is to transform 120 hectares of land close to Liège Airport into a business park. The land at Bierset, previously used by the Belgian army, was sold by the Defence Ministry for €14 million. The acquisition will go ahead in two stages: the first concerns 97 hectares of land containing buildings; the second, involving 22 hectares, will take place after the departure next year of the Red Cross, which runs a centre for asylum-seekers at the site. Liège Airport was established 20 years ago as an important European cargo hub. It now plans to diversify its activities and increase the development of its business park.

Green light for Charleroi bone therapy Biopharma company Bone Therapeutics has received accreditation for the manufacture of a new bone-cell therapy product. Based at Biopark in Gosselies, the ULB spin-off specialises in the treatment of osteoarticular diseases using cell therapy. The accreditation is for the manufacture of its ALLOB allogeneic bone-cell therapy, initially developed for the treatment of impaired fractures. It has also been granted permission to process, preserve, store and distribute human tissue, a pre-requisite for cell therapy. Bone Therapeutics will collaborate with LTCG, the accredited Tissue Bank from the University Hospital Sart-Tilman in Liège. Bone Therapeutics chief executive Enrico Bastianelli said: “Being awarded with ALLOB manufacturing authorisation is great news for Bone Therapeutics. This recent accreditation follows an earlier manufacturing authorisation for our lead product, PREOB, and we are delighted that we have the necessary approvals to enable the development of both products.”

Dupuis Editions has bought Monaco-based company Marsu Productions, thereby regaining the entire licensing rights of the work of Belgian comic artist André Franquin, including Marsupilami (above) and Gaston. Marsupilami was a spin-off character from the famous Spirou and Fantasio series. Dupuis, a subsidiary of Média-Participations, was already a minority shareholder of Marsu Productions.

Positive results in treating joint pain Two biotech companies in Wallonia have joined forces to make significant advances in the natural treatment of joint problems. A clinical study into the positive benefits of the plantbased food supplement Flexofytol, manufactured by Tilman, has shown a decrease in cartilage degradation thanks to an innovative biomarker developed by Liège University spin-off Artialis. Tilman, based near Durbuy, has been the leading herbal medicine specialist in Belgium for more than 50 years. Director Yvan Dierckxsens explained that Flexofytol was based on extracts of the spice turmeric: “Numerous studies have shown that turmeric aids joint comfort by influencing the preservation of cartilage degradation, thereby limiting cartilage aging.” He added that collaboration with biomarker specialist Artialis had been necessary to show the positive effects of the product. Artialis director Houtaï Choumane said 22 people suffering from reduced knee flexibility had been monitored during an 84-day trial. “We have observed a significant diminution of biomarker COLL2-1 as well as a positive global effect on the patient over the period of time.” The two companies now plan to continue their collaboration in a larger-scale clinical trial.

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Keep on Toasting takes to Brussels’ streets

Villers-la-Vigne wine wins silver medal A wine made by volunteers at the Cistercian monastery of Villers-la-Ville in Walloon Brabant has won a silver medal in an international competition, ahead of producers from Germany, the Netherlands, eastern Europe and Canada. The 2010 vintage was rewarded at a competition organised by a German institute that created the Regent grape, which the guild at Villers-la-Ville used for its wine. The abbey’s wine is the only one in the world made from Regent grapes through a process known as carbonic maceration. More than 250 wines were entered and the monastery’s wine received high praise for its colour, transparency, taste and aroma. Just 530 bottles of the 2010 vintage were made as the production process doesn’t lend itself to large-scale commercial production, and the wine can only be bought at the monastery.

Anyone who thinks they know all there is to know about the croque monsieur may think again after sampling the fare of a food truck that has hit the streets of Brussels. JeanBaptiste Nyssen, the man behind Keep on Toasting, wants customers to sample the wide range of flavours of his gourmet toasted sandwiches. Instead of the usual Gruyère and ham, the 26-year-old chef – who has worked at such well-known Brussels restaurants as Bonsoir Clara, Lola and YuMe – has created a Belgian croque made from chicory, Passendale cheese and ham, a French croque made from spinach, chicken and Emmental, a vegetarian Indian croque made from carrots and tandoori cottage cheese and an Italian one made with aubergines, Parma ham and mozzarella. A special croque of the month is also on offer. The Brussels-born graduate of Namur’s hospitality school says, “Whether I have parked at Place Tomberg, Cinquantenaire Park or Boileau metro station, my clients have been impressed with the diversity, quality and prices. My croques are good value and, because they are made with fresh ingredients and organic wheat, they are popular with customers keen to avoid processed food.” Customers can order on the website, which also shows where the van is parked and where it will be going.  WWW.KEEPONTOASTING.BE

 WWW.VILLERS-LA-VIGNE.BE

EDA

Andes survivor honoured by Tournai rugby club A survivor of the 1972 Andes flight disaster has been appointed honorary president of Tournai rugby club XV Picard. Medical student and rugby player Gustavo Zerbino was one of 45 people on board a Uruguayan plane when it crashed on a remote peak on the border between Chile and Argentina in October 1972. More than a quarter of those on board died in the crash, while others died from the cold or their injuries and eight were later killed by an avalanche. Faced with starvation and radio reports that the rescue operation had been abandoned, those remaining fed on the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow. Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash when two passengers completed a 10-day trek across the Andes to summon help. The tale was turned into a book and a film. In the 40 years since, Zerbino has travelled the world giving training courses and talks on management, leadership and motivation. At a recent talk attended by youngsters from the Tournai rugby club, it was announced that Zerbino had accepted XV Picard’s invitation to become honorary president.

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WORK

BUSINESS

The team works Tax shelter and pooled resources are giving homegrown audiovisual projects extra muscle BY ALAN HOPE

G The survival of the sector was in danger, but fortunately in 2004 this system was put in place

o West Invest was launched in April 2010, made up of five audiovisual services companies and five regional investment agencies. The purpose is not only to pool efforts to find financing for audiovisual productions and bring international projects to Belgium, but also to provide synergy for the companies who sell audiovisual services. Within Go West those are the Dame Blanche sound and vision studio in Genval; special effects lab Benuts and production company FDP Production in Charleroi; Emakina in Waterloo; and DreamWall, an animation studio in Marcinelle.

LÉON PERAHIA

DreamWall was set up in 2007, a partnership between the publisher Dupuis and the French-speaking Community’s public broadcaster, RTBF, to allow Dupuis to make use of the tax shelter for audiovisual productions. 8

According to Thibault Baras, managing director of DreamWall, the company aims to offer a “one-stop shop” with all audiovisual production services in one place. That includes 2D animated cartoons (like Spirou & Co), 3D animations like 2011’s Approved for Adoption, the creation of virtual studio sets for the RTBF, and 3D visualisation, for example a video for a planned light-rail metro in Charleroi. They also provide more routine services like editing, audio mixing and studio filming, as well as a 3D projection room. Their KeyWall virtual techniques division now produces eight weather bulletins a day for the RTBF and three for AB3, and records peaktime programmes such as C’est du Belge, Matière grise and Le jardin extraordinaire.

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restaurant bills but actual production work,” Perahia says. “So there are quite a number of conditions to be met before a project can take advantage of the system.”

The reason for bringing together the audiovisual producers and the Walloon investors was, according to Léon Perahia, audiovisual director at Dupuis and managing director of Go West, to give the producers extra muscle when it came to attracting international productions to the region. “The market for audiovisual services is pretty international,” he explained to WAB. “Especially in Europe, productions are frequently coproductions across various countries, and most of those have in place some sort of public support system. If Belgium had been the only one that didn’t support that sort of activity, clearly the production sector would never have seen the sort of development it did, because the companies that compete with our providers, like DreamWall for example, would have been a great deal more competitive. The costs in other countries, especially the countries around Belgium like France and Germany, are all pretty much the same, so if a subsidy allows a service provider in another country to reduce the net cost, that will obviously affect the producer’s choice.” To help the sector compete with companies in other countries, the federal government set up its taxshelter system. “The survival of the sector was in danger, but fortunately in 2004 this system was put in place, and since then the audiovisual industry in

Belgium has been able to rise again.” The tax-shelter system in Belgium is organised on a federal level – because it concerns company tax legislation – but implemented on a community level, with the Walloon, Germanspeaking and Flemish communities administering the system in their own areas. Companies may provide up to 50% of the production budget (excluding promotion and distribution), and in return they are granted a tax exemption on 150% of the sums invested provided the money is spent in Belgium. Productions eligible for tax-shelter funding are limited to animated series, documentaries and full-length films made either for television or cinema; medium and short films for cinema distribution; and TV series made for children or young people. “The rules are extremely precise, not only that a certain amount of the production work has to be carried out in Belgium, but also the type of work, in other words not just hotel and

Since 2004, Perahia says, first Dupuis then Go West have taken part in about 40 projects under the taxshelter system, for a total amount in the region of €30 to €35 million over those eight years. Examples include the animation Le petit Spirou, a very successful adaptation of the comic strip, and the cinema release of the latest Largo Winch film, also based on a comic strip. “In fact most audiovisual projects in Belgium these days have been made possible by the system, with a total subsidy of something like €150 million for the whole sector across the country,” he says. “That shows you how important the system is. If you look at the five partners, they’re very complementary. The whole aim was to allow any of those service providers, if they’re bidding for a production contract, to offer the producer not only Go West’s help in finding finance, but also a range of other services from the other partners. And that sort of arrangement could make all the difference in competing for a contract.”  WWW.GOWESTINVEST.BE

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WORK

INNOVATION

In the genes A small Walloon spin-off is excelling at identifying accurate cancer treatments quickly

CORBIS

BY SAFFINA RANA

T Cancers move fast. You need fast and effective treatment to stand a good chance of recovery JEAN-POL DETIFFE 10

argeted therapies are one of the most recent advances in cancer treatment, and a major focus of current cancer research. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, which are toxic to normal cells and often cause debilitating side effects, targeted drugs identify and attack cancer cells more precisely, usually with little damage to normal cells. But finding the right drug, or the right combination of drugs, to treat a cancer effectively is a tricky business. Cancers occur because of abnormalities in the body’s DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid, the chemical that contains the

genetic instructions that all living organisms, and many viruses, use to develop and function. These instructions are organised into sequences called genes. Throughout life, we are exposed to physical or chemical agents that change the DNA within the cells of the body, causing them to mutate. When the frequency of mutations reaches above certain normal levels, it leads to cancer. Classical methods to find mutations are slow and not always accurate, according to Jean-Pol Detiffe, an industrial pharmacist and the founder and CEO of new Walloon company

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CORBIS

OncoDNA. “Cancers move fast. You need fast and effective treatment to stand a good chance of recovery, so the right treatment must also be fast and available,” he says. With medical pathologist Pierre Lefesvre, medical director at OncoDNA, Detiffe has developed a series of tests which identify those mutations known to respond to targeted therapies that already exist in Europe, or to therapies that are in the final stages of development. The first test, OncoDEEP DX, compares the DNA in a tiny sample of a patient’s tumour tissue with that of their healthy tissue to identify treatable mutations in 40 genes. It was validated in Belgium in November last year, gained competence and quality accreditation and is already being used by hospitals in Wallonia and Luxembourg. Orders for the test from other parts of Europe are now also beginning to come in, says Detiffe. The lab work is done using powerful DNA sequencing technology by partners at the Institute of Pathology and Genetics (IPG) in Gosselies, on the outskirts of Charleroi, to which the company is affiliated and from which it span off last year. The microscopic threads of DNA are harvested by scientists and read by sophisticated Ion Proton sequencing machines developed by Life Technologies, a global biotechnology tools company. OncoDNA then looks for specific mutations and presents the results to oncologists with the corresponding treatments available. The whole process takes a maximum of 10 days and is on the market for €750. The test was expected to be approved for partial reimbursement from social security funds by the government at the time of going to press. “This was impossible a year or two ago because it was still so expensive,” says Detiffe. “Now we can offer it as a mainstream medical test.” When researchers first mapped a human

genome in 2003, the effort cost just over €2 billion. The cost of analysing someone’s whole genetic code is now down to a few thousand euros with the development of ever more powerful and accurate technologies. “The IPG is the first place in Belgium to get the Proton sequencing machine, and the second in Europe,” says Detiffe. If the company doesn’t find a mutation with a corresponding therapy, it deploys OncoDEEP Clinical, a second, larger test which looks for mutations and rearrangements in 400 genes linked to the development of therapies undergoing clinical trials. This test also takes a maximum of 10 days to complete. Results are presented in a web-based electronic report and include data from histological pathology reports, the sequencing data, a list of available drugs that the data indicates would be effective and not effective, and information about clinical trials for which the patient is eligible. If both the tests fail to deliver, the company can also offer more in-depth sequencing of the exome – all the coding part of genes that do a particular coding job.

product which can monitor a patient’s cancer with high sensitivity and also give early response indicators to the treatment choice. By analysing the mutations or rearrangements in the DNA of a patient’s tumour, the test provides a personalised kit of blood biomarkers. This offers extremely specific analysis, says Detiffe. “With this technique we can also use classical techniques to develop blood tests to measure the amount of tumour DNA circulating in the blood, so we can tell how well a cancer is responding after three weeks of treatment or if there is a recurrence. We can detect a recurrence of cancer up to six months earlier than with imaging techniques, which only detect tumours when they are around 5mm in size.” The OncoTRACE test is currently only available to researchers and costs around €3,000. In January, the company received €1.4 million of funding from the Walloon government for a two-year study to clinically validate the technique using a large number of patients. “The validation study will be conducted with 250 patients at large cancer centres all over Europe,” says Detiffe. He aims to include around 20 to 25 patients from 10 collaborating centres, in Belgium, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. To develop all these activities, the company has raised €2 million from public and private investors. Among its investors are venture capital firm Sambrinvest; Jean Stephenne, former president of GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines; and François Blondel, former CEO of medical device company IBT.  WWW.ONCODNA.COM

Another product line in development by the company is the project OncoTRACE. It is the first personalised biomarker wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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WORK

INVESTMENT

Stellar work

The ‘book town’ of Redu is also making a name for itself in space technology BY LEO CENDROWICZ

T We hope that small companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs will come to us with their own great idea MICHEL PONTHIEU

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he quiet Ardennes village of Redu, next to the Lesse river in Luxembourg province, is an unlikely site for a space Mecca. Best known as a ‘book town’, Redu is twinned with Hay-on-Wye in the United Kingdom and hosts the Village du Livre event every Easter. But it also has a growing reputation as a magnet for intrepid space pioneers and a new initiative to help start-ups is expected to add to the region’s star-gazing lustre. The venture, called ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Redu, has been set up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to nurture entrepreneurs with novel spin-off ideas for the wealth of technologies and systems developed

under Europe’s space programmes. It will provide an array of business support resources and services developed and orchestrated by ESA BIC Redu management and offered in the incubator and through its network of contacts. Formally opened last December, Redu is the first ESA BIC launched in Belgium. It is supporting enterprises linked to space-related sciences and applications. The ESA’s network of BICs already includes Noordwijk (the Netherlands), Darmstadt and Bavaria (both Germany), Lazio (Italy) and Harwell (UK). A second BIC was created in Geel, Belgium, also in December. So far the whole ESA BIC

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Nicolas Hanse, has already started his incubation process. Hanse is the founder of Esnah, which has developed an application to help aeroplane pilots prepare their flight plans. The programme, SkyLiberty, is an iPad and Android application that compiles complex data including satellite signals to take account of the weather, airspace conditions and the airport specificities to devise accurate flight plans.

network has supported more than 180 start-ups in space-related businesses. The centre follows in Redu’s storied space traditions. It was in 1968 that the ESA set up a European satellite tracking ground station 4km away, from where some 40 missions are currently controlled or monitored. In the nearby village of Transinne is the Euro Space Center theme park, which opened in 1991 to give visitors a multi-sensual introduction to spaceflight, the planets and the stars. Located alongside the E411 BrusselsLuxembourg motorway, the Galaxia Business Park was created in 2008 to connect the Euro Space Center to a specific business centre and promote the development of innovative space applications. Today, an integrated logistics centre for Europe’s Galileo satellite programme is in preparation at Galaxia Business Park. ESA BIC Redu is based in the futuristic business centre created in Transinne, a 2,000m², €16 million two-storey building that generates all its own electricity through photovoltaic panels. The business centre of Galaxia is linked by optical fibres to ESA’s Redu Centre to take advantage of the ground station’s expertise in handling satellite data and controlling satellites and their payloads. The management of ESA BIC Redu has been granted to WSLlux, a space related incubator created by Idelux, the economic development agency of the Province of Luxembourg and WSL (formerly Wallonia Space Logistics), which helps start-up firms. “ESA BIC Redu will provide start-up companies with access not only to ESA knowledge, experts and infrastructure, but also to a number of other companies at the business park,” says Michel Ponthieu, Idelux’s business development manager. “The aim is to bridge the gap between an idea and getting the space application or technology transfer project off the ground. In that way, we can help turn it into a viable business.”

ost of the projects are expected to be linked to satellite applications, a sector that is increasingly reaching into day-to-day areas, from weather forecasts to broadcasting and from incar navigation to search-and-rescue. It is already growing quickly, and is expected to surge even more quickly once the Galileo programme becomes operational at the end of next year. The ESA operates a variety of satellites from the area, and Ponthieu says ESA BIC Redu will be aimed at companies that specialise in telecommunications, earth observation, navigation systems and integrated applications. ESA BIC Redu incubatees receive a financial contribution of up to €100,000 for the research and development of their idea and securing the intellectual property rights. The ESA BIC Open Call selects four campaigns for a maximum of five selected space-connected projects every year. This call is open to individual inventors, entrepreneurs and small companies from any ESA member state. “The one we select will gain from our knowhow and technical expertise which are added to their business idea,” says Ponthieu. “For the two years they spend at our incubation centre, during the ESA BIC incubation period, they will be shaped into fully operating companies, with all the support needed. After these two years, they can still enjoy the WSLlux facilities and services.” ESA BIC Redu’s first entrepreneur,

Ponthieu says the overall aim of ESA BIC Redu is to ensure that investment in space programmes makes an impact in the broadest possible way: not only through the science, telecommunications, navigation and other benefits to Europe’s citizens, but also in creating new enterprises and jobs at a local level. “We hope that small companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs will come to us with their own great ideas,” he says. “We can then support them with technical advice from ESA and business advice from our partners to get going and create viable new companies in Europe. So my message is: if you have a great new idea for the use of space technology or the use of satellite systems, just apply to our Open Call!”  WWW.ESA-BIC.BE

Galaxia is one of the 48 business parks set up by Idelux, and the model has already proved successful in nurturing business ideas in other areas. Two major space sector companies, Vitrociset (Italy) and SES Astra TechCom (Luxembourg), have already taken up residence at Galaxia along with M3 Systems (France), Redu Space Services, Eutralex Aerospace and Esnah (all Belgium). Including ESA Redu Centre and Euro Space Center staff, it adds up to some 130 people in all at the Redu-Transinne cluster. wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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SPIROU AT 75

Groom at the top

Why the greatest comic character to come out of Belgium is not you-know-who

MORVAN & MUNUERA, DUPUIS

BY PM DOUTRELIGNE

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FRANQUIN, DUPUIS, 2013

intin schmintin. There, I’ve said it. I have nothing personal – well not much, anyway – against Hergé’s intrepid reporter or his dog, but it does grate that his worldwide success tends to overshadow other characters whose adventures have been translated into fewer languages.

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You see, it was always Tintin vs Spirou. Not only the characters (both reporters), but also the weekly comics magazines published under the same name. In many ways the rivalry had a touch of Beatles vs Stones about it. Tintin (The Beatles) was the comic your parents encouraged you to like; cleancut, extremely well crafted and, whisper it, overrated maybe?

Spirou and Fantasio, instead, were always more thrilling, funnier, simply better. Me, I’m a Stones man. This ginger-haired reporter dressed as a hotel bellboy (known in French as a groom) was devised in 1938 by Frenchman Robert Velter (Rob-Vel) then taken over by Belgian Joseph Gillain (Jijé), who in 1944 introduced the character of Fantasio, Spirou’s irascible colleague and best friend. In 1948, Jijé passed on the baton to his trainee – in this correspondent’s eyes, the finest comics artist this country has ever seen: André Franquin. The Franquin era was a golden age for Spirou. Under Franquin, a dream team was formed around Spirou and Fantasio, comprising Einsteinian

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JIJÉ, DUPUIS, 1943

The adventures of Dupuis Spirou’s publisher uses all modern possibilities to tell its imaginative stories BY ANDY FURNIERE

Together with its figurehead Spirou, publisher Dupuis Editions from Marcinelle – near Charleroi – burst on to the comics scene 75 years ago. In its Spirou magazine, other global icons such as the Smurfs and Lucky Luke experienced their first adventures. Embracing modern technology, Dupuis has developed into an important multimedia company with the graphic and animation studio DreamWall and large film studio KeyWall. The enterprise also remains loyal to its original mission, introducing contemporary comic characters that appeal to the imagination of young and older readers all over the world. More than 30 years before Spirou first appeared in his trademark red bellboy costume, Jean Dupuis founded his printing company in Charleroi. The enterprise grew through the successful printing of material for the medical and pharmaceutical sector, until World War One broke out. After this, he reformed the company with renewed energy into a publisher of magazines such as the weekly Le Moustique, which is still thriving today.

scientist the Count of Champignac, his maverick protege Zorglub and pretty scoop-chaser Seccotine (who, while constantly infuriating Fantasio, does not leave Spirou indifferent). Add to this the self-important and impossibly verbose Mayor of Champignac, assisted by the long-suffering Duplumier, and you have a cast that cannot fail to deliver gags aplenty among the finely crafted scripts, which transcend the adventure genre by taking in wider issues such as the Cold War, tyranny, ecology and eugenics. The adventure QRN sur Bretzelburg, perhaps Franquin’s magnum opus, tackles the themes of totalitarianism, the arms trade and torture while retaining slapstick qualities throughout. Also part of the gang under Franquin were Spip, the faithful squirrel,

rescued by Spirou in an early RobVel/Jijé collaboration, and of course Franquin’s most celebrated animal creation, the Marsupilami. The longtailed marsupial, who first appeared in Spirou et les héritiers,, proved an instant hit with readers and was so close to Franquin’s heart that, when he handed over the reins of Spirou and Fantasio to Frenchman Jean-Claude Fournier in 1969, he retained the rights to the character. The Marsupilami has never appeared in another Spirou adventure since – the one exception being

After Dupuis took up the idea of starting a children’s comic magazine, he searched for a character that would provide it with a youthful appearance. “He wanted a figurehead that personifies a childlike curiousness and the nobility of American superheroes,” explains Serge Honorez, editorial and creative director at Dupuis. Le journal de Spirou originally featured the undertakings of homegrown creations like Spirou and Fantasio and the private investigators Tif and Tondu, together with those of American characters such as Superman and Red Ryder. But because American comics weren’t allowed to be published during World War Two, the magazine developed a strong Belgian profile. Dupuis grew quickly as the magazine led the European comic scene, together with the Tintin magazine published by Brussels-based Le Lombard. Le Moustique Moustique  became one of the leading Belgian TV and radio magazines. The popularity of Spirou increased as the cartoonist André Franquin

FRANQUIN, DUPUIS, 2013

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FRANQUIN, DUPUIS, 2013

SPIROU AT 75

Fournier’s first effort, Le faiseur d’or, in which the Marsupilami does feature, but under the watchful eye of Franquin himself. The Marsupilami would, of course, become the subject of successful spin-off comic books, drawn by Batem and written by – among others – Michel Greg, a long-standing friend and collaborator of Franquin. The series was aimed at a younger readership and spawned an animated series and a computer game. By the time Fournier took over the Spirou and Fantasio adventures, Franquin had moved on – to another of his own characters who, like the Marsupilami, had first appeared in a Spirou adventure. Gaston Lagaffe

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(literally Gaston the Blunder), the chronically lazy yet immensely loveable office junior, was devised by Franquin in the late 1950s and was to became a regular in Le Journal de Spirou.. His character having Fantasio as a boss, Gaston made cameos in several Spirou and Fantasio adventures, culminating in 1969’s Panade à Champignac,, which, to many, is a Gaston Lagaffe story disguised as a Spirou one. By then, Franquin had had enough of Spirou and Fantasio; in spite of the incredible success of the two reporters under his tenure, he was always niggled by depression and the feeling that the main characters weren’t his because he’d inherited them.

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PHOTO YOANN, DUPUIS

drew the adventures of him and his partner Fantasio from 1946 until 1968. Franquin later also created the series of Gaston Lagaffe, which soon turned into a children’s favourite. Other well-known cartoonists who joined the team at Marcinelle are Pierre Culliford and Maurice De Bevere (better known as Peyo and Morris), who designed, respectively, the Smurfs and Lucky Luke. Realising the potential, Dupuis collected the serials in albums, which became bestsellers in many European countries. A later international success was Largo Winch, created by writer Jean Van Hamme. In the period known as the Golden Sixties, Dupuis guided the comic heroes from the paper to the screen via the animation studio TVA Dupuis. Among the animation series are a first series on the exploits of the Smurfs, Boule and Bile and Musti. Dupuis closed the studio in 1979 but produced another series of the Smurfs two years later with the American animation studio Hanna-Barbera. Until 1985, Dupuis Editions was a family business, owned by the brothers Charles and Paul Dupuis who inherited it from their father, Jean. But in 1985, the company was bought by the French publisher Hachette. The FrancoBelgian media concern Média-Participations, a specialist in comics, took over in 2004.

Gaston was 100% Franquin, not just from his inception but also because of some of the traits that the creator passed on to the character: namely that humour, pacifism and kindness to humans and animals alike matter more than anything. Franquin was a poet, a genius, a storyteller, a grand Monsieur whose talent was only matched by self-doubt and modesty. Fournier remained faithful to Franquin’s vision and, even without the Marsupilami, managed to come up with entertaining tales which also included serious issues – especially for the 1970s, particularly nuclear power in L’Ankou.

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After nine albums, Fournier called it a day. The publishers, Dupuis, hired artist Nic Broca and writer Raoul Cauvin, but they were not allowed to use any of Spirou and Fantasio’s sidekicks or recurring foes. During the Nic/Cauvin stint, the Journal de Spirou started to run weekly strips of the adventures of Spirou and Fantasio drawn by Yves Chaland, a highly talented Frenchman who had fallen in love with Belgian bande dessinée but whose style was closer to Hergé’s ligne claire than to Franquin or his successors. The project, set in the 1940s, was deemed too leftfield for Spirou’s young readers and abandoned halfway (although the unfinished Chaland adventure was eventually published by Éditions Champaka in the 1990s).

2004 was also a milestone year because of the introduction of a Belgian tax shelter for audiovisual productions, which made investments in this sector fiscally attractive. This paved the way for the success of the animation studio DreamWall, created from an association between Dupuis Editions and the Frenchspeaking Community’s public broadcaster RTBF in 2007. Serge Honorez leads me around the studio at Dupuis’ Marcinelles office, where around 60 people construct virtual scenery and computer graphics in 2D and 3D. “DreamWall already contributed to various television projects such as Garfield, Cédric, Petit Spirou and Lulu Vroumette,” explains Honorez. “One current prestige project is the next Asterix and Obelix animation film.” The Franco-Belgian film Astérix et le domaine des dieux should be in the cinemas in the autumn of 2014. Our next destination on the tour of the premises is the studios of KeyWall, the latest addition to Dupuis, created in December 2010 at the former warehouse of Dupuis. Honorez first shows me a small studio, dedicated to the weather broadcasting services of the RTBF and French TV stations. No cameraman is needed because of the cutting-edge technology. Further on, we enter an immense studio with five cameras and two film sets: one with green screens for virtual environments and one capable of hosting

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SPIROU AT 75

The arrival of Philippe Vandevelde (Tome) and Jean-Richard Geurts (Janry) was exactly what Spirou needed. With their fast-paced and clever storylines, clearly in debt to Franquin but with their own brand of humour and new baddies (notably Cyanure the evil robot and ‘Don’ Vito Corleone the incompetent Mafioso), Tome and Janry rejuvenated the series, gaining new fans while appeasing and charming old Spirou obsessives. The real test of their mettle came with the album Le réveil du Z, which saw them resurrect with great success the madcap scientist Zorglub, a character regarded as sacrosanct by the Franquin faithful. As a sideline, Tome & Janry also came up with Les aventures du petit

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Spirou: one-page stories of pure comedy set in Spirou’s schooldays. Needless to say, young Spirou is dressed as a bellboy – in shorts. The move proved a masterstroke, both commercially and critically. It was also a reminder that the term spirou is, originally, a Walloon term for a child who is mischievous yet loveable. Both series ran in parallel until Tome and Janry handed in their notice after 1998’s Machine qui rêve. Then came Morvan and Munuera, whose interpretation of Spirou and Fantasio – in four adventures – draws heavily on the Franquin era while incorporating elements of manga, then the current incumbents, Yoann and Vehlmann, with three albums to date.

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real sets. The custom-made services also include post-production facilities for video and audio editing, audio mixing, special effects, 2D & 3D animation, virtual sets and graphic design. The technology is provided by Orad, world leader in TV production technology. “Because we house their most innovative equipment, Orad invites enterprises all over the world to come here,” says Honorez. “It functions as a technological demonstration centre.” Dupuis is also active in developing games based on its comics and is preparing to bring the comics to tablet computers. However, this modern mission doesn’t mean Dupuis is neglecting its original expertise in storytelling. “We keep raising the level of our scenarios, to maintain our position on the overcrowded comics market,” declares Honorez. For the young audience, classic series such as Spirou et Fantasio and Les Tuniques Bleues remain favourites. New leading ladies are Les Nombrils (the Bellybuttons), three girls – two glamorous and vain, one homely and down-to-earth – whose friendships is tested by boys, jealousy and popularity issues. Other popular modern characters are the zombies, werewolves and vampires in the fantasy comedy Zombillenium. But Dupuis is broadening its scope to a more diverse and older public. “We grow up, together with our readers,” says Honorez. For an adult public, Dupuis is for instance publishing an adaption of the Millennium trilogy by the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Graphic novels such as Portugal, on the personal crisis of a cartoonist, and the biographical Dalí on the life of the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, are giving Dupuis a mature reputation.

In parallel, other artists have been invited to release one-off Spirou and Fantasio adventures, guaranteeing that the series is constantly rejuvenated by an influx of new talent giving what is now an ancient series a new twist. Among them are Frenchman Lewis Trondheim, who authored 2010’s Panique en Atlantique, having previously released L’accélérateur atomique, a thinly veiled homage to Spirou and Fantasio which, while not officially part of the canon, was sanctioned by publishers Dupuis. Whoever takes over next, for one album or for 10, has at their disposal a cast of first-rate characters to play with. Having been created by a Frenchman and taken to its golden age by a Belgian, Spirou is the defining character of the world-

renowned école franco-belge de bande dessinée. The adventures of Spirou and Fantasio stand the test of time, thanks to the effort, talent and benevolent insolence displayed by all the artists involved through the decades. Just like the Stones, really.

Outside Belgium and France, Dupuis’ current principal markets are in Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. “In the Anglo-Saxon world, people especially like our graphic novels,” explains Honorez. But he also looks to among others South America and Asia. “The great advantage for Belgian comics is our universal sense of humour. As almost everyone can laugh at someone slipping on a banana skin, our style is appreciated in every culture.” However global Dupuis’ plans, the multimedia publisher and producer is not planning to move from its birthplace among the Carolos. “This is not only a practical location, in the centre of Europe, but it is also our emotional comfort zone,” explains Honorez. “Because our characters – like Spirou – are part of the life of everyone here, we are treated like a member of a loving family.” ■

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SPIROU AT 75

The Year of the Bellboy Spirou celebrated in triumphant tour of western Europe BY GEORGIO VALENTINO

© DUPUIS, 2013

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ith such an illustrious history, Spirou needs an entire year to celebrate his birthday. So 2013 is the Year of the Bellboy. In addition to a slew of new products, the spirit of Spirou is making a triumphant tour around Belgium, France and Switzerland, tracing a giant S across the face of western Europe. Like any good anniversary, this yearlong festival celebrates the past while looking to the future. This year Dupuis brought out an exhaustively researched, behind-the-scenes chronicle, La Véritable Histoire de Spirou, written by Christelle and Spirou Bertrand Pissavy-Yvernault (left). This 312-page book is in fact only the first volume (covering the years 1938-1946) of a series that will bring the Spirou story right up to the present day. Rich history, indeed. Pascal Forneri’s documentary film Spirou, L’Aventure Humoristique shows that the spirit of Spirou is alive and well. The lovable scamp is more than just a character in a comic book – he’s a cultural touchstone. The film features interviews with 16 witnesses to history, who describe not just the creative process but the massive influence Spirou had, and continues to have, on the comics industry and culture in general. 20

Spirou isn’t just looking backward on his big anniversary. He’s using the milestone as an opportunity to jump into the 21st century, most notably with the Spirou Z tablet app. More than just a digital version of the print magazine, the app makes reading Spirou an interactive experience. Users can play games, create their own storyline and share via social media. It also gives aficionados access to all 75 years of Spirou history; the app features tons of archive material from vintage strips to historical documents to behind-the-scenes glimpses. The official unveiling of Spirou Z is just one of many celebratory events planned for the big day, April 23. And Brussels is lucky enough to host the famous bellboy on his birthday. The day begins with the Spirou Z press conference and launch at the Atomium. Spirou’s people promise plenty of surprises for this afternoon gala. Then it’s off to the Belgian Comic Strip Center for the opening of the exhibition Spirou, de Main en Main. The retrospective shows Spirou’s evolution across generations, from Rob-Vel to Yoann and Vehlmann. The iconic red uniform has been perhaps the only constant as the bellboy is imagined and re-imagined by each successive creative team. Some of the

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Bruxelles Lille

Liège

Rennes Paris Nantes Lausanne

Bordeaux Lyon

Montpellier

artists will be present on the night of the opening. Even after the birthday celebrations have come and gone, and the Spirou tour caravan moves southward into France, Brussels still has plenty to look forward to. For those who missed the star-studded opening, Spirou, de Main en Main runs until 24 November. The Seed Factory’s Maison de l’image will be hosting Brussels’ second dedicated Spirou exhibition of 2013, entitled 75 Ans de Spirou, in September. Finally, a new mural will be consecrated to our bellboy later in the year.

SPIROU TOUR: The 10 stops along the Spirou tour circuit, from Liège to Rennes, form a giant S. After Brussels, the anniversary caravan is bound for Lille, Paris and beyond. Summer finds it winding its way from Lausanne to Lyon to Montpellier to Bordeaux and to Nantes before wrapping up in Rennes in November. Each stop is custom-made for the host city, including collaborations with local media and special print editions of Spirou magazines. Another highlight of each stop is the nomadic exhibition La Galerie des Illustres – inaugurated at the annual Salon du Livre in Paris in March – as well as meet-and-greet events with past and present members of team Spirou. Although not an official stop on the tour, Angoulême’s comic strip museum hosts Spirou, un Héros Dynamique. The massive exhibition runs from June 29 to October 6 and is billed as the largest ever dedicated to Spirou.  WWW.SPIROU.COM wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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LIFE

HOME AND ABROAD

Philippe Bercovici The Brussels-based cartoon artist is originally from France. His entry into the world of comic strip started at the age of 13. His illustration credits include Les Femmes en Blanc, Agents Immobiliers, Fais pas ci fais pas ça and he has collaborated with Zidrou in the comedy series Le Boss, published by Dupuis. He has also lived in Ireland.

How did your career start? When I was 13 I met some comic artists and writers at a book festival in Nice, where I lived as a child. Among them was writer Raoul Cauvin, who was quite encouraging and was then reckless enough to start working with me; I had to draw at night and at the weekend. What lies behind the success of the Spirou series? The character is the sum of all the artists who have worked on it over the years, Franquin being the most prominent. Since he put a lot of himself into it during the 20 years he authored Spirou, it’s no wonder he left his mark. And the character is the mascot of the publisher. How do you collaborate with comic-strip writers? There is enormous trust between us and the writers I work with are also my friends. For that kind of relationship to work there must be respect for each other’s contribution. I think the result is much better if the artist understands the workings of joke writing, so he’s able to render what the writer meant, even if he takes some liberties with the script! In addition to the hospital series Les Femmes en Blanc, you are known for political projects such as Ben Laden devoilé. How important is diversity in your work? I like to work on subjects that are as diverse as possible, sometimes quite serious and rooted in the outside world: politics and war, but also the world of wine, for example. Each book is a new journey for me, since I am quite a curious individual!

Each book is a new journey for me, since I am quite a curious individual PHILIPPE BERCOVICI

What are your current and future projects? I am working on a new Les Femmes en Blanc book; these characters are very dear to me. And I have just finished another, blending politics and football. Football is a very good subject, but also quite tricky. I hope fans will go easy on me! How does Brussels compare to other places where you have lived? I find Brussels quite easy-going, even though people commuting every day may disagree. The pace is certainly less hectic than Paris, where I spent 10 years. It’s more like Dublin: vast and laid-back. My favourite places are the bookshops in the city centre (I’m an inveterate bookworm), the Bois de la Cambre when it’s not freezing, and the Matongé, Brussels’ little Africa. 22

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Zidrou Benoît Drousie, alias Zidrou, is a Brussels-born comic-strip writer who began his working career as a teacher and also writes children’s fiction. His prolific comicstrip catalogue includes L’Eleve Ducobu, Tamara and Djizus. Known for his comedy, Zidrou has nevertheless explored darker subjects such as death and war in recent years. He has lived in Spain for the past 13 years.

How did your comic-strip career begin? Oh, simply by quietly working at it, and thanks to people giving me a break before I became known: the illustrator Carine de Brabanter, Thierry Tinlot, then editor of Spirou, and numerous other illustrators who enabled me to learn the craft. What do you think lies behind the success of the Spirou series? Well, Spirou did well to abandon his lift for a life full of adventures. I’m only surprised that the little squirrel did not become the world’s number one pet – power to Spip! What is the inspiration for your characters? I work instinctively and ideas develop naturally. Inspiration comes all on its own, which is almost rather worrying!

Well, Spirou did well to abandon his lift for a life full of adventures ZIDROU

What are your current and future projects? I’m actually working on a Spirou adventure (him again!) for the Belgian illustrator Frank Pé. He’s a good sort who always delivers on time and idolises me. Plus I’m working on about 17,343 other projects circling in my head (I counted them this morning). Why did you choose to live in Spain? I have been living in Spain for 13 years, 11 of them in Ronda, Andalucía. Here the weather is good nearly all the time and I love the sunshine. The people are also kind and friendly. They don’t pull long faces at the end of the day, despite the economic crisis. Your favourite spots in Brussels? When I return to Brussels, my priority of course is to see my friends. I also like to hang out in comic-strip shops, pop into second-hand bookshops, an exhibition or museum. I also go to the cinema; the cultural possibilities in Brussels are hallucinatory. I often stay in the Galia hotel at Place du Jeu de Balle. I love to wake up, take a tour of the flea market and enjoy the Marolles atmosphere. And I never miss out on eating, according to the season, either grey shrimp croquettes or tomatoes stuffed with shrimps (grey again – must be something to do with the weather in Belgium), accompanied by one (or two) good dark Belgian beers. I’m salivating already! wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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LIFE

TOURISM

Marching on Folklore processions in the Sambre and Meuse region join Unesco’s cultural heritage list BY SARAH CREW

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origin, the marches are an occasion for communities and generations to gather and celebrate history and tradition.

Dating from the Middle Ages, the colourful processions are accompanied by drums, whistles and blasts of gunpowder. Although religious in

For Michel Piérard, president of the Association des Marches Folkloriques de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, their importance extends beyond the three days of festivities: “The numbers may vary from fifty to eighty, but the camaraderie created means that if one member is in difficulty during the year, at least ten or twelve others in the group will go to his assistance.”

n the southern rural enclave between the Sambre and Meuse rivers, tradition and folklore form a tightly interwoven tapestry. The nearby Binche carnival and its celebrated Gilles figures have already been recognised by Unesco. Now it is the turn of 15 of the 100 or so military-escorted walks that wind their way through villages every year to receive the award.

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The other characteristic of this merry band is that social position falls by the wayside, says Piérard. “A butcher marches alongside a doctor, a council labourer next to the mayor; there is a mingling of backgrounds. They wear the same uniform, they eat together and drink together and this breaks down any social barriers.” The definition of these walks for the association is that there has to exist three elements: traditional, historic and religious. But even non-religious members respect the ecclesiastic nature of the tradition, Piérard adds. “In times

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of difficulty, candles may be lit to the saint the company honours during the procession.” Dating from at least the 17th century, the walks were originally a homage to the local saint while paying feudal dues to the neighbouring abbey. A military escort accompanied the walkers to heighten the sense of occasion and protect them from bands of marauders. The processions were buffeted by the turbulent tides of European history as successively the French and Dutch occupied the country, and this chequered past is evident in the varying uniforms worn by the men re-enacting the escort (see sidebar).

his duties: the company can condemn him to burning and hanging (a puppet now replaces the miscreant and is paraded around the village before receiving a full round of rifle-fire). Piérard admits he has never witnessed such a shaming, but photos at the association’s museum in Gerpinnes reveal previous cases.

Folklore Walking Association of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse Walks take place most weekends from May 5 to October 20 Museum open Saturday and Sunday, May 1 to September 29 www.amfesm.be

While the association keeps a watchful eye over about 100 companies with membership totalling 10,000 people, each company sets local practices such as the election of new members. Membership is not easy to come by; many members have to wait to inherit their place, while others are sponsored. Some companies consider five years’ residence in the village as suitable eligibility. Piérard, who has been president for almost 20 years, participates with his son and grandson in the walk of Sainte-Rolende aux Flaches, in the footsteps of his father,

grandfather and great-grandfather, while walking for the past 35 years with the Virelles company in his wife’s village. While proud of the Unesco label, Piérard says he does not “expect it to change the unique character of these folkloric events”. But it does mean that the odour and resonance of gunfire along with traditional marching tunes is set to continue for many generations to come.

They wear the same uniform, they eat together and drink together and this breaks down any social barriers MICHEL PIÉRARD

The proceedings are centred on Sunday’s procession. An early rise is followed by a roll-call of officers as troops head to the church or town hall to take up the company flags. A military mass follows and one of the highlights of the parade is the official departure and ceremony honouring the saint. Another is the breaking of the glass: the moment before the march when officers adopt their functions for the year, raising a glass of beer before smashing it to the ground.

Battle dress

Most of the uniforms worn date from either the First or Second Empire. The first refers to the Napoleonic period when locals volunteered or were conscripted into the French Army as parts of Hainaut and Namur provinces fell under the French Ardennes province. Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815, and the degradation of these uniforms, walkers adapted those of the first Belgian army in 1830 and the civil guard of around 1850, known as Second Empire (1830-1914). Today both types of costume are used by walking companies and have been personalised in true folklore tradition.

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LIFE

GASTRONOMY

Reach for the stars Liège restaurant is one of three in Brussels and Wallonia to be awarded first Michelin star in latest edition of food bible BY SARAH CREW

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e Jardin des Bégards, a Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Liège, has won its first Michelin star. The award may be “the cherry on the cake”, but local chef François Piscitello is equally delighted that he has not had to compromise his creative style of cuisine. Proudly self-taught, Piscitello has intuitively honed his palate during a long career serving increasingly sophisticated Italian cuisine. Inspired by his parents’ Sicilian origins, his guiding light has been freedom in the kitchen and fun in the dining room. “While I never wanted to be a slave to my career, there was always a desire to do better, not with the aim of winning awards, but in the spirit of creativity,” he explains. The stylish and energetic chef is perfectly at home in the restaurant’s sophisticated 1960s retro interior. Stark, black square tables are flanked by black leather bucket seats while the polished mahogany bar is softly illuminated by orange table lamps that he designed. Diners are treated to an open view of the kitchen and on the far side of the bar an illuminated glass wall provides a tantalising glimpse of the

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all-Italian wine cellar, carved out of the ancient city walls. The contemporary lounge style is in contrast to the restaurant’s medieval setting. Le Jardin des Bégards lies at the foot of the imposing grey stone ramparts, accessible from the busy Boulevard de la Sauvenière by a narrow passage and hidden garden. When the sun is shining, Piscitello says, “you can imagine yourself on holiday on the terrace”. He also seeks to create flavours inspired by the south through using

spices, herbs and oils that evoke the Mediterranean. As in Italy, there is always one pasta and one risotto dish on the menu. While respecting tradition, Piscitello has taken a modern approach in balancing and contrasting flavours and ingredients: sweet and sour, soft and crunchy. He plays on his Sicilian origins, widening his repertoire by taking inspiration from the Arab, Norman, Roman and Greek influences on the island’s cuisine. “I may have been born in Liège,” he laughs, “but I take advantage of all these influences. They enable me to create what I would personally like to eat.” The pared-down seasonal tasting menu – five or six courses for €65 or €75 respectively – consists of one fish or seafood and one meat main. Pure and fresh carpaccios and rare meats are paired with light and zesty flavours. Recent starters include a scallop tartare dotted with chips of truffle accompanied by a dill sorbet, and risotto with wild salmon, celery and granny smith apple, the flavour enhanced by the surprise addition of nori seaweed and sake. Piscitello confesses to a preference for surf over turf; his fish dishes are reputed to be divine, but preparations such as

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Australian lamb served with dried fruit, spices and polenta are equally enticing. For each item on the menu there is a recommended wine, available by the glass or half glass. Piscitello’s stepson Alexandre Bemelmans is the sommelier and an enthusiastic advocate of Italy’s vineyards. His wine list is designed to both surprise and reassure. It is also for his small, young team that Piscitello welcomes the Michelin accolade. “My personal goal has always been to be free; the star is fantastic and remains a culinary reference, but the most important thing for me is to see people in my restaurant who love what I do.” He joins the citizens of Liège in rejoicing in a second Michelin star for the city (the other belongs to L’Héliport), which traditionally favours a festive rather than gourmet approach to eating out. More importantly, he believes it will help boost young chefs in the province. He speaks from experience: Piscitello’s first restaurant venture was an Italian establishment in the immigrant quarter of Verviers. His initial motivation,

though, was to party. “I didn’t want to cook; I simply wanted to enjoy myself, play the host and create a lively atmosphere.” But as his relationship with chefs broke down, he decided at the age of 29 to step into the heat of the kitchen. “I bought a book, then another and started to learn, to understand. While I lacked technique, I had a palate, and it progressed from there.”

his customers loved his uncomplicated daily specials, Piscitello’s career rise was motivated by the desire to be more creative in the kitchen. “I always wanted to improve, not looking for awards, but to evolve. It’s the same today; when I put a new dish on the menu, I continue to work on it and when I can’t make any further improvement I remove it from the menu.”

Other restaurants followed in Verviers and Liège, as did a stint in the sunny islands of Ibiza and Tenerife; the cuisine always Italian and the atmosphere consistently hip. Although

His ultimate move into fine gastronomy was the opening of Le Jardin des Bégards as owner-chef in 2001, a place where he could finally perfect his talent in the kitchen and create a fitting atmosphere for his food in the restaurant. “It’s not just about what’s on your plate: you must feel happy and relaxed enough to spend a few hours forgetting about your worries.”  WWW.LEJARDINDESBEGARDS.BE

Other restaurants in the region awarded their first Michelin star ■ Va doux vent, Uccle, Brussels  WWW.VADOUXVENT.BE ■ Le Cor de Chasse, Wéris, Durbuy  WWW.LECORDECHASSE.BE wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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CREATE

PANORAMA

The fantastic world of Fabrizio Borrini MARC PRÉVOT

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iège-born artist Fabrizio Borrini is never happier than when juggling disciplines. As a member of the exclusive Dupuis and Spirou family, he has created imaginary worlds filled with strange creatures for the comic-strip publisher, including the World War Two allegory Karma. Larger-scale interpretations of these tribal figures appear in outdoor murals, from Paris and Guadeloupe to his home town, and his distinctive

Pop Art bottles of Vranken-Pommery bubbly are appreciated worldwide. In search of an ever-wider canvas, the artist has ventured into stage design, short animation, multimedia and ‘performance act painting’ at major events. The latest edition of the Brussels Book Fair featured his Imaginarium, a multidisciplinary and sensory space of more than 40 writers, illustrators, musicians and VJs. This

foray into music is nothing new as Borrini has provided vocals for the comic-strip group Boysband Dessinée for the past 15 years. With future projects including a comic-strip album for youngsters, further exhibitions and a biography of his artistic work, Borrini is unlikely to stop spinning any of his various spheres any time soon.

 WWW.FABRIZIOBORRINI.EU

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AGENDA

Spring has sprung, so it’s time to venture outside again for festivals aplenty, glorious greenery and lots of live music

FÊTE DE MAITRANK

FESTIVALS KUNSTENFESTIVALDESARTS

mixture of herbs macerated in Moselle wine

Every May, the town of Arlon in Luxembourg province celebrates its local drink, Maitrank (also known as May wine) with a free programme of music, tastings, fireworks, games and folklore events to keep all the family entertained. The drink itself is a and served with fresh oranges – it’s summer in a glass.

Each year in May, the cosmopolitan city festival  Kunstenfestivaldesarts takes over theatres and arts centres in Brussels, with a selection of challenging and perspectivebroadening artistic works by Belgian and international artists. Alongside the performance calendar, there are also a series of encounters and workshops aimed at putting the artistic project at the heart of the city. Performers this year include Belgium’s Chantal Akerman, Christiane Jatahy from Brazil and French-Belgian choreographer Pierre Droulers.

M FASOL

CREATE

WATERLOO RE-ENACTMENT

WHAT? FÊTE DE MAITRANK WHEN? MAY 25 & 26 WHERE? ARLON

This 14th edition of the annual re-enactment of the historic battle will feature hundreds of participants recreating the battle between Napoleon’s troops and Wellington and Blücher’s men. The weekend includes the opportunity to experience the soldiers’ everyday life, explore authentic craft markets and soak up the atmosphere, before the battles take place towards the end of the afternoon. On the Sunday, the troops gather at Plancenoit for the last battle of the weekend. 

www.commissiondesfetes.be

WHAT? KUNSTENFESTIVALDESARTS WHEN? MAY 3-25 WHERE? BRUSSELS

www.kfda.be

SOPHIE COLLET

WHAT? BATTLE OF WATERLOO RE-ENACTMENT WHEN? JUNE 22 & 23 WHERE? WATERLOO

DOUDOU Every year on Trinity Sunday, the people of Mons come together for the Unescorecognised Ducasse de Mons, or Doudou, a festivity that dates back to the Middle Ages and the time of the plague. The party consists of two parts: the procession of the shrine of Sainte-Waudru, and the slaying of

BERNARD BABETTE

HERITAGE PLANT FESTIVALS Spring is a great time to get out and about in Wallonia, with a host of plant festivals providing a welcome green break after a

Summer begins with the Fête de la Musique, an annual opportunity for thousands to celebrate the first day of summer and the beginning of the festival season. In these early days of summer, music lovers will know where to hear almost 700 concerts and events in cities and towns across the region. Choirs, orchestras, ensembles and groups will be performing everywhere, in Charleroi, Liège and Namur. In Brussels, the heart of the festival will be Place des Palais on June 22, while fans of contemporary music will flock to Parvis de Saint-Gilles and there will be a host of activities for young and old. WHAT? FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE WHEN? JUNE 21-23, WHERE? ACROSS WALLONIA AND BRUSSELS

www.fetedelamusique.be

grey winter. Head to Beez castle alongside the Meuse in Namur (May 11 and 12), to the Aywiers gardens in Lasnes (May 3-5) and La Feuillerie in Tournai (May 11 & 12) for a riot of spring colour and barrowloads of inspiration for your garden, window box or balcony. More than 1,000 rhododendrons and azaleas take centre stage in Tournai, Aywiers takes a general view with a great selection of kids’ activities, while Beez presents horticulturists and specialists from Belgium and abroad and organisations working to protect and preserve nature. WHAT? PLANT FESTIVALS WHEN? MAY WHERE? VARIOUS

MF PUISSART

FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE

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www.waterloo1815.be

the dragon by Saint George. For the duration of the festival, the streets are full of people, music, food and drink, with a concert on the Grande Place and performances by military bands.

www.aywiers.be, www.lafeuillerie.be

WHAT? DOUDOU WHEN? MAY 26 WHERE? MONS

www.festivaldesplantes.be

www.doudou.mons.be

wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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MUSIC QUEEN ELISABETH COMPETITION The premier competition for young musicians, switching each year between piano, violin and voice, takes place in Brussels this summer, with the focus on pianists. It aims to unearth an accomplished musical prodigy ready to embark on an international career. Entrants must learn a compulsory work written specially for the competition, and much of the contest is open to the public to watch. A great chance to spot a star of the future. WHAT? QUEEN ELISABETH MUSIC COMPETITION WHEN? MAY 6-JUNE 1 WHERE? FLAGEY & BOZAR, BRUSSELS

www.qeimc.be

BRUSSELS JAZZ MARATHON You know summer’s on its way when the jazz marathon comes to town. This year, the annual music fest offers free jazz, blues, funk and world music outdoor concerts around the city at the Grand’Place, Sablon, Sainte-Catherine and Place Fernand Cocq, generously complemented – until the early hours – with concerts at dozens of clubs and bars. Not to mention free shuttle buses, special events for young jazz cats and a swinging atmosphere all over the city. WHAT? BRUSSELS JAZZ MARATHON WHEN? MAY 24-26 WHERE? BRUSSELS

UTOPIA (AFTER THE WALLS) ANNE-CECILE VANDALEM The concept of home and hearth may evoke warmth and security for most of us, but in Anne-Cecile Vandalem’s world it is also an uneasy affair. The Liège-born actor, writer and director is returning to Kunstenfestivaldesarts with the final – though in some ways penultimate – part of her trilogy scrutinising contemporary alienation. Utopia is in fact the first part of After the Walls, an architectural project that will be completed by the fictional drama Dystopia in 2014. Vandalem explains: “Utopia will continue for one year, not in the theatre, but as a work in progress as the spectator will be able to participate in the writing of the second part via a website and Twitter.” The trilogy is an evolving study of individuals and their environment that has always fascinated Vandalem. First up was (Self) Service, concerned with one person, Habit(u)ation (presented at KFDA in 2011) with a family, and After the Walls, which is all about collective living. “I’m really interested in the role that the home plays in our lives, always looking at the question of alienation,” Vandalem says. Despite her own views and family situation evolving since the start of the project in 2008, she admits that she leans towards being a “more isolated person than a collective one”. Vandalem, one of Belgian francophone theatre’s rising stars, appreciates the opportunity to present at KFDA for its exposure to the international scene. After Brussels, Utopia moves on to Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. UTOPIA, MAY 11-15 wallonia and brussels magazine SPRING 2013

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GENERIS-APROPOS GENERIS-APROPOS – © PICTURES: – © PICTURES: TOMASZ TOMASZ GULLA, GULLA, DREAMTIME DREAMTIME - ANDRÉ - ANDRÉ STEVENS STEVENS - RYAN MCVAY, - RYAN PHOTODISC MCVAY, - BRUNO PHOTODISC BALSAMA --ARCHITECTS: BRUNO BALSAMA P. VAN DER -STRAETEN ARCHITECTS: & SIGMAP. 3, PH. VAN SAMYN DER STRAETEN & SIGMA 3, PH. SAMYN

Create > Exchange > Grow

> > Wallonia

Create

Exchange

Wallonia

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/ Belgium

> The assets for growth

Grow

Excellence at the heart of Europe

/ Belgium

Excellence at the heart of Europe

Financial incentives for exports and investment, lower business taxes, easy access to capital – assets for in growth > The all boosting growth Wallonia. Financial incentives for exports and investment, lower business taxes, easy access to capital – all boosting growth in Wallonia.

> A culture of partnership

draws on an extensive cultureexcellence of partnership > AWallonia’s

network ofexcellence highly skilled workforce and R&D Wallonia’s draws on an extensive units dedicated to skilled innovation network of highly workforce and R&D units dedicated to innovation

competitive region region >> AA competitive

Transport and and logistics, logistics, aeronautics aeronautics and and aerospace, agribusiness, mechanical aerospace, engineering,agribusiness, life sciences,mechanical environmental engineering, sciences, environmental technologies:life 6 competitiveness clusters and several other high-tech clusters clusters put Wallonia technologies: 6 competitiveness and at the forefront of progress. several other high-tech clusters put Wallonia at the forefront of progress.

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Wab spring 2013