Of the many characters that populate the pantheon of international comic-book art, Alix cuts a decidedly distinctive figure. With twelve million book sales to Alix’s name, and his adventures translated into fifteen languages, 2018 sees him celebrating seventy years since his first appearance in Tintin magazine on 16 September 1948. Even after 1988’s The Wooden Horse (Le Cheval de Troie in the original French) — the last Alix story to be penned by Jacques Martin — the Gallo-Roman youngster has continued to face down dangers aplenty, encountering a wide variety of cultures and societies while remaining true to the ideals of honesty, decency and justice that his creator valued so highly.
Today, Alix is recognised as a pioneer of the ‘historical comic book’ format. Behind this somewhat nebulous title lies the undeniable fact that Jacques Martin was the first comic-book storyteller to place a significant emphasis on historical realism when crafting his tales.
To mark the seventieth anniversary of Alix’s creation, Éditions Casterman, the Angoulême International Comics Festival and La Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image have joined forces to put together a one-of-a-kind exhibition devoted to the art of Jacques Martin.
After opening on 25 January 2018 as part of the Angoulême Festival, this major retrospective remained in Angoulême’s Musée de la bande dessinée until 13 May 2018. It will be presented in the Art & History Museum of Brussels between 14 September 2018 and 6 January 2019, at the occasion of the Brussels Comic Strip Festival (14-16/09), in collaboration with visit.brussels. The exhibition explores the four decades of Jacques Martin’s creative output that came between 1948 and 1988. With Alix as its focus, the exhibition showcases Jacques Martin’s unique aesthetic — one apparent in both his first advertising jobs and the truly personal graphic and narrative style that later emerged in his work.
The exhibition will be completely re-staged to be presented in Brussels, in the galleries of the Art &History Museum housing their precious collections of Ancient art. 150 original works will be arranged into themes (historical references, the topics of women and homosexuality, fantasy and more) to cover the wonderful work of Jacques Martin through the adventures of his legendary hero.