City described (drawn and written): the discreet case of Brussels

From the city of skyscrapers to the underground city, from the city obscured by pollution to the city-Eden, comics, like any other art, refuse the concept of City. Modern city in the image of the contemporary city, underground neighborhoods, far from the polluted surface, or dizzying buildings with glass facades from urban utopias, the city appears as a polymorphic entity, always in transformation, where the authors try to place it in their work fixing it to the paper. A fickle subject, the city must be understood as a plural form, whose urban representations cover very different realities: the graphic aspect, although dominant, is not the only form of representation of the city. It is reflected, in the works designed, through other forms, from the protagonists’ discourse to their role in the work’s argument and narrative. As a decoration that supports the heroes, sometimes the city becomes a character. This dissertation intends to show how different forms can cross urban reality. The designed cities are often ideal models of cities, whose question is not in the order of mimicry, but rather to create a meaningful reference for the reader. Thus, a representation of a city in cartoons puts different sources at play, such as urban structure and morphology, architecture in general, more or less suggestive, which inform the reader, indicating the universe in which he finds himself. In this case, we intend to study the bande dessinée that enhances the city view using the idea of chronology and history (from antiquity to fantasy) and, at the same time, perceiving as concepts of discourse and trajectory (from the scale of territory to the scale of the striking element) enable this learning. Although not as profusely depicted as Paris or other world capitals, Brussels is one of the cities most referred to and represented in European comics. Thus, it becomes the object of study for this dissertation, as a city suitable for this type of representation. It is intended to show examples of how Brussels sometimes works as a city-place, but also when it takes on a role as a character in the intrigue. Through the idea of a route along the city, one seeks to see the comic book enhance the city – object of study.

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Ana Luísa Santos Coelho Duarte Soares