What’s on: Extraordinary graphic novels show evolution of comics scene


Top of the agenda this week is an exhibition on Flanders’ new crop of brilliant graphic novelists, a birthday celebration in honour of Leonard Bernstein and Ghent’s whacky circus festival

The New Wave of Flemish Comic Strip

Though some might say that the golden age of the Flemish strip is over, we’re entering another vibrant period with the Flemish graphic novel. These are the highlight of this show at the Belgian Comic Strip Center, which puts contemporary Flemish cartoonists and graphic artists in the spotlight.

Thanks to the opening of comic strip art departments in Sint-Lucas academies in Ghent and Brussels, and grants from the Flemish Literature Fund following that, graphic artists are flourishing with striking, award-winning work. Don’t miss the samples from Ben Gijsemans’ Hubert, a sensitive portrait of a loner obsessed with work at Brussels’ Fine Arts Museum, and work by Brecht Evens, who puts so much detail on one page (pictured), you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away. Until 3 June, Belgian Comic Strip Center, Zandstraat 20, Brussels

WIN TICKETS! Flanders Today has two pairs of entry tickets to the Belgian Comic Strip Center to give away. If you'd like to win a pair, send an email to editorial@flanderstoday.eu with "Comic Strip Center" in the subject line by noon on 19 January. Winners will be notified the same day.

Happy New Year, Lenny!

Composer, conductor, pianist and teacher: Leonard Bernstein left a mark on music history in every conceivable way. The 20th-century American artist’s work on such movies as On the Waterfront and West Side Story is credited with getting younger people into concert halls. But he was also a master composer of classical symphonies. With choral compositions, film scores and songs, chamber music, musicals, operas and ballets all under his belt, it seems there was nothing Bernstein couldn’t produce.

That’s why Flemish conductor Dirk Brossé is leading the Flanders Symphony Orchestra in this tribute on the occasion of the master’s 100th birthday year. The symphony and soprano Katrien Baerts follow up Bernstein pieces such as the Overture, Suite and “Glitter and be Gay” from Candide and “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story with Brossé’s own compositions recognising the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Until 28 January, across Flanders

Smells Like Circus

This outstanding annual festival in Ghent features artists that blend acrobatics, dance and performance art in wondrous ways. Despite the reference to circus, nearly all the performances are geared towards adults, hence you’ll find hedonism and gender identity on the menu of Svalbard Company’s All Genius All Idiot, while choreographer Louis Vanhaverbeke tells the story of creation with rap music and a bunch of random objects. And a bonus this year: The festival has branched out from its home base in the Vooruit to other venues across the city. 16-20 January, across Ghent